Dennis Charlett went slow to clinch the New Zealand Superbike Championship at Manfeild today.
The Christchurch rider, a proud grandfather of 45 who keeps fit with kick-box training, went into today’s two races with a big points lead and decided to play it safe to make sure of collecting the points he needed to claim New Zealand’s top title.
“I was riding at nine-tenths, not ten-tenths,” he said after placings of eighth and sixth on his Suzuki gave him an unbeatable points lead with two races left tomorrow to conclude the championships. He admitted to being nervous during the races, and feeling the bumps more than usual.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow – to go out and win a couple of races would be fantastic,” he said.
Charlett is the oldest rider ever to win the championship but proved that motorcycle racing is not just for the young guns.
“I might be 45 but I still feel like I’m 25,” he said. “I’ve always kept myself active, I train hard, I try to keep myself in good shape and I eat well.
“Some guys my age would be gardening or in the pub now but I know where I’d rather be.”
Charlett’s main challenger for the title this season, Hamilton Kawasaki rider Nick Cole, spent the weekend in hospital as the result of an assault in Taupo last Sunday.
That left Taupo’s Scott Moir, who won the Superbike TT (Tourist Trophy) last weekend, the closest on points but he failed to finish yesterday’s race and could not beat Charlett today.
While Charlett is the oldest Superbike champion, Aucklander Jaden Hassan is probably the youngest winner of a Superbike race at 19. He won yesterday’s race on his Suzuki and came very close to taking the last race today before Australian BMW rider Linden Magee just snatched victory.
“I’m over the moon, to win a Superbike race in my first season,” Hassan, who looks like a champion of the future, said.
The first race today went to Wellington’s Sloan Frost ahead of fellow Suzuki riders Hayden Fitzgerald (Taranaki) and Moir, with Hassan forth. In the other race Fitzgerald was third and Tony Rees (Whakatane) fourth for Honda.
In 600cc Supersport Christchurch rider John Ross is in sight of his second championship with a 33-point lead going into the two final races tomorrow. Placings of second and third on his Suzuki today were enough to leave him well placed for the title.
Both of today’s Supersport races saw maiden championship victories, first for Hawke’s Bay rider Adam Chambers on a Honda and then for Wanganui’s Jayden Carrick on a Suzuki.
Young Christchurch racer Alastair Hoogenboezem won yesterday’s race and today’s finishes of third and second put him second in the series for Suzuki.
Royd Walker-Holt from Kawakawa wrapped up the Pro Twins championship with three victories, continuing a dominant season.
The 250 Production championship has also been decided, Ashburton teenager Bailie Perriton building a massive lead on his Kawasaki although he was narrowly beaten in both of today’s races, first by Tim McArthur (Blenheim) and then by 14-year-old Australian Lachlan Epis.
The championships conclude with two races in each class tomorrow.
The attached photos are a new portrait of new Superbike champion Dennis Charlett and an action shot showing Jaden Hassan (left) and Linden Magee fighting for the lead today, with Hayden Fitzgerald in third.
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