Parker plans an all-out assault on Timaru race track
JANUARY 14, 2020: He's running third overall in the Supersport 300 class standings after round one, but Timaru's Harry Parker reckons home track advantage will boost him up the standings this coming weekend.
It's the second round of five in the Yamaha-sponsored 2020 New Zealand Superbike Championships at Levels International Raceway, near Timaru, this coming Saturday and Sunday, and South Island riders in particular will be hoping to make the most of this weekend's opportunities to score before the series heads to the North Island for the next phase of racing.
The 19-year-old Parker finished third overall on debut in the Supersport 300 class last season – the Yamaha ace actually winning the corresponding weekend at Timaru in 2019, when he qualified fastest and then produced a 2-1-1 score-card – and he sees no reason why he can't repeat that this coming weekend.
Parker finished third overall behind Hamilton's Jacob Stroud and Auckland's Nathanael Diprose in the series last year and he's third in the standings again after the 2020 series opener at Christchurch on the weekend just gone, with Whangarei's Jason Hearn and Opunake's Campbell Grayling the early competition leaders in the Supersport 300 class this time around.
"I was pretty stoked to finish third at the weekend," said Parker. "A lot of the riders have been racing this class longer than me and they're very good riders. But I reckon I can beat them at Levels. It's my home track and my favourite track too.
"I was struggling for grip at Christchurch with the track getting so hot and the tyres becoming slippery," said Parker, who managed a creditable third, a fifth and then a fourth placing at the weekend.
Parker is a relative novice in the sport, but he has certainly not wasted any time in getting to grips with the sport and he could now be expected to feature among the leaders any time he races.
"I spend most weekends on a bike and that helps," laughed the teenage bike mechanic.
Aside from what happens in Parker's Supersport 300 class this coming weekend, the action is expected to be fierce in the other bike categories too, with the Superbike and Supersport 600 classes typically attracting the most attention, although the 650 Pro Twins, Sidecars, GIXXER Cup 150 and Supersport 150 classes will also be closely-fought.
Class leaders after the weekend's racing at Christchurch are Whakatane's Damon Rees (Superbikes); Whanganui's Richie Dibben (Supersport 600); Whangarei's Jason Hearn (Supersport 300); Whangamata's Benjamin Rosendaal (650 Pro Twins); Auckland's Peter Goodwin and Kendal Dunlop (Sidecars); Invercargill's Cormac Buchanan (Supersport 150) and Nelson's Tyrone Kuipers (GIXXER Cup 150, support).
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