Charlett: 'Train your brain to go at that speed'
Veteran speed freak Dennis Charlett has won the New Zealand Superbike championship title and is now contemplating retirement.
Following last weekend's races at Manfeild, Charlett, 45, and a grandfather of three, is set to farewell the competitive circuit unless he can convince someone to work on his bikes.
''If I can get some sort of agreement in place where I could just go to the track and ride I would keep going, otherwise that will be it,'' said Charlett, who builds his own engines on his Suzuki GSXR 1000.
''Everyone is saying if I do go out, it's a good way to go out on top.''
He still intends to ride in local club races to mentor younger riders, but says riding on public roads leaves him cold.
''I think that can be bloody dangerous. On the roads, I'm paranoid about what's around me. On a properly serviced track, where you are wearing good gear you feel safe.''
The general manager of a Christchurch sheet metal company, Charlett has won several other national series - notably collecting the 600cc championship title three times but nothing beats the superbike win.
Charlett's main challenger for the title this season, Hamilton's Nick Cole, spent the weekend in hospital as the result of an assault in Taupo and didn't race at Manfeild.
After venturing into the sport at 15, when he raced 100cc two-stroke machines on a go-kart track, Charlett eventually progressed to superbikes and can blast around Ruapuna at speeds of up to 300kmh.
He has had a charmed run with injuries and though there have been a number of spills, he has never broken any bones.
The damage to his bank account has been more serious.
Charlett has always appreciated the assistance he has received from sponsors but the reality is he's largely had to pay his own way.
''I have been racing for many years and been putting it on my mortgage. And I still haven't paid my mortgage off.''
To keep his 65kg frame in top shape Charlett runs 5km each night on his treadmill and does kickboxing several times a week.
''I say to younger riders the only way to go fast is to just go fast. You have to train your brain to go at that speed.''
Charlett appreciates how the advancement in technology has allowed bikes to go much faster. He estimates the lap times are now three to four seconds faster than they were a decade ago.
''The motors are being tuned to be at their absolute best,'' Charlett says.
''Atmospheric conditions change all the time, so it makes the bike absolutely perfect as far as tuning goes.''
Meanwhile, Christchurch's John Ross and Alastair Hoogenboezem finished first and third in the 600cc series.
Christchurch's Matthew Hoogenboezem won the 125 GP championship.