Kids’ duathlon key part of Suzuki race series
Monday 8 August 2011.
Kids’ duathlon key part of Suzuki race series
The increasingly popular Grid Kids Duathlon Series has received a boost from Suzuki New Zealand’s premier race car championship, the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup, for the 2011/2012 summer season.
Suzuki New Zealand is providing a brand new APV van to move the Grid Kids programme to each of the six rounds from Auckland to Invercargill contested by the Swift Sport Cup racing series. The Grid Kids Duathlon Series is contested on the Sunday morning of the motor race weekend by kids in the 6 - 7, 8 - 9, 10 - 13 age groups. They can enter the duathlon event as individuals or in teams.
Added incentive includes a $500 sports gear package for the school with the highest number of entries compared to their school roll.
The Grid Kids programme is headed by Taupo’s Shanelle Barrett, a two-time New Zealand Elite Triathlon Champion. Having represented New Zealand internationally in triathlon for nine years at world cup and world championship level, Barrett says Grid Kids is aimed at motivating the next generation of potential competitors.
“The Grid Kids Duathlon Series main aim is to provide an opportunity to encourage the children of New Zealand to take part in physical exercise. It provides children with a chance to achieve something and be proud of themselves as well as teaching healthy habits that will last a lifetime,” says Barrett.
“Being part of the motor race programme gives us the ideal environment to hold the competition, using the pit-lane for the running leg and the race track for the cycle leg. It’s a ready-made venue we can easily manage before the car racing starts for the day. And having the support of Suzuki means we can piggy-back each other’s marketing campaigns to attract people to our respective events.”
Suzuki New Zealand motorsport manager Darren Stevens says it’s part of a broader association that ultimately involves the whole family in a day out.
“It’s about backing our youth and being part of an organisation to motivate getting outdoors and being involved.
“The kids get to register at the local Suzuki dealership, where we can bring greater awareness to the race class and brand. We then hope the family makes the Sunday morning duathlon a day of it at the car racing. It’s a great opportunity for kids and parents to see the race teams before their racing. They get the chance to mix and mingle, seeing what goes on before the cars head out on to the track.
“The kids’ parents are people who are likely to buy our new cars, so seeing them in competition is a way of reinforcing their durability, reliability and ultimately, value for money while they’re having fun. It s also the atmosphere of being at the premier race series, the end result is a win for everyone - we all go home fulfilled.
“Plus the kids get a kick out of being part of the race action: ten finishers are picked out for the opportunity to be driver name holders at the front of the race car grid, which gets a lot of photo and television publicity. Its further reward for being involved.”
Barrett will have the use of a Suzuki APV van to move the programme from Pukekohe south of Auckland starting 6 November, to Christchurch on 11 December, Invercargill 15 January, Timaru 22 January, Feilding 12 February and returning to Taupo for the final on 11 March.
The Grid Kids Duathlon Series takes place on the Sunday morning before the motor racing, with each age group starting at timed intervals, returning for a 10:00am prizegiving. Each finisher receives a medal and certificate along with an additional two admittance tickets for the motor race programme.
“Shanelle does a great job mentoring and inspiring these kids with her triathlon experience. And we also see it tie in with our 2XU (two times you) clothing partnership and our joint Triathlon New Zealand association,” added Stevens.
Upper Hutt 16-year-old Jamie Gaskin will be one Suzuki Swift Sport Cup driver who will compete with the kids at each event.
“He’ll be in the starting line-up to help motivate them and be an ambassador for what hard work and determination can turn in to. Other drivers will join in during the season – as from what we’ve seen, there is a lot of fun behind the sense of achievement.”
Suzukis Swift Sport Cup category has two races on the
Sunday, where the 1600cc cars chase for points toward the
six-round championship title. The road legal, identical
specification cars are fitted with additional safety
equipment (roll-cage, seats, belts, and fire extinguisher),
performance suspension, brake pads and front differential.
Utilising the standard engine computer, they produce 92kW
power at 6800rpm with 148Nm torque at 4800rpm from the
1600cc engine (1586cc).
With a minimum weight of 1125kg, the cars have no other modifications, with teams only able to make minor adjustments to suspension alignment to optimise handling and performance for the track and/or conditions.