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Suzuki International Series Blasts Off In Style

Richard Markham-Barrett, from Nikau Valley, near Paraparaumu, sensationally leading in two separate classes after the series opener in Taupo on Sunday. He is first equal in the Formula Three class and leads alone in the Senior Bears class for non-Japanese bikes. Photo by Andy McGechan,

The New Zealand road-racing season is now underway and the long wait was certainly worth it.

This popular three-round Suzuki International Series is New Zealand’s most esteemed motorcycle competition and it has again attracted a huge number of top-calibre riders, particularly this year with the country now virtually free of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The racing at Sunday's opening round at Taupo's Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park certainly offered an appetising foretaste of the brilliant racing to come over the next few weeks.

Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, on the outskirts of Feilding, follows as host venue for round two this coming Sunday, December 13, and the Suzuki International Series action wraps up, as it traditionally does, on the public streets of Whanganui, riders tearing around the world-famous Cemetery Circuit, on Boxing Day (Saturday, December 26).

Series organiser Allan 'Flea' Willacy said members of the public could save money by purchasing "early bird tickets" through Ticketek on-line and then they'll also go in the draw to win an upgrade to a Suzuki VIP Pass.

Bike fans simply fizzed at being a part of the first major motorcycle road-race event in New Zealand since the pandemic lock-down, with Sunday's racing under a warm, clear sky absolutely perfect for thrilling handlebar-to-handlebar action throughout all of the 12 various bike categories.

This three-round competition traditionally signals the start to the new season and always attracts the cream of the motorcycling community, riders keen to show off and test their bikes and their skills ahead of the national championships, set for the South Island in January and in the North Island in March 2021, and so would also stand as a litmus test for that championship series.

"The crowds were great and the racing was fantastic," enthused Willacy afterwards.

"There were a few upsets among the results and a few crashes too, so I think there will be a few riders with a point to prove at rounds two and three.

"The GIXXER 150 class racing was particularly good to watch. Actually, across the board, all the racing was splendid.

"We are looking forward to Manfeild this coming weekend, where we anticipate it will again be tight battling at the front of the fields."

Class leaders after the first of three rounds of the Suzuki International Series are Christchurch's Alastair Hoogenboezem (Formula One); Upper Hutt's Rogan Chandler (Formula Two); Nikau Valley's Richard Markham-Barrett and Whagamata's Jarad Horn (first equal in Formula Three); Markham-Barrett (Bears Senior); Te Awamutu's Stephen Bates (Bears Junior); Christchurch's Caleb Gilmore (GIXXER 150 Cup); Pukekohe's Matt Eggleton (Post Classics, pre-89 Senior); Ngaruawahia's Steve Bridge (Post Classics, pre-89 Junior); Tauranga's Barry Smith and Stu Dawe (F1 Sidecars); Albany's Mark Halls and Michelle MacLean (F2 Sidecars); Taumarunui's Jette Josiah (Super Motard); Caleb Gilmore and Timaru's Harry Parker (first equal in Supersport 300).

© Scoop Media

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