CAPTION: Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (bike No.28), the leading rider in two separate classes after racing near Timaru at the weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
The points tables do nothing to indicate the closeness of racing in this season’s New Zealand Superbike Championships (NZSBK).
The competition kicked off at Christchurch just over a week ago, while round two was staged at Levels International Raceways, near Timaru, on Saturday and Sunday, and both weekends featured ferociously-close racing in all the various bike categories.
The four-round series reached the halfway stage at the weekend, also winding up the South Island phase of the competition – with two events in the North Island to wrap up the series in March – and probable title winners have now revealed themselves.
In the premier superbike class it’s shaping up for a straight battle between sibling rivals Damon and Mitch Rees.
The two men from Whakatane were locked in tight battles at both Ruapuna and Levels, not only with each other but also with Christchurch’s defending champion Alastair Hoogenboezem, Rangiora’s Jake Lewis and Taupo’s Scott Moir and the Rees brothers left the FabTech and Trust Aoraki-sponsored event at Levels positioned 1-2 respectively in the class, separated by 16.5 points, with Lewis third overall after these two rounds, 15 points further back.
The Supersport 600 class has so far been a Dale Finch benefit, the Christchurch rider so far unbeaten in the class, although he’s been pushed along at times by Upper Hutt’s Rogan Chandler, Taupiri’s Zak Fuller and Rangiora’s former national 600cc champion Avalon Biddle.
The second sidecar race at Levels at the weekend was recognised as the NZGP trophy race and it was won by Tauranga duo Barry Smith and Stu Dawe. The coveted NZGP title race had been in the schedule to be run at Ruapuna the previous weekend, but it was unable to go ahead on that occasion, the sidecar teams therefore catching up that honour at Levels on Sunday.
One of the most impressive riders in the series so far has been 14-year-old Invercargill rider Cormac Buchanan, who has so far won all but one of his 11 races in the two separate classes he is campaigning this season – the Supersport 300 and Supersport 150 classes.
Set to race in the high-profile Red Bull Rookies Cup in Europe later this year, the teenager has shown skills and maturity well beyond his tender years and will surely be an elite international sportsman to watch out for in the future.
Unfortunately, the racing at Levels came to an early finish on Sunday – Motorcycling New Zealand road-race commissioner Grant Ramage explaining that “the meeting at Levels had to be abandoned after a helicopter was required to airlift an injured rider from the track following an accident.
“The delay on the track pushed the race programme beyond our allowable time limits,” he said.
There is now 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.
Ramage said the racing at both rounds of the series had been “amazing” and he too would appreciate a couple of weeks’ break to catch his breath before the final two events on the calendar.
“The next two rounds at Hampton Downs and Taupo will be must-see events,” he said.
Class leaders after the second of four rounds at the weekend are Damon Rees (Superbikes); Christchurch’s Aaron Scott (Superbike B, support class); Finch (Supersport 600); Whangamata’s Jarad Horn (650 Pro Twins); Buchanan (Supersport 300 and Supersport 150); Hamilton’s Billee Fuller (GIXXER Cup 150); Smith and 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, Ruapuna, 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