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2013 New Zealand Superbike Champion Robbie Bugden
Well, as most of you will now know, Robbie secured his 5th New Zealand Superbike title last weekend, at the 5th and final round of the New Zealand Superbike Championship. This is also Triple R Superbike’s 5th New Zealand Championship win, 4 in Superbike with Robbie and 1 with Dennis Charlotte in Supersport on the GSXR 600, over the past 7 years. Robbie went into the 5th round confident that we could all do our job for him and bring it home. He did not get to ride his number one bike until Saturday morning, but was on the number 2 bike, that was changed over from its wet setting, to a dry setting and straight away on the Friday he was running out great times. The only real issue we had for the weekend, was that we knew we would be tight on the front tyre compound and profile that he liked, as there were not a lot of these tyres brought in. So careful management of them was needed. Robbie secure pole of Saturday, his 4th of the championship.
On the Sunday in the first race, we did get a little jumpy, as at the beginning of the race, one of the riders tried to bet Robbie into the first turn and came across and hit his front brake lever. Luckily for him (and us) the lever was turned upwards and the brake was not locked on, so he was able to get the bike back under control and concentrate getting back into the race. He was soon back in the lead, but with this been the 2nd to last race of the season, all the riders were trying to finish on a good note. So there was some very exciting racing happening behind him. Craig Shiriffs made his way past Robbie into 1st place, so Robbie sat behind him and brought it home, managing to keep out of trouble with the other riders battling for 3rd place. With a 16 point lead going into the final race, Robbie only had to finish 7th or better. He got another good start, but soon everyone else were tripping over themselves trying to get back onto him and thereby giving us a few moments of “heart in the mouth” with their dives down the inside etc. In the end Robbie pulled back, let them go and sat back in 5th place allowing the rest of the riders in front to battle it out between themselves. So, after the 15 laps, Robbie coursed the line for his 5th New Zealand Superbike title. A fantastic achievement, with only one other rider having secured more titles; Andrew Stroud, the both of them dominating the championship over the past 7 years. For Alastair on the 600, he wanted to finish the season with a couple of podiums and on Friday, it looked like that we could make this happen, with his times been in the mid “31’s”, a very good time on a 600.
On Saturday, this all came undone, with an engine issue. Sadly we had a valve retainer go west, causing Al not been able to finish qualifying. Though in the 4 laps he did get to do in the 20 minute session, still had him in 5th at the end of qualifying. There was a little bit of fortune for Alastair, but not for Dave Manuell, who was taken out by another rider and broke his collar bone……allowing us to use Dave’s Suzuki for the racing. Dave’s bike seemed in quite good condition after his crash, so we swapped our suspension etc over onto his bike for the first race, but on the warm up lap, Al came back in complaining about a major chatter problem, especially when ever making a left hand turn. So we went through the bike, checking everything, but, it looked like the bike had a small tweak in its chassis, which we could not change. So, Al went out in the 2nd race and did the best he could. He held 3rd place for most of the race, but could not quite hold off a couple of riders with 2 laps to go and instead of crashing the bike trying to stay in front, he let them past and held on to take 5th. Not the end he wanted for the season, but he did a fantastic job with the tools he had. So for Al, the season ended on an annoying note. But, with the speed he showed that he was capable of and with doing the full season in Australia this year. Then next season is going to be very good for Alastair, and we will be doing everything we can for him to win the 600 title in 2014.
So, to finish off, I again would like to say thank you to all who have supported Triple R this season, and of course over the last 7 odd years. We don’t at this stage know whether we will be able to get Robbie back for the 2014 season, which would be the shame, but we will be hoping that this is possible. With Triple R’s results, it has appeared on many web sites throughout America, Australia and Europe, and of course New Zealand. Plus also in a number of magazines. We have also been on the TV in the motorsport program with TV3, and I am waiting to hear when the rest will be on TV as well.
All the product we have used has worked perfectly and allowed us to remain at the front. I have run Suzuki’s ever since I started racing myself and the team, (which is only around 12 years), but Suzuki has dominated that time with the GSXR and only lost the New Zealand Superbike Title once in the past 12 years. We were also the first to use the new Dunlop tyres from the USA, so it is very satisfying to bring Dunlop NZ another title, and it is nice to see the increased interest by the public in these tyres. The Elf Oil we run in the bikes and also the suspension has worked flawlessly, and whenever I look inside the engines, the bearings, bore, and all other components always look like new. A credit to Suzuki’s engineering and Elf Oil. The Ohlins Suspension again worked great for us. I build and make up my own settings in the shocks and forks, and with the help from KSS, the Ohlins NZ importer, we have been able to give Robbie what he has needed to win again. Combining the Bazzaz product with the Woolich Tuning Software also helped me to tune the fastest bike out there. Also the Bazzaz TC and Woolich helped Robbie look after his rear tyre a lot better, often allowing him to be able to run his consistently fast lap times to the end of the race. Having over 210 HP at the wheel is one thing, controlling it is another and these two products allow me to do that. And, having that much power needs a strong, but light chain and sprockets, and with that, the RK chain/sprockets we run have worked perfectly.
The bikes always looked fantastic…….apart from when both Robbie and Alastair decided to have rests out on the track. But it is a credit to JLD Paint here in Christchurch on how the bikes looked. We received plenty of comments on the paint work of these bikes. Kevin from Race Supplies supplied us with Vortex rear sets and GB Racing engine protection cases. Which was a big reason why the bikes survived rather big crashes with very little damage. A big thank you to Suzuki New Zealand, for giving us the product to race at the front every year. The GSXR is an iconic bike throughout the world, and shows time and time again its ability to win races, also combined with Yoshimura, makes this even better. All the best for the rest of the year and thanks again for your support. It has been very much appreciated.
Manager, Triple R Superbike.