Caution proved a winning formula as the New Zealand Superbike championships wound up at Manfeild today.
Dennis Charlett set the example yesterday as he won his first Superbike championship – at the age of 45 – with two careful rides that brought lower placings but capitalised on his big points lead to clinch the top title.
In the final race today he was able to throw that caution to the wind as he led almost all the way under intense pressure from behind, only to be passed on the last corner by Australian Linden Magee.
With six riders battling at close quarters up front, it was a fitting finale to this highly competitive season, though Charlett was disappointed he was not able to finish his championship season with the flourish of another victory. Magee had come right through from eighth early on.
John Ross followed Charlett’s example today as a careful ride in his first race sewed up the 600cc title in Supersport, the second most important category. He and Charlett both rode Suzuks.
“You just do what you have to do,” Ross said after winning his class for the second year running. “It’s been very competitive this season, the best for years.”
A third Christchurch rider, 19-year-old Matthew Hoogenboezem, also went into cruise mode during his final race to make sure of winning the 125 GP championship on his Honda.
“It’s the same bike my brother Alastair won the championship on a few years ago,” he said.
The bike had been lengthened because both the Hoogenboezems are too tall to fit on the tiny 125cc bikes otherwise.
Alastair Hoogenboezem missed out on second in the Supersport championship when his Suzuki’s engine failed in the second-last race after he had earlier claimed three victories in a row. He ended up third, behind Taupo Yamaha rider Toby Summers.
Hawke’s Bay rider Adam Chambers scored his debut victory in Supersport yesterday and followed up with two more today on his Honda.
Today’s first Superbike race went to Feilding racer Craig Shirriffs, making him the eighth different winner this season. He battled through the front pack to head off 19-year Aucklander Jaden Hassan and experienced Whakatane racer Tony Rees. Rees rode a Honda, the other two Suzukis.
That could be Shirriffs’ swansong, as he said he is thinking of retiring.
The minor placings in the Superbike championship ended up very close, Magee taking second just one point ahead of Wellington Suzuki rider Sloan Frost, who won a race yesterday. Hassan was fourth – a remarkable result in his rookie season – and Taupo’s Scott Moir was fifth on his Suzuki.
Taranaki rider Hayden Fitzgerald had a great weekend in two different categories, scoring a series of high placings in Superbikes with his Suzuki and winning the Superlite championship on his father Terry’s Suzuki SV650.
“That’s my first national championship — and dad won the championship on the same bike 10 years ago,” Fitzgerald said. “And we just seemed to click on the Superbike this weekend.”
Champions in other classes are: Pro Twins, Royd Walker-Holt (Kawakawa, Suzuki SV650); 250 Production, Bailie Perriton (Ashburton, Kawasaki Ninja 250); and Sidecars, Spike Taylor-Astrid Hartnell (Masterton, LCR).
The attached photos are a new portrait of new Supersport champion John Ross and an action shot showing Dennis Charlett leading the battle pack in the season’s final Superbike race. They are free for editorial use but please credit Andrew Bright
For further information please call Bernard Carpinter, 0274-528-744
New Zealand Superbike Championships, final round double-header, Manfeild, provisional results.
Superbikes – Race one: Jaden Hassan (Auckland) Suzuki 1; Hayden Fitzgerald (Taranaki) Suzuki 2; Tony Rees (Whakatane) Honda 3; James Smith (Christchurch) Honda 4; Craig Shirriffs (Feilding) Suzuki 5.
Leaving work early on a Wednesday afternoon to travel to Manfield for 4 days racing is certainly living the dream. While my work colleagues have come to think I’m a part time employee, I have spent my 24th birthday at the race track for Round 4 of the NZ Superbike Championship.
Riding Manfield for the first time in December, both dad and I felt the track had defeated us and we were eager for this weekend to arrive to have another shot. The track is similar to Queensland Raceway is shape, although nothing like it in any other way. A few of the turns are quite cambered which is cool to ride and there are certainly some rough surfaces which makes for interesting experiences! Luckily Kawasaki have mastered the development of traction control and my trusty zx10r helped me out! I was a little too excited into a few turns while infront of dad and experienced some ‘unintentional body uplifting’ moments throughout the weekend.
Overall the weekend was a great success and I finished 12th. I was less than 2 seconds off the top superbike riders so am seeing the benefits from racing different tracks.
The weekends success wouldn’t be possible without Al Samuels who is the hardest working super genius I know. I am starting to understand suspension and tyre wear, and this wouldn’t be possible without you Alby!
A huge big thank you to the generosity of our Kiwi bike family over the past couple of months. In particular the Wilkins family of Kawasaki NZ, Nick Cole and family, Ryan Hampton, ProMoto, M1 Motorsport, the MNZ officials and club organisers, and JDAS photography. The events have been well run and we have enjoyed the smiling faces around the pit.
Thank you to my sponsors Ricondi leathers, Shark helmets, Held gloves and Kawasaki support!
See you at Mallala in South Australia in a couple of weeks.
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