Scott Moir is back on track and now well on target to claim his first national superbike championship crown.
The 35-year-old had arrived at Hampton Downs at the weekend for the third round of five in the 2020 New Zealand Superbike Championships down in fifth overall in the series standings – a demoralising 68 points off the lead – after a tough handful of races at rounds one and two of the series in the South Island in January.
But, that quickly became nothing more than a distant memory when he dominated the premier superbikes class at the North Waikato circuit on Saturday and Sunday, taking his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to leap from fifth to second in the championship standings.
Moir qualified fastest – that feat alone worth a bonus competition point – and then won the first two of the weekend's three superbike races at Hampton Downs.
He was pipped at the post in the third and final superbike race, Christchurch's Alastair Hoogenboezem instead snatching the win right on the finish line, but Moir was still extremely satisfied with his 1-1-2 score-card for the weekend.
Moir had suddenly seemed to have rediscovered the style that garnered him successive Formula One titles in the pre-nationals Suzuki Series (in 2017 and 2018), the same sort of form that had also helped propel Moir to the overall runner-up spot in the premier superbike class in last season's nationals.
Now that he is back in the position that matches the No.2 on his distinctive blue and white Suzuki motorcycle, a reinvigorated Moir is determined to push on at the two rounds that remain and claim the coveted No.1.
He is just three points behind series leader Hoogenboezem and he moves on now to two of his favourite circuits, Manfeild and then his home track at Taupo, in a positive mood.
"I'd like to say you can't get much better than the weekend I've had, but you can ... three wins would have been nice," Moir laughed.
"I was on track for a win in that last race but my tyres were wearing out and I made a couple of mistakes," he shrugged.
"I think the other riders got faster as the weekend wore on and perhaps they were learning my lines too.
"But, overall I have gone from fifth to second in the championship chase. I've got my mojo back."
Glen Eden's defending national superbike champion Daniel Mettam (Suzuki GSX-R1000) started the weekend ranked only sixth overall after the first two rounds of the series, but he finished second overall in the class at Hampton Downs – thanks to a 2-2-3 score-card – and he is now up to fifth in the series standings.
Meanwhile, in the Supersport 600 class, Whanganui's Richie Dibben (Suzuki GSX-R600) finished runner-up in each of his three races at Hampton Downs and he extended his advantage at the top of the standings. Dibben is a massive 60 points clear of his nearest challenger, Upper Hutt's Rogan Chandler.
Whangaparoa rider Nathan Jane continued his advance towards the 650 Pro Twins title, extending his lead to 36 points over fellow Suzuki ace and defending champion Ben Rosendaal, from Whangamata.
Brightwater's Tyrone Kuipers is now 44 points clear of Rolleston's Sam Guthrie in the GIXXER Cup class.
Other class leaders after round three are Auckland’s Nathanael Diprose (Supersport 300, provisional); Taupo's Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown (Sidecars) and Invercargill's Cormac Buchanan (Supersport 150).
Round four will be at Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding is in three weeks' time, on March 28-29, with the fifth and final round set for Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park near Taupo on April 4-5.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com