Englishman Richard Cooper (Suzuki GSX-R1000) celebrates his victory in the coveted Robert Holden Memorial Race and the entire series at the Whanganui Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day 2019. Photo / Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
It took a global virus outbreak to bring the world-famous Whanganui Cemetery Circuit motorcycle race to its knees this year.
But the response has already started and plans are in place to make it bigger and better than ever with a three-round “resurrection” of the Suzuki International Series set to take place in 2022.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organizers to reluctantly cancel the 2021 race of the immensely popular motorcycle racing series and its street racing final – the first time in 70 years there will be no racing in the streets of Whanganui on Boxing Day – as demand for vaccine passports and the large number of spectators expected put impossible pressure on the management of the event.
But, undeterred by the setback, a massive resurgence is slated for 2022, when it may also be possible to welcome international racing stars again to light up the tarmac at the Graveyard Circuit again. world renown.
The popular Suzuki three-round international series was set to be put on ice for 2021, but it will be thawed again to mark its 13th season next December, with Taupo’s Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park again the traditional round to kick things off, with the Manfeild Chris Amon Circuit race in Feilding the following weekend; and the Graveyard Circuit race meeting on Boxing Day, the traditional final showdown.
Every season except this one, security barriers have been erected alongside Whanganui’s world-famous motorcycle ‘street fight’, with straw bales positioned and spectator fences arranged along the street gutters. town halls.
“We already have a lot of internationals who want to come back in 2022,” said Suzuki International Series promoter and organizer Allan ‘Flea’ Willacy.
“Everyone, including the crème de la crème Kiwi, world-class riders in their own right, will be eager to get back to the action and our sponsors have supported us, always generously on board for next year.”
First launched in 1951, the Cemetery Circuit’s final round event is expected to be another outbreak on Boxing Day next year.
Main riders expected for top honors include Scott Moir, former Suzuki International Series national champion Taupo, Daniel Mettam, former 600cc national champion and Glen Eden superbike, Sloan Frost, former Wellington national superbike champion, Jayden Carrick , Whanganui firebrand, Auckland’s Dave Sharp, powerful Whakatane brothers Mitch and Damon Rees, multi-talented Richie Dibben from Whanganui and Dave Hall from Te Awamutu.
Damon Rees was champion at Whanganui last year and, if his current overseas racing schedule allows, he will be determined to return to defend his crown.
In addition to the glamorous Formula 1 class, there will again be races for Formula 2 (600cc motorcycles), Formula 3, Bears (non-Japanese motorcycles), 150cc GIXXER Cup class racers, pre Post Classics -89, F1 Sidecars, F2 Sidecars. , Supersport 300 and Super Motard (dirt bike) riders.
Expect to see racers such as Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem (Formula 1); Avalon Biddle of Rangiora (Formula 2); Richard Markham-Barrett of Nikau Valley (formula three); Malcolm Bielski of Wellington (Senior Bear); Blane Hannah from Whanganui (Junior Bear); Gian Louie of Hastings (post Classics, senior pre-89); Ngaruawahia’s Steve Bridge (Post Classics, pre-89 Junior) and Tauranga pair of Barry Smith and Stu Dawe sidecars, to name a few, all compete for top prizes.
This time next year, bike racers will again descend Ridgway St, along Wilson St, into Taupō Quay and Heads Rd before looping around Guyton St and back to Ridgway, all at blistering speeds, often above 200km / h.
Whanganui is considered the premier street racing venue in the southern hemisphere.
The 1.6 km course includes eight bends, a level crossing, an upper bridge and blind S-bends, flanked on either side by cemetery headstones.
Thousands of spectators will crowd into every nook and cranny as the bikes parade almost within reach. Runners don’t believe it and spectators love it.