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Wainuiomata’s Richardson will be hard to beat

News from Bikesport NZ
It would be a brave person who’d bet against Wellington’s Shane Richardson winning a motor-racing title this summer.

The Kawasaki hero was untouchable at the opening round of this year’s annual Suzuki Tri-Series, qualifying fastest in the 600cc Formula Two class on Sunday morning and then running away to two effortless wins in the competition proper that afternoon.

The 22-year-old Wainuiomata joiner has 51 points, thanks to his back-to-back wins and the bonus point for topping qualification, and leads Upper Hutt Yamaha man Rogan Chandler by 13 points in the F2 standings, with Orewa’s fellow Kawasaki rider Avalon Biddle third, just two points further back.

Richardson won the first of two F2 races on Sunday by more than 12 seconds from Chandler and then beat Manukau’s fellow Kawasaki ace Toby Summers across the finish line by 5.8 seconds in race two.

At the end of the day it was probably more relief than celebration for Richardson who has had luck abandon him in past years and he will now look to consolidating his advantage at the two rounds that follow.

“It was a great weekend. I have been on this bike a long time now and so I’m pretty comfortable with it. It’s the same 2016-model Kawasaki ZX6R that I raced last season,” said Richardson.

“I was producing lap times only one second slower than last year and I think that was only because I had grip issues with the new bumps that have formed here at Taupo over the past year.

“I came within four points of winning this class in the series last year (won instead by Whakatane’s Damon Rees) and crashed out of the competition while I was leading it at the final round in Whanganui the year before that (with Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam taking the F2 trophy in 2015), so it’s good to get a solid start this time around.

“I spent seven months racing in the United States this year and that taught me a lot,” said Richardson.

“However, it was a totally different style of riding required over there. The tracks are a lot faster. You have to brake a lot later here because the straights are not as big in New Zealand. And you have tighter turns here, so don’t carry quite as much speed.

“I felt confident that I’d do well back in New Zealand but I also knew it would take me a few races to get back into the flow of things.”

The pre-nationals series now heads to Manfeild for round two this coming Sunday, with the public streets of Whanganui, the famous Cemetery Circuit, awaiting riders for the final showdown on Boxing Day.

“I’m not sure if I will be able to race the (four-round) New Zealand Superbike Championships this year because the final round is the same weekend as the big race meeting in Daytona (USA) that I’m going back to race.”

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