Suzuki's popular GIXXER Cup competition is set to go 'next level'.
The competition, hatched in late 2017 as a nursery ground for motorcycle road-racing – and with the catch-phrase 'Growing Future Champions' – has truly been an outstanding success.
Numerous young riders, many of whom would perhaps previously not even have considered tackling the sport, have now embraced racing and are showing signs that they indeed could be superbike champions in years to come.
Now, as the motorcycling community warms up for the start of the 2019-20 season, the GIXXER Cup competition has received a massive boost.
The GIXXER Cup concept was created in 2017 to encourage young riders to go into battle on identical Suzuki GSX150F bikes, a level playing field being an ideal environment for the stars of tomorrow to learn their craft and spread their wings ... and none of that is changed, although a minor tweak for December 2019 will potentially bring an even greater level of excitement.
Instead of limiting the contest to riders aged between 14 and 21 years, the GIXXER Cup will now be opened up to individuals of all ages.
"We have arranged for some of New Zealand’s top Superbike riders to enter the series, and act as guides and mentors for the young racers, and this is very much in keeping with our aim of growing future champions" said Suzuki New Zealand's Simon Meade, the general manager of motorcycle, ATV and marine marketing.
"At the same time, removing the age restriction for the GIXXER Cup opens the door to older riders, many of whom have hounded us for the opportunity to compete in this low cost, ultra-competitive class.
"The younger or novice riders should not be put off by seeing senior former champions on their GIXXER Cup start line," said Meade. "If anything, this should be further encouragement for them.
"They will be able to race side-by-side with their heroes, all of them on equal machinery. And there's the additional attraction for them being able to learn from the masters. Several of New Zealand's most successful riders have said they'd be keen to guide and coach the young ones."
The GIXXER Cup will have a massive prize pool of more than $7,000 and will again form an integral part of the popular three-round Suzuki Series, while that competition undergoes a branding change this year – it will now be known as the Suzuki International Series, in reflection of the worldwide status it enjoys and the respect that it is shown by so many renowned overseas racers who visit New Zealand to take part in it each year.
The 2019 Suzuki International Series is set to kick off at Taupo's Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on December 7-8 with round two to follow a week later at Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, on December 14-15, and the traditional final round is the world-famous public street race event on Whanganui's Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day (December 26).
While the sport's purists will perhaps still focus on what's happening in categories such as the 1000cc superbike or 600cc Formula two bike classes, for example, there is no denying that some of the closest and most exciting racing witnessed in the Suzuki Series (International Series) last season was in the GIXXER Cup.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com