Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th December: Tracks closed. The rain up here in the hills keeps coming.

Fitzerald Steps Up the Pace

but Cole wins Suzuki Series

maddix park mx

The premier Suzuki Series crown is heading back to the Waikato region.

This season’s Suzuki Series wrapped up with its traditional finale at Wanganui’s Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day, this third and final round of the series on Thursday once again producing a swarm of surprises.

Canterbury’s defending Formula One class champion Dennis Charlett experienced “a day from hell” as he lost his grip on the F1 crown, his main rival Nick Cole, from Hamilton, came up trumps with a hat-trick of wins to steal the main trophy, and New Plymouth’s Hayden Fitzgerald sprung a surprise to surge up the rankings and reveal himself as a major player for the upcoming nationals.

The 27-year-old Cole won both F1 (Superbike) races on Boxing Day and then capped off the day by also winning the stand-alone 10-lap Robert Holden Memorial feature race, the Wanganui event’s signature race, albeit with Fitzgerald closing him down to finish the race a close second.

Cole eventually enjoyed a massive 33-point series win over runner-up Charlett, with Wellington’s Sloan Frost (Suzuki) taking the third spot on the podium, four points further back.

Five of the top six riders were on Suzuki bikes, with Taupo’s Scott Moir, Fitzgerald and Auckland’s Ray Clee rounding out the top half dozen.

The series win made Cole an instant hero, the Kawasaki ace thrilled to be taking the trophy back to the Waikato region, the home of now-retired four-time former Suzuki Series winner Andrew Stroud.

Hamilton's Stroud had been the dominant force in the popular series in recent times, taking his Suzuki GSX-R1000 bike to win it for four consecutive seasons before losing the F1 crown to fellow Suzuki ace Charlett last season ... and then Stroud announced his retirement from racing earlier this year.

Charlett had been in prime position to reclaim the F1 title this season and he led the standings by three points over Cole as the riders arrived at Wanganui.

But nothing went right for Charlett on Boxing Day and, he said, he only had himself to blame.

“Poor preparation equals poor performance,” he lamented. “I had to go home to Christchurch between rounds two and three for work and that put me behind in terms of getting ready for today. It was frustrating that I couldn’t put in the time and effort required to be ready to race today.

“But the series was a good shake-down for the nationals,” said Charlett.

“I’ll have a lot more support for that. I’ve had my bad luck now and I’ll be ready to go for the nationals. I may have lost this battle but the war is still there to be won.”

The four-round New Zealand Superbike Championships kick off in his home town of Christchurch in a week’s time, on January 5.

Cole said he is not taking anything for granted after his Suzuki Series win.

“I know that Hayden Fitzgerald and Craig Shirriffs (of Feilding) are really flying at the moment and Sloan Frost and Dennis Charlett will come back strong too.

“I always knew Hayden (Fitzgerald) would go well here at Wanganui. He always does. He rode three classes today, so he knew what was happening out on the track.”

Although he didn’t win the feature race, it was still a brilliant day for Fitzgerald and he was, arguably, the most successful rider of the series.

He moved up from seventh overall after round two to finish fifth overall in the F1 class and he also won two other bike classes, the only rider to take a title in more than one division.

The Taranaki man rode a Suzuki SV650 to win the Formula Three (Superlites) class and also rode a 500cc 1962 Matchless G50 McIntyre to win the Classic Solos class.

“Finishing runner-up in the Robert Holden race is the best I’ve ever done here,” said the 28-year-old Fitzgerald. “I was catching Nick (Cole) too. I managed to get past (Whakatane’s) Tony Rees to move into second spot and then I just put the hammer down and went hard.

“This series has been great build-up for the nationals and I’m feeling confident I’ll do well.”

Other class winners in the 2013 Suzuki Series were Auckland’s Toby Summers (Yamaha, F2 600cc class); Whangarei’s Duncan Coutts (Suzuki, Pre-89 Post Classics); Wanganui’s Dwayne Bishop (Aprilia, Bears, non-Japanese bikes); Wanganui’s Richard Dibben (Honda, Super Moto); Auckland’s Adam Unsworth and Stu Dawe (Windle, F1 sidecars).

For further information contact Simon Meade, General Manager of Motorcycle / ATV Marketing, [email protected].

 

Words and photo courtesy of Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com.

 
Bookmark and Share