Superbike Champs Lap Records Fall At Timaru
Ups and downs are often all part of the excitement with motorcycle racing and there was plenty of that going on at the Levels International Motor Raceway, near Timaru, at the weekend.
While a few of the leading riders in the New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) event at Timaru suffered unaccustomed crashes, there were drops of a different nature seen there too at this fourth round of six in the 2023-24 series … and that was falling lap records.
The first two of six rounds in the series were run in the North Island in early December and, after a short hiatus over the festive period, the series resumed with round three in Christchurch just over a week ago.
The PTS Logistics-sponsored NZSBK series carried on with round four at Timaru on Saturday and Sunday and spectators were again treated to racing of the highest calibre.
Several riders managed remarkable hat-tricks at Timaru at the weekend, winning all three of their races over the two days, and perhaps none was more impressive than the trio of wins enjoyed by visiting Australian Ant West in the premier Superbike class.
West was pipped in qualifying by Whakatane’s defending national champion Mitch Rees and he came under intense pressure too from the Kiwi hero in all three of the 1000cc bike races at Timaru.
The man from Queensland then broke the Timaru lap record for Superbikes on his way to winning race one on Saturday. But that feat was then eclipsed twice by Rees the following day, with Rees snatching the lap record from him in race two and then going even faster again in the third and final race of the weekend.
However, this was scant consolation for Rees, who could now see his title slipping away as West’s race-winning momentum powered onward.
Three of the Superbike class riders who had a disappointing weekend were Taupo’s Scott Moir, who suffered mechanical issues before the start of race one, Rees’ multi-time former champion father Tony Rees, who crashed out of race three, and Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem, who failed to start that third race due to mechanical issues.
Other riders to enjoy a “golden run” and score a winning hat-trick at Timaru included Invercargill international Cormac Buchanan (in the Supersport 600 class); Greymouth’s Garth Wilson (Supersport 600B class); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (Supersport 300 class); Southbridge’s Ben Rosendaal (Pro Twins class); Richmond’s Heath Botica (Formula Sport class); Wellington’s Nixon Frost (GIXXER 150 class); Palmerston North’s Barry Smith with Stu Dawe (F1 Sidecars class) and Whanganui’s Peter and Michael Dowman (F2 Sidecars class).
Other riders to break lap records at Timaru at the weekend were: Buchanan (Supersport 600 class); Taupo’s Karl Hooper (Formula Three class); Auckland’s Nick Southerwood (Super Twins class) and Christchurch’s Hunter Charlett (Supersport 150 class).
Buchanan’s seemingly flawless 600cc title defence suffered a setback when he crashed soon after the start of race three for the Supersport 600 class at Timaru, but that turned out to be a mere blip on the radar as he won the re-start on his back-up bike and continued to grow his championship points lead. So dominant has Buchanan been this series that he almost has the class wrapped up now with two rounds still to come.
Meanwhile, Stroud won the Allan Ramage Memorial trophy, topping the points ahead of Buchanan and Auckland’s Hamish Simpson in the separate series of three quick-fire races that wound up the weekend.
Entries for the Allan Ramage Memorial races were by invitation only, comprising the fastest qualifiers from the 300cc class.
Invercargill’s Teretonga Park Raceway circuit will host the penultimate round five in February – included as an integral part of the annual 2024 Burt Munro Challenge bike festival week – before the series then travels north again to wrap up with round six at Hampton Downs, near Huntly, in March.
Points from five of the six rounds are to be counted in this 2023-24 season, 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.
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 four at Timaru at the weekend:
Australia’s Ant West (F1/Superbike class); Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (F2/Supersport 600 class); Southbridge’s Ben Rosendaal (Pro Twins class); Mahana’s Jonny Lewis (Super Twins class); Taupo’s Karl Hooper (Formula Three class); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (Supersport 300 class); Wellington’s Nixon Frost (GIXXER 150 class); Christchurch’s Hunter Charlett (Supersport 150 class); Palmerston North’s Barry Smith and Stu Dawe (F1 Sidecars class) and 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).
• 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