Charlett poised for superbike return

By Andy McGechan

Christchurch's Dennis Charlett is counting down the days until he accepts his latest big motorcycling challenge, as are many race fans.

It is less than two weeks until the 2012 Suzuki Tri Series kicks off at Hampton Downs and the champion Canterbury racer is fizzing to go.

The championship will wrap up on Wanganui's Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day.

Charlett finished runner-up to fellow Suzuki racer Glen Skachill, of Wellington, in the 600cc class in the Tri Series last season. But this year, he is stepping up in the horsepower stakes and is also planning to take another step up on the podium.

The three-time former and current New Zealand 600cc supersport champion will be back on a 1000cc superbike for 2012-13.

It's a frenzied few months of activity which kicks off with the popular Tri Series, before running on to the nationals in January and March.

Charlett last raced a superbike in New Zealand in 2004, finishing fourth overall that season, before heading offshore to clinch the South Australian and Victorian superbike titles in 2006.

He returned to win the New Zealand 600cc supersport title in 2008, before making it back-to-back wins by again dominating the 600cc class in 2011 and again in 2012.

He feels he has the pace to win the formula one/superbike class at the Tri Series. And if his early warm-up stints on the ex-Andrew Stroud Suzuki GSX-R1000 are anything to go by, he may be right.

"I want to use the Tri Series to measure where I am at as regards a possible result in the nationals. Although I don't want to risk it all in the Tri Series, with the national title my main aim, this Tri Series has enormous status on its own and I'd certainly love to win there too," said the 44-year-old Charlett.

"It's a very busy time of the year for the road-racing community, with about eight weekends on the trot for me.

"I'm going pretty well at the moment and I expect to improve some more when the racing proper starts.

"There's nothing like actual racing to sharpen you up."

"Racing the 1000cc superbike has rejuvenated me.

"The superbike is quite a different beast to ride and I have to be careful on the throttle.

"You have to have a lot of respect for the throttle."

In addition to facing four-time consecutive Tri Series winner and defending F1 title-holder Andrew Stroud, Charlett will also have to cope with several other blazingly fast individuals.

These include fellow Christchurch rider James Smith (Honda), Hamilton's Nick Cole (Kawasaki), Wellington's Sloan Frost (BMW), Feilding's Craig Shirriffs (Suzuki) and Whakatane's Tony Rees (Honda).

International visitor Thomas Kreutz is also expected to challenge for the title.

Kreutz is the reigning German supersport champion and he will be racing in the F1 and F2 classes on a Yamaha R6.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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