Whanganui Father And Daughter Shine In Suzuki Series
DECEMBER 11, 2023: They say a family that plays together stays together and you couldn’t get much closer than Whanganui sidecar duo Peter and Lucy Dowman.
The father and daughter pairing were among the many standouts at round two of the combined Suzuki International Series/New Zealand Superbike Championships at Manfeild, just outside Feilding, at the weekend.
With extremely contrasting weather conditions to cope with at the big two-day event at Manfeild on Saturday and Sunday, it really was a case of survival of the fittest and the Dowman crew – including 29-year-old daughter/sister Emma, racing there also, in the GIXXER Cup 150 class – were among those elite to not only survive, but also to flourish.
Peter and Lucy had started the weekend level on points with the rival sidecar crew of Ian Burke and George Vennell, from Edgecumbe, in the closely-fought Formula Two Sidecars class, but it was the Whanganui twosome and their Suzuki GSX-R600-powered rig that ended up stealing the spotlight.
Just as had happened at the opening round of the parallel-but-separate two series at Taupo a week earlier, the race circuit at Manfeild was baked hot and dry on Saturday, but the tarmac awash with rain the following day, making for some extremely tricky conditions in which to race.
But, at both these events in Taupo and at Manfeild, the Dowman crew produced consistent performances, enough to take the points advantage as the riders now head to the public streets of Whanganui for the traditional Boxing Day finale on the spectacular and internationally renowned Cemetery Circuit.
Peter Dowman, a 63-year-old aircraft engineer, and daughter Lucy, a 22-year-old upholsterer, have grown rapidly into their roles as a winning sidecar team.
Racing bikes is nothing new to Lucy, who has been racing classic bikes for five or six years now and she also raced in the GIXXER Cup 150 for several seasons, but the sidecar gig with her dad is a relatively fresh pursuit.
They raced together in the F2 sidecars class for the first time in the Suzuki International Series last season, finishing a creditable third overall, and now they’re top of the pile with just the Whanganui race meeting to come.
“We are achieving personal best lap times almost every time we get onto the track now. We took three seconds a lap off our times here at Manfeild from last year,” said Peter.
“It’s actually just all about spending time on the bike. My son Michael and I spent a lot of time on the bike at the Auckland Motorcycle Club Championships and that got me used to riding the bike a bit faster. Michael also races classic sidecars.
“I’m not concerned for Lucy racing sidecars. It’s as safe as houses,” he laughed.
Lucy is looking ahead with just a little trepidation to racing on the twists and turns of the Cemetery Circuit.
“It will be my first time on the F2 bike at Whanganui, but I am double-classing because I’ll race with my brother James in the classic sidecar class there as well,” she said, obviously keen to have the opportunity to sharpen her race craft and add to her experience.
The Suzuki International Series is again this season being run in conjunction with the New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) series, with the first two rounds recognised as rounds one and two of both parallel-but-separate competitions.
Suzuki International Series promoter and organiser Allan 'Flea' Willacy said he was extremely pleased with how well all the riders adapted to the challenging conditions at the weekend.
“The whole weekend went really well,” he said. “It has been great racing on both days in the wet and the dry. The riders all rode responsibly.
“A massive thanks to all the marshals who were out track-side for us all weekend. They do a marvellous job.”
The Suzuki International Series phase of the 2023-24 season wrap ups, as always, on Whanganui’s famous Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day.
The Boxing Day ‘street fight’ is not part of the NZSBK series and that six-round NZSBK competition resumes in the New Year, with rounds three, four and five in the South Island – at Christchurch, Timaru and Invercargill respectively – with the series then travelling north again to wrap up with round six at Hampton Downs, near Huntly, in March.
Class leaders in both 2023-24 series after round two at Manfeild are:
Whakatane’s Tony Rees (F1/Superbike class); Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (F2/Supersport 600 class); Taupo’s Karl Hooper (F3/Pro Twins); Feilding’s John Oliver (Formula Sport, Senior); Whanganui’s Jeff Croot (Formula Sport, Junior); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (Supersport 300); Hamilton’s Joseph Stroud (GIXXER 150); Upper Hutt’s Keiran Mair (Supersport 150); Taupo’s Karl Hooper (Post Classics, Pre-89, Senior); Auckland’s Scott Findlay (Post Classics, Pre-89, Junior); Invercargill’s Jon Rawcliffe (Post Classics, Pre-95, Senior); Christchurch’s Jordan Leslie (Post Classics, Pre-95, Junior); Whanganui’s Richie Dibben (Supermoto); Panmure’s Adam Unsworth and Whanganui’s Bryce Rose (F1 Sidecars); Whanganui’s Peter and Lucy Dowman (F2 Sidecars).
DATES FOR 2023-24 NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE SEASON:
Suzuki International Series (and first two rounds of the nationals):
• Round 1, Taupo, Dec 2nd and 3rd;
• Round 2, Manfeild, Feilding, Dec 9th and 10th;
• Whanganui's Cemetery Circuit, Dec 26th (third and final round of Suzuki International Series, but not part of the nationals).
• Round 3, Ruapuna, Christchurch, Jan 6th and 7th;
• Round 4, Levels, Timaru, Jan 13th and 14th;
• Round 5, Burt Munro, Teretonga, Feb 9th, 10th and 11th.
• Round 6, Hampton Downs, part of MotoFest, Mar 2nd and 3rd.
Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com