Superbike Championship: Race strategy pays off
Glen Eden rider executes perfect strategy to win national Superbike Championship
Daniel Mettam had the perfect strategy to turn things around and executed it precisely as planned at the fourth and final round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships at Hampton Downs.
The 20-year-old Glen Eden rider arrived at the north Waikato circuit for the two-day series finale trailing Cameron Hudson (Christchurch, Yamaha) by a whopping 37.5 points in the 600cc Supersport class.
But Mettam (Suzuki GSX-R600) also knew that 100 points were on offer over the four races. Anything was possible, with the event being held on one of his favourite tracks.
Daniel Mettam on his way to winning the national Superbike Championship.
Mettam finished 1-1-1-2 over his four races, breaking the lap record for 600cc bikes with 1min 4.917 sec, showing pace that would have put him ninth in the superbike class. That was easy enough for him to wipe out the 37.5-point deficit to Hudson.
Mettam took the title by 5.5 points from Hudson after a thrilling showdown.
“I rode conservatively in that last race because I knew all I needed to do was finish ahead of Cam [Hudson]. It’s been seven years of hard work to win a championship and it feels awesome,” said Mettam.
“I was just hundredth of a second behind [final race winner] Shane Richardson [Wainuiomata, Kawasaki] and I had figured it wasn’t worth risking everything to push too hard for the race win when I had the championship already in my grasp.
“At the start of the weekend I thought the title might be out of my reach. I just came here and gave it all I had and it paid off.”
Wellington refrigeration engineer Sloan Frost took his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to top the qualification charts for the glamour superbike class, then finished third and first in the opening two races, enough to wrap up the crown with two races to spare.
While Frost was the epitome of chilled at Hampton Downs, he was nearly beaten in the coolness stakes by Andrew Stroud (Waikato).
The 48-year-old nine-time former national superbike champion was nothing short of sensational.
Stroud crashed his Suzuki GSX-R1000 spectacularly, travelling at 220km/h, during a practice session on Friday.
The father of 10 escaped virtually unscathed but his bike was a write-off.
Daniel Mettam (Team RCM Suzuki GSX-R600)
He and his mechanic burned the midnight oil to completely rebuild the bike but there was no sign of Stroud when the first practice session wound up on Saturday.
Stroud arrived soon after and got on to the track to qualify a lacklustre eighth.But he raced to a convincing win in the sole superbike championship race held on Saturday, enough to boost him from third to second in the championship standings.
Despite a difficult second day of racing, Stroud managed to finish 6-3-2 for overall runner-up, relegating John Ross (Canterbury) to third. Frost’s superbike title defence next season could include him having to fend off rising star Mettam.
“I’ve been racing bikes since 2009 and I’ve been on 125cc, 150cc and now 600cc bikes. I think I’m ready now for the big bikes,” Mettam smiled.
Other riders to win national titles this season were Toby Summers (Manukau, superstock 1000); Bailie Perriton (Ashburton, pro twins, pending protest); Rogan Chandler (Upper Hutt, 125GP); Jacob Stroud (Hamilton, superlites); Dennis Charlett (Christchurch, lightweights); Lewis Dray (Ashburton, 250cc production); and sidecars team Colin Buckley (Auckland) and Robbie Shorter (Tauranga).