Monday, January 18


Hamilton's Andrew Stroud is off to a flying start.
The Waikato father-of-seven qualified his Suzuki GSX-R1000 in pole position at the opening round of this year's New Zealand Superbike Championships in
Christchurch at the weekend and then raced his way to a two-point lead over fellow Waikato Suzuki rider Sloan Frost at the top of the superbike standings.
In fact, the whole weekend was a Suzuki bun-fight with the brand eventually claiming all five top spots in the superbike rankings -- Stroud followed by Frost,
Christchurch's James Smith in third, Auckland's Ray Clee in fourth and defending champion Robbie Bugden, of Australia, taking the No.5 spot.
It was a major disappointment for Bugden, who had come from Brisbane with his sights set on making it four Kiwi superbike crowns in a row. Bugden won Sunday's first superbike race but then crashed out of race two.
Stroud had been forced to settle for fourth place in race one but was in superb form in race two, shooting out to a commanding lead and eventually winning it by nearly 16 seconds from Frost.
That race win also gave Stroud the New Zealand Superbike GP title.
"The pack seemed half a lap behind me," said Stroud afterwards. "I guess you could say the weekend worked out good for me.
"I struggled a bit in the first race and it took me a while to work out how much traction I could find on the wet surface.
"It all turned back in my favour in race two though. There were still wet patches on the track but the new Pirelli tyres are brilliant and I was able to go hard straight away."
Frost finished 3-2 to take second overall for the day, while Smith's 2-4 placing gave him the third step on the superbike podium.
Frost was thrilled to record his career best result at a national superbike championship round.
"I got held up in traffic in race two," he explained. "By the time I got past Ray Clee, Andrew Stroud was long gone. I'm pretty pleased with my day though."
It also turned out to be a Suzuki scrap in the formula three class with defending champion Glen Williams, of Palmerston North, eventually edging out evergreen Taranaki campaigner Terry Fitzgerald by just two points for the top spot.
Williams (Suzuki SV650) finished 1-1-4 and Fitzgerald (Suzuki SV650) came home 3-2-1 in the three races.
There's also little to separate Suzuki riders Geoff Booth, Jason Cameron and James Hoogenboezem at the top of the 650 Pro Twins class.
Dannevirke's Booth took his Suzuki SV650 to 2-2-1 placing, while Kaiapoi's Cameron (Suzuki SV650) finished 1-1-4 and Christchurch's Hoogenboezem (Suzuki SV650) was placed 3-3-2 in the three outings.
There are just 13 points between these three riders at the top and closer racing is likely when they head to round two of the series at Invercargill's Teretonga circuit this coming weekend.

Source: Suzuki NZ 
KR File Pic.