Friday, January 20

SUPERBIKE ACE WORKS DOUBLE TIME

John Ross
Fast-rising Christchurch road-racer John Ross is chasing a remarkable double as the Castrol Power1 New Zealand Superbike Championship stages its third round at Invercargill’s Teretonga circuit this weekend.

The Christchurch landscaper, 30, lies second in the Superbike championship and first in the second most important class, 600cc Supersport.

Contesting four long races against top opposition in one day would be too much for most, but Ross says an intensive training programme makes him so fit that he is unfazed by all the strenuous action.

Nor does he have any trouble switching between the two quite different bikes, a Suzuki NZ-backed Suzuki GSX-R600 and a BMW S1000RR superbike.

“Going to Australia last year definitely helped,” Ross said. He raced a BMW in Australia’s Pro Stock class.

"Our BMW for New Zealand only arrived on the Wednesday before the first round at Ruapuna,” he said. “It’s still pretty standard.”

Some of his rivals, especially Australian Robbie Bugden who leads the series for Suzuki, have more highly developed bikes but Ross says his BMW is up to the job.

In the 600s, Ross is just one point ahead of fellow Christchurch Suzuki rider Dennis Charlett, the defending champion. Ross says his long rivalry with Charlett has pushed him to go faster and faster.

And he expects to get faster yet.

“I’m still learning and developing,” Ross said. “My best racing years are before me.”

Bugden, who raced in New Zealand last summer with a broken leg, rides for the Christchurch-based Triple R team.

Although Bugden has a good points lead the team still has plenty of work to do, Fenton says.

“One non-finish can stuff everything up, so it’s too early yet to be counting our chickens,” he said.

“We have already had a DNF [did not finish] and we’re just fortunate that other riders have had major problems too, so we can take nothing for granted.”

Defending champion Andrew Stroud of Hamilton is third for Suzuki and the highly competitive field – the best for several years -- also features Nick Cole (Hamilton, Kawasaki), Craig Shirriffs (Feilding, Suzuki), Sloan Frost (Wellington, BMW), Bugden’s Suzuki team-mate James Smith (Christchurch), Ray Clee (Kumeu, Suzuki) and Honda riders Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth), Ryan Hampton (Christchurch) and Scott Moir (Taupo).

On Saturday the Superbike and Supersport riders have qualifying and the support classes have one race each. Sunday sees two races for all classes.

Photo credit: fotocd.co.nz