The affable rider from Taupo took his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to finish runner-up in the three-round Suzuki International Series, which wrapped up on Whanganui’s fabled Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day, and some would argue that was not quite what he wanted, especially after he’d won this series outright on two previous occasions, in 2017 and again in 2018.
A third Suzuki International Series crown would have been an ideal post-Christmas gift to himself, but for now he’ll settle for the No.2 spot, ironically the same digit that adorns his distinctive blue 1000cc superbike.
Moir finished runner-up in the premier superbike class in the 2020 New Zealand Superbike Championships, that series wrapped up early due to the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down earlier this year, and so he is obviously among the favourites to challenge for the main title in 2021.
The talent ran deep in the Suzuki International Series this season and provided perfect conditions for the nation’s top riders to tune up ahead of the 2021 New Zealand Superbike Championships, set to kick off in the South Island in just two weeks’ time (at Ruapuna, on the outskirts of Christchurch, on January 9-10).
Whanganui’s iconic Cemetery Circuit was the scene once again of some thrilling motorcycle racing on Boxing Day, Moir in the thick of the action as he battled with eventual series winner Mitch Rees, of Whakatane, and Rees’ younger brother Damon Rees, along with local Whanganui Suzuki heroes Jayden Carrick and Richie Dibben, with fellow Suzuki stars and former national superbike champions Daniel Mettam (Glen Eden) and Sloan Frost (Wellington) for close company.
Dibben’s performance in finishing the series seventh overall is worthy of special mention because this year was his debut outing in the 1000cc superbike class. He had raced a Suzuki GSX-R600 to dominate and win the 600 Supersport title in his debut in that smaller bike class at the nationals during the 2020 season.
Moir said he was challenged slightly by his choice to use a different brand of tyres than previously but, as the day progressed at Whanganui, he “found bike settings that allowed me to push the tyres a bit harder” and was certainly on winning pace later in the day.
“I was riding as fast as I’ve ever been, so the changes we found were very positive,” said the 36-year-old.
“In this class there are any number of riders who could win, but I’m feeling confident now ahead of the nationals.”
Meanwhile, Suzuki seems to have unearthed some fresh talent in the Super Moto (dirt bike) class as Whanganui’s Jono Hamlin popped up to win both races in this class at Whanganui on Saturday.
The 38-year-old, who works as an animal control officer for the Whanganui District Council, took his Suzuki RM-Z450 motocross bike, fitted of course with road tyres, to dominate the class on the street circuit.
His back-to-back wins in the class on Saturday lifted him from fourth to second in the final series standings. Taumarunui’s Jette Josiah finished runner-up to Hamlin both times on Saturday, although he had dominated the earlier rounds of the series in this class – unbeaten in the previous two rounds – and had therefore virtually already wrapped up the title.
“I’m really not too surprised by my dominance here in Whanganui,” said Hamlin afterwards. “I came here to win, knowing that I had a competitive bike provided for me by Dibben Swartz Motorcycles.
“I am super stoked to be able to put on a show for my home town Whanganui and to repay the support I get from local businesses.”
Class winners after Boxing Day’s third and final round of the 2020 Suzuki International Series are Whakatane’s Mitch Rees (Formula One); Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler (Formula Two); Nikau Valley’s Richard Markham-Barrett (Formula Three); Whanganui’s Dwayne Bishop (Bears Senior); Whanganui’s Darren Bendle (Bears Junior); Levin’s Justin Maunder (GIXXER 150 Cup); Hastings’ Gian Louie (Post Classics, pre-89 Senior); Ngaruawahia’s Steve Bridge (Post Classics, pre-89 Junior); Tauranga’s Barry Smith and Stu Dawe (F1 Sidecars); Albany’s Mark Halls and Michelle MacLean (F2 Sidecars); Taumarunui’s Jette Josiah (Super Motard); Sanson’s Shane Miller (Supersport 300); Whanganui’s Robert Hood and Graham Wilkinson (Classic Sidecars, raced at Whanganui round only).
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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