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Race Wins Vital In The Final Chase For Points

The final round of any sporting series is always the most important, because that’s when the coveted silverware eventually gets handed out.

That will naturally be the case too when the sixth and final round of the PTS Logistics-sponsored 2023-24 New Zealand Superbike Championships wrap up at Hampton Down, in North Waikato, this coming Saturday and Sunday (March 2-3).

The undulating circuit, just north of Huntly, is the venue also for the annual Star Insure MotoFest motorcycling festival this weekend, one event neatly dovetailing into the other to offer competitors, bike fans and supporters alike real value for money and it also virtually guarantees a bumper-sized crowd at Hampton Downs.

Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (Supersport 600 class), Nelson’s Jonny Lewis (Super Twins class) and Whanganui father and son team Peter and Michael Dowman (Formula Two Sidecars) have already wrapped up the national titles in their respective categories, but the lesser placings have yet to be decided and, besides this, all the other championship classes are still on a knife edge.

For the 42-year-old Lewis, his Super Twin title win is his first national crown after 12 years of trying. He owns his own building company, “with a staff of about 20 old roosters who keep me busy”, so his New Zealand championship win was certainly reason to celebrate.

However, perhaps key to the weekend’s racing will be watching to see if Whakatane’s Mitch Rees can defend his New Zealand superbike class title as Australian visitor Ant West comes on strong.

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West, a former Supersport World Championship, MotoGP and Moto2 racer in Europe, missed the first round of this 2023-24 series in Taupo back in December, but has won races at every round since then.

Rees currently leads the points standings, but only five of six rounds are to be counted, with every rider to discard their worst round result, and that means West will drop a big fat zero from his tally when he deletes his non-score from the Taupo event, while Rees will have to drop 40 or more points from his.

This will tighten things up considerably in the thrilling chase for glory in this premier class.

Taupiri’s Billee Fuller won the day in the Supersport 300 class at round five in Invercargill two weeks ago, her impressive 1-2-2 results edging out Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud and Auckland’s Hamish Simpson, but we can certainly expect Stroud and Simpson to try and answer her back at Hampton Downs.

Motorcycling New Zealand road-race commissioner Andy Skelton agreed there was still “lots to play for” at Hampton Downs this weekend.

“There should be some exciting racing and it will be the culmination of what has been a great series,” he said.

The spectacle of the support classes offered by MotoFest, with motorcycling legends on hand and classic bikes adding to the eye candy, will make this weekend very special indeed.

“We already have the 2025 NZSBK season sorted out and an announcement will be made at MotoFest at the weekend.”

This season's main sponsor has been PTS Logistics, who transported airbags to Ruapuna, Timaru and Teretonga, while other partners for the championship have been 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.

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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