It was always going to be a Suzuki rider standing on top of the superbikes nationals podium this season, there was just the small matter of deciding which one.
The fifth and final round of this season's New Zealand Superbike Championships was an absolute thriller in the battle for premier superbike class honours, with little to separate friendly rivals Daniel Mettam and Scotty Moir when they arrived at Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park for the weekend's showdown.
Taupo's Moir (Suzuki GSX-R1000) had led the championship standings after rounds two and three, but Glen Eden's Mettam (Suzuki GSX-R1000) pounced to snatch away the lead at round four of the series at Feilding the weekend prior to Taupo's finale.
And so, with the dynamic duo a long way ahead of all the other competitors on the championship points table, it really would come down to a two-way battle between the friendly rivals at the weekend.
Christchurch rider Alastair Hoogenboezem celebrated his first race win of the series on Saturday afternoon, while Mettam finished runner-up, with Moir close behind in third and this boosted Mettam's championship lead to nine points over Moir.
Whakatane's Damon Rees won the first of Sunday's two superbike races, with Moir this time taking the runner-up honours and Mettam left to accept third place – the points difference between the two title contenders was now back to five points and it would all come down to the third and final superbike race at Taupo.
In the end, it was the tightest of title fights – Moir again finished runner-up behind Rees and once more he had beaten Mettam across the finish line, it wasn't quite enough. Mettam settled for third in that final outing and took the title by a solitary point.
"I had good pace early on in that final race, but I lost out to a little bit of home track advantage that Scotty enjoyed today," said the 23-year-old Mettam, a bike mechanic by trade.
"I was watching what was happening ahead of me and I knew my track position would be enough to take the title.
"I managed to put a gap on the riders behind me and lasted until the end. All I could hope for was that Scotty couldn't get past Damon. It all worked out for me. Even when you're having a bad day, you've just got to take those vital points.
"I finished every race in the championships, which was key. I had only ever won one superbike race before, last year when I finished the season third overall. But I had five superbike race wins this season, so that's a big improvement.
"I will be back to defend the title next year, but I've got a couple of things coming up overseas first. I have a ride sorted out for myself at the Isle of Man. I was meant to get there last year but I broke my leg two weeks before the event and didn't go."
Meanwhile, in the Pro Twins class, Whangamata's Ben Rosendaal (Suzuki SV650) successfully wrapped up the title win at Taupo, edging out fellow Suzuki rider Nick Cain, of Christchurch, while former GIXXER Cup campaigner Matt Brough (Suzuki SV650) , from Paraparaumu, stunned with his performance at Taupo to rocket from sixth to third in the final rankings.
Brough finished 1-2-2 at Taupo, surely heralding a bright future ahead for the youngster.
Other title winners after the weekend’s final round of the series at Taupo were Rangiora's Avalon Biddle (Supersport 600); Palmerston North’s Jacob Stroud (Supersport 300 class); Papamoa's Leon Jacobs (250 Production class); Jacob Stroud (Superlites); Australia's Yanni Shaw (125 GP); Hamilton's Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup) and Taupo’s Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown (sidecars).
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com