Three-pronged Suzuki assault for Superbike title chase
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It will be a three-pronged Suzuki assault on the New Zealand Superbike Championships this summer as national champion Sloan "Choppa" Frost puts together an impressive new team ahead of his Superbike title defence.
Wellington-based Frost will now have Taupo's Scott Moir and 21-year-old Pakuranga rider Daniel Mettam for company in the Fujitsu TSS Red Baron Suzuki Team, their season starting with the popular Suzuki Tri-Series that kicks off in Taupo on December 10, with the 2018 New Zealand Superbike Champs in the New Year.
The men who join him in the Team Suzuki New Zealand pits enclosure will most likely also be among his fiercest rivals for the premier crown. All three will be riding the new Suzuki GSX-R1000 bike, launched at Australia's Phillip Island earlier this year.
Since that launch, Northern Irishman Michael Dunlop has scored race wins, including the Isle of Man senior TT title, and Australian Josh Waters took an emphatic round victory with two race wins in the ASBK Championships in Darwin.
Frost is campaigning the GSX-R1000 in Australia in the 2017 ASBK, gaining valuable development time before the start of the New Zealand season, but it will be with Moir and Mettam that he fine tunes his programme for 2018.
"It's important to be able to get out on the track and test myself against top-class riders and Scotty (Moir) and Daniel (Mettam) are certainly that," said Frost.
"We have a fierce rivalry on the race track but, what goes on track, stays on track, and we are good friends off the track, too.
"Daniel and I will team up for the annual six-hour race at Hampton Downs and the team will have a presence at the car-bike meeting there in October.
"It will be good working with Scotty and Daniel and learning from them, too.
"It's a two-way thing. I'll be doing my best to catch them and they'll be trying to catch me. We'll be pushing one another along.
"I'm not getting any younger," said Frost. "I'm 35, but I actually feel younger now than when I first started racing superbikes in 2008."
"The bike is completely new and we'll be racing under new rules in 2018, the bikes now classified as superstock, so they are standard machines, without modifications.
"But they are so good out of the box anyway, that you don't need to spend a lot of money on them to make them go faster.
"It's going to be an interesting season.
"We'll obviously again be up against Honda's Tony Rees and his sons, Mitch and Damon (from Whakatane), Christchurch's Al Hoogenboezem on the BMW and Taranaki's Hayden Fitzgerald on the Yamaha, so it's going to be intense."
Invercargill Honda rider Jeremy Holmes, Kumeu Suzuki rider Ray Clee and Manukau's Toby Summers (Kawasaki) could also be in the hunt for superbike honours this summer.
Also joining Frost's team is Wellington-based rookie John Paul Siebrits, who will be running under the mentorship of Sloan Frost Motorsport on the GSX-R150 in the just-launched GIXXER Cup as part of the 2018 New Zealand National Championships.