Super-granddad Dennis Charlett achieved one of the best results of his long motorcycle racing career as he won the New Zealand Superbike Grand Prix at Ruapuna today.
Christchurch racer Charlett, 45, led almost all the way on his Suzuki but was shadowed ominously for most of the 20 laps by Hamilton’s Nick Cole on his Kawasaki.
It looked very tense but Charlett said he had not been fazed by the pressure from Cole, who had won the Suzuki Series last month.
“That was how I planned it anyway,” he said. “I was just going to pace myself and pick up the pace with seven laps to go, and then fortunately Nick couldn’t quite hold on.
“Winning the Grand Prix and getting my name on the cup with a lot of famous names is really something.
“I’m getting better with age and better with grandchildren, I’ve got three grandchildren now.”
Cole admitted that Charlett had just been too fast on the day, and the hot pace had caused him a couple of awkward moments as his bike threatened to get away on him.
The meeting is also the first round of the national championships and Charlett seized the lead in the Superbikes, the premier class, with three victories over the weekend. Cole was second each time.
“I want to keep an eye on the championship – I‘m trying to win the championship,” Charlett, a former champion in the 600cc Supersport class, said.
Taupo racer Scott Moir, who has contested several different forms of motorcycle racing, came third in the GP on his Suzuki, confirming his recent elevation into the top ranks of New Zealand racing.
Australian Linden “Magoo” Magee (BMW) and Wellington’s Sloan Frost (Suzuki) both started well back on the grid after problems in qualifying but came through to finish fourth and fifth respectively, dicing with each other along the way.
New Plymouth rider Hayden Fitzgerald was the unluckiest rider of the day. He had qualified his Suzuki fastest and finished third in yesterday’s first heat, but today he ran out of petrol in the second heat and then retired from the GP with an oil leak.
To add insult to injury, he also became the first rider to be fined under a new rule for allowing his bike to run out of fuel. However he gained minor consolation by winning the Superlite GP on his father Terry’s Suzuki SV650.
The Supersport GP saw another big home victory as reigning champion John Ross narrowly beat fellow Christchurch Suzuki rider Alastair Hoogenboezem after a protracted battle, with Hoogenboezem leading at times.
Rangiora rider Jake Lewis, back home after winning the European Junior Cup, claimed the 250 Production GP but only after a close battle with Baillie Perriton from Ashburton, both riding Kawasakis.
Winners of Grand Prix titles in other categories were: 125 GP, Tyler Lincoln (Clive) Honda RS125; Pro Twins, Royd Walker-Hoult (Kawakawa) Suzuki SV650; Post Classics, Eddie Kattenberg (Te Awanga) Yamaha FZR1000; Sidecars, Aaron Lovell-Dennis Simonson (Hamilton) LCR1000.
- Superbike GP: 1 Dennis Charlett (Christchurch) Suzuki; 2 Nick Cole (Hamilton) Kawasaki; 3 Scott Moir (Taupo) Suzuki; 4 Linden Magee (Australia) BMW; 5 Sloan Frost (Wellington) Suzuki; 6 Tony Rees (Whakatane) Honda.
- 600cc Supersport GP: 1 John Ross (Christchurch) Suzuki; 2 Alastair Hoogenboezem (Christchurch) Suzuki; 3 Toby Summers (Taupo) Yamaha; 4 James Hoogenboezem (Christchurch) Suzuki; 5 Jeremy Holmes (Invercargill) Honda.
- 125 GP: 1 Tyler Lincoln (Clive) Honda RS125; 2 Tim McArthur (Dunedin) Honda RS125; 3 Matthew Hoogenboezem (Christchurch) Honda RS125.
- Superlite GP: 1 Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth) Suzuki SV650; 2 Jason Nairn (New Plymouth) Suzuki SV650; 3 Gavin Veltmeyer (Auckland) Suzuki SV650.
- 250 Production GP: 1 Jake Lewis (Rangiora) Kawasaki; 2 Baillie Perriton (Ashburton) Kawasaki; 3 Luke Burgess (Australia) Kawasaki.
- Pro Twins GP: 1 Royd Walker-Hoult (Kawakawa) Suzuki SV650; 2 Jordan Knowles (Christchurch) Suzuki SV650; 3 Doug Stockwell (Auckland) Suzuki SV650.
- Post Classic GP: 1 Eddie Kattenberg (Te Awanga) Yamaha FZR1000; 2 John Beck (Invercargill) Suzuki RGB500; 3 Dave Freeman (Paraparaumu) Harris Suzuki GSX1100.
- Sidecars GP: 1 Aaron Lovell-Dennis Simonson (Hamilton) LCR1000; 2 Barry Smith-Robbie Shorter (Te Puke) Windle Suzuki; 3 AJ MacDonald-Glen MacDonald (Kaiapoi) Dunoon Suzuki 1000.