Robbie Bugden wins 5th New Zealand Superbike on the Triple R Suzuki Superbike Australian superbike star Robbie Bugden was able to cruise to his fifth New Zealand championship at Taupo [March 24] after Kiwi rival Craig Shirriffs ran off the track. “The bike started moving around so I slowed it down,” Bugden said after bringing his Suzuki home fifth in the final race, a lowly placing by his standards. All the riders were trying to finish the final race with a win. So with how tight everyone was getting into the corners together, Robbie felt it best to sit back and let them all go for it, and bring his Suzuki home. “Then I saw Craig go off and I just had to bring it home. I tried to stay out of trouble. I’d done the maths before the race so I knew where I had to finish.” Shirriffs had put himself into title contention with a brilliant victory in race one, coming from seventh early on and passing all the other top riders on his Suzuki. Along with Robbie sitting right on his tail in a safe 2nd place. The Feilding rider looked set to do the same in the final race, but when in second place and closing on leader Sloan Frost’s BMW he ran off the track into the gravel trap. He kept his bike upright and regained the track, but could manage only sixth at the end. “I locked up the front tyre braking on the white line,” he explained. “I couldn’t believe it.” Both races illustrated the growing strength of New Zealand superbike racing. Heat one was a classic, with Bugden, Shirriffs, Frost and Nick Cole (Kawasaki) all in a tight bunch and each having a turn in the lead. Wellingtonian Frost won the final race fair and square, finishing well clear of Cole who is based in Hamilton. Suzuki riders Dennis Charlett (Christchurch) and Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth) came in third and fourth respectively, and Charlett took third in the championship behind Bugden and Shirriffs. This is Robbie’s 5th New Zealand Superbike title, and 4th with the Triple R Superbike Team, based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Plus all his wins have been on the Suzuki GSXR 1000. In fact the GSXR has won the Superbike title in New Zealand every year from 2001, apart from 2005 when Tony Rees won on the R1. Robbie’s Suzuki GSXR performed perfectly all season securing him 4 poles from 5 rounds, along with 5 wins. Robbie is unsure if he will be able to come back from Australia next season to rejoin Triple R Superbike in another title fight. But, for him this year, he is now back in the Australian Suzuki Team PTR, with Team owner Phil Tainton.
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