Superbike Championships Set To Resume In Canterbury
The Christmas rush is over and so now the New Year’s rush can begin and it all starts in Canterbury this coming weekend.
The first two rounds of six in the 2023-24 New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) were run in early December and, after a short hiatus over the festive period, the series is set to resume with round three at Euromarque Motorsport Park (Ruapuna), on the outskirts of Christchurch, this Saturday and Sunday.
The PTS Logistics-sponsored NZSBK series has again this season been run in conjunction with the Suzuki International Series, with the first two rounds of both competitions recognised as rounds one and two of the two parallel-but-separate contests.
However, with the Suzuki International Series phase of the 2023-24 season in the North Island now completed, it’s time for the riders to head south and refocus on the championships, with rounds three, four and five in the South Island – at Christchurch, Timaru and Invercargill respectively – before the series then travels north again to wrap up with round six at Hampton Downs, near Huntly, in March.
Round five, at Invercargill’s Teretonga race circuit, is included as an integral part of the annual 2024 Burt Munro Challenge bike festival week.
Motorcycling New Zealand road-race commissioner Andy Skelton and NZSBK series co-ordinator SJ Cavell have both been looking forward to the series resumption this weekend, with salvos fired earlier in the series already hinting at where the various titles may be headed.
Skelton explained that points from five of the six rounds will be counted in 2023-24, with riders able to discard their worst round score, allowing teams and individuals to manage their budgets and choose which rounds they wish to attend and which one they might choose to skip.
Probably not surprisingly, Christchurch riders will be out in force this weekend, keen to make the most of any perceived home track advantage.
Father, mother and son trio Dennis, Angela and Hunter Charlett will each be waving the Canterbury flag at Ruapuna, the threesome competing separately, in the Supersport 300, 250 Production and Supersport 150 classes respectively.
Hunter Charlett is the defending champion in the Supersport 150 class.
Also from Christchurch are superbike class frontrunners Dale Finch and Alastair Hoogenboezem – both men former national road-racing champions – although this premier class is currently led by Whakatane’s multi-time former champion Tony Rees, with his defending champion son Mitch Rees in second position in the standings after the first two rounds.
However, it will be worth watching out for visiting Australian Ant West, who was absent from round one but won the Superbike class overall at round two.
Invercargill international Cormac Buchanan comfortably leads the Supersport 600 class after two rounds, and he will arrive in Christchurch in a confident mood, although Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler and Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud may challenge him this weekend.
This season's main sponsor is PTS Logistics, who are transporting airbags to Ruapuna, Timaru and Teretonga, while other partners for the championship are Coregas (nationwide industrial gas supplier) and Race Supplies (Motorcycle race parts supplier), with Moto Movers and BRM Dyno also supporting the Pro Twins/Super Twins class and Bartercard is offering prizes for all the dedicated marshals and ‘flaggies’ in the series.
Class leaders after round two are:
Whakatane’s Tony Rees (F1/Superbike class); Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (F2/Supersport 600 class); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (Supersport 300); Hamilton’s Joseph Stroud (GIXXER 150); Upper Hutt’s Keiran Mair (Supersport 150); 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 NZSBK):
• 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 championships).
• Round 3, Euromarque Motorsport Park (Ruapuna), Christchurch (includes GP title races), Jan 6th and 7th;
• Round 4, Levels International Motor Raceway, near Timaru, Jan 13th and 14th;
• Round 5, Burt Munro Challenge, Teretonga Park Raceway, near Invercargill, Feb 9th, 10th and 11th.
• Round 6, Hampton Downs, part of MotoFest (includes TT title races), Mar 2nd and 3rd.
Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com