Pukekohe Classic Festival
2-4 February, 2018 – Pukekohe Park, New Zealand
Continuing the resurgence of classic racing at Pukekohe, south of Auckland, the 39th NZCMRR Festival took place under threatening skies and once again produced some brilliant racing. With the Festival’s ethos now extended to include ‘eighties Japanese machinery, the race program has taken on a different look, and in doing so has extended the appeal to a new generation. It has also seen the emergence of a clutch of young chargers who will take the sport into the next era and beyond. These included Tyler Lincoln (aged 20) on Dave Kenah’s Manx Norton, Dan Mettam (21) on an indecently fast 500cc Norton Dominator, and Ducati- mounted Finn Harman (22) who won the Christopher Leeke Memorial Trophy. Saturday’s program began under dark and threatening skies, and by midday track action came to a halt as the circuit flooded. However Sunday dawned fine and the organisers quickly had racing underway in front of a healthy crowd.
As well as the races, the Festival featured a tribute to Geoff Perry, with some of his Suzukis and a big photographic display. The other theme was a celebration of past Superbike stars headed by triple World Champion Troy Bayliss on his title-winning 996RS Ducati, Aaron Slight on an SP-1 Honda, Andrew Stroud on a Suzuki, Gary Goodfellow on one of Kevin Grant’s Ducatis, Steve Briggs on the ‘CRS’ Britten owned by American Bob Robbins, and four-time World Champion Hugh Anderson aboard a Vincent Black Lightning.
There was some thrilling racing – the Pre 1989 F1 in particular which featured a battle between winner Paul Pavletich’s Yamaha OW01, Dennis Charlett on a McIntosh Suzuki and Matt Eggleton’s Yamaha FZR 1000 that was not resolved until the final corner. Another close contest was the 251-350, where Neville Bull brought his Manx Norton home centimetres ahead of Dan Mettam’s Honda and Zurrin Wiki’s Aermacchi; truly an international clash! The father and son team of Bill and Chris Swallow were also busy, both riding in several classes, with Bill bringing Phil Price’s ex-Les Diener Eldee Velocette home first in the 250 race, leaving a trail of more modern two strokes in his wake.
With the main races for the perpetual trophies completed, Sunday’s program was delayed by an oil spill, at which point the rain returned. The organisers are very mindful of preserving their Motorcycling NZ permit to race at the circuit, and to avoid the possibility of accidents the rest of the meeting was abandoned. The resurfacing of the circuit is due to be completed prior to the 2019 Festival, and this will eliminate the patch work which is treacherously slippery in the wet, as well as the bumps and ripples that make the start/finish straight such a bouncy ride. The open-to-public pit and paddock area make this a spectacular show where, unlike some other circuits, the bikes are not hidden away in garages. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the NZCMRR, the annual Pukekohe Festival appears back in rude health, and is definitely a must-attend date for the 2019 calendar. Full results can be seen at www.marktime.co.nz
Fabulous dice in one of the 350 contests between winner Neville Bull (72), Zurrin Wiki (24) and Dan Mettam. One of Geoff Perry’s Suzukis on display. Jim Quilter rode his Triumph Daytona up from Wellington, stripped the glassware, raced in all weekend,...
Star of the Pre-89 class, Finn Harman on his 1989 750 F2 Ducati. Steve Briggs on the CR&S Britten, the third of the ten bikes built. The first Kiwi to win a World Superbike race, Gary Goodfellow. Mark Halls and Jessica Housby starred in the Sidecar...