A seven-week break has done nothing to cool the temperatures or ease the tensions in this season’s New Zealand Superbike Championships and it is perhaps expected to get even hotter when racing resumes this weekend.
Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, near Meremere, hosts the third round of five in the Yamaha-sponsored 2020 New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) series this Saturday and Sunday, the race action forming an integral part of the popular annual Mike Pero MotoFest extravaganza.
The two-day affair will be an all-encompassing motorcycling extravaganza, the NZSBK competition obviously a major component of the third annual Mike Pero MotoFest, a feast of motorcycling that will include all manner of bike-related entertainment, including display and trade stalls, the Legends Garage and, for the first time this year, the Motul NZ Classic Grand Prix.
As many might expect, the Motul NZ Classic Grand Prix will draw in legends of yesteryear … iconic, famous and well-loved bikes and some of the equally celebrated riders of the age too.
Much of the focus will naturally go on the NZSBK element of the weekend.
The first two rounds of the series were contested in the South Island in January and the resumption of the series at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park this weekend signals a start to the three-round North Island phase of the competition.
Whakatane’s Damon Rees leads the superbike standings after the first two rounds, at Christchurch and Timaru respectively, but he will be missing from the competition now as he’s headed overseas to race in the United Kingdom.
However, Rees’ absence should actually fire up the racing, with the men giving chase able to sniff a fresh chance for one of them to move into the No.1 spot.
Just 33 points separate the next four riders in the standings after round two – Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem, Australian Lachlan Epis, Rangiora’s Jake Lewis and Taupo’s Scott Moir – and any one of them could be expected to win at Hampton Downs.
Other class leaders after the second round of racing at Timaru are Whanganui’s Richie Dibben (Supersport 600); Whangarei’s Jason Hearn (Supersport 300, provisional); Whangaparoa’s Nathan Jane (650 Pro Twins); Taupo’s Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown (Sidecars); Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (Supersport 150) and Nelson’s Tyrone Kuipers (GIXXER Cup 150).
Motorcycling New Zealand roadrace commissioner Grant Ramage said he was looking forward to what is expected to be a massive weekend.
“The race action was fantastic at rounds one and two and this third round of five, the halfway point in the competition, could be extremely important for riders hoping to improve their positions in the championship chase,” he said.
“With Hampton Downs located so close to New Zealand’s largest city, we might expect huge crowds too this weekend.”
One thing is for certain – no rider can afford to rest on his or her laurels as, after this weekend’s racing, the championships will continue on at Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, on March 28-29, before wrapping up at Taupo on April 4-5.
The 2020 New Zealand Superbike Championships are supported by Yamaha New Zealand, Aon Insurance, ICG and Pirelli, Trust Aoraki, Blue Wing Honda, NZ Racing Board, Timaru District Council, Bike Rider Magazine and Sky Sport Next.
2020 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:
Round 1 – January 11-12, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch;
Round 2 – January 18-19, Levels International Raceway, Timaru;
Round 3 – March 7-8, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest;
Round 4 – March 28-29, Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, Feilding;
Round 5 – April 4-5, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.
© Words and action photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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