The Mike Pero MotoFest at Hampton Downs on March 3-4 has just received a major boost. Japanese helmet brand Shoei has taken on the naming rights sponsorship of the Classic racing section of the packed programme.
"We are delighted to have an international brand like Shoei on board," says Hampton Downs' commercial manager Mike Marsden.
"We see the Shoei Classic section of the programme as a key part of MotoFest as it will undoubtedly attract motorcyclists who were around when some of these bikes were newly released, while the New Zealand Superbike Championship and the multiple other events will be attractive to the younger generation."
"There are many who will remember the screaming two-stroke grand prix machines that provided a major attraction in the 1970s and early '80s in much the same way the Formula 5000 open-wheelers and Saloon Cars epitomised car racing in the same era."
Marsden says the aim of MotoFest is to showcase the diverse forms of motorcycle sport at one venue over one weekend.
Adrian Cox, General Manager of Whites Powersports NZ and distributor of Shoei Helmets New Zealand says "this is the type of event that motorcycling in New Zealand has been waiting for, something that covers all aspects of two wheels and brings everyone from kids to veteran riders together."
News of the Shoei sponsorship has won an enthusiastic response from New Zealand great Graeme Crosby.
"The thing is motorsport today is so expensive if you want to be competitive. With Classic racing it doesn't really matter if you are first, second or tenth –it's all about having fun and enjoying the character of these older machines," he says.
"It is great we are seeing more and more of the old race bikes coming out of sheds and the Shoei sponsorship brings added cachet to Classic racing. Added to that, Hampton Downs is organising a great line-up of Legends of the sport who will parade the bikes of their youth and be on hand to interact with fans. There are some great personalities for fans to interact with," Crosby adds.
"Eventually I would like to see us running an International four-hour classic race along the lines of the Spa, Imola and Aragon four-hour classic endurance races," he says. "The timing is perfect as there are no races for these bikes in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year."
However, that is something for the future.
This year the Shoei Classic at MotoFest will include Grand Prix classes for machines like the ubiquitous Yamaha TZ250 and 350 machines, threeGP racer and TV commentator Steve Parish, Australian GP star Kevin Magee, and Jeremy Burgess, the man who steered Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi to World Championship success.
While the Legends will add major interest to the Hampton Downs event, the riders and machines taking part in the Shoei Classic will also add their own unique sound to the event. As exciting as this will be, they are just two of the components that form the rich mixture that is MotoFest.
MotoFest also incorporates the third round of the New Zealand Superbike Championship, led by Wellington's Sloan Frost (Suzuki GSX-R1000). Frost is 24 points ahead of Whakatane rider Mitch Rees (Honda CBR1000) with Auckland's Daniel Mettam (Suzuki GSX-R1000) in third place, 40 points behind the championship leader.
Frost is looking forward to MotoFest as Hampton Downs is a track where he has done well in past events. In 2016 he tied up the New Zealand Superbike Championship at the Waikato Circuit with 3-1-1-1 scores in the four races and last year he again dominated, with 3-1-1 results.
Meantime the Supersport class sees Triumph team-mates James Hoogenboezem and Jake Lewis of Christchurch separated by just 10 points with Upper Hutt's Rogan Chandler (Yamaha YZF-R6) in third position, 44 points behind.
If the South Island rounds of the New Zealand Championship are anything to go by, fans should witness some titanic battles at Hampton Downs on March 3-4 as part of the MotoFest action.
The Mike Pero MotoFest will encompass and showcase all things motorbike. Moto GP legend Randy Mamola has been confirmed as the headline act for the event alongside fellow legends Steve Parish, Aaron Slight, Kevin Magee, Hugh Anderson, Andrew Stroud, Graeme Crosby, Richard Scott & Jeremy Burgess as well as Kiwi Motocross icons Shayne King, Josh Coppins & Ben Townley. The event will take on a festival feel and brings together all genres of the sport at one venue.