Monday, March 26

BUGDEN RECLAIMS NZ SUPERBIKE CROWN


Australian Superbike star Robbie Bugden regained his New Zealand Superbike Championship with two dominant victories for Suzuki at Taupo on Sunday.

Andrew Stroud’s hopes of winning his 10th Superbike title at the final round of the Castrol Power1 series took a knock on Saturday when he could qualify only eighth after a crash in practice.

On Sunday he was off his usual pace, finishes of sixth and fourth leaving the Hamilton Suzuki rider second in the championship.

“We’ve got it done,” Bugden said. “We’ve had some ups and downs through the season.

“I hadn’t been champion for a couple of years. We set out to win the championship and I’m so happy for the whole team.”

This is his fourth New Zealand title, coming after two years when Stroud took the championships. Racing in New Zealand during the Australian of-season helped keep him focused, Bugden said.

“I’m a racer,” he said. “This is what I like to do. My life revolves around racing.”

Feilding rider Craig Shirriffs was delighted with his best performance of the season, clear second in both races on his Suzuki.

"I’m rapt,” he said. “I’ve never liked this track much, but it’s grown on me now.”

Stroud took his defeat with good grace.

“It’s good to let the Australians win sometimes, it’s good for international relations,” he joked.

He had won both races at Hampton Downs the previous weekend but at Taupo he could not find the ideal suspension setup for his bike and it was getting unsettled over the bumps.

Hamilton Kawasaki rider Nick Cole was third overall with a fourth and a third, passing Stroud in race two. However that was not quite enough to gain third in the championship, that place going to Wellington BMW rider Sloan Frost.

Australian Dan Stauffer had tyre problems with his Yamaha, finishing fifth and sixth.

Christchurch rider Dennis Charlett made sure of retaining his 600cc Supersport championship with a careful third in race one and then romped away with the final, although 17-year-old Aucklander Jaden Hassan closed right up at the end with his Yamaha.

The first race in this class, run on a damp track, was sensationally won by 15-year-old Australian Josh McGrath, more than 12 seconds clear of the strong field.

“I love racing in the wet, sliding the bike,” said McGrath, who is too young to race a 600 in Australia. He came third in race two.

Other 2012 champions are: 600cc Superstock, Jake Lewis (Christchurch, Yamaha); Superlite, Glen Williams (Palmerston North, Suzuki); 650 Pro Twins, Robbie Stokes (Christchurch, Suzuki); 125 GP, Seth Devereux (Christchurch, Honda); and Prolite 250, Sam Croft Raumati South, Kawasaki).

Castrol Power1 New Zealand Superbike Championships, final round, Taupo

Superbikes – Race one: Robbie Bugden (Australia) Suzuki 1; Craig Shirriffs (Feilding) Suzuki 2; Sloan Frost (Wellington) BMW 3; Nick Cole (Hamilton) Kawasaki) 4; Dan Stauffer (Australia) Yamaha 5; Andrew Stroud (Hamilton) Suzuki 6. Race two: Bugden 1; Shirriffs 2; Cole 3; Stroud 4; Frost 5; Stauffer 6.

Final championship points: Bugden 182.5, Stroud 145, Frost 124.5, Cole 120.5, Shirriffs 114, James Smith (Christchurch, Suzuki) 100.

600cc Supersport – Race one: Josh McGrath (Australia) Yamaha 1; Glen Skachill (Wellington) Suzuki 2; Dennis Charlett (Christchurch) Suzuki 3; Jaden Hassan (Auckland) Yamaha 4; Jeremy Holmes (Invercargill) Honda 5. Race two: Charlett 1; Hassan 2; McGrath 3; Skachill 4; Karl Morgan (Auckland) Suzuki 5.

Points: Charlett 203, Skachill 165, McGrath 123, John Ross (Christchurch, Suzuki) 116, Hassan 99.