British rising star Davey Todd, Australian former Moto2 and MotoGP star Anthony West and West’s teenage team-mate Declan Van Rosmalen are all signed up to race in New Zealand this summer season.
The 28-year-old Todd, from Saltburn, in England, formerly raced motocross, enduro and super moto before switching to tarmac in 2015 and racing the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix (street races in Northern Ireland). He became one of the fastest Isle of Man TT newcomers of 2018.
He is regarded as one of the sport’s brightest prospects, having won the British Superstock Champion last season and more recently Todd has been racing in the British Superbike Championships (BSB).
Meanwhile, Queensland rider West (pictured here) and his younger team-mate will arrive with support from their high-profile Addicted to Track Racing team to also compete in the immensely popular Suzuki International Series, a competition that also registers as the opening phase of the 2023-24 New Zealand Superbike Championships.
The now 42-year-old West is currently racing in the Australian Superbike Championships (ASBK) and that competition will wrap up in early December, therefore freeing him to make the journey across the Tasman Sea to race at round two of the New Zealand Suzuki International Series (at Manfeild on December 9-10).
“At the conclusion of ASBK at The Bend in the first weekend of December, Addicted to Track Racing will travel across the ditch to race at Manfeild and also rounds 3-6 of the New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) series,” said Addicted to Track Racing team owner Mark McGregor.
“We will arrive with a scaled back two-rider team spearheaded by ex-MotoGP rider Ant West.”
West has also raced in the World Superbike Championships, the Brazilian Superbike Championships, the Supersport World Championships, the Asia Road Race SS600 Championships, the Moto America Superbike Championships in the USA and the British Superbike Championships, in a long and illustrious career that has taken him all around the world.
“Although Westy has over 25 years of experience at the top level of racing, he has never raced in New Zealand, so we expect a steep learning curve,” said McGregor.
“The team will travel with the support of our New Zealand friends, and with a variety of tracks across the country will be a formidable challenge.
“The NZ summer racing will be invaluable for 18-year-old Supersport 600 rider Declan Van Rosmalen as he builds on his international experience under Steph Redman’s guidance. Crew chief Anthony Quinn has built competitive Yamaha YZF-R1 & R6 race bikes for this campaign – make sure you drop by in the paddock and say hi!”
The Suzuki International Series has already become such an iconic competition that the governing body for the sport in this part of the world, Motorcycling New Zealand, last year decided for the first time that it made perfect sense to include the first two rounds of the Suzuki International Series – excluding the unique stand-alone Cemetery Circuit street racing component on Boxing Day – as an integral part of its national superbike championship series.
This year’s Suzuki International Series will be the 15th annual running after it skipped a beat and did not go ahead in 2021 due to the pandemic.
Big-name overseas riders have always been attracted to the Suzuki International Series.
Top world class riders from the United Kingdom who have turned out for the series in past years include British superbike and Isle of Man TT heroes Guy Martin, Maria Costello, Michael Dunlop, Lee Johnson, Connor Cummins, Peter Hickman and Richard Cooper, as well as notable and flamboyant Liechtenstein rider Horst Saiger, Australia’s Dan Stauffer, Swiss rider Roman Stamm, Germany’s Thomas Kreutz and British world championship sidecar heroes Tim Reeves and John Holden, to name a few.
The 2023 series will kick off at Taupo on Sunday, December 2-3, then heads to Manfeild a week later, on Sunday, December 9-10, and finally it wraps up on the public streets of Whanganui’s renowned Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day.
The iconic street race event in Whanganui on December 26 will again serve as the spectacular finale and this year it will again be celebrated as the Southern Hemisphere’s premier “round the houses” race meeting.
“It’s fantastic to have this continued support from Suzuki New Zealand,” said series organiser Alan ‘Flea’ Willacy.
“The support we have had from Suzuki over the years has been tremendous and this is a competition that has grown in leaps and bounds since its inaugural running in December 2008.
“Suzuki also provide us with a pace car to use on the purpose-built race circuits and around the Whanganui street circuit too and, such is their generosity, this is available for us to use all year round too as we vigorously promote the series.”
The annual three-round Suzuki International Series kicks off this busiest time of the year for New Zealand’s elite motorcycle road-racers, with the New Zealand Superbike Nationals flowing on nicely after that, three events in the South Island and then the MotoFest festival weekend at Hampton Downs, north of Hamilton, to wrap it all up.
Points from five of the six designated NZSBK rounds will be counted in 2023-24, with riders able to discard their worst round score, allowing teams and individuals to manage their budgets and choose which rounds they wish to attend and which one they might choose to skip.
DATES FOR 2023-24 NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE SEASON:
Suzuki International Series (and first two rounds of the nationals):
- Round 1, Taupo, Dec 2nd and 3rd;
- Round 2, Manfeild, Feilding, Dec 9th and 10th;
- Whanganui’s Cemetery Circuit, Dec 26th (third and final round of Suzuki International Series, but not part of the nationals).
- Round 3, Ruapuna, Christchurch (includes GP title races), Jan 6th and 7th;
- Round 4, Levels, Timaru, Jan 13th and 14th;
- Round 5, Burt Munro, Teretonga, Feb 9th, 10th and 11th.
- Round 6, Hampton Downs, part of MotoFest, Mar 2nd and 3rd.
© Words by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
Photo courtesy Endorphin Media
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