It’s official, Suzuki ace Andrew Stroud is a living legend.
With a fifth of the series still to run, the 43-year-old Hamilton rider has already won the 2011 New Zealand Superbike Championships, for the ninth time no less, a record for the sport in this country.
He had already set a new benchmark when he zoomed to his eighth national superbike crown last season but this time his victory was even more convincing.
Stroud (Documentary Channel Pirelli Suzuki GSX-R1000) qualified second fastest at the fourth round of five at Hampton Downs, near Meremere, on Saturday, just over one tenth of a second behind his nearest rival for the title, Australian three-time former New Zealand Superbike Champion Robbie Bugden (Triple R Mack Truck Suzuki GSX-R1000).
But that counted for little when the racing proper began the following day, Stroud racing away to back-to-back wins and placing himself mathematically out of reach of Bugden as the riders now head to Manfeild, just outside Palmerston North, for the final round this weekend.
“I was leading the first race when I went off the dry line and couldn’t slow enough to take a corner,” said Stroud. “Robbie and Sloan Frost slipped past me and it wasn’t until the third-to-last corner that I managed to get into the lead again.
“Robbie got the jump on me in race two and was setting a fast pace,” said Stroud. “I really had to put my head down to try to pass him. Then he crashed, right in front of me. He got back on and finished the race but I went on to win the race, seal up the championship and take the Geoff Perry Memorial NZ TT trophy as well.
“I will definitely still go to Manfeild and race to win there too,” said Stroud.
Meanwhile, it was a glorious weekend for Taranaki’s Terry Fitzgerald, the Suzuki ace winning the NZ TT trophy and closing in on second spot in the Pro Twins championships chase.
It was another positive performance from Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett on Sunday too, the Suzuki ace stretching his lead in the 600cc Supersport class to a whopping 29 points over fellow Canterbury rider John Ross.
If Charlett can keep it clean and make no mistakes in the Manawatu next weekend, he will reclaim the national 600cc title he last held in 2008.
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