Sizzling Suzuki Series set for Manfeild

Sizzling Suzuki Series set for Manfeild

The second round of the 2017 Suzuki Series will be staged at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon on Sunday, and if the action during round one at Taupo is anything to go by, don’t miss it.

The large Taupo crowd saw Scott Moir take two heroic wins on two different Suzuki GSXR1000s, they witnessed the Gixxer 150 Cup pushing, shoving, and crashes, and they took in the huge sidecar field with the David and Goliath battles between Barry Smith on his 1000cc F1 rig and multi-world sidecar champion Tim Reeves on a smaller F2 600 chair.

Manfeild on Sunday is shaping up to be even more exciting as riders will have their machines more sorted for even faster lap times during the second round of the Suzuki Series.

The Suzuki Series is NZs richest motorcycle event on the calendar and everyone wants a piece of the action. Moir (CD van der Meer Builders GSXR1000) is very fast around Manfeild but so is Sloan Frost (Fujistu TSS Red Baron Suzuki GSXR1000) who will want to improve his current third in the standings.

Moir, who leads the series says, “I haven’t had the best time at Manfeild but with the practice I have done on the new bike I’m on good pace, so I should be close to the front.”

Frost says, “There’s a couple of changes I need to make on the bike which will give me more confidence, and we need to make good days of our testing and consolidate what we’ve got.”

Defending Suzuki Series winner and 2017 NZ Superbike champion Tony Rees (Honda Rider Insurance CBR1000RR) will be out to prove a point after a battery went flat on his bike last Sunday.

Add to that mix Mitch Rees who stunned most of the big-bore riders by taking two second placings on his Honda Rider Insurance CBR1000RR plus, the 24 year old almost won the second race if not for a small mistake.

Mitch is keen to pick up more points at Manfeild but has few expectations, “I’ve only been there four times, it’s going to be like last weekend where I didn’t expect to be on the podium and I didn’t expect to be doing the lap times I was doing. We’re on a new bike and we are still getting used to it, I am comfortable and happy, so we’ll see if we can do the same next weekend.”

Northern Ireland professional rider Lee Johnston arrives for his first stint racing in New Zealand, riding a Suzuki NZ GSXR1000. The 28 year has an enviable track record, he has won the North West 200, finished on the Isle of Man TT podium three times and is a former British Superstock 600 champion.

He’ll have a lot of catching up to do in learning a new circuit as he prepares for a tilt at the Robert Holden Memorial at Whanganui on Boxing Day. It has just been announced that Johnston will be riding the 2018 season for the Honda Racing roads team, alongside Ian Hutchinson.

There’s still more flying Kiwis Johnston needs to consider such as Hayden Fitzgerald (bLU cRU Yamaha YZF-M1), Daniel Mettam (Suzuki NZ GSXR1000) and Wil Sport ZX-10R-mounted Connor London.

Mettam, 21, made his mark in F1 Superbike last year at Manfeild by taking a pair of surprise third placings after fighting with the leaders, while Christchurch rider Alastair Hoogenboezem was never far behind him, this year on an M1 Motorsport BMW S1000RR.

For all that talent the rider to watch in the big-bike class is Jay Lawrence on his immaculate Carl Cox Motorsport GSXR1000, on his home track.

With the last northern summer racing in the US, Wainuiomata rider Shane Richardson is odds-on favourite to continue his Taupo double winning streak in the Suzuki Series F2 600 class. Manfeild is his home circuit and it will be a very brave person who can ride faster than the Wainui Joinery Kawasaki ZX-6R-mounted rider.

Although, Aucklander Toby Summers has the pedigree to win when he gets more used to his smaller 600cc Carl Cox Motorsport Kawasaki ZX-6R, after a couple of seasons on Superbikes. Another home track rider with potential to challenge at the front is Wellingtonian Rogan Chandler (Yamaha R6), while Te Awamutu rider David Hall and Whangaparoa rider Nathan Jane (both Suzuki GSXR600s) were not far behind Summers after some hectic racing at Taupo.

Fresh from another season racing in Europe Avalon Biddle holds third in the title chase on her MTF Finance ZX6R.

Richardson expands, “I’m looking forward to Manfeild as that is my home track but I know I will have good competition there, especially from Rogan Chandler who is going pretty quick so he’ll be one to watch on his new R6, as well as Toby [Summers], Dave [Hall] and Av [Biddle]. Hopefully I can win another two races at Manfeild then another two at the Cemetery Circuit.”

Barry Smith and Tracey Bryan lead the Suzuki Series Sidecar class on their more powerful Carl Cox Motorsport LCR F1 sidecar, and must be favourites at Manfeild.

Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes will have their faster Honda 600 powerplant fitted in time for Manfeild after using a stock engine last Sunday, but will it be enough to challenge for the win on their lower powered Carl Cox Motorsport LCR F2 outfit?

Five-time world champion Reeves isn’t so sure, “It’s still not going to get anywhere near Barry’s bike, that is fast!” Reeves says, “That is the bike I rode all year in the British championship, it has 20 wins and a190hp at the rear wheel, compared to my little thing which has 135hp. I really enjoyed it, that bike is really good.”

The depth of sidecar talent is astounding. Spike Taylor and Astrid Hartnell scored podium positions at Taupo on their smart looking Mobility Wairarapa LCR GSXR1000 rig, and Manfeild is their home track. Chris and Ritchie Lawrance were unlucky to get a puncture in race one at Taupo on their new Colemans Suzuki LCR1000, however the pair came back strong in race two for third position, and don’t be surprised if you see them higher up the leader board come Sunday.

Adam Unsworth and fresh passenger Bryce Rose rode their 1988 Eni Windle F1 so well at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park that they too, must be in the mix near the front.

With more time to get acclimatised we’re likely to see the other seven internationals perform further up the field. One rider who surprised last Sunday was 72 year old Tony Baker, with Shelly Smithies (UK), while German Eckart Rosinger and Steffen Werner may find the more flowing Manfeild circuit to their liking.

Aucklanders Peter Goodwin and Kendal Dunlop were also getting into their stride by Taupo’s final sidecar race, and they have the capability and the rig to fight for the podium. Keep a lookout also for former NZ champion Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown, of Taupo, who have won many times at the Feilding circuit.

Despite their lack of speed down the straights the Gixxer 150 Cup races provided most of the entertainment as the 14 to 21 year old riders duked it out on the track with no-holds barred antics. The diminutive Jesse Stroud, 15, secured both wins at Taupo last Sunday and has raced at Manfeild before. Tarbon Walker kept the Hamiltonian honest and will likely be alongside Stroud on any given corner - or all of them. But there is plenty of scope for other riders on the identical Gixxer 150 bikes to show their mettle at Manfeild on Sunday.

2017 Suzuki Series schedule

Rnd 2: Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, Feilding, Sunday December 17
Rnd 3: Whanganui Cemetery Circuit, Tuesday December 26