Round one of the 2013 summer road racing series kicks off today at Hampton Downs, and Hamilton's Nick Cole is one of the favourites to win the title.
With more than $36,000 in prize money, the Suzuki Series is the richest motorcycle series in New Zealand, attracting top local riders and more than a few fast racers from overseas.
Cole may be a fitter by day, but when it comes to the weekend he is one of the fastest motorcycle racers in the country - and in the USA, where he recently won the AHRMA World Formula 500 and World 500 Premier Championships on a classic 1962 Norton ES2 500.
''I need to have a clear mind as the weather is going to be a key factor,'' said Cole, who will be racing a new-look Red Devil Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R.
''It's going to come down to who is sharp in the pits when wheel changes happen, so I can find the best set-up.''
The three round Suzuki Series continues at Manfeild on Sunday, December 15, with an exciting final expected at Whanganui's famous Cemetery Circuit on December 26, where TV personality and famous Isle of Man TT rider Guy Martin (UK) will be racing a Suzuki NZ-supplied Suzuki GSXR1000. The Boxing Day meet will be Martin's only New Zealand appearance.
Cole, 27, dominated last year's F1 races there and this year he's keen to show Martin who's boss of the street circuit, so there will be plenty of sparks if Martin is intent on victory.
''He's an unknown for us,'' said Cole.
''Qualifying on pole is the ultimate and getting into turn one first is a big key to winning at Wanganui.''
However, consistency is required to win the overall series.
''If I win the series it'll be a huge achievement having the satisfaction of beating the other riders - there's some pretty good names turning up. Not just for me, but all the people behind me.''
A massive line-up of top-line riders are also capable of winning races, including defending champion Dennis Charlett (Christchurch, Underground Brown Suzuki GSXR1000), Sloan Frost (Wellington, Fujitsu TSS Red Baron Suzuki NZ GSXR1000), Tony Rees (Whakatane, Rees Honda CBR1000RR), Ryan Hampton (Christchurch, Hampton Honda CBR1000RR), Craig Shirriffs (Feilding, GSXR1000), Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth, Team RGM Suzuki GSXR1000), and James Smith of Christchurch (Honda CBR1000RR).
Local racer David Hall (Te Awamutu) steps up to the F1 category on a big-bore GSXR1000 Superbike, so keep a look-out as his riding improves through the series.
Australian legend Craig Trinder returns to New Zealand for the first time since racing a Suzuki RG500 around Hamilton Lake in 1985, this time on a fast Aprilia RSV4. Joining Trinder in the premier class are Australian father and daughter, Phil and Sophie Lovett, who are racing a pair of Kawasaki ZX-10Rs. Both have been successful in Australia.
Former New Zealand champion Aaron Lovell (Hamilton) and passenger Dennis Simonson (Masterton) are expected to be at or near the front of a large F1 Sidecar field today.
Other classes include 600cc Formula 2, Supermoto, Formula 3, BEARS and Post Classics. Racing starts at 10.40am.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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