The nation’s premier competitions have joined forces, also incorporating the massive weekend-long Star Insure MotoFest spectacle at Hampton Downs, being held on the first weekend of March as usual, to create a revamped and revitalised three-phase New Zealand Motorcycle Road-Race Nationals season for 2022-23.
The hugely-popular Suzuki International Series and the New Zealand Motorcycle Road-Race Nationals are collaborating for the first time to fire up the 2022-23 season.
The people behind the two annual series, and MotoFest too, have all been working in conjunction to ensure an explosive resumption to high-calibre road bike racing in this country.
The first two of three rounds for the 2022 Suzuki International Series – scheduled as usual for Taupo and then Manfeild, on December 3-4 and December 10-11 respectively – will now also be recognised as rounds one and two of what will be a new six-round national series.
The third and final round of the Suzuki International Series is, as usual, set for the public streets of Whanganui, the world famous Cemetery Circuit, to run on Boxing Day.
This street fight won’t be part of the nationals, but remains the jewel in the crown for the three-round Suzuki International Series.
In the New Year, the racers will revert back to standard track racing mode and resume their national championship battles on purpose-built race circuits.
The latter two phases of the national series will be run early in 2023, two rounds in the South Island in January, followed by two rounds in the North Island in March.
Mike Pero Motorsport Park (Ruapuna), on the outskirts of Christchurch, will host round three on January 6-7, while round four will be at Teretonga, in Invercargill, on January 14-15.
After a short hiatus through February, the Hampton Downs-promoted Star Insure MotoFest reignites the racing again when it hosts round five, on the weekend of March 4-5.
Like the Suzuki International Series, MotoFest has become a marquee racing event, and has been headlined by the superbike nationals for the past five years.
The two South Island venues are always popular with riders and spectators alike and, after a few weeks’ break, the series will kick off its third and final phase with a party-like MotoFest weekend that will again truly celebrate motorcycling in all its glory.
Hampton Downs commercial manager Mike Marsden has welcomed the change and says the merging of the Suzuki Series, MotoFest and the national championship is a good step forward and will great for the sport which has taken a bit of a bettering during the COVID-19 pandemic period, with multiple cancellations.
“With Taupo now part of the Tony Quinn Group, we will be heavily involved twice in the championship and will be promoting round one vigorously, given that it is a joint venture with the Suzuki Series promoter,” he said. “The event at Taupo will be huge, as will the Star Insure MotoFest.”
It is obviously a tremendously pleasing and positive way for the motorbike community to recover after two years of being stifled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic caused all sorts of disruptions to major sporting events world-wide and New Zealand was not immune to these, the annual New Zealand Superbike Championships series being cut short in 2020, similarly reduced in size to just three rounds in 2021 and unable to be raced at all in 2022.
Also because of the pandemic, the Suzuki Series was also not run in December 2021 and MotoFest also did not run as planned earlier this year.
The now-resurrected MotoFest extravaganza will again promise excellence on all fronts, with well-respected identities from all segments of the motorcycle sporting world coming together for a spectacular two days of action.
With this latest collaboration, the road-racing community in New Zealand is showing incredible strength and resolve to get back to a “new normal” as regards top-level motorcycle racing in this country.
The combined series would not be possible without support from the following groups: Victoria MCC, Hampton Downs, Auckland MCC, MCI, Hamilton MCC, Southland Motorcycle Club, South Canterbury Motorcycle Club, Cemetery Circuit, MNZ and all the supporting sponsors.
DATES FOR 6-ROUND NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE NATIONALS:
- Round 1, Taupo, Dec 3rd and 4th
- Round 2, Manfeild, Dec 10th and 11th
- Round 3, Ruapuna, Jan 6th and 7th
- Round 4, Teretonga, Jan 14th and 15th
- Round 5, Hampton Downs, part of Moto Fest, Mar 4th and 5th
- Round 6, Taupo, Mar 11th and 12th
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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