Included this year as part of the week-long annual Burt Munro Challenge spectacle in Southland, this fifth round of six in the PTS Logistics-sponsored New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) was a happy hunting ground for several riders and, although local hero Cormac Buchanan managed to wrap up his Supersport 600 class title defence with a round to spare, he had to do it the hard way.
He finished an unaccustomed third in the first 600cc race of the weekend on Saturday – won instead by his main rival, Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler – and Buchanan was then subsequently disqualified in that race, therefore earning nothing for his third placing, when it was found he had broken the rules by (accidentally) not attaching a timing transponder to his bike.
This handed Chandler a 25-point boost to his campaign.
Although clearly frustrated, a fired-up Buchanan then made amends by winning both races the following day and this was also enough for him to wrap up the title win, even with the sixth and final round at Hampton Downs still to come in March.
“This weekend the goal was simple … to get the NZSBK 600cc championship wrapped up,” said Buchanan afterwards.
“It wasn’t the best day for me on Saturday with the oversight about the transponder, but human error happens sometimes.
“I was playing it safe with my third placing on Saturday, but after the disqualification, I thought I’d better step it up.
“To end up winning in front of a home crowd was really awesome of course,” he beamed.
“I’ll be treating the final round at Hampton Downs as my last training before flying off to Europe the following week. I’ll be based again in Barcelona, racing a KTM bike in the Junior GP Moto 3 competition (a step below Moto2 and MotoGP).”
Defending champion in the premier 1000cc Superbike class, Whakatane’s Mitch Rees, continued his see-saw battle with visiting Australian Ant West, the Kiwi hero eventually getting the nod as overall winner in this class at Teretonga, his 1-2-1 score-card for the weekend enough to narrowly edge out the Queensland rider’s 2-1-2 results.
The other national championship class winner at Teretonga at the weekend was Taupiri’s Billee Fuller (Supersport 300 class), her impressive 1-2-2 results edging out Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud and Auckland’s Hamish Simpson.
Motorcycling New Zealand road-race commissioner Andy Skelton was impressed with the calibre of racing at the weekend.
“Considering we’ve had to deal with adverse weather conditions, I think the racing has been outstanding,” he said.
“The 300cc class has been the epitome of the parity we’re trying to achieve, with three different riders and three different bike manufacturers each celebrating wins. It’s been great racing.
“Thanks to the Burt Munro Challenge people for looking after us and putting on such a great event. There were 143 entries, which is outstanding.”
The series next travels back to the North Island, to wrap up with round six at Hampton Downs, near Huntly, on March 2-3.
Points from five of the six rounds are to be counted in this 2023-24 season, 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.
This season’s main sponsor is PTS Logistics, who transported airbags to Ruapuna, Timaru and Teretonga, while other partners for the championship are Coregas (nationwide industrial gas supplier) and Race Supplies (Motorcycle race parts supplier), with Moto Movers and BRM Dyno also supporting the Pro Twins/Super Twins class and Bartercard is offering prizes for all the dedicated marshals and ‘flaggies’ in the series.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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