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Frost wins, Charlett leads Suzuki Tri-Series

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Valvoline BMW S1000RR racer Sloan Frost made up for a nasty crash a week ago at Hampton Downs by winning both Formula One legs of the 2012 Suzuki Tri-Series at Manfeild on Sunday.

It wasn’t enough however to capture the series lead, which is now held by Dennis Charlett on his Underground Brown Suzuki GSXR1000 following a pair of third placings.

Charlett says, "My Underground Brown Suzuki team worked hard with Robert Taylor with our Ohlins suspension set up, and we came into the weekend to stay as consistent as possible and finish as high up as I could. I’m happy and surprised with my result!

"I’m going to Wanganui to have fun and enjoy it, and if I manage to get a win that would be awesome, but I’ll take it as it comes."

Frost lies just seven points behind in the title chase heading into a tantalising final round at Wanganui on December 26. And, with Kumeu’s Ray Clee (RCM Suzuki Superbike) capturing two brilliant second positions to sit one point behind Frost, the series has opened right up and could be won by any one of several keen riders.

Defending champ and fastest qualifier Andrew Stroud had a day to forget. Stroud fell at the last corner of the opening race while in the lead. He was taken to hospital and suffered a broken right collarbone, ending the Suzuki star’s fifth title chances.

Stroud and Frost caught up with a pair of lapped riders, who were having their own battle, while braking from high speed into the final turn before the chequered. As Stroud tipped into the corner, the slower riders ahead suddenly closed the racing line, leaving Stroud to brake even harder and with nowhere to go but take a tighter line.

Which is exactly where Frost was. In fact, while attempting his own overtake up the inside of Stroud, Frost saw it coming and rode onto the inside grass to avoid a collision, letting his brakes off at the same time. Out of options, at high speed, and with nowhere to go, Stroud clipped Frost’s BMW and fell to the ground leaving a long 180kmh dust cloud in an unfortunate racing incident.

Frost somehow managed to stay on his bike and took victory ahead of Clee, who had caught the pair after setting the fastest lap of the race, with Charlett crossing the line in third. A bare tenth of a second ahead of New Plymouth’s Hayden Fitzgerald (Suzuki NZ GSXR1000).

Nick Cole (Red Devil Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R), of Hamilton, made his way up to third early in the race but faded with suspension issues to finish fifth on a standard ZX-10R with an aftermarket exhaust, ahead of Craig Shirriffs (Suzuki GSXR1000).

Castrol Honda CBR1000RR mounted James Smith (Christchurch) made a great start to follow Frost early in the race, but he too dropped down the order as the race progressed through lack of traction.

Frost lead most of the 12 lap race, "When Andrew came past I thought I’d fight this so we had a tussle, he came past me once then I got him back, and he passed me again! I was determined to pass him again and then going into the last corner it funnelled into nothing [space wise].

"There were a couple of lapped riders on the outside and Andrew went to go up the inside of them. I was going to follow him through - I was trying to make a move on Andrew as well, on the inside. The lapped riders turned in a little bit sooner than both of us expected so he was hard on the brakes, I was carrying more speed and was also hard on the brakes. Andrew pushed me onto the grass and I had to let the brakes off and then when I came back onto the track he was turning in and we came together, and he went down."

Smith took the holeshot in race two, but was immediately overtaken by Frost. Smith had the pace to run near the front but a few laps later he ‘lost’ the front end at Higgins to spoil a potentially good result for Castrol Honda with a crash.

"I was looking for the win - it was going to be win or crash!" Smith said after the race.

Frost remained at the front the entire race and the refrigeration service manager kept his cool to take his third win from four races, heading into an ultra competitive final round at Wanganui on December 26.

In a repeat performance from race one, Ray Clee slotted into second position early in the race, after Smith decked his Honda Fireblade, and almost caught Frost by race end. He is now eight points off the series leader, and one behind Frost.

"It took me a few laps to get going," Clee explains. "I was catching Sloan up but I didn’t have enough time - I could see he was having a few dramas with grip, but it was real close on the line, 0.03 of a second!"

Frost says, "I didn’t realise Ray was so close because we weren’t using a pit board. When we came up on a lapper I was baulked a bit, and crossing the finish line he flew past and I didn’t even realise he was there!

"I’m going to Wanganui with a level head and to be smooth and consistent and pluck back a few more points. I have BEARS practice as well so I’ll get more laps in, which is really important at Wanganui."

Third place remained undecided right till the end with Dennis Charlett and a rising Hayden Fitzgerald fighting it out for the final rostrum position. A battle won by Charlett, which propelled the Christchurch racer into the lead of the Suzuki Tri-Series for his Underground Brown Suzuki team.

Local rider Shirriffs, of Feilding, and Ryan Hampton (Hampton Honda CBR1000RR) from Christchurch, filled out the top six F1 placings.

Jaden Hassan easily won both Formula Two races for up to 600cc machines on his Home Buyers Reports Yamaha NZ R6. Everyone else was in a race for second, a long way behind the sizzling 18 year old Aucklander.

Repsol Suzuki rider John Ross (Christchurch) made the most of a slightly slowing Jeremy Holmes (Castrol Honda CBR600RR) to pass the Invercargill-based racer as they crossed the line, for second and third respectively.

After a crash in the first F1 race, Ross was unable to compete in either F1 or F2 races on his Repsol Suzuki.

A thrilling battle developed in both races behind Hassan which included German rider Thomas Kreutz, Jayden Carrick, Daniel Kempthorne, Avalon Biddle, Rhys Holmes, Travis Merkel (in race 2), Toby Summers, Jamie Galway, and fast learning 21 year old Seth Devereux, of Christchurch.

By race end Hassan enjoyed a 15 second lead when Holmes took second, followed by Carrick and Devereux.

Glen Williams won both F3 races for Suzuki on his hot SV650, ahead of Chris Osborne and Terry Fitzgerald in race one, and Fitzgerald and Jason Nairn in race two. Williams holds a handy 23 point lead over Osborne, and Fitzgerald a further point behind, with only two races at Wanganui remaining, although Osborne is not entered.

Duncan Hart and Richard Dibben took a win each in the Supermoto class with the usual action-packed racing expected from the category. The podium for each race also consisted of Scott Moir on an underpowered machine after earlier engine troubles, and rocket-man Toby Summers.

Dibben enjoys a narrow nine point lead, in a tight battle by five riders for series honours.

Glen Williams took victory in the opening Pre ’89 heat in front of Eddie Kattenburg and Damian Mackie. But a fairing bracket on his Bimota YB8 came loose in race two, letting Kattenburg through for a fine win, followed by Mackie and Paul Wootton.

As expected top F1 racer Sloan Frost, of Wellington, easily won both BEARS races on his Valvoline BMW S1000RR. Rhys Holmes, Travis Moan and Richard Taylor filled the podium slots in each leg.

The final round of the 2012 Suzuki Tri-Series takes place at Wanganui’s Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day, where American legend Pat Hennen makes a special appearance, and all the titles will be decided.

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