Craig Shirriffs might have been the Manfeild world's fastest man on two wheels yesterday, but it didn't translate into wins.
There was daylight between him and the rest of the Formula 1 superbikes in the first race, only for him to raise his arm on the eighth lap and drift down pitlane soon after with a broken master cylinder bracket.
In race two there was only 0.075sec, the width of a wheel, between Shirriffs and Lower Hutt's Sloan Frost when they screamed across the line together.
None of which had Shirriffs itching to get back to drainlaying. He is about to start a new sales job with Northern Accessories anyway, the country's largest accessories company, selling motorbikes.
He might have been annoyed had it been the nationals. It wasn't; it was the well-run Suzuki Series and former Palmerston North rider, Dennis Charlett, continues to lead the series going into the final at Wanganui's Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day.
Shirriffs will go and watch that, but he's holding back for the nationals, and now he knows he has the grunt.
"We've got good speed; I'm happy," he said.
Frost had been on pole in both races, but in race one he made what he said was "a stupid mistake" and skidded off at the first hairpin, and out. Shirriffs just boomed away, his race to lose. And he blamed himself for coughing it up.
"I put the bracket on temporarily and never got round to doing it permanently," he said.
In race two though, the two similar Suzuki GSXR1000s cleared away, Frost on Andrew Stroud's old bike with Pirelli tyres and Shirriffs' with Dunlops. Frost, who has also been riding in Australia, had used new tyres to pip him in qualifying, but Shirriffs wasn't prepared to cough up an extra $500 to do that.
"I was riding at 100 per cent just to keep up," Shirriffs said.
"To be honest he was pretty strong everywhere. That's as quick as I've been around here in a long time."
Shirriffs did notice he was catching Frost as the 12-lapper wound down and at the nationals he will have the luxury of 15 to 20 laps.
He tried to ambush "Chopper" Frost, but on the first corner of the last lap as they threaded through back-markers, a big Shirriffs wheelspin spat him out.
Seven of the big superbikes field were from overseas, Australia, Germany and Britain. One of them, Linden Magee, nephew of famed Australian world 500cc rider Kevin, had a frightening crash in race one.
After contact with another bike accelerating out of the first corner, he and his BMWs1000RR took to the air, both flipping head over heels and had the bike hit Magee, his life would have been in peril.
He eventually hobbled away as an ambulance raced over; he was sore and his bike was munted for the day.
A few seconds later Frost slid off.
Cold tyres were blamed and so two warm-up laps were added to the second race.
Shirriffs' retirement handed the race to Charlett, on another Suzuki.
"That was as good a superbike race as you would get anywhere in the world," Charlett said.
"This used to be my home track and it's good to be back."
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