Whichever way you look at it, this weekend’s fourth and final round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships at Hampton Downs has the word “fairytale” written all over it.
If 48-year-old father-of-10 Andrew Stroud can push ahead and extend his superbike class win record to 10 that would be a miracle, although the chances of that happening are extremely remote.
Hamilton’s Stroud (Suzuki GSX-R1000) is perhaps the sentimental favourite to win the premier grade on Sunday and, with backing from the host Auckland Motorcycle Club, that would be a fine way to sign off his 2016 campaign, although he is third in the standings and a massive 56 points off the top spot.
With four races at the weekend offering a maximum 100 points in each class, it is mathematically possible for him to win the title, although realistically quite unlikely.
But even just his being on the podium could be considered a fairytale result.
The man who is heavily favoured to win the superbike title this year is Wellington-based 34-year-old father-of-three Sloan Frost (Suzuki GSX-R1000), who enjoys a massive 43-point advantage over his nearest rival, Christchurch’s John Ross, as he arrives at Hampton Downs.
That means he almost has two races up his sleeve with only four to go and the prospects are that he’ll wrap up the title before the final outing.
“The racing could go down to the wire. It’s going to be a great weekend,” said Auckland Motorcycle Club president Paul Pavletich.
“Stroud is always a draw-card rider for us … this is his old stomping ground and we can always expect great things from him at Hampton Downs.
“This event is the showcase of our sport and the Auckland Motorcycle Club is thrilled to be hosting the final round.
“As a club we have always offered support to up-and-coming riders too, to help them kick-start their careers, and we’ll also be keeping a close eye out for the actions featuring young stars Connor London and Avalon Biddle.”
Meanwhile, the battle-within-a-battle for 1000cc superstock honours has been raging this season between Manukau’s Toby Summers and Tirau’s Dillon Telford, with Summers a relatively-safe 24 points ahead of Telford at the start of this weekend. The superstock class is raced at the same time as the superbike class but the riders are scored separately.
There is much more to this weekend’s racing than just the superbike class, with titles still in the balance in every other class too.
The racing has also been particularly fierce in the supersport 600cc class where another rider with backing from the Auckland Motorcycle Club, Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam, has been threatening.
However, Christchurch’s Cameron Hudson has been consistently quick enough to keep himself on top of the series standings.
Hudson’s advantage is 37.5 points over Mettam, with third-ranked rider Shane Richardson, of Wainuiomata, another 34.5 points further back.
Richardson dominated the 600cc class at the Battle of the Streets event in Paeroa two weeks ago and he heads to Hampton Downs in a confident mood, although his nationals campaign has been blighted by small mechanical problems and he’s actually in danger of slipping off the podium – Westmere’s Aaron Hassan just 1.5 points behind him in the series standings.
The class leaders after three of four rounds are Wellington’s Sloan Frost (superbike class, Suzuki); Christchurch’s Cameron Hudson (supersport 600, Yamaha); Manukau’s Toby Summers (superstock 1000, Kawasaki); Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett (pro twins, Suzuki); Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler (125GP, Honda); New Plymouth’s Shaun Harris (superlites, Suzuki); Charlett (lightweights, KTM); Ashburton’s Lewis Dray (250cc production, Kawasaki); Auckland’s Colin Buckley and Tauranga’s Robbie Shorter (sidecars, Kawasaki).