Moment of Reckoning for Kiwi Hero

Hamilton’s Andrew Stroud could be forgiven if he seems a little preoccupied this weekend.

Though normally the friendliest of faces around the road-racing pits, the 42-year-old father-of-seven is likely this weekend to have no interest in idle chit-chat.

The fifth and final round of the Castrol Power 1 New Zealand Superbike Championships hit the new Hampton Downs circuit, near Meremere, this Saturday and Sunday and Stroud is perfectly positioned to reclaim the national superbike crown he last held in 2006.

For the past three seasons the premier title has crossed the Tasman with Australian Suzuki star Robbie Bugden, but this year it’s the Kiwi Stroud who holds the balance of power, a massive 43 points in front of Bugden with just two races on Sunday to decide where the trophy goes this season.

Stroud took his Brother Suzuki GSX-R1000 to two commanding wins in the class at the previous round at Feilding’s Manfeild race circuit, while an electrical glitch meant Bugden failed to finish one of the day’s two superbike races and this may have ultimately crippled Bugden’s title defense.

“I have a good points advantage but I’m not taking anything for granted,” said Stroud this week.

“I need to finish only eighth or better in the first race and that should do it but that doesn’t mean I’ll be riding conservatively. I always race to win. ”

“I have heard that Craig Shirriffs (Honda, of Feilding) has been going fast in practice at Hampton Downs and that will make it interesting if he’s in the mix as well.”

Meanwhile, in the 600cc sports production class, the battle looks set to continue between series leader Nick Cole (Kawasaki), of Hamilton, and Christchurch Suzuki rider James Smith. Just 6.5 points separate the pair at the top of the standings.

The tussle for formula three honors is expected to heat up at Hampton Downs between Manawatu friends and rivals Glen Williams (Suzuki) and Jason Easton (Tigcraft Aprilia).
Easton is 16 points behind Williams, but there are three races scheduled for this class over the weekend and that means 75 points are still available and anything is possible.

Dannevirke’s Geoff Booth (Suzuki) is 36 points ahead of Christchurch’s James Hoogenboezem (Suzuki) in the 650 Pro Twins class, while Hoogenboezem’s bother, Alastair (Honda), already has the 125GP class title in the bank.

Alastair Hoogenboezem starts this weekend 90 points ahead of Orewa girl Avalon Biddle (Honda), but the race is still on for the minor placings with Biddle just four points clear of third-ranked Jaden Hassan (Yamaha) as they start this weekend’s event.

In the sidecars class, Wanganui men Stephen Bron and Dennis Simonsen (Suzuki) have a solid 56-point buffer over Canterbury pair Dave Annan and Warwicks Demmocks (Suzuki).
The New Zealand TT titles are also at stake in each of the classes this weekend.
Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,


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