Count­down to box­ing day as se­ries gets un­der way

Taupo rider con­fi­dent de­spite in­ter­na­tional tal­ent in sum­mer se­ries

Whanganui Chronicle - - Front Page - Andy McGechan

Sum­mer is here, Christ­mas is com­ing and the na­tion’s best mo­tor­cy­cle road race tracks are beck­on­ing. It is just a few days now un­til the 2019 edi­tion of the al­ways-pop­u­lar Suzuki In­ter­na­tional Se­ries be­gins.

The 12th an­nual three-round se­ries opens this week­end and it is again swamped with po­tent, world-class en­tries right through the cat­e­gories.

Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Mo­tor­sport Park hosts the open­ing round on Satur­day and Sun­day, De­cem­ber 7-8, set­ting into mo­tion three con­sec­u­tive week­ends of blis­ter­ing mo­tor­cy­cle ac­tion, the se­ries again prov­ing to be some­what of a mag­net for in­ter­na­tional stars.

Man­feild, on the out­skirts of Feild­ing, fol­lows as the host venue the fol­low­ing week, De­cem­ber 14-15, and the ac­tion wraps up, as it tra­di­tion­ally does, on the streets of Whanganui as rid­ers tear around the world­fa­mous Ceme­tery Cir­cuit, on Box­ing Day.

Spec­ta­tors can save money by pur­chas­ing “early bird tick­ets” through Tick­etek on­line and they’ll also go in the draw to win a Suzuki Gixxer 150 bike.

While it is true that Taupo’s Scott Moir has fin­gers crossed he can make it three wins in a row in the premier For­mula One Su­per­bikes class, there are so many tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als lin­ing up that pick­ing a win­ner is almost im­pos­si­ble.

In ad­di­tion to the Suzuki ace Moir’s tra­di­tional New Zealand ri­vals in the class, there are also sev­eral over­seas vis­i­tors who could shat­ter Moir’s dreams of a three-peat.

Kiwi stand­outs in­clude Glen Eden’s cur­rent na­tional su­per­bike cham­pion Daniel Met­tam, Welling­ton’s two-time for­mer cham­pion Sloan Frost, the im­mense­ly­tal­ented Whakatane broth­ers Mitch and Da­mon Rees, Christchur­ch’s ever-con­sis­tent Al Hoogen­boezem, and Wainuiomat­a’s Shane Richard­son, — who has just re­turned from a suc­cess­ful racing sea­son in the United King­dom.

In ad­di­tion, top rid­ers are ar­riv­ing from the United King­dom, France and Aus­tralia, with Isle of Man and Bri­tish Su­per­bike Championsh­ip win­ners among them.

Bri­tish rider Richard Cooper and Ire­land’s Lee John­ston are just a cou­ple of the in­ter­na­tional head­lin­ers.

Cooper is the Bri­tish Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onships (BSB) Su­per­stock Cham­pion for 2019 and his per­for­mance as a new­comer at this year’s North West 200 was a def­i­nite high­light of that iconic event.

John­ston is the 2019 Isle of Man TT win­ner, which was ic­ing on the cake to a

2019 sea­son that also saw him win the Scar­bor­ough Gold Cup and fin­ish run­ner-up in the Ul­ster GP.

But, de­spite the hefty odds stacked against him, Moir re­mains de­fi­antly con­fi­dent.

“I cer­tainly be­lieve I can win the se­ries again,” said the 36-year-old.

“Surely the com­pe­ti­tion couldn’t get much harder than it was for me racing against [UK rider] Peter Hick­man last year.

“I’ve raced be­fore against Lee John­ston, and I beat him on that oc­ca­sion, but I don’t know about Richard Cooper, ex­cept that he’ll be fast.

“I know these New Zealand tracks well, though, so that should give me an ad­van­tage over the in­ter­na­tion­als.”

French­man Mor­gan Govi­gnon will be here too, set to race in the Bears (nonJa­panese bikes) class.

Fly­ing Welsh­man Ian Lougher makes a wel­come re­turn to New Zealand. He last raced here in 1999, mak­ing many Kiwi friends along the way, and his cre­den­tials make him some­thing of an icon in the sport.

Lougher has clocked up 10 Isle of Man TT wins, eight North West 200 wins, 18 Ul­ster GP wins, and a record 32 South­ern 100 wins — one more than the leg­endary Joey Dun­lop.

Lougher has reg­is­tered a record 140 race wins at the Scar­bor­ough races and he has lined up 139 times at the Isle of Man TT, which is more than any­one else in his­tory.

Welling­ton’s Glen Skachill re­turns to racing af­ter a num­ber of years away and he will also add spark to the F1 class on his BMW, while reign­ing na­tional 600 Su­pers­port cham­pion Avalon Bid­dle an­nounced she will again race at Taupo and Man­feild, while this time also mak­ing her de­but on the public streets of Whanganui on De­cem­ber 26.

Ran­giora-based Kiwi in­ter­na­tional Bid­dle will race her Kawasaki ZX6R in the F2 (600cc) class.

The Suzuki se­ries also of­fers racing for For­mula Three, Clas­sics (pre-89), sports bikes, su­per mo­tard bikes and side­cars, so there’s no short­age of on-track ac­tion.

The crowd-favourite Gixxer Cup class, re­served for rid­ers on iden­ti­cal 150cc Suzuki GSX150F model bikes, is in the pro­gramme again this year, but with the rider age-limit re­stric­tion lifted.

This means in­di­vid­u­als such as Moir, Frost and Met­tam are ex­pected also to line up and give tal­ented young­sters such as Jesse Stroud (Hamil­ton) and Caleb Gilmore (Whanganui) some­thing to think about.

There is noth­ing quite like the Suzuki se­ries for pro­vid­ing in­ter­na­tional class and han­dle­bar-to-han­dle­bar racing is vir­tu­ally guar­an­teed.

Photo / Andy McGechan, Bike­

The streets of Whanganui on Box­ing Day will cap off the three rounds of the 2019 Suzuki In­ter­na­tional Se­ries, which be­gins in Taupo on Satur­day.

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