This season's New Zealand Superbike Championships could easily be the battle between a pair of teenagers in the 600cc class as the two champions go head-to-head for the first time, starting in Canterbury this weekend.
Rangiora's Jake Lewis and Auckland's Jaden Hassan will line up alongside one another on their respective Yamaha R6 machines for the first of five rounds in the 2013 New Zealand Superbike Championships at Ruapuna, just outside Christchurch, tomorrow.
They will first cross swords during today's qualifying sessions at the Canterbury circuit, before facing off in two 15-lap points races the following day and, on recent form, it's almost impossible to predict an outcome.
Both riders have been setting race tracks alight in recent times, Hassan winning the 600cc class in the big Suzuki Tri Series competition that wrapped up on the streets of Wanganui on Boxing Day, while Lewis recently arrived home after a season of top competition in Europe.
Lewis won New Zealand 125GP title in 2011, then collected the 600 superstock crown last season, and he's keen to make it three national titles in successive seasons with another outright victory in 2013.
The 600 Superstock class has been ditched this season due to lack of entries and all 600cc competitors will race together in the 600 Supersport class.
This is an outcome that suits Lewis because he had intended to take the step to race the souped-up 600cc machines this season.
The competition is wide open - national 600 Supersport No 1 Dennis Charlett, of Christchurch, has opted to move up a grade to race a 1000cc superbike, 600 Supersport No 2 Glen Skachill, of Wellington, has decided to take a break from the sport this season and 600 Supersport No 3 Josh McGrath, of Australia, is not crossing the Tasman this year.
Last season's 600cc Supersport No 4, Christchurch rider John Ross, will be a contender though, as will another Canterbury man, BikesportNZ.com ace Seth Devereux, the 2012 national 125GP champion and ProLites 250cc class runner-up moving up the horsepower stakes for 2013.
It's also worth watching out for Invercargill's Jeremy Holmes, Christchurch's Dan Ornsby, Palmerston North's Daniel Kempthorne, Christchurch brothers Alastair and James Hoogenboezem, Auckland's Avalon Biddle, Wanganui's Ashley Payne and last season's Pro Twins class champion Robbie Stokes, of Christchurch, to name a few.
Racing gets underway tomorrow about 10am.