20-YEAR-OLD COULD BE YOUNGEST RIDER TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
It is difficult to confirm because records have not been kept, but when Auckland’s Jaden Hassan wrapped up the New Zealand Superbike Championship at the fourth and final round of the 2015 series near Taupo, he became possibly the youngest ever No.1 in the premier class.
The 20-year-old rider from Westmere produced a faultless performance when he roared to an impressive hat-trick of wins at the Taupo event just over a week ago. It wasn’t the first time that he had finished the day unbeaten. The young Suzuki star had also won all three superbike races at the second round of the series near Timaru in January.
Runner-up to Hassan this season was 2014 champion Dennis Charlett, of Christchurch, who finished a distant 42 points adrift, with Wellington’s Sloan Frost taking the third step on the series podium — and keeping his No.3 ranking from last season — finishing 18 points further back.
All three individuals conducted their respective campaigns on the Suzuki GSX-R1000 model bike.
Hassan wrapped the title up early, after winning the first two races of the weekend at Taupo.
“I couldn’t really believe it when I won the title after race two on Sunday. It didn’t really sink in at first and I was a bit numb when I was on my warm-down lap. This is the biggest moment of my career.”
Surprisingly, Hassan said he has no plans to defend his title next season. “I think I’ll be taking a year off to travel the world a bit. I’m young and I want to do that before I’m too much older. I’ve been racing bikes since I was 12 years old and it’s such a dangerous sport ... you put your life on the line every time you race and I don’t want to get to 30 and have regrets that I haven’t done anything else in my life.
“I will come back to the sport. I just want to go away and re-set myself.”
Meanwhile, Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem wrapped up the 600cc Supersport title the same weekend, in what was really little more than a formality for the 22-year-old. The Suzuki star arrived at Taupo with a massive 61-point margin over the rider in runner-up spot, his own elder brother James and, with only 75 points available at Taupo, the pressure was certainly off for him.
“I only needed to finish fifth or better in the first race at Taupo to clinch the title,” said Alastair Hoogenboezem, who actually won race one, before rounding out his big weekend with a couple of runner-up placings.
Alastair Hoogenboezem had previously won the national 125GP class title, but his 600cc class win is the highlight of his career.
The 24-year-old James Hoogenboezem was unlucky to see his runner-up position gobbled up by Auckland Yamaha rider Toby Summers — the big winner in the 600cc class at Taupo with a 2-1-1 scorecard — but his eventual third overall ranking is nothing to be sneezed at because this class was one of the most fiercely-fought in the competition.
Other championship class winners were Whangamata’s Ben Rosendaal (Pro Twins), Orewa’s Avalon Biddle (Superlites), Blenheim’s Tim McArthur (250cc Production), Christchurch’s Sam Davison (125GP), Auckland’s Adam Unsworth and Stu Dawe (sidecars).