Whanganui teenager Hunter Stoneman-Boyle will shift up a gear as he bids for glory in the inaugural National Suzuki Gixxer Cup motorcycle championship launching next weekend in Christchurch.
Open to riders aged 14-21, the Gixxer Cup the newest class of production racing with all competitors racing on identical machines - the Suzuki's new GSX150F.
The class was up-and-running in the Suzuki Series just completed at the final round in Whanganui on Boxing Day where Stoneman-Boyle finished second on points behind series winner Zak Fuller from Taupiri.
Stoneman-Boyle had a third and a close second in the two Cemetery Circuit races with just .006 seconds separating him and Fuller in the final race.
The 17-year-old has a background in motocross beginning when he was three, but has now caught the road racing bug with the Gixxer Cup format suiting beginners ideally.
Stoneman-Boyle missed the first round of the Suzuki Series and Bruce McLaren Park in Taupo, but competed at both Manfield and Whanganui.
He finished back past midfield in 11th and 12th in the two Manfield races, but stepped it up a notch with his hometown advantage on the Whanganui street circuit.
"I just seemed to feel more comfortable on the street circuit than I did on the track at Manfield," Stoneman-Boyle said.
The national series does not include a street circuit with rounds scheduled for Ruapuna in Christchurch, Levels in Timaru, Bruce McLaren Park in Taupo and Hampton Downs in Waikato.
The Whanganui youngster knows without a street circuit he will just need to suck it up and handle the track conditions.
"I haven't raced at Ruapuna or Levels, but I've been around on Bruce McLaren and Hampton Downs, so it's not all foreign territory. I'm not sure I will be able to race at all four rounds with other commitments possibly getting in the way, but whenever I race I will be giving it my best shot," Stoneman-Boyle said.
His major backers include Whitelock Suzuki in Whanganui and his father Mark Stoneman's financial services company Momentum.
Prizemoney was paid out to riders after the first two rounds of the Suzuki Series, while the Cemetery Circuit round at Whanganui was dealt with as a stand-alone meeting to cater for riders too young to hold a road licence and unable to compete on a street circuit.
Riders continuing on to the national series can takes points accumulated in the Suzuki Series with them, including those gained on the Cemetery Circuit. However, under the national series rules riders can drop their poorest meeting from overall calculations allowing riders to be judged on their best six of seven rounds in the national series. This also caters for those denied racing on the Cemetery Circuit.