Kick-off to the 2022-23 Season just around the corner
All roads will lead to Taupo next month when the first round of the combined Suzuki International Series and New Zealand Superbike Nationals kick off.
Just as the saying went that "all roads lead to Rome", perhaps for the ancient gladiatorial fights in the coliseum there, the central North Island tourist town of Taupo will truly be the entertainment hub in this part of the world on the weekend of December 3-4.
That's when the 2022-23 Suzuki International Series and the New Zealand superbike racing season sparks into life at the Taupo International Motorsport Park and Events Centre.
In fact, this popular racing facility on the outskirts of Taupo will actually book-end the upcoming six-round national superbike series as it hosts round one in December and also the final round on March 11-12, 2023.
So, with two-thirds of the national series being hosted at the iconic facility at the junction of Centennial Drive and Broadlands Road, just a few minutes' drive from the bustling centre of Taupo, it makes the venue doubly important to motorcycle title contenders, race fans, the local accommodation providers and other stakeholders too.
Motorcycle road-racing in New Zealand is always edge-of-the-seat excitement, but, for the much-anticipated 2022-23 season, it will perhaps be an adrenaline rush like never before.
The nation's premier motorcycling competitions have joined forces, also incorporating the massive weekend-long Star Insure MotoFest spectacle at Hampton Downs, being held on the first weekend of March as usual, to create a revamped and revitalised three-phase New Zealand Motorcycle Road-Race Nationals season for 2022-23.
The hugely-popular Suzuki International Series and the New Zealand Motorcycle Road-Race Nationals are collaborating for the first time to fire up the 2022-23 season.
The people behind the two annual series, and MotoFest too, have all been working in conjunction to ensure an explosive resumption to high-calibre road bike racing in this country.
The first two of three rounds for the 2022Suzuki International Series – scheduled for Taupo on December 3-4 and then Manfeild the following weekend, on December 10-11 – will now also be recognised as rounds one and two of what will be a new six-round national series.
The third and final round of the Suzuki International Series is, as usual, set for the public streets of Whanganui, the world famous Cemetery Circuit, to run on Boxing Day.
This street fight won't be part of the nationals, but remains the jewel in the crown for the three-round Suzuki International Series.
In the New Year, the racers will revert back to standard track racing mode and resume their national championship battles on purpose-built race circuits.
The latter two phases of the national series will be run early in 2023, two rounds in the South Island in January, followed by two rounds in the North Island in March.
Mike Pero Motorsport Park (Ruapuna), on the outskirts of Christchurch, will host round three on January 6-7, while round four will be at Teretonga, in Invercargill, on January 14-15.
After a short hiatus through February, the Hampton Downs-promoted Star Insure MotoFest reignites the racing again when it hosts round five, on the weekend of March 4-5.
Like the Suzuki International Series, MotoFest has become a marquee racing event, and has been headlined by the superbike nationals for the past five years.
The two South Island venues are always popular with riders and spectators alike and, after a few weeks' break, the series will kick off its third and final phase with a party-like MotoFest weekend that will again truly celebrate motorcycling in all its glory.
Hampton Downs commercial manager Mike Marsden has welcomed the change and says the merging of the Suzuki Series, MotoFest and the national championship is a good step forward and will be great for the sport which has taken a bit of a bettering during the COVID-19 pandemic period, with multiple cancellations.
"With Taupo now part of the Tony Quinn Group, we will be heavily involved twice in the championship and will be promoting round one vigorously, given that it is a joint venture with the Suzuki Series promoter," he said. "The event at Taupo will be huge, as will the Star Insure MotoFest."
It is obviously a tremendously pleasing and positive way for the motorbike community to recover after two years of being stifled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The combined series would not be possible without support from the following groups: Victoria MCC, Hampton Downs, Auckland MCC, MCI, Hamilton MCC, Southland Motorcycle Club, South Canterbury Motorcycle Club, Cemetery Circuit, MNZ and all the supporting sponsors.
DATES FOR 6-ROUND NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE NATIONALS:
- Round 1, Taupo, Dec 3rd and 4th
- Round 2, Manfeild, Dec 10th and 11th
- Round 3, Ruapuna, Jan 6th and 7th
- Round 4, TereTonga, Jan 14th and 15th
- Round 5, Hampton Downs, part of MotoFest, Mar 4th and 5th
- Round 6, Taupo, Mar 11th and 12th
Caption: Whanganui's Richie Dibben (Suzuki GSX-R1000), sure to be among the front runners when the 2022-23 season kicks off in December.
Photo Credit: Andy McGechan