Whakatane's Mitch Rees (Honda CBR1000RR-R) extended his lead to a massive 51 points over his nearest superbike class rival at the fourth round of six in this season's New Zealand Superbike Championships in Invercargill at the weekend. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Very few riders will be feeling comfortable enough to rest on their laurels after the fourth round of six in this season's New Zealand Superbike Championships in Invercargill at the weekend dealt a few more shock blows.
Previously unbeatable home town hero Cormac Buchanan lost valuable points after he suffered his first major setback in this AON Insurance and Pirelli-sponsored series when he failed to finish one of his Supersport 600 class races at Invercargill's popular Teretonga Park Raceway on Sunday.
While it temporarily derailed his charge towards the top of the 600cc class, the Invercargill 16-year-old was soon back on the track to win his next Supersport 300 class race and extend his unbeaten run in that category, on the way to him almost certainly defending his 300cc crown.
Buchanan had won his first two 600cc races of the weekend and looked on target to take a huge advantage after the series leader in this class, Bull's rider Ashton Hughes, had crashed out of his first race of the weekend and was unable to continue racing.
But instead it was Rangiora's Jake Lewis who took maximum advantage.
Lewis had finished runner-up to Buchanan in the first two 600cc races, but, when race leader Buchanan suddenly pulled into the pits with mechanical woes, there was nothing to stop Lewis going on to claim the race win and also, with that, the series lead too.
Lewis now tops the class by two points from Upper Hutt's Rogan Chandler, with Buchanan third in the rankings, 19 points back from Chandler. Hughes has slipped to fourth, just half a point behind Buchanan.
It was a battle of attrition in the 600cc class, with not only Hughes and Buchanan suffering setbacks, but Napier's SJ Cavell, Taupo's Karl Hooper and Tirau's Dillon Telford suffering mishaps too.
There were also a couple of non-finishers recorded in the glamour 1000ccc Superbikes class, with Taupo's Scott Moir and Taupiri's Zak Fuller dropping off the radar at different stages during the weekend.
Whakatane's defending national champion in the superbike class, Mitch Rees, found himself in a torrid battle with Christchurch's former superbike champion Alastair Hoogenboezem, but a 1-2-1 score-line for the event was sufficient for Rees to not only win the weekend, but also extend his series lead to a massive 51 points over Hoogenboezem.
Class leaders after round four at Teretonga at the weekend are Rees (F1 Superbikes class, Honda); Lewis (F2 Supersport 600, Yamaha); Waiuku's Bob Irving (Pro Twins, pre-2020 bikes, CFMoto); Nelson's Jonny Lewis (Pro Twins, post-2020 bikes, Aprilia); Buchanan (Supersport 300, Yamaha) and Christchurch's Hunter Charlett (Supersport 150, Yamaha).
"What a marvellous spectacle this racing has been," said Motorcycling New Zealand road-racing commissioner Andy Skelton.
"It has also been top quality racing and absolutely top-notch entertainment. The host club here delivered a great event and it's good too that we could bring the 'circus' back to Teretonga again after so many years of this track being off the calendar."
There is now a seven-week break before the series resumes in the North Island, round five set for the Hampton Downs-promoted Star Insure MotoFest event on the weekend of March 4-5.
The sixth and final round is set for a second visit to the Taupo International Motorsport Park and Events Centre on March 11-12.
"Bike fans really should make the effort to get to Hampton Downs and Taupo because the racing is truly world class and seeing is believing." Skelton said.
This season's competition 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 and all the other supporting sponsors.
DATES FOR 2022-23 NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE SEASON:
Suzuki International Series (and first two rounds of nationals):
- Round 1, Taupo, Dec 3rd and 4th (ABANDONED)
- Round 2, Manfeild, Dec 10th and 11th
- Whanganui's Cemetery Circuit, Dec 26th (third and final round of Suzuki International Series, but not part of the nationals)
- 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