The 25-year-old engineer from Pukekohe regularly enjoys great success in the dirt bike motorcycling world, but now he’s tackling the tarmac, and he entered on a Suzuki GSX-R600 in the Supersport 600 class at this year’s New Zealand Superbike Championships, which wrapped up at Taupo two weeks ago.
Reduced from four rounds to three because of the COVID-19 pandemic, scoring good points were at a premium and any small mistake or lost opportunity could be severely punished, and so, remarkably, totally privateer rider Fox found himself fifth overall in this highly-charged, high-profile class after the first two rounds of the championship series in January.
He was a surprising absentee on day one at round three in Taupo a fortnight ago and, with one of the weekend’s three Supersport 600 races on the programme for that Saturday, his campaign suffered something of a set-back.
It was later learned that he had instead committed himself to being at a friend’s wedding that day.
“It’s my first time racing in the 600cc class but it’s been a great learning curve he said.
“I’m learning about road bike preparation and bike set-up. I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve done, but, as a racer, you always want to do better.
“I’ve done a lot of racing with (fellow dirt bike ace turned road-racing hero) Zak Fuller (from Taupiri), and he’s doing really well in road-racing.
“I seem to be lacking speed in enduro and I seem to be lacking speed in road-racing too,” he laughed. “But enduro racing has helped out, just being comfortable on a bike at speed, being comfortable when it twitches bit underneath you.
“I’m serious about winning, but I had to miss day one at Taupo because I went to a wedding instead. Being on my own this year allows me a bit of freedom and this is one person’s wedding that I wasn’t going to miss.
“Originally the championship dates were different, and they didn’t clash, but that’s life.
“But I got as high as top five and that was something I’d aimed for. A lot of people, told me that was unachievable actually, so I’m pretty happy really.”
Race day on Sunday Taupo was a mixed bag for Fox.
He failed to finish the first of two races on Sunday, crashing off the track following an unfortunate experience with tyres he had not previously tested.
“I tried a new set of tyres on the bike, but with no practice on them and no racing on them Saturday, I was uncomfortable. The rear tyre moved around a little more under me than I’d have liked,” he explained.
“Then I missed a gear change coming onto the main straight and lost ground. I throttled hard to make up ground and, under brakes at the end of the straight, I crashed off the track and onto the grass.”
“I spent a lot of time on the bike to get it ready for the last race, but it was pretty bent, twisted and horrible.”
But then, with his bike repaired as best as he was able, Fox still managed to finish eighth and fifth in the second race, that race run in two parts following a crash (involving other riders) and then a re-start.
In the end, Fox wound up seventh overall in his debut season in the highly-competitive Supersport 600 class, certainly something he can feel justifiably proud of.
“I must have impressed some people this season,” he said. “I have had a couple of potential sponsors sniffing round and a couple of race teams, so who knows what the future may hold. I’ve opened half an eye to my potential anyway.”
Fox is supported by Top Spec Engineering, MBF Projects, Rockgas North, JBS Poultry, Coleman’s Motorcycles, Restorace Motorcycles, RST, Terence Howard And Sons Ltd and BikesportNZ.com.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
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