Two serious Whanganui bids for top Suzuki Series honours were scuttled before they even began in Taupo on Friday.
Double Suzuki Series super motard champion Richie Dibben was making his Formula 2 debut with his two Suzuki GSXR600 machines under a substantial sponsorship deal led by Whanganui racing enthusiasts Mick Paul and Brian Bernard when everything went pear-shaped in practice at Bruce McLaren Park in Taupo on Friday.
Dibben, known for his front-running catch-me-if-you can tactics in the motard class, was pushing boundaries during practice when he lost his front end.
"I was getting right into competitive mode when my front end went while I was heading into a corner," Dibben said.
"I ended up on my arse, but must have landed on my hand first. My hand and fingers took a beating and has put me out of contention for the series. It's a bit of a bugger really because it was all going so well."
Dibben is desperate to recover sufficiently to contest the final leg of the Suzuki Series on his home track - the infamous Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day.
"I really don't want to miss Whanganui. Whatever happens though I'll race the national series in the New Year. The bike didn't suffer too much damage and is ready to go again. I am also intending to race my motard at the Cemetery Circuit too."
Dibben, who now co-owns Dibben Swartz Motrcycles (formerley Whitelock Suzuki) with Godfrey Swartz, has swapped his ageing Honda CRF450 for a Suzuki RMZ450. He intends to race the new motard on Boxing Day, but the class is not catered for at the nationals.
The national series begins at Ruapuna in Christchurch on January 5-6, a track Dibben now knows well aboard his 600cc Suzuki. Dibben won the short 5 lap race and the longer endurance event for F2 machines.
"We went down south this year to race at Ruapuna to prepare for the Suzuki Series. It was pouring down with rain and some chickened out, but we raced and everything went well and felt good. And even before I crashed at Taupo on Friday, I was right up there too," Dibben said.
Mick Paul also had disastrous start to the Suzuki Series with his brand new Barracks Sports Bar and Totalspan-sponsored Suzuki GSXR1000 sidecar.
"We can kiss goodbye to that series now after blowing our brand new motor. We are trying desperately to get a stock standard replacement in the meantime to race in round two this weekend at Manfield. We have also got our sights set on the nationals and we will all (Dibben and crew) had down to Christchurch together in the New Year," Paul said.