Suzuki’s Dennis Charlett and John Ross further stamped their authority on the two main classes at the second round of the New Zealand Superbike Championships at the weekend.
With an unbeaten run of three wins at the Superbike series opener at Christchurch a week ago, Charlett knew he was in the firing-line as the riders lined-up for Levels Raceway, near Timaru.
The championship favourite certainly got the wake-up call as Taupo’s Suzuki rider Scott Moir raced to a convincing win in Saturday’s superbike race, while Charlett was forced to settle for fourth place. But Charlett responded in the best way possible the following day, taking his Underground Brown Suzuki GSX-R1000 to second and then first placings; enough to push his overall series advantage to 20 points over Hamilton Kawasaki rider Nick Cole, who managed 3-3-2 results at the weekend and remains the biggest threat to Charlett.
Said Charlett: “I was really just pacing myself in that last race. It was drizzling quite hard but I managed to get enough drive on the back straight to get past Cole, then I made myself as wide as a bus so he couldn’t get back past me before the finish.
“I have been working hard to achieve this and my team has been awesome. It is great to have that kind of support and hopefully these results are pay-back for them.” said the 45-year-old father-of-five and grandfather-of-three.
Meanwhile, in the 600cc Supersport class, defending champion Ross was again the stand-out competitor, finishing the weekend 2-1-1 to stretch his championship advantage from 28 to 38 points over Suzuki’s Alistair Hoogenboezem and Yamaha’s Toby Summers.
Summers threw down the gauntlet when he won the weekend’s opening 600cc race on Saturday, but nobody had an answer for Ross on Sunday.
“Race one on Sunday was a really hot pace,” said the 32-year-old Ross, who eventually managed to force his Suzuki GSX-R600 past race leader Summers and stretch-out a notable winning-margin of more than eight seconds.
“I wasn’t sure I could do the same thing in the next race but it looked like Alistair Hoogenboezem’s tyres were ‘going off’. I just sat behind him and it paid off. It’s good to leave the South Island - and head to the two North Island rounds of the series - with such a healthy points lead. I left the South Island with a 30-point lead last year but you really do need that. A lot of these guys are a lot faster on their own tracks.”
Other class leaders at the half-way stage of the series are New Plymouth’s Hayden Fitzgerald (Superlites, Suzuki SV650); Christchurch’s Matthew Hoogenboezem (125GP, Honda RS125); Kawakawa’s Royd Walker-Hoult (Pro Twins, Suzuki SV650); Ashburton’s Baillie Perriton (250cc Production, Kawasaki) and Hamilton pair Aaron Lovell and Dennis Simonson (Sidecars, LCR1000).
The series now takes a month-long break and resumes at Taupo Motorsport Park on March 22-23rd, which includes the New Zealand TT title races. The championship wraps-up with a double-header final round at Manfeild Park, on the outskirts of Feilding, on March 29-30th.