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Debut Ride Ends with Podium Finish

Debut Ride Ends with Podium Finish

APRIL 1, 2014: Auckland’s Toby Summers had a huge frown on his face as he packed up at the end of the weekend’s racing at the fourth and final round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships at Manfeild.

The scowl wasn’t because the Yamaha ace didn’t ride well – because he did – it’s just that he is his own hardest task-master and finishing the championship in anything less than first place is regarded by him as a failure.

But, to put things in perspective, the Manukau plumber had exceeded everyone’s expectations, except perhaps his own, and had taken a “tired old 2011-model bike” to second step on the podium in one of the toughest motorcycling competitions in this part of the world.

What’s more, it was his debut season in the 600cc Supersport class and to finish in the No.2 spot was a remarkable feat for a relative novice.

His main rival was the defending champion in the class, Christchurch’s John Ross, and he had arrived at Manfeild for the series finale with a huge 28-point advantage.

Ross was therefore slightly more than a full race ahead of Summers at the start of the long weekend, with only five races left to go over the three days.

Ross rode gingerly in Friday and Saturday’s races, and the first of Sunday’s two races, to ensure that he wrapped up the championship, while Summers dug in to try and catch him and to kept at bay the riders who were giving chase.

“I started the season just doing a bit of club racing on the Yamaha R6, then someone kindly offered to take it down to the South Island for me so that I could do the nationals. It was the first time I’d been on those South Island tracks, so I was learning as I went,” said the 41-year-old Summers.

“I suppose I shouldn’t be too disappointed in finishing second because the guys I’m racing against have all been doing it for a while and they’re all great riders.

“But you always like to win and that’s what I want to do. Maybe next year. This bike is up for sale. I’m getting a newer one.”

No matter how you slice it, this has been a remarkable season for Summers, who took his Yamaha R6 to win the F2 class in the annual pre-season Suzuki Series – staged at Hampton Downs, Manfeild and Wanganui in December – and then won the F2 class at the big annual Battle of the Streets race meeting on the public roads of Paeroa in February.

The national champions in the other classes were: Superbikes, Dennis Charlett (Christchurch); Superlites, Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth); 125GP, Matthew Hoogenboezem (Christchurch); Pro Twins, Royd Walker-Holt (Kawakawa); 250 Production, Bailie Perriton (Ashburton); and Sidecars, Spike Taylor and Astrid Hartnell (Masterton).

by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

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