Report by Andy McGechan for Bikesport NZ
Waikato’s Nick Cole gave himself a late Christmas present as he wrote his name into the history books today. The 27-year-old Kawasaki rider won both Formula One (Superbike) races at the famous Cemetery Circuit Boxing Day race meeting, the traditional third and final round of the annual Suzuki Series, and then capped off the day by also winning the stand-alone 10-lap Robert Holden Memorial feature race, the Wanganui event’s signature race.
Cole’s storming final-round performance was also enough for him to overtake series leader and defending champion Dennis Charlett and snatch away the title from the Christchurch rider.
“I finally cracked it,” beamed Cole afterwards.
The Hamilton fitter and turner had won the formula one class at Wanganui’s popular Boxing Day event last season too, but that day was cut short when heavy rain forced organisers to abandon the event before the Robert Holden feature race could be run.
Rain threatened this time around too, but never really amounted to much and, although it caused a few riders to slide off, Cole seemed to have no problem finding traction.
Cole rode exactly the same 2011-model Kawasaki ZX10-R bike that he’d campaigned last season and it never missed a beat at Wanganui.
“Winning this series is a first for me and it feels absolutely fantastic. But winning the Robert Holden feature race as well … that’s a real bonus,” said Cole.
Runner-up in the Robert Holden race was New Plymouth’s Hayden Fitzgerald.
“You really have to be smooth on streets circuits … especially today with conditions changing all the time. The races could start dry and end damp and then there’s the changes in light as you weave between the trees by the cemetery. I had a wee moment when the bike stepped out on me on one occasion, but you get that when you’re racing superbikes,” Cole laughed.
Cole won three out of six F1 races in the Suzuki Series – winning one of the day’s two F1 races at the opening round at Hampton Downs a fortnight ago, before struggling at Manfeild last weekend and then winning both races at Wanganui – giving him a massive 33-point series win over runner-up Charlett, with Wellington’s Sloan Frost taking the third spot on the podium, four points further back.
“This is a fantastic start to the season. I’m looking forward to the nationals now (that four-round series due to kick off in Christchurch on January 5), but I’m not taking anything for granted and I know that Hayden Fitzgerald and Craig Shirriffs (of Feilding) are really flying at the moment and Sloan Frost and Dennis Charlett will come back strong too.”
Other class winners in the 2013 Suzuki Series were Auckland’s Toby Summers (F2 600cc class); Fitzgerald (F3 superlites); Whangarei’s Duncan Coutts (Pre-89 Post Classics); Wanganui’s Dwayne Bishop (Bears, non-Japanese bikes); Wanganui’s Richard Dibben (Super Moto); Auckland’s Adam Unsworth and Stu Dawe (F1 sidecars).