The 20-year-old Upper Hutt man – national 125GP class champion in 2016 – took his 2018-model Yamaha YZFR6 to second place overall in the 600cc Formula Two class at Sunday's opening round of this season pre-nationals Suzuki Tri-Series at Taupo's Bruce McLaren Motorsports Park. Engine and suspension tuning wizard Dave Cole worked all weekend to get the bike geared to Chandler's preferences and Chandler's 2-5 score-card in Sunday's two F2 races must have been encouraging, although the two men will have very little time to analyse the fresh bike settings before round two of the series is upon them, set for Feilding's Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon this coming weekend.
Sunday's racing at Taupo was scorching and the heat is likely to be turned up even more at Manfeild this coming Sunday, with Chandler determined to get closer to the man who is leading the series, fellow Wellington rider Shane Richardson. "It was really just a massive testing session for us at the weekend," said Chandler. "But we're pretty pleased with what we have achieved." Chandler finished overall runner-up to Wainuiomata's Richardson, ending the day just 13 points adrift, with Orewa's Avalon Biddle third overall and just two points further back. "This was my first race on the bike and I came here just hoping to get comfortable with the bike and possibly earn a top-five finish. I'm pretty happy with runner-up," said Chandler. "I made a couple of mistakes in the last race and dropped back a bit. I've raced thousands of laps around Manfeild, so maybe I can take the challenge to Shane this weekend." Chandler rode a Yamaha YZFR3 in the 300cc Supersport class in Australia earlier this year and he said that taught him a lot. "There's just so much more depth to the competition in Australia, but I learned plenty." After Manfeild this Sunday, the riders head to the third and final round of the Suzuki Series, on the public streets of Whanganui on Boxing Day, with a full day of racing around the famous Cemetery Circuit. Most of the riders competing in this series will continue on to tackle the four-round 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships, beginning at Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch, on January 6-7, with rounds to follow at Timaru, Hampton Downs and Taupo.
Other class leaders after Sunday's series opener are Taupo's Scott Moir (Formula One); Auckland's Nathanael Diprose (Formula Three); Hamilton's Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup); Lower Hutt's Glen Skachill (Post Classics Pre-89, senior); Auckland's Scott Findlay (Post Classics Pre-89, junior); Whanganui's Dwayne Bishop (Bears, senior); Hamilton's Zurrin Wikki (Bears, junior); Tauranga pair Barry Smith and Tracey Bryan (sidecars, F1); Whanganui's Richard Dibben (Super Motard); UK pair Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes (sidecars, F2).
Words and photo by Andy McGechan