The New Zealand Superbike Championship standings were given a massive shake-up at the third round of four at Hampton Downs at the weekend, setting race fans up for a thrilling final round at Taupo in two weeks’ time.
Former national superbike champion Sloan Frost took a “safe and sensible” approach to ensure his title bid remained on track, and he has a healthy points lead in the premier Superbikes class, but there were fireworks aplenty all around him and Frost knows he can’t afford to relax just yet, with any of six or seven riders capable of winning races at Taupo and throwing a spanner in the works.
Taupo’s Scott Moir (Suzuki) won the Superbike class at the weekend, his 2-1-3 score-card giving him the top podium spot, although Wellington man Frost (Suzuki), Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam (Suzuki), visiting Australian Robbie Bugden (Yamaha) and the Rees brothers, Mitch and Damon (both on Hondas), all took their turn in the spotlight.
Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem (BMW) and Lower Hutt’s Jay Lawrence (Suzuki) were also impressive in Superbike action at the weekend.
There were three different winners in the Superbike class at Hampton Downs, Frost winning the first superbike race on Saturday, before Moir stepped up to win the first of two races on Sunday.
Brisbane rider Bugden won third Superbike outing, the all-important Tourist Trophy (TT) race that wrapped up the weekend, the crowd on their feet and screaming as a cut-and-thrust battle was fought out at the front between half a dozen riders.
Five-time former New Zealand Superbike champion Bugden was delighted at winning the TT crown and said he was determined to “keep the momentum going” at Taupo’s final round.
Meanwhile, in the 600cc Supersport class, Christchurch’s Jake Lewis finished the weekend 1-1-1 at Hampton Downs and overturned the championship table.
He had started the weekend 10 points behind his own Triumph team-mate James Hoogenboezem, the two Canterbury men virtually inseparable at the earlier rounds, but Lewis is now 31 points ahead of Hoogenboezem, although, as was witnessed at the weekend, nothing is certain and one small slip-up could see 31 points quickly evaporate.
Hoogenboezem posted a 4-4-7 score-card at Hampton Downs, good enough only for him to finish the weekend fourth overall, while Lewis’ girlfriend, former women’s world champion Avalon Biddle (Kawasaki), from Christchurch, came on strong, twice finishing runner-up (and, unfortunately, 14th in the other race), to improve from fifth to fourth overall in the standings.
The points leaders in each of the other championship classes remain safely on top, for now, although the intensity of the racing would surely have left them in no doubt that they can’t yet afford to relax.
The series wraps up at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo on March 17-18, with plenty still at stake.
The superbike nationals, presented by DHL Express NZ Ltd, at Hampton Downs at the weekend was run in conjunction with the inaugural Mike Pero MotoFest, a massive “festival of motorcycling” that included demonstrations by Kiwi international freestyle motocross exponents Levi Sherwood, Caleb Delacy and Nick Franklin and a Moto Trials display featuring record eight-time national moto trials champion Jake Whitaker, from Wainuiomata, and Wellington’s rising international star Dylan Ball, among others.
The MotoFest programme also featured meet-and-greet and autograph sessions with international motorcycling legends such as American MotoGP star Randy Mamola, sports commentator and former British champion Steve Parrish, Australian heroes Kevin Magee and Robbie Phillis rubbing shoulders with Kiwi icons Andrew Stroud (in action on the world-famous, Kiwi-built Britten motorcycle), Hugh Anderson, Stu Avant and Aaron Slight, to name just a few.
Other New Zealand Superbike Championships class leaders after the weekend’s third round of four in the 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships are: Tauranga’s Regan Phibbs (Supersport 300); Hamilton’s Jordan Burley (650 Pro Twins); Christchurch’s Nick Cain (250cc Production); Huia’s Nathanael Diprose (Superlites); Rodney’s Blayes Heaven (125GP); Pukekohe’s Thomas Newton (GIXXER Cup); and Auckland’s Peter Goodwin and Kendal Dunlop (Sidecars).
Tourist Trophy winners on Sunday were: Australia’s Robbie Bugden (Superbikes); Christchurch’s Jake Lewis (600 Supersport); Tauranga’s Regan Phibbs (Supersport 300); Hamilton’s Jordan Burley (650 Pro Twins); Christchurch’s Nick Cain (250cc Production); Huia’s Nathanael Diprose (Superlites); Rodney’s Blayes Heaven (125GP); Whanganui’s Tarbon Walker (GIXXER Cup); and Masterton’s Spike Taylor and Robbie Shorter (Sidecars).
The 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships are supported by Honda Cars, providing safety/medical vehicles, Pirelli tyres, Corprint, CTAS and MX Timing and the inaugural GIXXER Cup is supported by Suzuki New Zealand.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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