Locals keep up with best at the Downs

By staff reporter, Andy McGechan

Waikato's Andrew Stroud has started as he means to go on and right where he left off in the Suzuki Tri Series opening round on Saturday.

The series, which will conclude on Wanganui's Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day, saw Stroud pick up yet another Formula One class victory in the opening round at Hampton Downs.

Wanganui riders also featured prominently across the other classes.

On his Honda, Richard Dibben finished four points ahead of defending champion Toby Summers in the super motard class.

Aucklander Summers is pulling double duty by also entering the Formula Two class, and stated before the series he was only defending his super motard title because the other riders said he was scared to face them.

Whether Dibben was one of those voices is unknown but his actions spoke louder than words at Hampton Downs finishing first and third respectively in the two races to take top spot on the table from Summers.

In the 600cc Formula 2 class, Wanganui's Jayden Carrick took his Suzuki to fourth and fifth in his two races to secure fourth overall on the points table after the opening round.

Auckland's Jaden Hassan won the round, followed by Invercargill's Jeremy Holmes, but as both of them will not be competing in Wanganui on Boxing Day the door stays ajar for Carrick in his hunt for the title as the series moves to Manfeild.

But the star of the day was Stroud in the glamour Formula One class, earning a second and first placing on Saturday on his Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Stroud had qualified fastest on a damp track, although this meant little as by race time the blue skies had the tarmac rapidly heating up.

The nine-time national superbike champion had to overcome a poor start to get up for second in the first race, finishing behind Wellington's Sloan Frost on his BMW.

However, Frost crashed on the third lap of the 12-lap second race, clearing the way for Stroud to take the win from Christchurch's Dennis Charlett and Feilding's Craig Shirriffs.

Suzuki riders took out the top five placings of the race.

Stroud will take a six point series lead to Manfeild. "The lights came on for the start of race one and I misjudged them, actually starting too quickly. I thought it was all go but got it wrong," he said.

Chasing Frost in race two he thought the Wellingtonian hit a bump at the end of the main straight, which "unloaded his suspension and spat him off".

"I'm just glad he was able to get up and walk himself to the ambulance. Dennis [Charlett] and Craig [Shirriffs] were giving me a hurry-up in the re-started race.

"They were both stronger than me on some parts of the track and it's definitely a relief to be leaving here with the points lead."

Next round of the tri series is this Sunday at Manfeild, before concluding on Wanganui's streets on December 26.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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