Hickman moves into contention with victory at Manfeild
The second of three rounds in this year’s Suzuki Series at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, in Feilding, on Sunday picked up when it had left off at round one in Taupo a week earlier, again bursting with edge-of-the-seat racing.
Visiting British rider Peter Hickman is one of the series’ draw-card riders, but the Isle of Man champion didn’t really feature at Taupo. The same could not be said after his stunning performance at Manfeild on Sunday.
Hickman won both of the day’s glamour Formula One superbike races and looked comfortable doing it, rocketing up from 11th overall after the Taupo opener to now be placed third in the series standings, just eight points behind defending Suzuki Series champion Scotty Moir, of Taupo.
Moir qualified fastest in this class and he then finished the day overall runner-up, his carding of 2-4 results in the two F1 races enough to give him a one-point edge over Wainuiomata’s Shane Richardson for the day’s tally, although Richardson still leads the series standings.
Richardson finished 4-2 in his two F1 outings on Sunday, equal to Moir’s race results, but Moir’s extra point for setting the fastest qualifying time gave him the welcome boost.
Richardson’s series lead has suffered only minimal damage – he has gone from four points in front of Moir to now have just a three-point advantage over Moir.
Hickman, on the other hand, made gigantic advances after his Kiwi debut at Taupo.
“It wasn’t all doom and gloom at Taupo, but I think this (Manfeild) circuit better suited the bike than the track at Taupo did,” Hickman said.
“The level of talent here in New Zealand is actually quite good. It definitely wasn’t easy to win today,” said the 31-year-old Lincolnshire man.
“It’s my first time in New Zealand, but it has all been good. We only got to the Taupo track the day before the racing there. I only landed Friday morning and I was racing there Saturday and Sunday, so I was sort of thrown in at the deep end, but I still really enjoyed it.
“I hadn’t seen the circuit before at Taupo, but I earned a front-row start position. Then race one at Taupo I was running third when I had a coming-together with another rider and we both ended up in the gravel. It wasn’t my fault, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“In the second race at Taupo, the temperature was so hot that the track became very slippery. It didn’t help my cause in any way, but I was still in touch with the front boys and I managed to finish fifth in the end.
“I didn’t have any jet lag at Manfeild and had an extra day riding here, so I went better there,” he said matter-of-factly.
“On my way to Manfeild I stopped off in Whanganui and did a couple of laps (of the Cemetery Circuit) in the car. I knew it was a short circuit, but I didn’t think it was so wide,” said Hickman, unaware perhaps that the Cemetery Circuit has never before been described as or considered by most racers as ‘wide’.
“I think there are loads of passing opportunities, so I’m feeling confident for Boxing Day. Obviously, I’m not going to get a lot of time to practice on it, which makes things a little more tough, but we’ll have some fun there and do some wheelies and skids. That’s what it’s all about.”
There is only a little bit of respite before the series has its third at final round, the traditional public street race spectacular on Boxing Day (December 26), the bikes on that once-a-year occasion being raced around Whanganui’s iconic Cemetery Circuit.
Despite being a first-time visitor to New Zealand, Hickman is obviously a quick learner and the curbs, tight bends, railway crossings and slick painted road markings at Whanganui should present no problems for the 2018 Isle of Man winner.
There were ALSO changes near the top of several other classes also at Manfeild.
In the 600cc Formula Two class, Whakatane’s Damon Rees was again unbeatable, while his nearest challenger, Rangiora’s Avalon Biddle, dropped from the runner-up spot for the series after crashing while leading the day’s second of two F2 races on Sunday.
The new No.2 rider in this class now is Rogan Chandler, the Lower Hutt man finishing third and second inn the two F2 races on Sunday and moving from fourth to second for the series.
Rogan Chandler edged out Feilding’s Ashton Hughes, who himself moved up from fifth overall to capture third overall thanks to his 4-3 results at Manfeild.
Palmerston North’s Jacob Stroud continues to lead the Formula Three class; Auckland’s Scott Findlay still tops the Post Classics, Pre-89, Juniors class; Te Awamutu’s Gary Morgan remains in control of the Bears (non-Japanese bikes) and Formula Sport, Juniors class;
NZ Suzuki Series 2018
Series Points after Round Two
Formula One superbikes
Shane Richardson (Wainuiomata) 84 points
Scott Moir (Taupo) 81
Peter Hickman (UK) 73.
Formula Two 600
Damon Rees (Whakatane) 102 points
Rogan Chandler (Upper Hutt) 78
Ashton Hughes (Feilding) 71.
Jacob Stroud (Palmerston North) 102 points
Leigh Tidman (Taumarunui) 84
Richard Markham-Barrett (Nikau Valley) 74
Zak Fuller (Taupiri) 90 points
Jesse Stroud (Hamilton) 90 points
Clark Fountain (Greymouth) 88
Post Classics, Pre-89, Seniors
Peter Bogusz (Paraparaumu) 89 points
Gian Louie (Hastings) 87
Duncan Coutts (Whangarei) 74’
Post Classics, Pre-89, Juniors
Scott Findlay (Auckland) 98 points
Dean Bentley (Lower Hutt) 90
Chris Sales (Palmerston North) 62.
Bears (non-Japanese bikes) and Formula Sport, Seniors
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