Hawke's Bay Speedway Club officials were yesterday toasting the crowning of a second consecutive national champion in less than 24 hours.
A day after Jason Long won the New Zealand Superstock Championship in Christchurch Bradley Wilson-Dean won a third consecutive New Zealand Solobike Championship title at Rosebank Park in Auckland on Sunday. Ironically Wilson-Dean, 24, and Long, 26, are both products of the Hawke's Bay Motorcycle Club.
"I remember our motocross days. I never got to race Jason because he was older than me ... now he is doing his stuff on four wheels and I'm still doing it on two," Wilson-Dean remarked.
A former Karamu High School student, Wilson-Dean, is the first Kiwi to complete the three-peat since Canterbury's Larry Ross did it in 1990. Ten-time national champion Jason Bunyan of Great Britian has done it since then.
"Larry had the record of nine titles before Jason won 10. My goal is to bring that record back to a Kiwi," Wilson-Dean explained.
One of 10 riders in Sunday's championship, Wilson-Dean, won all three of his heats and then the winner-takes-all final to retain his title. Taranaki's Dylan Hancock was second, Aucklander Ryan Terry-Daley third and another Aucklander, Jake Turner, fourth.
"I was hoping some of the other guys would make a challenge for the title and they were not far off. In one of the races Jake [Turner] and I passed each other several times before I got the win and that brought a big smile to my face to have someone challenging me like that," Wilson-Dean explained.
One of the reasons Wilson-Dean flew back from his United Kingdom base for the national championship was the fact the winner qualified for a World Grand Prix qualifier to be staged in Europe in June. He arrived in Auckland at 11am on Friday after almost 30 hours of flying.
"I was pretty sick with a bad flu and the flights made it worse. With that illness and the jet lag I wasn't feeling great. But I kept that to myself as I didn't want to use it as an excuse if I didn't win," Wilson-Dean said.
"Lucky the championship was only one day and only four races. I'm used to doing six or seven races in a day back in England," Wilson-Dean explained.
Before returning to the northern hemisphere in March Wilson-Dean will race in the North Island champs at Rosebank Park on January 20, the Hawke's Bay champs at Meeanee on January 26, attempt to retain his New Grand Prix title for a third consecutive year at Moore Park in Christchurch on March 2 and race at the Burt Munro Classic in Invercargill on February 9.
When the fulltime professional returns to Britain he will have three different contracts. Wilson-Dean will race for the Peterborough Panthers in the Premiership, Workington Comets in the second division and for the Wybrzeze Gdansk club in Poland.
"Basically I've got home meetings in Britain from Monday to Friday and commitments in Poland on Saturdays and Sundays. I've got a van, two race bikes and tools in Britain, Poland and here in New Zealand ... three different set-ups, one for each country," Wilson-Dean added.
One of his highlights back home in New Zealand is regular racing against his father Darrin Wilson who spent seven weeks racing in the United States last year. In August Darrin and an American rider won the division two AMA Best Pairs title in California. As pair sat down for lunch yesterday Darrin was proud to point out a three-time New Zealand champion was dining with an American champion.
Hawke's Bay Speedway Club president and former Hawkeyes manager James Buckrell was in Christchurch when Long won his title and was delighted to hear of Wilson-Dean's success.
"It was absolutely brilliant to have two national champions on the same weekend. We could not have asked for anything more and with one of our streetstock drivers, Brent Redington, becoming 3NZ the previous week it shows how strong and proud the club is."
Buckrell added there are still numerous opportunities for more national podium placings later this summer for Bay drivers and riders.