Whanganui sisters Emma and Lucy Dowman have taken sibling rivalry to a whole new level.
Take a bit of typical family squabbling and add a pinch of horsepower and it's game-on for these two, although it's really nothing too serious and only a little light-hearted sporting showdown.
The second of two rounds in this year's annual Suzuki International Series arrived at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, on the outskirts of Feilding, on Sunday with the Dowman girls both keen to pick up where they'd left off at round one in Taupo a week earlier.
They are battling away in the always-popular GIXXER Cup class, a "nursery ground" for aspiring road-race talent, all riders on identical Suzuki GSX-150F bikes and so it's a totally level playing field for all competitors.
Lucy, a 19-year-old student, finished seventh and fifth in her two outings on Sunday, while 26-year-old Emma managed 14th and 11th. Lucy's sixth in the GIXXER Cup standings after two rounds and Emma's running 12th, so the younger sister has the upper hand at the moment, but that's probably to be expected because Lucy is a GIXXER Cup "old girl" now and Emma's only making her debut this season.
"I'll be racing the Cemetery Circuit (at the series' final round on Boxing Day) for the first time too this season," said Emma. "It has been a race meeting I've wanted to do for a
long time now. All my family race, but I've always been sitting on the sideline and just watching. This year I'll finally be able to get into it.
"I remember when I was little, my dad would take me for rides around the circuit on the back of his bike.
"I was a bit jealous when Lucy and my brother Michael raced the GIXXER bikes together for the first time and then I decided I was finally going to get my road bike licence and then decided to get into racing too. Dad's been really great supporting us.
"I want to be more competitive but, seeing as Lucy got so much more experience than me at the moment, it's not quite there yet. I harass her a little but not really a threat to her yet."
Meanwhile, Levin's Justin Maunder qualified fastest then finished fifth and first in the two GIXXER Cup class races on Sunday and he took over the championship lead from former Whanganui man, but now Christchurch-based, Caleb Gilmore.
First created by Suzuki New Zealand in December 2017 with the aim of providing a starting place and a pathway towards "growing future champions", the GIXXER Cup class was immediately slotted into the Suzuki International Series programme and it proved to be a runaway success. Now celebrating its fourth season, the GIXXER Cup series has well and truly established itself as the premier competition for road-racing novices.
Many of the young riders who had their first taste of motorcycle road-racing with the inaugural GIXXER Cup contest in 2017 are now out on the track and racing in some of the bigger bike classes, proving the merit of Suzuki's pioneering and innovative small-bike competition.
The three-round Suzuki International Series action will wrap up, as it traditionally does, on the public streets of Whanganui, riders tearing around the world-famous Cemetery Circuit, on Boxing Day (Saturday, December 26), both the Dowman girls no doubt being cheered on by friends and family on their "home turf".
Class leaders after the second of three rounds in the 2020 Suzuki International Series at the weekend are Christchurch's Alastair Hoogenboezem (Formula One); Rangiora's Avalon Biddle (Formula Two); Nikau Valley's Richard Markham-Barrett (Formula Three); Wellington's Malcolm Bielski (Bears Senior); Whanganui's Blane Hannah (Bears Junior); Levin's Justin Maunder (GIXXER 150 Cup); Hastings' Gian Louie (Post Classics, pre-89 Senior); Ngaruawahia's Steve Bridge (Post Classics, pre-89 Junior); Tauranga's Barry Smith and Stu Dawe (F1 Sidecars); Albany's Mark Halls and Michelle MacLean (F2 Sidecars); Taumarunui's Jette Josiah (Super Motard); Timaru's Harry Parker (Supersport 300).
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com