Moto Media

TV Superstar to Race in Suzuki Series

The British closed-road specialist is a truck mechanic by trade, although is better known for his UK television shows and his lead role in the 2011 movie, TT Closer to the Edge.  (Alan H:  More recently his popular series 'The Boat That Guy Built' has screened in NZ via SKY TV.  Nothing to do with motorcycles but a tribute to the British canal boats and the industries that bordered those canals especially iron and steel)

With a huge $36,550 available in prize money, the Suzuki Series attracts New Zealand’s top motorcycle racers, all eager to capture their share of the spoils. The three round Suzuki Series will be staged at Hampton Downs on Saturday December 7th, Manfeild on Sunday December 15th, and at Wanganui’s famous Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day, where Martin will be racing a Suzuki New Zealand supplied Suzuki GSXR1000.

Although Martin is yet to score an Isle of Man TT win, the outspoken 31 year old has made the podium on 13 occasions since 2004. Yet, he is always in contention for victory. Martin recently made the podium on a GSXR1000 in the prestigious Le Mans 24 hour race. All eyes will focus on Martin when takes to the Cemetery Circuit on December 26 to see if he can deliver the ‘goods’ on Wanganui’s short street circuit.

But Martin won’t be the only game in town with Christchurch rider Dennis Charlett set to defend his 2012 Formula 1 title on his potent Underground Brown Suzuki GSXR1000.

2012 series winner Dennis Charlett in action at Wanganui on his Underground Brown Suzuki GSXR1000.  Terry Stevenson photo.

Charlett has been training hard through the off-season to be sharp for the Suzuki Series, and this year he will be running the Suzuki’s traction control. His plan is to go fast right from the start, although Charlett is aware he’s not the only rider wanting to win. "I think whoever grids up on a 1000 will be competition, but definitely Craig Shirriffs, Sloan Frost will be on a Suzuki, Nick Cole, Hayden Fitzgerald, all those top-runners will be fast!”

Sloan Frost tests his new Fujitsu TSS Red Baron Suzuki NZ GSXR1000 at Taupo. Wayne Cockburn photo.

A close second in the series last year, Sloan ‘Choppa’ Frost won three of the six races, and was leading another when he crashed. "I will apply myself better than last year as I want to go out and win it, and carry that momentum into the Nationals,” Frost explains.

The Wellington-based racer has changed brands after picking up a ride on the ex Andrew Stroud GSXR1000, and will campaign under the Fujitsu TSS Red Baron Suzuki NZ Team umbrella. Frost is already up to speed and will be another title favourite, "I’ve only ridden the Suzuki once, the first test was successful where I got a lap record at Taupo, on my first try!” "The Suzuki is a lot slicker, the gearbox works really smooth and it develops the power all the way through. The engine is really smooth and develops power from really low down and has the torque to pull taller gearing, so I can hold onto a gear for longer and change less gears.” 

Hamiltonian Nick Cole dominated both 2012 races at Wanganui on his Red Devil Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R, and seemed certain to win the prestigious Robert Holden Memorial feature - if it wasn’t cancelled due to a heavy downpour. 

This year Guy Martin will have his high-speed hands full if he has ideas about crossing the line in front of Cole. Nick Cole; "Our goal is to get in sync for the Nationals, but because Guy Martin is coming over it would be awesome to show him a few lines around Wanganui! The main thing there is to get a good start, and hopefully it’ll be hot, like it has been in the past.”

The points system rewards consistency and Cole will need to strike a good balance also at Hampton Downs and Manfeild to win the Suzuki Series. "I plan to win it! We have a good set-up and combinations with the new-look bike now, which we’ve been after for a long time. I’m in a pretty good space with my racing at the moment and I’m having a lot of fun!”

Large crowds witness a fast Cemetery Circuit F1 race start, 2012.  Terry Stevenson photo.

Several other top-line riders have more than a reasonable chance of taking the Suzuki Series title home.
  • Craig Shirriffs (Feilding) will race his Suzuki GSXR1000 and is always near the front.  
  • Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth) is fast on his well prepared Team RGM Suzuki GSXR1000.
  • Ray Clee (Kumeu) returns with his RCM Suzuki Superbike.
  • Former NZ Superbike champion Tony Rees (Whakatane) returns on a Rees Honda CBR1000RR.
  • Ryan Hampton (Christchurch) has an impressive style on his Hampton Honda CBR1000RR.
  • David Hall (Te Awamutu) has gone well on a Suzuki GSXR600 and this year steps up to the big class on a GSXR1000.
  • Taupo’s Scott Moir is back in a Superbike saddle, this time on a GSXR1000.
  • Australian legend Craig Trinder is the dark horse to watch out for in the Formula 1 class, on an Aprilia RSV4. Many will remember Trinder and his 1985 Wynn’s Motorcycles Series winning brother, Steve, whom both raced Suzuki RG500s in NZ that year.
  • Keep a lookout for Australian father and fast daughter, Phil and Sophie Lovett, who are racing a pair of ZX-10Rs.
  • James Smith (Christchurch) has more than a good chance of taking race wins on his new Honda CBR1000RR - although he is only riding in two rounds, as is 2012 Formula 2 Suzuki Series champ Jaden Hassan. He’ll create interest in his Rookie Superbike year as he steps up from 600cc to the big-bore class.
It will be impossible to pick a winner in the ultra-competitive 600cc Formula 2 category this year, with Hassan moving up a class. James Hoogenboezem (Christchurch), David Manuell (Auckland), Jayden Carrick (Wanganui) and Ray Clee (Kumeu) all ride Suzuki GSXR600s, while Daniel Mettam (Auckland) and Adam Chambers both race Honda CBR600RRs.

German fast-guy Thomas Kreutz makes a welcome return to NZ, this time on his own Yamaha R6, with Kiwis Rhys Holmes (Tauranga) and Toby Summers (Manukau) racing a similar model.

Aaron Lovell/Dennis Simonson sidecar battle with Adam Unsworth/Stu Dawe at Hampton Downs. Terry Stevenson photo.

The large F1 Sidecar field is sure to thrill the crowds over the three rounds with the return of former NZ champion Aaron Lovell at the helm of the ex Steve Bron LCR sidecar. Bron’s passenger was Dennis Simonson, who brings his title-winning antics onto the Lovell ‘chair’. Going by pre-season action, the Adam Unsworth/Stu Dawe F1 Windle (Auckland) combination won’t make life easy in the fast lane for Lovell, and current NZ champions Spike Taylor and Astrid Hartnell (Masterton) can never be discounted on their Suzuki powered LCR rig.

If the past few years have been anything to go by, the Supermoto class will be another action-packed show-stopper with all the leading racers entered! The fearless riders race closer than anyone and arguably get around the corners quicker, usually while sideways.

The support classes are often where the best racing takes place, including Formula 3, BEARS and the increasingly popular Post Classics. Classic solo machines and classic sidecars will appear at Wanganui.

$23 ‘early-bird’ tickets for the Wanganui round are available at and go in the draw to win a Suzuki GSR750 after the last race – you must be present. Stand Superpasses in front of the big screen are $65.00. Words by Terry Stevenson[#template#]thumb_vertically[#/template#]