Wednesday, April 16

SUZUKI COMMITS TO 2014 'TRI-SERIES'

Mercurial Englishman Guy Martin discovered first-hand that trying to beat the Kiwis on the streets of Wanganui is no easy task.  Here he leads 2012 Suzuki Series Formula 1 class winner Dennis Charlett.
ALTHOUGH the first race is still eight months away and the series is organised by a man who goes by the name of 'Flea', Suzuki New Zealand has already committed to another 'Tri-Series' over the early summer.

Suzuki has been sponsoring the three-round series - with rounds at Hampton Downs, Manfeild and Wanganui - since the series grew to encompass a Waikato round in 2009 and it has grown to rival the New Zealand Road Race Championships in just five years.

This year's Suzuki Series will kick-off at Waikato's Hampton Downs on December 6 then a week later round two will be run at Feilding's Manfeild circuit on December 13-14.

Then there is a 12 day break before the third (and final) round is run around the streets of Wanganui on the Cemetery Circuit.


"We are thrilled to have Suzuki come on board again,” said series organiser Allan ‘Flea’ Willacy, of Wanganui.

“They are such a brilliant company to work with and do some fantastic things for the sport in general too.  It makes things easy for me to have such great support behind me.”

Suzuki has been a very strong supporter of motorcycle competition in New Zealand since the late 1960s when the Coleman family was the official importer and that has continued over the years following Suzuki Motor Corporation's takeover of New Zealand distribution in 1984.

Although it is a three round series, the organisers have dropped the 'Tri-Series' appellation in the expectation that it may expand to four (or more) rounds in the near future.  

The original Suzuki Series, run by Manawatu's Tim Gibbes, expanded to as many as five rounds and before he retired, he had attracted up to 250 competitors at some of the events he and his wife Joan ran, along with an enthusiastic band of dedicated supporters.

The later 'Tri-Series' included a round at Taupo run by the Pacific Motorcycle Club in 2008 but that was dropped in favour of the Hampton Downs date.  Still, it is possible that a round could also be hosted at Taupo again in the future.

Whether the Suzuki Series expands to the South Island remains to be seen, despite a healthy level of interest from South Island competitors who have been crossing Cook Strait in increasing numbers.

It was not so long ago that you could count the South Islanders at a North Island event on the fingers of one hand.

According to series organiser Willacy, "entries are already starting to flow in" for the coming early summer series, even though it is eight months away.

Last year's Suzuki Series attracted a good level of interest from the other side of the Tasman, with Chris Seaton, Craig Trinder, Linden Magee and father and daughter pair Phil and Sophie Lovett making the crossing.

The premier Formula 1 class was wrested from Suzuki's grasp last year by Hamilton Kawasaki rider Nick Cole, who will be looking to add the 2014 crown to his list of achievements.

Fellow Hamiltonian Andrew Stroud won the Superbike class the first four years, 2008-2011, before Christchurch's Dennis Charlett took the 2012 title.  That was five year's of GSX-R1000 domination and Suzuki will be going all-out to get a GSX-R1000 into the Series win this year.

The GSX-R1000 has a proud tradition to uphold in New Zealand:  this was the first country in the world to register a win to the across the frame 1000cc four when Shaun Harris scored its world debut win on the streets of Wanganui in 2000 in the Chris Daws Masters race.