Superbike Championship: Mettam attack can't topple Moir
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Daniel Mettam went on the attack at the third round of five in this season’s New Zealand Superbike Championships at Hampton Downs, but Taupo’s Scott Moir remains in command of the premier class.
Glen Eden’s Mettam may be one of the men to look out for over the final two rounds of the series after the huge gains he made at Hampton Downs just over a week ago, although he is still 18 points adrift of fellow Suzuki rider Moir.
Fifth overall in the superbike class standings at the start of the Hampton Downs weekend, the 23-year-old Mettam knew he had to start winning races if he hoped to add the 2019 superbike crown to the Supersport 600 class title he took in the 2016 season.
Taupo's Scott Moir (No 5) leads Glen Eden's Daniel Mettam (No 34) and Wellington's Sloan Frost (No 1) at Hampton Downs.
Mettam (Suzuki GSX-R1000) qualified only third fastest at Hampton Downs, but he then proceeded to win the opening superbike race of the weekend that same afternoon, crossing the line 1.7sec ahead of Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem (Yamaha YZF-R1), with Auckland’s Connor London (Kawasaki ZX10R) celebrating his best result of the series thus far in finishing third.
Mettam was equally impressive in the next race, early the following day, although this time he had to accept the runner-up spot after a fiercely fought battle with Moir, Wellington’s defending national superbike champion Sloan Frost (also riding a Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Whakatane’s former national Supersport 600 champion Damon Rees (Honda CBR1000SP1).
Perhaps saving their best for last, Mettam and Moir went on the rampage at the front of the field in the deciding final superbike race of the weekend, Moir eventually able to make his pass stick on the tenth lap of 15 and crossing the line less than a bike length ahead of Moir, with Frost taking the third spot.
Moir finished the weekend second overall in the class, despite his failing to finish the first superbike race on Saturday because of mechanical problems.
Moir still leads the championship, but Mettam has rocketed up from fifth to second, while Hoogenboezem slips from second to third, Rees remains fourth and Frost slips from third to fifth, five points behind Rees.
Frost had qualified on pole, but he crashed out of weekend’s opening superbike race and this cost him dearly.
“It’s quite a long championship this year and we still have six races to go, so I’m in a good spot,” said Mettam.
“The points gap between me and Scotty [Moir] is not much. One mistake from him or one mistake from me and a lot could change.”
Meanwhile, there were plenty of other motorcycling-related activities to capture the attention of enthusiasts at Hampton Downs over the weekend, with the second annual Mike Pero MotoFest sharing the programme and the race track over the two days.
Kiwi MotoGP commentator Simon Crafar was a guest at MotoFest, appearing alongside Australian MotoGP and World Superbikes identity Chris Vermeulen, former British champion and team manager Steve Parrish, Kiwi former World Superbike Championship contender Aaron Slight and fellow New Zealand legends Hugh Anderson, Ginger Molloy, Graeme Crosby and Richard Scott.
MotoFest also featured the Mike Pero Shoei GP, Post Classic racing, the Motul Moto Trials Challenge, the Alpinestars Legends Dinner and, for the first time, ACC’s Shiny Side Up Bike Fest was also run in conjunction with MotoFest.
Other class leaders after round three of the nationals are Manukau’s Toby Summers (Supersport 600), Palmerston North’s Jacob Stroud (Supersport 300 class); Papamoa’s Leon Jacobs (250 Production class); Jacob Stroud (Superlites); Christchurch’s Nick Cain (650 Pro Twins, provisional); Australia’s Yanni Shaw (125 GP); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup) and Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett and Will Clim (sidecars).
The riders now head to Feilding for the fourth round of the series at Manfeild on March 30-31, followed
by the fifth and final round at Taupo on April 6-7.