Waikato warrior Andrew Stroud may on course for 9th National SBK Title
Stroud took his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to another pair of wins on Sunday — at the third round of five in this season’s Castrol Power 1 New Zealand Superbike Championships in Christchurch — strengthening his grip on the coveted superbike crown as the series edged past the halfway stage.
Stroud qualified in pole position on Saturday and then backed that up with a perfect day’s racing at the Ruapuna Raceway circuit on Sunday.
The defending champion from 2010 finished ahead of three-time former champion Robbie Bugden (Triple R Suzuki GSX-R1000) in race one and then edged out Taranaki’s Hayden Fitzgerald (Castrol Honda CBR1000) to win race two as well.
“It was a great day at the office,” Stroud confirmed afterwards.
Stroud’s main rival for the superbike crown, Christchurch-based three-time former champion Robbie Bugden finished runner-up in race one but chose to use wet weather tyres for the day’s second superbike race and that proved fateful as he slipped further back as the race progressed, eventually crossing the line in an unaccustomed 12th spot.
Bugden’s Triple R team-mate James Smith (Suzuki), of Christchurch, finished fourth and sixth and moved up to third place in the championship standings.
“I just need to ride steadily at Hampton Downs (round four in March) and at Manfeild (the series final in April),” said Stroud.
In the 600cc class it was a similar story of double glory for Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett (Avon City Suzuki GSX-R600).
The 42-year-old Charlett won both 600cc races ahead of main championship rival John Ross (Pirelli Yamaha R6), also of Christchurch, with Taupo’s Scott Moir (Wolf Pack Racing Honda CBR 600) third both times, and with that Charlett stretched his series lead in the 600 supersport class to 22 points over Ross.
In the 600 superstock division – that class run at the same time but scored separately – Inglewood’s Midge Smart, Auckland’s Jaden Hassan and Christchurch’s Eric Oliver-Maxwell made it a Yamaha 1-2-3 when they finished in that order in both outings.
Smart now enjoys a 14-point lead over Hassan at the top of the 600 superstock standings.
Other championship class winners at Ruapuna on were Daniel Kempthorne and Johnny Small (Pro Twins), Foxton’s Jason Easton and Glen Williams (Superlites), Tapanui’s Seth Deveraux (Pro lite 250), Jake Lewis and Australia’s Josh McGrath (125 GP), Wanganui’s Stephen Bron and Dennis Simonsen (sidecars).
The New Zealand Grand Prix
The New Zealand Grand Prix titles were also run over the weekend, the final races for each class. The 125GP class was won by Team Race Supplies Jake Lewis comfortably over team mate Avalon Biddle , with Australian Josh McGrath third.
The Superlite class was won by by Jason Easton , from Glen Williams and Terry Fitzgerald.
The Pro Twin 650 saw Johnny Small take the win from Robbie Stokes and Daniel Kempthorne
The Prolite was won by Seth Deveraux
The Sidecar Grand Prix was again won by Steve Bron and Dennis Simonsen , from Adam Unsworth and Stu Dawe followed home by Dave Annan and Warrick Demmocks.
The 600 Supersport Grand Prix was won by Dennis Charlett (Suzuki) after a fending off new lap record holder John Ross (Yamaha). Taupo’s Scott Moir had another good weekend to take third on the Wolf Pack Racing CBR600 Honda.
The 600 Superstock Grand Prix title was an all Yamaha affair with Midge Smart taking a comfortable win from Jaden Hassan and Eric Oliver Maxwell.
The Superbike Grand Prix was taken out by Andrew Stroud , but only just as he coasted to the line out of fuel. Hayden Fitzgerald closed right up on the finish line , to nearly take the win on his Castrol Honda . The battle for third was between Kawasaki’s Nick Cole and BMW’s Sloan Frost , with the Kawasaki rider winning out after a troubled season to date on the big green machine.
Australians Robbie Bugden and Dan Stauffer had races to forget , Stauffer retired while Bugden fought on after choosing wet tyres for a drying track , eventually finishing in 12th.
The series now heads north for round four at Hampton Downs, near Meremere, on March 26-27, with the fifth and final round at Manfeild, near Palmerston North, on April 2-3.
Prepared in part for Motorcycling NZ by Andy McGechan