Wellington’s Sloan Frost had the perfect opening round of the 2016 New Zealand Superbike Championship at the Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch over the weekend. Frost stamped his authority on the four round series with fastest qualifier and three wins from three races including the NZ Grand Prix title. Local rider John Ross (Suzuki GSX 100) chased hard but had to settle for second in the Grand Prix with fellow Cantabrian James Smith (Honda CB 1000 RR SP) third.
“I’m thrilled to win the NZGP title,” said Frost. “I’ve been dreading the 20 lapper (NZGP) all weekend as Ruapuna is such a physically demanding track.”
Having fitted a harder compound tyre on the rear of his Suzuki GSX 1000 L2 bike, Frost was confident of having a consistent pace throughout the Grand Prix race.
“The tyre change gave me a consistent bike throughout the race,” said Frost. “Although at times I could hear John (Ross) close, I felt I had the race under control. He’s a great competitor but I was always confident of holding the lead.”
Nine-time national champion Andrew Stroud finished fourth after dropping to 15th on the opening lap with an electrical issue. After a four year absence from the national competition, Stroud showed he has lost none of his competitiveness. He also had three of his children racing in the support classes.
NZ Grand Prix titles were competed for in six different classes. In the 600cc Supersport category, Christchurch’s Cam Hudson (Yamaha R6) made it look easy, also with three wins including the NZ Grand Prix title. The 20 year old was one of the favourites heading into the round with a number of last season’s riders moving up to the quicker Superbike category.
“It’s pretty awesome,” commented Hudson. “We expected to challenge for wins this weekend so am absolutely thrilled to come away with three wins and the NZGP title.”
Auckland’s Daniel Mettam (Suzuki GSXR 600) finished runner up but wasn’t expected to make the GP grid after crashing on Sunday morning. Having already won the class in the 2015 Suzuki Series in December, Mettam was in hot form and pushed Hudson throughout the feature NZGP race. Passing back markers almost proved to be his undoing when he clipped a slower competitor on exciting turn seven with three laps to go. Managing to stay on the bike after taking to the grass, Mettam hung on for second.
Having won the2014 NZ Superbike title and finishing runner up in 2015, Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett has this season switched to competing in two lower classes. The 47 year old rider won the Lightweight NZGP title from Christchurch’s Tim McArthur (Kawasaki Ninja 300) and then went on to narrowly win the Pro Twin title from Ashburton’s Baile Perriton (Suzuki SV 650).
Other Grand Prix titles were won by Lewis Dray (250 Production), Colin Buckley/Robbie Shorter (Sidecars), Shaun Harris (Superlite) and Rogan Chandler (125 GP).
The four round championship now heads to Invercargill for next weekend’s second round with a third South Island round a week later in Timaru. The final and only North Island round will take place at the Hampton downs circuit in early March.