If one word could sum up the weekend at Hampton Downs, it would be "intensity".
The third round of five in this season's New Zealand Superbike Championships shared the programme and track space with the second annual MotoFest extravaganza on Saturday and Sunday, but it was the intense battling for national titles that craved a significant share of the fans' focus.
Perhaps some of the closest racing was at the front of the Supersport 600 class where friends and close rivals Toby Summers and Avalon Biddle put on a wicked display of close-combat fighting.
The Kawasaki duo were virtually inseparable at the head of the class.
Manukau's Summers (Carl Cox Motorsport Kawasaki ZX6R) impressed at rounds one and two of the series in the South Island in January and he was in devastating form again at Hampton Downs' third round of five, finishing with a 1-1-2 score-card over the weekend.
However, that "defeat" in the final race of the weekend did cause him to grimace.
Rangiora's Biddle (MTF Finance Kawasaki ZX6R) pounded right at the finish line to win the last 600cc race of the event, a result that held special significance because it also qualified as the TT Trophy race for the class, a most sought-after piece of extra silverware for the season.
"It could have been better really ... I wanted three wins," Summers lamented.
"I have extended my points lead in the championship and that was important. That last race was a great battle with Avalon, a lot of fun.
"The Kawasaki ZX6R is working great. I can't complain, but I would have done with a little more grip on that last corner," the 46-year-old laughed.
"The TT race was a bit longer, 15 laps, and I think both Avalon and myself were running out of rubber."
Biddle has kept strong her challenge for the national Supersport 600 title, but she is now 22 points behind Summers and will need some solid results at the two rounds that now follow.
"It was a great start to the weekend for me with qualifying on pole," said the 26-year-old Biddle.
"I was wary of Toby. I almost think Toby qualified second on purpose, so that he wouldn't give away just how fast he was. I got two second placings behind Toby in the first two races, which is okay, but second is not a win and that's what I'm aiming for."
Despite finishing second on the track in race one, Biddle was adjudged to have jumped the start and so she was relegated to fifth after the race, costing her valuable championship points.
"It was a mistake on my part and pretty disappointing," she admitted.
"It was a do or die move to pass Toby and win the last race. I can't complain about my bike speed."
Other class leaders after the weekend are Taupo's Scott Moir (suiperbnikes class), Palmerston North’s Jacob Stroud (Supersport 300 class); Papamoa's Leon Jacobs (250 Production class); Jacob Stroud (Superlites); Christchurch's Nick Cain (650 Pro Twins, provisional); Australia's Yanni Shaw (125 GP); Hamilton's Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup) and Christchurch's Dennis Charlett and Will Clim (sidecars).
Other TT Trophy winners on Sunday were Glen Eden's Daniel Mettam (superbikes), Auckland’s Nathanael Diprose (Supersport 300 class); Jacobs (250 Production class); Jacob Stroud (Superlites); Whangamata’s Ben Rosendaal (650 Pro Twins, provisional); Shaw (125 GP); Jesse Stroud (GIXXER Cup) and Auckland’s Peter Goodwin and Waitoki’s Louise Blythe (sidecars).
The 2019 New Zealand Superbike Championships' fourth round at Manfeild is set for March 30-31, with the series wrapping up at Taupo on April 6-7.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com