Shirriffs has 'miserable weekend' at nationals

Feilding rider Craig Shirriffs had a weekend to forget at the first round of the national championships at Ruapuna, Christchurch, yesterday.

So much so he didn't even know his placings. One was eighth in the New Zealand Superbike Grand Prix won by Dennis Charlett, and seventh in one of the other races.

"All I know is I was getting smoked," he said. "It was a very miserable weekend."

In one race a new but faulty tyre did him in as he lapped three seconds off the pace.

"I just about pulled out."

In the grand prix his handlebar came loose in the warm-up and he had to endure 20 laps with it.

He said the Suzuki GSXR 1000 was going fine but the chassis, suspension and tyres were a problem and that made it difficult to ride.

Former Palmerston North rider Dennis Charlett had one of the best results of his long motorcycle career when he won the grand prix.

Christchurch racer Charlett, 45, led almost all the way on his Suzuki but was shadowed for most of the 20 laps by Hamilton's Nick Cole on his Kawasaki.

It looked very tense, but Charlett said he had not been fazed by the pressure from Cole, who had won the Suzuki Series last month.

"Winning the Grand Prix and getting my name on the cup with a lot of famous names is really something.

"I'm getting better with age and better with grandchildren, I've got three grandchildren now."

Cole admitted Charlett had just been too fast on the day, and the hot pace had caused him a couple of awkward moments as his bike threatened to get away on him.

The meeting was the first round of the national championships and Charlett seized the lead in the superbikes, the premier class, with three wins over the weekend. Cole was second each time.

"I want to keep an eye on the championship - I‘m trying to win the championship," said Charlett, a former champion in the 600cc supersport class.

Taupo's Scott Moir, who has contested several different forms of motorcycle racing, was third in the GP on his Suzuki, confirming his recent elevation into the top ranks of New Zealand racing.

New Plymouth rider Hayden Fitzgerald became the first rider to be fined under a new rule for allowing his bike to run out of fuel.

Manawatu Standard