Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onships kicked off

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS -

Welling­ton’s Sloan Frost may be the de­fend­ing na­tional su­per­bike cham­pion and Taupo’s Scotty Moir may have ruled the 1000cc class dur­ing the pre-na­tion­als Suzuki Se­ries, but nei­ther rider can af­ford to rest on their lau­rels.

The five-round 2019 New Zealand Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onships kicked off at Mike Pero Mo­tor­sport Park, at Rua­puna, Christchurch, tn Jan­uary 5-6, and with en­try num­bers in­creased across all the classes, this makes it per­haps the big­gest road-rac­ing cham­pi­onship seen in New Zealand for many years.

The sec­ond round fol­lows at Lev­els In­ter­na­tional Race­way, near Ti­maru, on Jan­uary 12-13.

Rid­ers such as Glen Eden’s Daniel Met­tam, Ran­giora’s Jake Lewis and Whakatane brothers Mitch and Da­mon Rees are poised to strike, along with Auck­lan­der Dave Sharp and Christchurch brothers Alas­tair and James Hoogen­boezem.

The pre-na­tion­als Suzuki Se­ries in De­cem­ber was the per­fect com­pe­ti­tion for the lat­est model bikes to be aired, for new teams to present them­selves and for rid­ers to find out where they stand be­fore the se­ri­ous busi­ness of the na­tion­als.

Frost has no doubt that his mis­sion to hold on to the premier ti­tle will be a par­tic­u­larly tough one this sea­son.

“I think I’m go­ing fast enough to win the na­tional ti­tle again in 2019. At Man­feild’s round of the Suzuki Se­ries I was putting in laps that were faster there than the year be­fore, but it re­mains to be seen whether that will be fast enough,” said the 37-year-old father of four.

“It seems though that ev­ery­one is go­ing faster this year. It’s all go­ing to come down to race craft and con­sis­tency.”

The Su­per­sport 600 class will also be fizzing, the com­pe­ti­tion in De­cem­ber high­light­ing a few names to watch for in 2019, per­haps Ran­giora’s Avalon Bid­dle most of all.

Up­per Hutt’s Ro­gan Chan­dler, Te Awa­mutu’s David Hall and Manukau’s Toby Sum­mers should also be 600cc class con­tenders in 2019 and, when a few of the South Is­lan­ders are added into the mix – rid­ers such as Christchurch’s Dale Finch and Grey­mouth’s Ash­ton Hughes, for ex­am­ple – it’s ob­vi­ous the start­ing grids for the na­tion­als will be over­flow­ing with tal­ent.

Most eyes will likely fo­cus on Bid­dle.

She fin­ished third over­all, be­hind Lewis and James Hoogen­boezem, in the Su­per­sport 600 class last sea­son and she has al­ready shown she has the po­ten­tial to win it this year.

“I have rid­den this bike, the Kawasaki ZX6R, for the past two years now, so it’s re­ally well setup for me,” said the 26-year-old Bid­dle.

She was Women’s Eu­ro­pean Cup cham­pion back-to-back in 2015 and 2016 and she is cer­tainly well re­spected by her male ri­vals at home.

“Phys­i­cally I’m stronger than I was. It’s a big step up from 300cc to 600cc bikes. I’ve been on a 600 now for five years, but it’s taken me that long to build up strength and tech­nique to last a whole race.”

The Su­per­sport 300 class should be an­other caul­dron, with rid­ers such as Dunedin’s Kevin God­dard, Ti­maru’s Harry Parker and Hamil­ton’s Ja­cob Stroud among the likely stars.

This is a growth area for the sport, where rid­ers will de­velop and hone their craft, pos­si­bly to later be­come cham­pi­ons on 600cc and 1000cc ma­chines.

The var­i­ous other classes in the na­tion­als this year are: 250 Pro­duc­tion; Su­per­lite; 650 Pro Twin; 125 GP; Side­cars; GIXXER Cup 150.

Mo­tor­cy­cling New Zealand ex­tends an in­vi­ta­tion to me­dia to at­tend the pre-event press con­fer­ences on Fri­day, Jan­uary

11, from 5pm.

The first press con­fer­ence for the se­ries will be held in the Casino Lounge, Mike Pero Mo­tor­sport Park.

Su­per­bike class rid­ers at­tend­ing the press con­fer­ence in­clude Sloan Frost, Mitch and Da­mon Rees, Daniel Met­tam, Alas­tair Hoogen­boezem and Jake Lewis.

Su­per­sport 600 class rid­ers at­tend­ing in­clude Avalon Bid­dle, Ro­gan Chan­dler, Toby Sum­mers and Dale Finch.

Host Mo­tor­cy­cling Can­ter­bury pres­i­dent Den­nis Charlett will also be in at­ten­dance and avail­able for in­ter­views.

Se­ries com­men­ta­tor Neil ‘Turbo Ton­sils’ Ritchie will be host­ing the event, which will also be filmed by the pro­duc­tion team from CTAS Live. Footage of in­ter­views will be avail­able for ed­i­to­rial use.

PHOTO / ANDY McGechan, Bike­sportNZ.com

Ran­giora’s Avalon Bid­dle (Kawasaki ZXR6), a likely front-run­ner in the Su­per­sport 600 class again this sea­son.

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