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Dec 18, 2017

Suzuki Series: Daniel Mettam, Sloan Frost Split Feature Race Wins At Rainy Manfeild

Daniel Mettam (34) took victory in F1 Superbike Race One. Photo by Terry Stevenson, courtesy of Suzuki Series.

Mettam and Frost feel heat at Manfeild

Suzuki riders Daniel Mettam and Sloan Frost shared the feature race wins in sun drenched conditions during the second round of the 2017 Suzuki Series at Manfeild on Sunday.

Aucklander Mettam didn’t have race one all his own way in the F1 Superbike class however as Taupo’s Scott Moir rocketed off the line on his CD van der Meer Builders GSXR1000 and let the fast-track pack until the final turn of the opening lap where he almost crashed. Honda Rider Insurance CBR1000RR-mounted Mitch Rees, of Whakatane, took over the lead on lap two with fast starting Northern Ireland rider Lee Johnson hot on his heels on a Suzuki NZ GSXR1000 as he quickly came up to speed during his first NZ visit.

Mettam held third at this early stage of the race although he put a nice pass on Johnson with no quarter asked, or given. Frost held fourth when Tony Rees crashed at turn one, where a following rider clipped Tony’s hand as he slid off the track, which may force the 50 year old veteran to miss defending his Robert Holden Memorial title at Whanganui on Boxing Day.

Mettam says, “I managed to take the win in race one after a tight race with Mitch, and in the last race I was chasing Sloan down but the race was cut short two laps so I finished second. I was planning a move but it didn’t happen so that’s racing and I’m happy with the overall win.”

At the same time a fierce battle developed between Mettam and Mitch Rees, and shortly after Frost ran off the track after he missed a gear shift, which effectively put him last as the high speed freight train had 11 riders within a couple of hundred metres of the leaders all race long.

Mitch Rees made a late charge to the line however it was Mettam who took a well earned win by a bike length from Mitch. Third was New Plymouth rider Hayden Fitzgerald (bLU cRU Yamaha YZF-M1) who passed Johnson near the end of the race to snatch the final podium spot, ahead of Moir and Alastair Hoogenboezem (Christchurch) on an M1 Motorsport BMW S1000RR.

In what must be one of the closest F1 Superbike finishes ever, the top ten riders finished within 11 seconds of the leader.

Race two was yet another torrid battle between several riders who all wanted victory in front of the large Manfeild crowd. Entertained they were. Frost shot his Sloan Frost Fujistu TSS Red Baron Suzuki GSXR1000 into the lead at the start with Mettam, Moir, Fitzgerald and Johnson hot on his heels.

Frost was pushed all the way to the line as Mettam and Moir constantly swapped places behind the Wellington rider. The high-speed Suzuki GSXR1000 freight train went on to take the chequered flag in that order.

In the sizzling heat Mitch Rees struggled to maintain the same traction level as the opening leg and held fourth to race end, with Fitzgerald right behind.

Equal second with Mettam in the series Mitch Rees feels no pressure. “Race one was an awesome race with Dan, right down to the wire so to be on the podium again was awesome. I tried to get a run around the outside and see if I could out-drive him (to the line) but he weighs less than me,” Rees says. “They were going faster in the second race and I didn’t have the grip. It’s only my second season and I’m going faster than ever before, and if we’re at the front fighting for wins, if we’re fifth or twelfth, so long as we are going faster that’s all I want.”

Again, all the riders were on pace and the top nine places crossed the finish line within 11 seconds.

Lee Johnson is on fire on a new bike with new tyres and a totally new track in a different country, “It’s so good to be here, the weather is awesome, the track is good and the people have been unbelievable the way they’ve looked after us. They can’t do enough for you, it reminds me of back home in Northern Ireland so it’s really nice and I’m enjoying it,” Johnson says. “In qualifying we were only 0.2s off pole so I knew then we’d be in the mix for the race but I struggled a little with the brakes, we tried one thing for race one and they weren’t so bad but I couldn’t make a pass safely. We changed the master cylinder and lever for the second race but it was the wrong thing so it wasn’t safe to carry on so we DNFd,”

The last person to win at Whanganui other than Tony Rees is Scott Moir, in 2014.

With 89 points Moir retains his lead in the 2017 Suzuki Series as he heads to one of his favourite tracks, the famous Cemetery Circuit at Whanganui on December 26. Mettam and Mitch Rees are tied on 82 points behind so there will be no rest and everything to play for at the street circuit.

Shane Richardson and Toby Summers shared the F2 600 spoils after two races at blistering pace in blistering temperatures. Summers day started out the hard way after he suffered a high-speed crash at the ‘Sweeper’. Summers walked away but the team had a lot of repair work to do before race one.

Richardson and his Wainui Joinery Kawasaki ZX-6R was in a class of his own during race one, where second position was contested by 20 year old Rogan Chandler on his Yamaha R6 and Summers, who has repaired his Carl Cox Motorsport Kawasaki ZX-6R in time, and Avalon Biddle on her MTF Finance ZX-6R. The trio finished in that order.

Race two became a hard fought affair at the front between Summers and Richardson, with Summers coming out on top for his first win in the F2 600 class of the Suzuki Series. Richardson was second with David Hall a fine third after Chandler was relegated down one position after passing another rider under a yellow flag.

Toby Summers says, “I was pushing real hard in qualifying and ran off at the fastest corner on the track, I hit the barrier and bent the bike a bit. I fixed that and had a good battle but I was lucky to stay in third because Avalon was very close. I put a new tyre on the rear for the second race and I put my head down and sat on the back of Shane, it’s the first time I’ve felt comfortable sitting there, he was struggling a little for grip. I managed to put a pass on him with a lap to go and he tried pass me back, I was out of the saddle at the Hairpin but I came out on top, so I’m happy.”

With so many international riders the Sidecar category held a lot of interest for the fans. The fast Barry Smith and Tracey Bryan proved unbeatable in both races at Manfeild on their Carl Cox Motorsport LCR1000. UK-based Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes tried to keep them honest on their much lower powered Honda 600 F2 sidecar using all their skill and talent in an effort to keep Smith in sight each race to cross the line second.

Tim Reeves says, “I got a good start in race one, I knew Barry was going to catch me so it was just a matter of holding on for as long as I could, then he just blasted me down the straight. Barry rode good, him and Tracey are doing a good job.”

There were many great battles down the order but it was Adam Unsworth and Bryce Rose who stole the show on their massively outdated 1988 Windle 1000 sidecar, especially in race two where the pair picked an on-track fight for second against a multi-world champion in Tim Reeves. Reeves won the battle although Unsworth and Rose won the crowd accolades as the Auckland-based rider was spectacularly sliding his Windle through every single corner.

Barry Smith and Tracey Bryan have won all four races on their ‘long bike’ and will be swapping it for an smaller F2 ‘chair’ to better tackle the tight Whanganui street circuit on boxing Day.

Smith recounts his day, “It pretty much went to plan, I knew with the F1 bike we had more straight line speed and after qualifying I knew we were a couple of seconds faster than Tim. The plan was to get away at the start and keep the gap constant, I rolled off a little towards the end to look after Tracey because of the heat.”

After two rounds of the F3 class no one has beaten Nathanael Diprose and his Suzuki GSXR450. Jacob Stroud has shown flashes of brilliance such as when the 19 year old Hamiltonian came from behind to catch and pass Jason Easton in the opening leg. A consistent Gavin Veltmeyer leaves the Aucklander second in the points behind Diprose, with Ashley Payne in third. Payne would be higher in the points however the Whanganui rider fell during the opening race, although he came back strong to post a podium in the restarted race two.

The Gixxer 150 cup races kept the crowd entertained as the young and mostly inexperienced racers hammered it out amongst themselves on identical 12.7Kw (17hp) Suzuki GSX150Fs at much slower speeds than any other class. Many riders have come from a motocross background to try their hand on the tarmac although some have done a little road racing before, such as 19 year old Tarbon Walker, of Whanganui.

They might not have the speed but they have the fire and there were battles aplenty between Blake Ross, Thomas Newton, Clark Fountain and Walker, to name a few at or near the front.

Jesse Stroud, 15, suffered a nasty looking crash during qualifying but the 15 year old was seen walking around the pits later in the day. With round one double winner Stroud out of the hunt it was left to Blake Ross to take victory in the first leg from Walker and Newton, then Walker took his first Suzuki Series win in the second leg ahead of Ross, and Scott Hawkes in a very close finish over the line with fourth placed Fountain.

The support classes were dominated by Ritchie Dibben in Supermoto and Glen Skachill in Post Classics as each rider won both races and remain unbeaten in the series. Brendon Coad also won both races of the new Formula Sport/BEARS class.

Early-bird tickets are available at www.cemeterycircuit.co.nz and go in the draw to win a Suzuki GSX150 if tickets purchased online. The winner will be drawn prior to Whanganui.

2017 Suzuki Series schedule

Rnd 3: Whanganui Cemetery Circuit, Tuesday December 26

2017 Suzuki Series round 1 results from Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, Feilding, Sunday December 17.

Suzuki Formula 1 Superbike, race 1: Daniel Mettam (Auckland, Suzuki NZ GSXR1000), 1; Mitch Rees, (Whakatane, Honda Rider Insurance CBR1000RR), 2; Hayden Fitzgerald, (New Plymouth, bLU cRU Yamaha R1), 3; Scott Moir (Taupo, CD van der Meer Builders GSXR1000), 4; Alastair Hoogenboezem (Christchurch, M1 Motorsport BMW S1000RR), 5.

Formula 1 Superbike, race 2: Sloan Frost, (Wellington, Fujitsu TSS Red Baron Suzuki NZ GSXR1000), 1; Mettam, 2; Moir, 3; Mitch Rees, 4; Fitzgerald, 5.

F1 Superbike series points: Moir, 89; Mettam & Mitch Rees, 82 = ; Frost; 73; Fitzgerald, 66.

Pirelli Formula 2 600, race 1: Shane Richardson (Wainuiomata, Wainui Joinery Kawasaki ZX-6R), 1; Rogan Chandler (Wellington, bLU cRU Yamaha R6), 2; Toby Summers (Auckland, Carl Cox Motorsport Kawasaki ZX-6R), 3; Avalon Biddle (Christchurch, Kawasaki ZX6R), 4; David Hall (Te Awamutu, Suzuki GSXR600), 5.

Formula 2 600, race 2: Summers, 1; Richardson, 2; Hall, 3; Chandler, 4; Biddle, 5.

Formula 2 series points: Richardson, 98; Chandler, 79; Biddle, 70; Summers, 67; Ashton Hughes (Feilding, Triumph Daytona 675), 59.

Bike Torque Formula 3, race 1: Nathanael Diprose (Auckland, Suzuki GSXR450), 1; Gavin Veltmeyer (Auckland, Suzuki GVR645), 2; Jacob Stroud (Hamilton, Kramer HKR690), 3; Jason Easton (Palmerston North, Tigcraft 550), 4; Paul Hammond (Hastings, TZR650), 5.

Formula 3, restarted race 2A: Diprose, 1; Veltmeyer, 2; Payne, 3; Stroud, 4; Hammond, 5.

Formula 3 series points: Diprose, 102; Veltmeyer, 84; Payne, 64; Jacob Stroud, 54; Scott Findlay, Matt Dunlop & Liam Underwood, all 49 points equal.

Suzuki Gixxer 150 Cup, race 1: All riding Suzuki GSX150F motorcycles. Blake Ross (Paeroa), 1; Tarbon Walker (Whanganui) 2; Thomas Newton (Pukekohe), 3; Clark Fountain (Greymouth), 4; Harry Parker (Timaru), 5.

Suzuki Gixxer 150 Cup, race 2: Walker, 1; Ross, 2; Scott Hawkes (Feilding), 3; Fountain, 4; Newton, 5.

Gixxer Series points: Ross, 83; Fountain, 76; Walker, 70; Michael Wilson, 53; Newton & Harry Parker 52 =.

Collegiate Quality Inn F1 Sidecars race 1: Barry Smith/Tracey Bryan (Te Puke/Tauranga, Carl Cox Motorsport Suzuki F1), 1; Tim Reeves/Mark Wilkes (UK, Carl Cox Motorsport LCR600 F2), 2; Adam Unsworth/Bryce Rose (Auckland/Palmerston North, Eni Windle F1), 3; Pete Goodwin/Kendal Dunlop (Auckland, F1 GRR), 4; Andy Scrivener/Tina McKeown (Taupo, RSR Suzuki 1000), 5.

F1 Sidecars race 2: Smith/Bryan, 1; Reeves/Wilkes, 2; Unsworth/Rose, 3; Goodwin/Dunlop, 4; Graeme Evans/Eamon Mulholland (Australia/Ireland, Rick Hanger Racing ZX-10), 5.

F1 Sidecar series points; Smith/Bryan, 102; Unsworth/Rose, 81; Chris & Ritchie Lawrance, 68; Goodwin/Dunlop, 67.5; Evans/ Mulholland, 61.5.

F2 Sidecar series points; Reeves/Wilkes, 77; Tony Baker/Shelly Smithies (UK), 65; Corey Winter/ Kieran Whitham (Whanganui), 49.5; Gordie McKeown/Geoff Davies (Tauranga, 44; Eckart Rosinger/Darren Prentice (Germany/NZ), 39. 



More, from a press release issued by Suzuki New Zealand:

Mettam Wins But Moir Still The Suzuki Series Leader

Team-mates went head-to-head in pursuit of Formula One class glory at the second round of three in the 2017 Suzuki Series in Feilding on Sunday and, on identical Suzuki GSX-R1000A bikes, it was always going to be a hard-fought affair.

Bay of Plenty's Scott Moir dominated the opening round of the series on his home track at Taupo a week ago and the 33-year-old Suzuki star managed to maintain his F1 class lead after he bravely fought to achieve a 4-3 score-card at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon on Sunday.

But the day really belonged to fellow Suzuki team rider Daniel Mettam, who finished 1-2 in the two F1 outings at Manfeild.

Those results mean Glen Eden's Mettam has surged up the series standings, from fourth overall and a distant 16 points behind Moir, the 21-year-old Mettam is now second and just seven points adrift of his mate.

A third Team Suzuki rider, Wellington's former national superbike champion Sloan Frost, qualified fastest in the F1 class early on Sunday, but he then struck trouble in the opening F1 race, missing a gear change and running off the track. He managed to recover from last position to claim tenth at the chequered flag, but the slip-up was costly and the 2015 Suzuki Series winner now has only a remote chance of claiming the main trophy this year.

However, it was certainly some consolation for Frost when he bounced back to win the day's second F1 race, edging out Mettam, with Moir third across the line in a thrilling Suzuki 1-2-3 finish.

Mettam said he was "gutted" he couldn't win both F1 races at Manfeild.

"I think the organisers made a mistake and cut the race short by two laps.

"I started the day fourth in the standings, but now I'm up to second, so I can't complain too much."

It was a "good solid weekend" for Moir, who was grateful to still be leading the title chase after a "scary moment" in race one.

"I was lucky to finish that first race," said Moir.

"I was in the lead when I high-sided and got flicked high off the bike seat. I managed to save it and not crash, but I was dropped back to eighth. Then I overshot a corner while trying to catch up and lost three more places. These were simply mistakes and I had nobody to blame but myself."

For Moir to fight his way back to eventually finish fourth in that race speaks volumes for the man's talent.

The newly-created GIXXER Cup class, set aside for riders aged between 14 and 21 and all on identical Suzuki GSX150F bikes, continued to thrill the large crowds following the series.

The class has a new leader after Hamilton's round one winner Jesse Stroud crashed heavily during his qualifying session in the Formula Three class. He was taken to hospital for a check-up and he took no further part in the day's racing.

Paeroa's Blake Ross finished 1-2 on Sunday and he now leads the GIXXER Cup standings, seven points ahead of the "West Coast Warrior", 14-year-old Greymouth rider Clark Fountain, with Whanganui's Tarbon Walker, Invercargill's Michael Wilson and Pukekohe's Thomas Newton completing the top five.

As well as being an integral part of the three-round Suzuki Series, the GIXXER Cup grade of competition will also be a feature of the four-round 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships, beginning at Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch, on January 6-7, with rounds to follow at Timaru, Hampton Downs and Taupo.

Riders will count six of seven rounds from these two separate competitions, discarding points from their one worst round, to determine the inaugural GIXXER Cup champion for 2017-18.

The third and final round of the 2017 Suzuki Series is set for the public streets of Whanganui, the famous Cemetery Circuit, on Boxing Day.

Other class leaders after round two of the Suzuki Series are:

Wainuiomata's Shane Richardson (Formula Two); Auckland's Nathanael Diprose (Formula Three); Lower Hutt's Glen Skachill (Post Classics Pre-89, senior); Lower Hutt's Dean Bentley (Post Classics Pre-89, junior); Whanganui's Dwayne Bishop (Bears, senior); Hamilton's Zurrin Wikki (Bears, junior); Tauranga pair Barry Smith and Tracey Bryan (sidecars, F1); UK pair Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes (sidecars, F2); Whanganui's Richard Dibben (Super Motard).

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