Two national titles were wrapped up at the fifth round of six in this season’s New Zealand Superbike Championships at Hampton Downs, near Meremere, at the weekend.
However, while Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (pictured here, bike No.14) and Whakatane’s Mitch Rees were able to celebrate successful 2022-23 nationals campaigns with a round to spare at the weekend, the series will still go down to the wire in five other bike divisions.
Buchanan successfully completed his Supersport 300 class title defence at Hampton Downs on Sunday and Rees did likewise when he also made it two consecutive national 1000cc superbike title wins on Sunday, both men able to crack open the champagne a week early.
The sixth and final round of the AON Insurance and Pirelli-sponsored national superbikes series is still to be run at Taupo next weekend and these two men can afford to relax and take things easy, although both racers have that must-win mentality and have already indicated that it’s not in their nature to take things easy.
Besides this, Buchanan has the chance to clinch a second title also for 2022-23, with the teenager qualifying fastest in the separate Supersport 600 class and finishing his Hampton Downs weekend unbeaten in his three races in this category, catapulting him up the 600cc class rankings to now be second in the standings, now just one point behind the class leader, Rangiora’s Jake Lewis.
Other class leaders after the weekend are Whitby’s Dave Fellows (Pro Twins, post-2020 bikes); Waiuku’s Bob Irving (Pro Twins, pre-2020 bikes); Auckland’s Adam Unsworth and Whanganui’s Bryce Rose (F1 Sidecars); Albany’s Mark Halls and Geoff Davies (F2 Sidecars).
The battle to clinch championship honours remains extremely tight for these riders.
Riders who won the doubly-significant third race of the weekend in their respective classes also earned the stand-alone TT title trophy for 2022-23 and those individuals were: Rees (Superbike); Pukekohe’s Matthew Eggleton (Superbike B); Buchanan (Supersport 600); Tauranga’s Daniel Price (Supersport 600 B); Fellows (Pro Twins, post-2020); Irving (Pro Twins, pre-2020); Buchanan (Supersport 300); Tokomaru’s Barry Smith and Auckland’s Stu Dawe (F1 Sidecars); Halls and Davies (F2 Sidecars).
The event at Hampton Downs had huge added significance too because it shared the programme with the fourth edition of the Star Insure MotoFest motorcycling festival, a massive extravaganza of everything related to bikes of all eras, all styles and all brands.
The MotoFest extravaganza promised and delivered excellence on all fronts, with well-respected identities from all segments of the motorcycle sporting community, coming together for the spectacular two days of action.
“What an absolute pleasure to be part of a great weekend’s racing,” said Motorcycling New Zealand road-racing commissioner Andy Skelton.
“The current championship has delivered some stunning racing in all classes to date and the balance of the support classes have not disappointed either.
“The season has had a few challenges post-COVID, but has delivered so much.
“The racing has been outstanding and I’m incredibly proud of what we have been seeing. If this sport is not a spectacle to behold, I don’t know what is.
“So we go into next weekend with anticipation of what we hope to be the final chapter of a great season.”
The sixth and final round is set for the Taupo International Motorsport Park and Events Centre this coming Saturday and Sunday, March 11-12, and it’s sure to be edge-of-the-seat entertainment regardless of who does the winning.
MotoFest again had the support of Kawasaki, Bridgestone, Motul, Shoei and MTF Finance, while this season’s national championship competition is supported by 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 other supporting sponsors.
DATES FOR 2022-23 NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE SEASON:
Suzuki International Series (and first two rounds of the nationals):
- Round 1, Taupo, Dec 3rd and 4th (abandoned due to track conditions)
- Round 2, Manfeild, Dec 10th and 11th
- Whanganui’s Cemetery Circuit, Dec 26th (third and final round of Suzuki International Series, but not part of the nationals)
- Round 3, Ruapuna, Jan 7th and 8th
- Round 4, Teretonga, Jan 14th and 15th
- Round 5, Hampton Downs, part of MotoFest, Mar 4th and 5th
- Round 6, Taupo, Mar 11th and 12th
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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