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Suzuki Series set to Blast Off

Hampon Downs

maddix park mx

All roads lead to Hampton Downs this Saturday.

There is a huge buzz in the air as the popular Suzuki Series gets set to kick off at the undulating race circuit near Meremere, where all the pre-season fine-tuning, training and practice will finally be put to the test.

The three-round motorcycle road-race series threatens to rival the New Zealand Superbike Championships in terms of both rider numbers and prestige, and the pressure goes on the riders with little time to catch their breath before round two hits just a week later, at Manfeild on the outskirts of Feilding, on December 15.

The third and final round is the legendary Boxing Day public street race on Whanganui’s famous Cemetery Circuit.

The four-round national championship series follows immediately afterwards, so the Suzuki Series is the perfect time for title hopefuls to be finding their pace and perhaps sending a few warning shots to their rivals.

Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett (Suzuki GSX-R1000) is the defending Suzuki Series champion in the premier formula one class and he’ll have his work cut out again this season, with fellow Suzuki riders Sloan ‘Choppa’ Frost, from Wellington, Feilding’s Craig Shirriffs, Auckland pair Jaden Hassan and Ray Clee and Taupo’s Scott Moir among those most likely to threaten.

Hamilton’s Nick Cole, New Plymouth’s Hayden Fitzgerald, Whakatane’s Tony Rees and Christchurch’s James Smith will also be contenders in the formula one class.

Frost celebrated the most formula one wins in the series last season, but was denied outright victory by an unfortunate crash at Hampton Downs. He is determined not to settle for the overall runner-up spot again this time around.

“I won three of the six formula one races last year but crashed while leading one of the races at Hampton Downs,” he explained. “That one DNF cost me a lot. I just have to be a little more consistent this year.

“I’m a little bit nervous about the series this year, but I think that’s a healthy thing,” said the 32-year-old.

“I had my first ride on the Suzuki at Taupo at the start of last month and I won all three races that day, setting an F1 lap record in the process. I’ve also had practice sessions at Hampton Downs and Manfeild and my lap times have been encouraging. If I can knock half a second off my times, I think I can win the Suzuki Series.”

With more than $36,000 in prize money, the Suzuki Series attracts the cream of New Zealand’s road-race talent, but also lures international stars with Britain’s Isle of Man legend Guy Martin (Suzuki GSX-R1000) arriving to contest the street races at Whanganui on Boxing Day.

The Australians also arrive in force this season, with Chris Seaton, Craig Trinder, Linden Magee and father and daughter pair Phil and Sophie Lovett expected to feature. Popular German racer Thomas Kreutz and Britain’s Malachi Mitchell-Thomas add a little European flavour to the mix.

A record number of sidecar entries have been received and the spectacle of 20 F1 sidecar rigs swapping paint around Hampton Downs on Saturday should have the crowd on their feet.

Racing should be fierce also in the F2 600cc, F3 sportbikes, post classics, Bears (non-Japanese bikes) and Super moto classes.

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

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

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