NZ superbike title fight begins this weekend
JANUARY 7, 2020: The 2019 New Zealand Superbike Championships went right down to the wire and it will possibly be the same story again in 2020.
The five-round Yamaha-sponsored 2020 series kicks off at Mike Pero Motorsport Park (Ruapuna) in Christchurch this Saturday and Sunday (January 11-12), the race programme boasting an entry list that's overflowing with international-calibre talent and a few of those riders perhaps looking for revenge after falling just short of claiming silverware last year.
Taupo's Scott Moir missed on winning his first New Zealand superbike class title last year by just one solitary point, as it was instead Glen Eden's Daniel Mettam who ended up with his maiden crown in the superbike class and these two men, along with last year's No.3, Christchurch rider Alastair Hoogenboezem, will no doubt be at the sharp end of the field again this weekend.
The second round in the series follows swiftly afterwards, just one week later, at Levels International Raceway, near Timaru, on January 18-19.
Local rider Hoogenboezem says he is feeling confident heading to Mike Pero Motorsport Park this weekend, the venue a happy hunting ground for the Canterbury man on many an occasion.
"I was happy with finishing third overall last season. I was on a new bike, so to get good results against guys who had been on the same bikes for years was pretty satisfying," said the 27-year-old builder from West Melton.
"I have been on every brand in the paddock now, but this will be my second year on the same model bike, so I'm really looking forward to this year. I have notes and data I can look back on and I can hit the ground running.
"Ruapuna is my home track and I obviously enjoy having the nationals there.
"Ruapuna seems to be one of those tracks that you need to ride a lot. It's a longer track and so there's quite a bit to learn. I was in second or third in the standings when I left Ruapuna last season, so hoping to achieve even better this time around."
With Hoogenboezem's liking for Ruapuna, it's certain that defending superbike champion Mettam cannot afford to rest on his laurels and even more so with Whakatane superbike brothers Damon and Mitch Rees setting the tarmac alight during the Suzuki International Series in December.
Wellington's Sloan Frost and Christchurch's Jake Lewis also impressed during that pre-nationals competition and could be expected to shine too during the five-round New Zealand Superbike Championships.
Action will be fierce in the other bike categories too, with the Supersport 600 class typically a close-fought affair, while riders in the Supersport 300, Ninja 400 Cup, 650 Pro Twin, Sidecars, GIXXER Cup 150 and Supersport 150 classes won't be holding back either.
Rangiora’s Avalon Biddle will attempt to defend her Supersport 600 title, but knows she will have her work cut out to fend off riders such as Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler, Whanganui's Richie Dibben, Te Awamutu's David Hall, Manukau’s Toby Summers, Tapanui's Seth Devereux, Christchurch’s Dale Finch and former Greymouth man Ashton Hughes also highly fancied.
"We have fewer classes this year, but have retained all the core classes to make this a more hard-hitting, rip-fire race programme," said Motorcycling New Zealand road-racing commissioner Grant Ramage.
"The intensity will be lifted and this should please both spectators and fans alike," he said.
"This 2020 season will be a transitional one for us as we tweak what we had previously and introduce new formats. We will revisit this again at the end of the season."
The 2020 New Zealand Superbike Championships are supported by Yamaha New Zealand, Aon Insurance, ICG and Pirelli, Trust Aoraki, Blue Wing Honda, NZ Racing Board, Timaru District Council, Bike Rider Magazine and Sky Sport Next.
2020 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:
Round 1 – January 11-12, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch;
Round 2 – January 18-19, Levels International Raceway, Timaru;
Round 3 – March 7-8, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest;
Round 4 – March 28-29, Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, Feilding;
Round 5 – April 4-5, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.
Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com