The 2022-23 New Zealand Road-Race Nationals
CAPTION: Event promoter and organiser Allan ‘Flea’ Willacy explains the situation to the assembled riders. At his left is Taupo track representative Mike Marsden. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Motorcycling New Zealand, the sport’s governing body here, believes rider safety always comes first and this policy was clearly in evidence when the opening round of the 2022-23 was abandoned at approximately 1pm on day one at Taupo on Saturday.
Unsafe track conditions forced Taupo International Motorsport Park and the event promoter, Cemetery Circuit, to cancel the weekend’s opening round of the combined three-round Suzuki International Series and six-round New Zealand Superbike Nationals.
Exhaustive attempts were made to remedy the deterioration of the surface at turn seven. The track in this area had recently been resurfaced to improve safety, but that had failed.
According to host Taupo International Motorsport Park spokesperson Mike Marsden, turn seven had undergone repairs recently in an effort to improve the surface and early indications were positive.
However, the hotter temperatures experienced during a practice and test day on Friday and in the early part of Saturday caused the breakdown of the surface and attempts to remedy the situation did not work.
This left event officials and track management no option but to cancel the event due to rider safety concerns.
“This is an incredibly hard situation for all involved and we really feel for the promoter, the competitors and the fans,” said track CEO Josie Spillane. “However, the safety of the competitors is our main priority, and it became very obvious at lunchtime today that the track could not be repaired, leaving us no other option but to cancel the event.
“We recently engaged industry experts to address the track surface conditions, and our sole goal was to improve them but despite all the efforts made we did not get it right.
“Track surfaces are not an easy proposition or an exact science and what works on one track doesn’t necessarily work at others,” she said.
“We are now focusing on the solution and expect to have the park fully operational again by the end of next week.”
Suzuki International Series promoter and organiser Allan ‘Flea’ Willacy agreed that rider safety was paramount.
“We are obviously very disappointed with what has happened today, but rider safety is always foremost in our minds,” he said.
“Moving forward, we go on to round two at Manfeild, in Feilding, and now riders know that getting a good result there is doubly important in terms of both the Suzuki International Series at the New Zealand Superbike Nationals (for which the Taupo and Manfeild events are also recognised as rounds one and two of that separate series).
“It will be more crucial than ever now that riders perform at Manfeild next weekend.”
This effectively means that the Suzuki International Series is reduced to two rounds and the New Zealand Superbike Nationals are abbreviated to five rounds.
Meanwhile, the track and promoters will be refunding all ticket purchasers and the competitors at Taupo.
The combined series would not be possible without support from the following groups: Victoria MCC, Hampton Downs, Auckland MCC, MCI, Hamilton MCC, Southland Motorcycle Club, South Canterbury Motorcycle Club, Cemetery Circuit, MNZ, Platinum Homes and all the other supporting sponsors.
DATES FOR 2022-23 NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE SEASON:
Suzuki International Series:
- Round 1, Taupo, Dec 3rd and 4th
- Round 2, Manfeild, Dec 10th and 11th
- Whanganui’s Cemetery Circuit, Dec 26th (third and final round of Suzuki International Series)
- Round 3, Ruapuna, Jan 7th and 8th
- Round 4, Teretonga, Jan 14th and 15th
- Round 5, Hampton Downs, part of Moto Fest, Mar 4th and 5th
- Round 6, Taupo, Mar 11th and 12th
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com