It was a dynamic day of high drama at Hampton Downs today as the inaugural Mike Pero MotoFest festival kicked off with the first of its two days of spectacular action at the popular North Waikato race circuit.
It was dynamic in more ways than one – both the on-track and off-track action was spellbinding and the third round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships, which shared the jam-packed MotoFest programme, also saw a few crucial dynamics change after one race was staged in each of the nine championship classes.
Two more races will be run for each national championship category during day two of MotoFest tomorrow and, depending on where loyalties lie, the change in dynamics today was greeted with either delight or dismay.
The battle for honours in the premier 1000cc superbike championship class saw Wellington’s Sloan Frost extend his points advantage after he won today’s sole superbikes race, while his chief rival, Whakatane’s Mitch Rees, crashed out.
Frost has extended his championship lead from 24 points to 49 over the new No.2 rider, Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam, who finished third in today’s race.
Meanwhile, in the Supersport 600cc class, championship leader James Hoogenboezem saw his 10-point advantage disappear after he could manage only fourth in the sole 600cc race today, while his main rival and team-mate, fellow Christchurch man Jake Lewis won the race, his girlfriend Avalon Biddle finished runner-up and Wainuiomata’s Shane Richardson, making his first appearance in the series this season, claimed the third podium spot.
Hoogenboezem has now slipped back to second in the championship chase, two points behind Lewis.
“It was a massive team effort today, the crew helping both me and James (Hoogenboezem) to achieve,” said Lewis.
“I was surprised to see it was Avalon right behind me on the track. I owe her big time for finishing second and helping me gain points over James. I think I must owe her a night out,” he laughed.
But all is not lost for any of the title hopefuls, with two more races for each class in the DHL Express NZ Ltd-backed national series tomorrow and then the fourth and final round of the series also still to come, in Taupo in a fortnight’s time.
“I’m not taking anything for granted. There is still a long way to go,” said Frost.
Other race winners today were Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett (supersport 300); Hamilton’s Jordan Burley (650 Pro Twins); Christchurch’s Nick Cain (250cc Production); Huia’s Nathanael Diprose (Superlites); Rodney’s Blayes Heaven (125 GP); Taupiri’s Zak Fuller (GIXXER Cup) and Auckland pair Pete Goodwin and Kendal Dunlop (Sidecars).
The action at Hampton Downs tomorrow is sure to be edge-of-the-seat stuff, not to mention all the other activities today that will be repeated on Sunday, a spellbinding moto trials demonstration one of those extra events to feature at MotoFest, along with freestyle motocross performed by Kiwi internationals Levi Sherwood, Caleb Delacey and Nick Franklin.
Meet-and-greet and autograph sessions are offered again tomorrow 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.
Coupled with trade displays, classic bikes races and track sessions for the amateurs, the 2018 MotoFest will be entertainment plus from early morning until late afternoon.
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park’s commercial manager Mike Marsden said he was thrilled with how today had panned out.
“We were thrilled with the crowd turn-out today,” he said. “It was so great to see crowds back at the park. It is testimony that this diversity of activities has such a wide appeal.”
Hampton Downs is certainly the place to be this weekend, a “Mecca of motorcycling” with something for everyone.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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