Team Suzuki Press Office – December 20.
The second round of three in the popular New Zealand Suzuki International series at the weekend saw newcomer Tyrone Kuipers take a victory in the NZ Suzuki GIXXER Cup Championship.
A first-time road-racer this season, Kuipers arrived at the Manfeild circuit ranked eighth overall in the GIXXER Cup class – a learning class created in 2017 with the aim of providing a starting place and a pathway towards growing future champions, and with all riders aboard identical Suzuki GSX150F machinery.
The just-turned 20-year-old qualified fastest with a scorching time of one minute 35 seconds, to give himself the best pick of starting positions on the front row. He then quickly converted that into maximum points when he won the weekend’s first GIXXER Cup race later that afternoon, finishing ahead of Australian Lachlan Epis and Caleb Gilmore in an exciting 10-bike jostle across the finish line.
However, the fairy tale start did not have a happy ending for Kuipers and he failed to finish the next race, on Sunday, but he bounced back to finish 11th in the final GIXXER Cup race later that afternoon and settled for ninth overall for the weekend and he remains eighth out of the 24 riders in the series standings.
Said Kuipers: “I have thrashed a road bike up-and-down the hills near home, which is probably not the best decision at the time, but I experienced my first official road race in June this year. I had a 600cc bike and had a couple of accidents on it, then a mate of mine said ‘you know, you should probably go back and start on a 150 and learn how to ride properly,’ so that’s what I’ve done,” added the apprentice builder.
“At first, I thought it was a bit lame to race a 150, but it’s honestly been the best thing for me, learning the lines, race craft and all that. The close racing in the ‘GIXXERS’ has been so much fun and the cool thing about the series is that we’re all out there on the same bikes. It’s not about who has the best kit or the most money.
“There was a moment coming into the last turn onto the start-finish straight and someone came diving down the inside of me and someone was coming around the outside of me and they were coming closer together and putting me in a sandwich. I had to touch the brakes. I was pretty wrapped to get a win, but it was close across the finish line. I didn’t come here expecting to win a race. I just came for the experience and to meet people. The Superbike racers that I’m riding alongside have taught me heaps.”
The GIXXER Cup class has typically produced the closest racing on the event programme and should also deliver drama at Whanganui, with as many as a dozen riders bunched up and challenging for the win in all races at both rounds so far.
Now into its third season, the GIXXER Cup has proven to be a runaway success and it will be impossible to pick a winner this year until the final races are run on Boxing Day (December 26th).
Currently it is Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud, son of Suzuki’s record nine-time former New Zealand Superbike Champion Andrew Stroud, who leads this class, 16 points clear of Gilmore, with Epis third overall and Hamish Simpson and Luca Durning rounding out the top five.
Whanganui GIXXER Cup racer Lucy Dowman achieved a rarity when she became one of the very few females ever to achieve a solo bike lap record at Manfeild; a position she held briefly on Sunday before Daniel Mettam eclipsed her later in that same GIXXER Cup race on Sunday.
Dowman will also be racing on the Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day, no doubt again giving the boys a hurry-up.