First time visitor to New Zealand Davey Todd set tongues wagging at the opening round of the 2023 Suzuki International Series at Taupo’s International Motorsport Park at the weekend.
Brought in as a special guest by the series organisers, Cemetery Circuit Ltd, the multi-talented British rider Todd, riding borrowed machinery, wasted no time getting settled in and delighted the large crowd with his performances on the 1000cc M1 Motorsport BMW superbike and the DS Moto Suzuki RM-Z450 supermoto bike as well.
To arrive in a foreign country and loan a couple of very different bikes and to tackle a set of tracks alien to him would have been impressive regardless of the results he achieved, but it seemed business as usual for the 28-year-old Todd, from North Yorkshire, near Middlesborough, in the north-east of England.
He qualified third fastest in the Formula One/Superbikes class, behind defending national superbike and Suzuki International Series champion Mitch Rees, from Whakatane, and Auckland-based former Canterbury man Alastair Hoogenboezem, two men who are both intimately familiar with the Taupo circuit.
Todd was top qualifier in the supermoto class, for highly-modified dirt bikes, beating the man who became the inaugural New Zealand Supermoto Champion last year, Whanganui hero Richie Dibben.
To go on a win the national supermoto title here would be slightly ironic because he’d not only have to beat friend and reigning champion Dibben to do so, he’d be doing it on a Suzuki motorcycle also sponsored to him by Dibben.
“I’ve only just arrived in New Zealand I have great first impressions. I love it here already,” he said.
“There are some crazy things you can experience here that you definitely can’t experience at home, like seeing steam rising from out of the ground.
“I love racing bikes wherever I am, but it’d be really cool to do a few tourist things as well while I’m here. But I’m really just here for the Suzuki International Series and I go home again on January 3.
“I hope I can help Suzuki to a 1-2 finish in the supermoto champs. I want to acknowledge Richie (Dibben) too for helping me out with the bike. I’ve raced against Richie before in the UK and in Europe and he said ‘I’ll build you a bike and you can race it here’.
“I have raced supermoto fairly recently. I rode the biggest supermoto race in the world, the Mettet supermoto event in Belgium, in October and I did okay. I had a crash in the final but I was good enough for top-five pace-wise. I was twice runner-up in the British Supermoto Champs when I was younger, aged like about 18 or 19.
Todd was champion in the Superstock class in the British Superbike Championships in 2022 and earlier this year stepped up to the Superbikes class.
“I’ve had a bit of a disjointed year, but really looking forward to getting back into the superbikes fulltime next season.”
For the record Todd finished his weekend at Taupo ranked sixth overall in the F1/Superbike class and first in the Supermoto class.
The riders all now head to Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, for round two in the series next weekend. The Suzuki International Series will wrap up, as always, on Whanganui’s famous Cemetery Circuit public street environment on Boxing Day.
The Suzuki International Series is again this season being run in conjunction with the New Zealand Superbike Championships, with the first two rounds at Taupo and Manfeild also registered as rounds one and two of that parallel-but-separate six-round series.
The NZSBK competition continues with rounds three, four and five in the South Island, at Christchurch, Timaru and Invercargill respectively, with the series then travelling north again to wrap up with round six at Hampton Downs, near Huntly, in March.
Suzuki International Series promoter and organiser Allan 'Flea' Willacy said he was thrilled with how the opening round at Taupo played out at the weekend.
“I thought the event went really well, considering the damp conditions, and I thought the competitors rode very sensibly. Overall the racing was fantastic and the crowd numbers were pleasing. We had expected the rain to arrive and it did only really come late in the day.
“I would pick out the 600cc class and the supermoto class as the pick of the bunch in terms of pure entertainment and it was also good to see Tony Rees give his son Mitch Rees a bit of a hurry-up in the big bike class.
“Roll on to round two now at Manfeild next weekend.”
Class leaders after the weekend were: Whakatane’s Mitch Rees (F1/Superbike class); Invercargill’s Cormac Buchanan (F2/Supersport 600 class); Taupo’s Karl Hooper (F3/Pro Twins); Papakura’s Craig Coulam (Formula Sport, Senior); Whanganui’s Jeff Croot (Formula Sport, Junior); Hamilton’s Jesse Stroud (Supersport 300); Hamilton’s Nathan Finlay (GIXXER 150); Diego Petrucci (Supersport 150); Hastings’ Gian Louie (Post Classics, Pre-89, Senior); Christchurch’s Jordan Leslie (Post Classics, Pre-89, Junior); Invercargill’s Jon Rawcliffe (Post Classics, Pre-95, Senior); Christchurch’s Jordan Leslie (Post Classics, Pre-95, Junior); Britain’s Davey Todd (Supermoto); Auckland’s Adam Unsworth and Bryce Rose (F1 Sidecars); Whanganui’s Peter and Lucy Dowman (F2 Sidecars).
DATES FOR 2023-24 NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE SEASON:
Suzuki International Series (and first two rounds of the nationals):
• Round 1, Taupo, Dec 2nd and 3rd;
• Round 2, Manfeild, Feilding, Dec 9th and 10th;
• Whanganui's Cemetery Circuit, Dec 26th (third and final round of Suzuki International Series, but not part of the nationals).
• Round 3, Ruapuna, Christchurch, Jan 6th and 7th;
• Round 4, Levels, Timaru, Jan 13th and 14th;
• Round 5, Burt Munro, Teretonga, Feb 9th, 10th and 11th.
• Round 6, Hampton Downs, part of MotoFest, Mar 2nd and 3rd.
-By Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com