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NZ Superbike Champs Title Hopefuls Make Their Move

The 2023-24 New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) reached the halfway stage in Canterbury at the weekend with various title hopefuls making their intentions perfectly clear.

The first two rounds of six in the series were run in early December and, after a short hiatus over the festive period, the series resumed with round three at Euromarque Motorsport Park (Ruapuna), on the outskirts of Christchurch, at the weekend and the leading riders in every class each made strong statements.

The opening two rounds of the PTS Logistics-sponsored NZSBK series were held in the North Island, at Taupo and Feilding respectively, but the next three rounds are scheduled for 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.

Round three in Canterbury at the weekend therefore marked the halfway stage of the national competition. There was perhaps no better time for riders to perform and that’s just what many of them did.

Australian visitor Ant West mounted an incredible assault on the premier Formula One/Superbike class, winning the weekend at Ruapuna, a circuit he had not even seen prior to the weekend, when he finished 2-1-1 in his three races over the two days at Ruapuna.

His race win in the third and marathon final 12-lap F1/Superbike race of the weekend also carried New Zealand GP title honours and, after an incredible battle with Whakatane’s defending national champion Mitch Rees and Christchurch’s 2020 national superbike champion Alastair Hoogenboezem, West pulled off an incredible victory, only snatching the glorious leading position in the final few laps.

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“These guys definitely made it difficult for me,” said West afterwards.

“I didn’t expect Al Hoogenboezem to come around the outside of both me and Mitch Rees to take the lead (near the end of the race). It was a big move. It was great racing and I think we all touched a few times.

“But it was really safe. When you race against professional guys like that, you can race that close. It’s not dangerous and it’s a lot of fun.

“I’ve raced a lot of places in the world and it’s been a pleasure to come here. Everyone is really relaxed here.”

Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan continued his storming run towards a successful title defence in the Supersport 600 class, with more wins under his wheels at Ruapuna, while riders such as Southbridge’s Ben Rosendaal, Mahana’s Jonny Lewis, Christchurch’s Simon Lawrence and Auckland’s Cameron Leslie were similarly resolute in their charge towards national titles.

Motorcycling New Zealand road-race commissioner Andy Skelton and NZSBK series co-ordinator SJ Cavell both agreed the racing was “edge of the seat excitement” at Ruapuna.

Points from five of the six rounds will be counted in 2023-24, with riders able to discard their worst round score, so none of the titles will be set in stone until after the final race at the final round at Hampton Downs.

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 winners at round three at Ruapuna at the weekend:

Australia’s Ant West (F1/Superbike class and GP champion); Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (F2/Supersport 600 class and GP champion); Southbridge’s Ben Rosendaal (Pro Twins class); Mahana’s Jonny Lewis (Super Twins class); Christchurch’s Simon Lawrence (Formula Three class); Auckland’s Cameron Leslie (Supersport 300 and GP champion); Wellington’s Nixon Frost (GIXXER 150 class); Auckland’s Haydyn Fordyce (Supersport 150 class and GP champion); Lincoln’s Ben Cordes (Kayo 150 class); Christchurch’s Dan Clark (250 Production class); Palmerston North’s Barry Smith and Stu Dawe (F1 Sidecars class and GP champions); Whanganui’s Peter and Michael Dowman (F2 Sidecars class).

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).

South Island:

• 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.

North Island:

• Round 6, Hampton Downs, part of MotoFest (includes TT title races), Mar 2nd and 3rd.

Credit: Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com

© Scoop Media

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