The New Zealand Superbike Championships resume at Hampton Downs, north of Huntly, this weekend with so much at stake for so many of the competitors.
Two of four rounds are now in the record books, but the pressure goes on now as the second half of the season begins.
The racing at Hampton Downs’ third round this Saturday and Sunday – presented by DHL Express NZ Ltd – is sure to be crucial in determining where the various trophies might end up. This weekend will also feature the TT (Tourist Trophy) races for each of the championship classes.
Certainly one of the nine championship classes that should attract plenty of interest will be the sidecars, where one of the sport’s real characters, Pete ‘The Pirate’ Goodwin, and his equally-talented co-rider, Kendall ‘Ken Doll’ Dunlop, will be hoping to enhance their points tally as they push for their first national title.
Waitoki’s Goodwin, a corrections officer at the Paremoremo maximum-security prison, and Glenfeild’s Dunlop, a graphics designer, have teamed up to make a formidable sidecars combination this year.
They lead the series by a solid 37 points from Taupo pairing Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown, with Tawa pair Drew Mair and Alan Denovan currently third in the title chase, just three points further back.
Just one more point behind them is the Auckland pairing of brothers Chris and Richard Lawrance.
“This is the best we’ve ever done at the nationals,” said Goodwin. “I’ve been third five times in the past.
“This is the second season together for me and Kendall. She’s a great passenger/swinger because she listens, she’s light and she’s flexible. I have great confidence in her. This means I can just concentrate on the driving.
“We are a great team and have a great team behind us too. Brothers Ian and Warren Burke take care of all the mechanical duties.
“We just need to concentrate on finishing races and collecting points.”
In all the other classes too, the racing has been intense, although it could be mission impossible now for anyone hoping to catch Wellington-based Sloan Frost in the hunt for the premier 1000cc Superbike title.
Frost is a whopping 24 points in front and this weekend would be the perfect time for Frost’s main challengers – Whakatane’s Mitch Rees (Honda), Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam (Suzuki) and Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem (BMW) – to begin their fight-back, while Australian five-time former New Zealand superbike champion Robbie Budgen has also now arrived to make his first appearance in this year’s series and he’s sure to be a cat among the pigeons.
Other championship class leaders after round two are Christchurch’s James Hoogenboezem (Supersport 600 class); Tauranga’s Regan Phibbs (Supersport 300); Hamilton’s Jordan Burley (650 Pro Twins); Christchurch’s Nick Cain (250 Production); Huia’s Nathanael Diprose (Superlites); Rodney’s Blayes Heaven (125GP) and Pukekohe’s Thomas Newton (GIXXER Cup).
Meanwhile, the crowd at Hampton Downs is expected to be much bigger than usual this weekend because the superbike racing is actually also just one component, albeit a big component, of the inaugural Mike Pero MotoFest.
MotoFest promises excellence on all fronts, with former champions (and perhaps future ones too), from across the entire motorcycling spectrum, sharing the programme with the superbike nationals.
International stars such as American MotoGP icon Randy Mamola, English legend Steve Parrish, Australian international superbike idol Robbie Phillis and our own Kiwi superheroes – riders such as Aaron Slight, Graeme Crosby, Hugh Anderson, Stu Avant and nine-time former national superbike champion Andrew Stroud, among others – are assembled for the event, so it’s going to be difficult for fans to know which way to look.
Record eight-time former New Zealand moto trials champion and twice Australian moto trials champion Jake Whitaker, international X Games favourite Levi Sherwood and fellow Kiwi freestyle great Nick Franklin will also be among the “glitterati” expressing themselves at Hampton Downs this weekend.
The superbike championships will wrap up with the fourth and final round at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo on March 17-18.
Round 3 of the 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championship is brought to you by DHL Express NZ Ltd. The series is supported by Honda Cars, providing safety/medical vehicles, Pirelli tyres, Corprint, CTAS and MX Timing and the inaugural GIXXER Cup is supported by Suzuki New Zealand.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com