SuperBike season set to launch

| Photographer Credit: Andy McGechan

The New Zealand Superbike Championships kick off in Christchurch this weekend and so will begin the battle to find the nation’s best motorcycle racers across half a dozen separate bike categories.

Most eyes will no doubt focus on the premier superbike class, where last season’s national No.3 Sloan Frost is among those heavily favoured.

With 2015 national superbike champion Jaden Hassan not returning for his title defence and last year’s runner-up Dennis Charlett switching classes, it leaves Frost the highest-ranked of those entered for the racing at the Ruapuna Raceway circuit on Sunday (January 10).

But the Wellington man is taking nothing for granted, particularly so because he claims the Ruapuna circuit does not traditionally favour him.

“I generally don’t go well on the Christchurch track, but I have a different crew backing me up this year, so who knows? If I can get through the day’s racing at Ruapuna and emerge with a solid result, the season could fall into place for me,” said the 34-year-old Frost.

Frost pays respect also Whakatane’s Tony Rees, Taupo’s Scott Moir, Kumeu’s Ray Clee and nine-time former national superbike champion Andrew Stroud, of Hamilton, all of whom will be expected to feature prominently at Ruapuna.

The 48-year-old Rees impressed when he won both the superbike races and the Robert Holden Memorial feature race at the annual Cemetery Circuit races on Boxing Day, the third and final round of the popular pre-nationals Suzuki Series.

“I’d like to think I’ve got a bike that’s capable of winning, so we’ll give it a go,” said a relaxed Rees, a multi-time former national champion.

“Sloan (Frost) will be the man to beat. He’s certainly put in the hard yards, but there are plenty of other fast riders too.”

While Frost won the Suzuki Series overall, there were certainly moments of brilliance also from the likes of Rees, Moir, Stroud, Christchurch’s James Hoogenboezem and Makukau’s Toby Summers as well.

Several riders who did not contest the entire Suzuki Series, men such as Christchurch pair James Smith and Alastair Hoogenboezem, and Christchurch riders who skipped the Suzuki Series entirely, Rangiora’s Jake Lewis, Christchurch’s John Ross and North Canterbury’s Dan Ornsby, could also provide fireworks.

Racing in the various other classes should be no less intense, with visiting Australian riders Alex Phillis and Ted Collins adding an international flavour to the supersport 600cc class.

Top men to watch here include the two riders who fought for top 600cc honours in the just-completed Suzuki Series, Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam and Wainuiomata’s Shane Richardson, along with Invercargill’s Jeremy Holmes, Whakatane’s rising star Damon Rees, Christchurch’s Cam Hudson and Auckland’s Kiwi international Connor London.

With racing also in the superlite, junior and senior development, 250cc production, lightweight, 125 GP, Pro Twin and sidecars categories, the four-round season opener this weekend should offer plenty of high-calibre entertainment.

Following racing at Ruapuna on Sunday, the series heads to Teretonga for round two a week later on January 17, round three follows at Levels Raceway on January 24 and it all wraps up at Hampton Downs, near Meremere, on March 6.

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