If momentum can be bottled up and carried over to the following season, then there's every reason to suspect that the superbike podium will have a blue hue in 2020. Perhaps Christchurch racer Alastair Hoogenboezem (Yamaha YZF-R1) saved his best for last at Taupo's Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park at the weekend, the venue hosting the fifth and final round of this season's New Zealand Superbike Championships.
Consistently among the leading bunch throughout the series, Hoogenboezem finally broke through for his first race win on Saturday and he then followed that up the following day with a pair of third placings. This was enough to earn Hoogenboezem a share of third overall for the weekend and also to elevate the Yamaha ace to third overall for the championships. The superbike title was won by Glen Eden's Daniel Mettam, with Taupo's Scott Moir runner-up. "At the start of the nationals we thought first, second or third was possible, but we had a bit of bad luck at Hampton Downs (round three) and Manfeild (round four), so to pick ourselves up and get third overall for the series was good. "I qualified second fastest and then won the first race on Saturday and to do that against (fastest qualifier) Damon Rees, who was on his home track, made me very happy. "It was a new bike for me and different tyres for me too ... I think the track temperatures might have been too cold for my tyres in the last race," said the 26-year-old Hoogenboezem. Meanwhile, his Yamaha team-mate Rogan Chandler, from Upper Hutt, topped the podium in the Supersport 600 class at Taupo and improved his position from sixth in the championship standings at the start of the weekend to end up with a national ranking of fifth. It was a stop-start affair for the Supersport 600 riders with several crashes affecting the programme and only two races were eventually counted for this class, but Chandler's 1-3 score-card was easily the best of the 600cc riders at Taupo.
Yamaha Motor New Zealand motorsports manager Josh Coppins said he was satisfied with the performance of his riders throughout the nationals. "Obviously this is the first year for us back in superbikes, with a full attack on the series, with a proper team. I'm extremely happy with the guys we've got and a huge thanks to (bike tuner and former national champion) Dave Cole, who does an amazing job working on the bikes. "Finishing third in the superbikes class on our first year back is good, but there's a lot we could improve on and that's exciting. It was Al Hoogenboezem's first year on Yamaha and our first year with Dunlop, so there was a lot to learn. "I wish we were starting 2020 now ... and, as a matter of fact, we are. We have great riders, who are great brand ambassadors and, I believe, they are winners." Other title winners after the weekend’s final round of the series at Taupo were Rangiora's Avalon Biddle (Supersport 600); Palmerston North’s Jacob Stroud (Supersport 300 class); Papamoa's Leon Jacobs (250 Production class); Jacob Stroud (Superlites); Whangamata's Ben Rosendaal (650 Pro Twins); Australia's Yanni Shaw (125 GP); Hamilton's Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup) and Taupo’s Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown (sidecars).
Words by Andy McGechan