It’s one down and three to go in this year’s chase for motorcycle road-racing honours and the action on tarmac is set to get hotter as the series progresses.
The first round of four in the 2021 New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK) was held at Mike Pero Motorsport park, Ruapuna, on the outskirts of Christchurch, last weekend and several riders surely have bragging rights after that early dust-up, but it’s early days yet and none can really take anything for granted.
The FabTech and Trust Aoraki-sponsored second round is at Levels International Raceway, near Timaru, this coming Saturday and Sunday, and the South Island riders in particular will be hoping to make the most of this weekend’s opportunities to score before the series heads to the North Island for the second half of the series in March.
One rider who might fancy his chances more than most this coming weekend is Timaru’s Harry Parker, the 20-year-old hoping a little home track advantage might boost him up the standings.
Parker finished third overall on debut in the Supersport 300 class in 2019, was placed fifth overall in the same class last year and he’s running second in the class after the 2021 opener at Ruapuna last weekend.
He’ll be working hard to see if he can move up to the No.1 spot, but that could be extremely tough with the 14-year-old road-racing sensation from Invercargill, Cormac Buchanan, virtually untouchable at Ruapuna and likely to be just as hard to beat at Levels.
Parker is no longer a novice in the sport, having introduced himself to the sport by racing in the inaugural GIXXER Cup competition that kicked off at the end of 2017 and he then finished a remarkable third overall in the 250cc Production class in 2018.
He certainly has not wasted any time in getting to grips with the sport and Parker could now be expected to feature among the leaders any time he races.
“I certainly plan on getting in front of Cormac (Buchanan) this weekend. We passed each other, back and forwards, a few times at Ruapuna, so I know I’ve got the pace to challenge him. But he’s pretty special … remember, he’s this quick and he’s still only 14 years old,” said Parker.
“I’ll have to ride a bit smarter this weekend. I went too hard early in my races at Ruapuna and cooked the tyres. This meant it got pretty slippery and I had to back off a bit near the end just to ensure I finished the races.
“I practice at lot at Levels, doing as many laps there each week as I can, so I expect to go well there.
“I raced a bit in Australia last year too … well I crashed my brains out actually,” he laughed. “But I learned a lot from that experience too.”
Aside from what happens in the Supersport 300 class this coming weekend, the action is expected to be fierce in the other bike categories too, with the Superbike and Supersport 600 classes typically attracting the most attention, although the 650 Pro Twins, Sidecars, GIXXER Cup 150 and Supersport 150 classes will also be closely-fought.
There is a month-long break after this South Island phase of the series, with racing set to resume in the North Island, with the Mike Pero-sponsored MotoFest, round three at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, near Meremere, on March 6-7, before wrapping up with round four at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on March 13-14.
Class leaders after last weekend’s racing at Christchurch are Whakatane’s Mitch Rees (Superbikes); Christchurch’s Aaron Scott (Superbike B, support class); Christchurch’s Dale Finch (Supersport 600); Napier’s SJ Cavell (650 Pro Twins); Buchanan (Supersport 300 and Supersport 150); Christchurch’s Blair Robertson (250 Production, support class, round one only); Hamilton’s Billee Fuller (GIXXER Cup 150); Tauranga’s Barry Smith and Stu Dawe (Sidecars).
The 2021 New Zealand Superbike Championships are supported by Sky Sport Next, Aon Insurance, Pirelli, Trust Aoraki, Redpath, CTAS, MX Timing, BikesportNZ.com and commentators Neil and Brad Ritchie.
2021 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:
Round 1 – January 9-10, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch;
Round 2 – January 16-17, Levels International Raceway, Timaru;
Round 3 – March 6-7, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest;
Round 4 – March 13-14, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com