The job is only half done as far as Upper Hutt's Rogan Chandler is concerned so he won't be letting up until he's achieved his next target.
With a little help from master bike tuner Ray Clee, the 25-year-old Chandler took his Suzuki New Zealand and TSS Motorcycles-backed GSX-R600 bike to completely dominate the Formula Two/Supersport 600 class on Whanganui's famous Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day.
This was the traditional final round of the annual Suzuki International Series, a competition that was forced to skip a beat last year because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but the event organisers this year more than made up for that, producing another classic street fight.
And riders such as Chandler responded too, producing some of their best street fighting form and putting on a great show for the appreciative crowd.
Chandler qualified fastest in his class and then comfortably won both his 600cc class races; easily enough to wrap up the class win overall for the series.
He has done this before, winning the F2/Supersport 600 class at the Suzuki International Series in 2019 and 2020, and his intention now is to kick on and also win this class at the nationals.
The Suzuki International Series was effectively the opening salvo for the nationals, with the series opener at Manfeild two weeks ago recognised also as the opening round of the New Zealand Superbike Nationals.
Racing in that parallel-but-separate competition resumes with two rounds in the South Island, at Teretonga and Ruapuna in early January, and the final two rounds set for the North Island, at Hampton Downs and then Taupo, in March.
Although obviously a favourite in his class, Chandler's chase for the national F2/Supersport 600 title suffered a disappointing set-back at Manfeild.
Of his three races at Manfeild, Chandler won two of them. However, when a gear-change lever snapping off in the other race, if left him unable to change gears and he struggled just to finish the race in an unaccustomed 12th position.
His main rival, Bulls rider Ashton Hughes, won that fateful race and gained a huge points advantage over him, although a philosophical Chandler insists it's meanly a speed bump on his way to clinching the crown.
"There are still 12 races left over the remaining four rounds of the nationals and I reckon I can wipe out that 11-point deficit," said Chandler.
"I only teamed up with Ray (Clee) and Suzuki two months before the Suzuki International Series started and I probably only rode it three times before racing at Manfeild. But I gelled with it straight away. It's a great bike.”
"I don't usually do so well at Whanganui as a matter of fact. I kind of never have to push here to win and could afford to finish fourth or fifth and still get the series win overall. But I needed to win here to win the series this year.”
“Every time in the past that I've won the Suzuki International Series, I have not been able to go on and win the nationals. But I feel good, I'm happy, the bike feels good ... hopefully I can flip the script this time around and get this class title at the nationals. “
"It was unfortunate with the gear lever snapping off at Manfeild, but it's one of those things and it could have been worse.”
"I'm happy on the South Island tracks – every time I have raced at Teretonga, I have won there – and the North Island tracks are perfect for me."
Monday's action also included races for the New Zealand TT titles and Chandler also collected that silverware for the F2/Supersport 600 class, so it has certainly been a winning start to his 2020-23 campaign so far.
In addition to his class win and TT title win in the Suzuki International Series, Chandler also took his 600cc machine to finish an impressive runner-up in the all-capacities Robert Holden Memorial feature race at Whanganui on Monday, beaten to the chequered flag only by F1/Superbike class winner and reigning national 1000cc superbike champion Mitch Rees, of Whakatane.
The various class winners in the 2022 Suzuki International Series were Whakatane's Mitch Rees (F1 Superbikes class; also the TT title winner and winner of the Robert Holden Memorial race); Upper Hutt's Rogan Chandler (F2 Supersport 600; also the TT title winner); Taupo's Karl Hooper (F3 Pro Twins; also the TT title winner); Wanaka's Jesse Stroud (Supersport 300); Whanganui's Dwayne Bishop (Formula Sport/Bears, senior; also the TT title winner); Whanganui's Jeff Croot (Formula Sport/Bears, junior; also the TT title winner); Silverdale's Tyler King (Supersport 150); Upper Hutt's Kieran Mair (Gixxer 150); Hastings rider Gian Louie (Pre-89 post classics, senior); Lower Hutt's Dean Bentley (Pre-89 post classics, junior); Whanganui's Richie Dibben (Supermoto; also the NZ championships title); Auckland's Adam Unsworth and Bryce Rose (F1 sidecars; also the TT title winners); Whanganui's Bryan Stent and Dan Franzen (F2 sidecars; also the TT title winners); Carterton's Mark Smith and Dean Corrigan (Classic sidecars).
DATES FOR 2022-23 NZ MOTORCYCLE ROAD-RACE SEASON:
Suzuki International Series:
• Round 1, Taupo, Dec 3rd and 4th (ABANDONED)
• Round 2, Manfeild, Dec 10th and 11th
• Whanganui's Cemetery Circuit, Dec 26th (third and final round of Suzuki International Series)
• Round 3, Ruapuna, Jan 7th and 8th
• Round 4, Teretonga, Jan 14th and 15th
• Round 5, Hampton Downs, part of Moto Fest, Mar 4th and 5th
• Round 6, Taupo, Mar 11th and 12th
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com