Taupo is a great place to enjoy the motorcyle action
What started out eight years ago as “just a little warm-up series” before the superbike nationals has now grown to become a global phenomenon.
The annual Suzuki Series, New Zealand’s biggest stand-alone road-race series, is now a focal point for dozens of top international riders.
The recent growth of the three-round series excites and inspires the man who organises the competition, almost as much as it also thrills many thousands of Kiwi motorcycle race fans.
With continued support from Suzuki New Zealand, the revs are building for the start of this year’s edition of the Suzuki Series, the popular pre-nationals competition that has grown in leaps and bounds since its inaugural running in 2008.
The annual series, which includes the famous Boxing Day street race on the public roads of Wanganui’s Cemetery Circuit, looks set to sparkle again this year and well beyond, as organiser Alan ‘‘Flea’’ Willacy confirmed that Suzuki New Zealand had agreed to sponsor the competition for at least another two seasons.
Isle of Man legend and television personality Guy Martin, who last visited Whanganui in 2013. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
The Boxing Day street race is again the third and final round of the competition and will be the 64th running of the Cemetery Circuit races.
“It’s fantastic to have this support from Suzuki this year and in 2017 as well,” said Willacy.
The Cemetery Circuit event is one of New Zealand’s biggest bike races, a spectacular one-day show that attracts thousands of race fans each summer and also lures top-class motorcycle racers from throughout New Zealand and overseas.
“We are receiving calls almost daily from international riders who want to make the trip here,” said Willacy.
“Word has spread over the years and now this series has become a must-do for many of the world’s leading racers.
“I haven’t been chasing them but that hasn’t stopped them coming to us.
“We have some big names pencilled in already, but I’m not in a position to confirm those names publicly just yet,” he said.
From world champion sidecar rider Tim Reeves, and Liechtenstein superbike hero Horst Saiger, both of whom came last year, to Isle of Man star and television personality Guy Martin, Australian Dan Stauffer and Switzerland’s Roman Stamm, the series has never been short of a draw-card rider or two over the past few years.
Action like this is again promised for the streets of Whanganui on Boxing Day. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
This year’s race programme will start to take shape over the coming months and Willacy hopes to be able to reveal some big names before the three-round series’ first race, set for a new venue this year, the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park near Taupo on Sunday, December 4.
Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, will again host round two, a week later on December 11, and the public streets of Wanganui will again host the final on Boxing Day.
“We are looking forward to taking the series to the Taupo tourist trap destination and we think the change will be good for the series.
“Taupo is one of those rare tracks where spectators can enjoy an unimpeded view of the entire circuit. It’s a great place to view the action. “This is the same feature that makes Manfeild such a popular venue, too.”
The chequered flag man at Whanganui gets right into the action. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Spokesperson for Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Jacki Hanning, said she was looking forward to the December event.
“We are extremely honoured to have been approached to host this event and proud to be working with a great team of people to make it happen,” she said. Wellington’s Sloan Frost took his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to win the Suzuki Series last season, his first major superbike trophy after eight years of trying, and this set him up nicely to go on and win the New Zealand Superbike Championships.
Other riders who have tasted success at various editions of the Suzuki Series and have also gone on to achieve greatness on the national championship scene include Wanganui’s Jayden Carrick, Taupo’s Scotty Moir, Manukau’s Toby Summers, Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam, Wainuiomata’s Shane Richardson and Whakatane’s Damon Rees.
With international stars again expected, home-grown talent will have further opportunity to look and learn and perhaps hone their craft before their own forays overseas.