International and local riders saddle up for Suzuki Series
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International riders headline the Suzuki Series which is bringing a December feast of motorcycle and sidecar racing to New Zealand tracks.
The three round series starts at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park this weekend, moves to Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon the following weekend (December 14-15) and provides a street racing finale at Whanganui’s Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day.
The Superbike class has assembled a strong line-up of rider talent and marque rivalry headed by defending Suzuki Series champion Scott Moir (Taupo) and 2019 New Zealand Superbike champion Daniel Mettam (Auckland), both riding Suzuki GSX-R 1000 machines.
The Suzuki ranks also include 2019 British Super Stock 1000 champion Richard Cooper, former NZ Superbike champ Sloan Frost (Wellington) and Christchurch rider James Hoogenboezem.
The series has once again attracted a high profile Isle of Man TT star with Northern Ireland’s Lee Johnston set to ride for the Tauranga-based M1 Motorsport team on its BMW S1000RR. Johnston scored his first Isle of Man TT victory earlier this year on a 600cc SuperSport machine.
Also aboard a BMW Superbike is Upper Hutt’s Glen Skachill making his return to the sport.
Whakatane brothers Damon and Mitch Rees will also be front runners on their Honda Fireblades while Yamaha has two strong Superbike contenders on R1 machines with the Christchurch duo of Alastair Hoogenboezem and Jake Lewis. Lewis spent 2019 racing to a seventh place finish in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship.
Kawasaki hopes are carried by Kiwi international Shane Richardson (Wainuiomata) who finished third last year and was runner-up in the Super Stock 600 class of the British Superbike Champs this year.
The stars of the F2/600cc Super Sport class are expected to be national champ Avalon Biddle (Kawasaki) of Christchurch, Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler (Yamaha), Auckland’s Toby Summers (Kawasaki) and Te Awamutu’s David Hall (Suzuki).
Sidecar racing has become an annual international highlight of the Suzuki Series and this year there are four Australian outfits and the French team of Estelle LeBlond and Frank Claeys on the entry list. The leading Kiwi crews include Tauranga’s Barry Smith/Tracey Bryan, Auckland brothers Chris and Richard Lawrence, Masterton’s Spike Taylor/Graham Wilkinson and the Taupo team of Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown.
There are large fields in the Formula 3, Pre-89 Post Classics BEARS/Formula Sport categories as well as the broad sliding 450cc Super Moto bikes and the small-bore Suzuki Gixxer Cup Series for identical 150cc machines which race on the short Taupo track layout this weekend.
This weekend programme begins with practice and qualifying on Saturday from 9am with one race for each class on Saturday afternoon. The Sunday schedule begins with tyre scrub sessions from 9am followed by two races for each class.