NEW ZEALAND SBK AND GIXXER CUP SERIES SET TO KICK OFF


Team Suzuki Press Office – November 26.

The New Zealand Suzuki International Road Racing Series kicks off next week, December 7-8th, with the first of its three rounds taking place at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo.

This starts a scorching summer of racing for Suzuki, and three consecutive weeks of high-profile action, again swamped with potent, world-class entries and a re-vamped NZ Suzuki GIXXER Cup class that boasts 25 riders in its line-up so far.

Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, follows as host venue the following week on December 14-15th and the action wraps up, as it traditionally does, on the public streets of Whanganui’s world-famous Cemetery Circuit, on Boxing Day (Thursday, December 26th).

Taupo's Scott Moir will be hoping to take his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to a third consecutive outright win in the Formula One (F1) class in this year's Suzuki International Series, but he knows he'll again have his work cut out just staying ahead of fellow Suzuki stars Sloan Frost and Daniel Mettam, not to mention all the other big names that will be lining up.

Wellington's Frost is a two-time former National Superbike Champion and won the Suzuki International Series F1 class in 2015, while Glen Eden's Mettam is this year's national Superbike Champion.

But Moir, the Suzuki International Series Champion in the glamour F1 class in both 2017 and 2018, remains steadfastly confident.

Said 36-year-old Moir: "I'm feeling strong and fast, I'm the fittest I've ever been and I certainly believe I can win. It's going to be tough, but I'm up for the fight."

Mettam is similarly bullish about his chances of winning the series: "I'd love to win the Suzuki International Series. I have the National Superbike title, but it would be so nice to have the F1 Suzuki Series crown as well. I won the 600cc (F2) class in the Suzuki Series in 2015, but the F1 title is the main one.

"The international riders who are coming will certainly be fast, but I think we Kiwis may have a slight advantage over them because we know the tracks already. I'm feeling really good with my preparations and we are nearly 100 percent with tyres and suspension settings now,” added 23-year-old Mettam.

The Suzuki International Series is New Zealand’s richest motorcycle competition and it has again attracted a huge overseas contingent, with top riders arriving from the United Kingdom, France and Australia, including Isle of Man and British Superbike Championship winners among them.

British rider Richard Cooper, Ireland’s Lee Johnston are the main draw-card entrants this year, with many race fans sure to already know of their incredible international exploits.

Cooper is the 2019 British Superbike Championship (BSB) Superstock Champion and his performance as a newcomer at this year’s North West 200 was another highlight for him and the Buildbase Suzuki squad. He will be supported in New Zealand by the Sloan Frost Motorsport Team.

Johnston is the 2019 Isle of Man TT winner, icing on a cake to his 2019 season that also saw him win the Scarborough Gold Cup and finish runner-up in the Ulster GP.

Frenchman Morgan Govignon will also be on track, set to race in the Bears (non-Japanese bikes) class.
There is also a strong line-up of Kiwi talent: Shane Richardson returns from overseas, where he featured at the front this year in the British Superbike Championships, racing in the Superstock class. He will race in the F1 class in the Suzuki International Series.

Alastair Hoogenboezem and Rees brothers – Mitch and Damon – will also be pushing for top honours in the F1 class. Glen Skachill returns to racing after a number of years away and he will also add spark to the F1 class, while reigning national 600 Supersport Champion Avalon Biddle has delighted organisers with news that she will race the Suzuki International Series and make her debut on the public streets of Whanganui on Boxing Day.

The Suzuki International Series also offers races for Formula Three, Classics (pre-89), sports bikes, super motard bikes and sidecars.

The crowd-favourite GIXXER Cup class, reserved for riders on identical 150cc Suzuki GSX150F model bikes, is in the programme again this year with the rider age-limit restriction lifted, meaning individuals such as Frost, Mettam and Dennis Charlett are expected to line up and give talented youngsters such as Jesse Stroud and Caleb Gilmore something to really think about.

The GIXXER competition, hatched in late 2017 as a nursery ground for motorcycle road-racing – and with the catch-phrase 'Growing Future Champions' – has been an outstanding success. Numerous young riders, many of whom who would perhaps previously not even have considered tackling the sport, have now embraced racing and are showing signs that they could be Superbike champions in years to come.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan @ www.bikesportnz.com




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