The Suzuki Tri Series took a dramatic turn at Manfeild last weekend when nine-times national superbike champ Andrew Stroud crashed out within sight of the finish line while leading the first of the day's two F1 races.
Hamilton's Stroud (Suzuki GSX-R1000) was taken to Palmerston North Hospital with a broken right collarbone and dislocated left knee, his series prematurely ended and a dream of making it five consecutive Tri Series titles in tatters.
Stroud had passed race leader Sloan Frost, of Wellington, just a lap earlier and was charging towards victory when the leading riders caught a lapped rider just one corner from the finish.
"There was some confusion as the lapped rider suddenly changed his line," explained Frost.
"I had committed to try and drive down the inside of Andrew when the lapper moved over, forcing Andrew across in front of me. I had nowhere to go and I hit his handlebars. I wobbled a bit but managed to stay upright and went on to win the race."
Frost completed a further lap after the chequered flag and was still the first to arrive at the accident site, worried about the condition of his friend and rival.
With Stroud gone for the day, Frost (BMW S1000RR) also won the day's second F1 race and elevated himself to second in the series standings, but Christchurch's Dennis Charlett made the most significant impact.
The 44-year-old Charlett, a father of four, "with one on the way", and a grandfather of two, has taken over the series lead and the riders now head to Wanganui for the final on Boxing Day with the series on a knife-edge.
Charlett took his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to a pair of third placings on Sunday, both times finishing behind Auckland's Ray Clee (Suzuki GSX-R1000), and now leads the F1 standings, seven points clear of Frost, with Clee third, just one point further back.
Fourth after two rounds is New Plymouth's Hayden Fitzgerald.
"The racing has been amazing," said the 27-year-old Fitzgerald. "There was less than a second between the top 10 superbike riders during qualifying and so, for me to twice finish fourth today, I've got to be pretty satisfied.
"For me it's all about getting valuable time in the saddle. This was only my third meeting on the new bike but I truly believe a top-three finish is possible for the nationals this season."
Meanwhile, in the formula three class, Palmerston North's Glen Williams was unstoppable.
He won both races and finished the day ahead of fellow Suzuki SV650 rider Terry Fitzgerald, of Waitara, and Feilding's Chris Osborne (Ozzy 450R). This was easily enough for him to take over the series lead from Taupo's Scott Moir (Honda RS450), who suffered mechanical problems and failed to score points in either race at Manfeild.
- Taranaki Daily News
What name would you like to see the Taranaki rugby team known as next year?Related story: Change on cards for our team - no bull