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JANUARY 12, 2018: Timaru's Harry Parker may have a big future ahead of him, but, for now, all he's concerned about is putting on a good show for his home-town fans this weekend.

The second of four rounds in the 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships are set for Levels Raceway, just outside Timaru, this Saturday and Sunday, and Parker is determined to see that a little home advantage can be converted into solid points.

Although a relative novice, the 17-year-old is racing in two separate bike categories, the GIXXER Cup and the 250cc Production class.

After the opening round of the national at Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Christchurch last weekend, Parker finds himself fifth overall, behind leader Nick Cain, of Christchurch, Jack Cotton, also from Christchurch, Papamoa's Leon Jacobs and Darfield's James Doherty.

Parker is also running among the leaders in the GIXXER Cup, with four of seven rounds now completed in that competition. 

Reserved exclusively for riders aged between 14 and 21 years, the inaugural GIXXER Cup competition is a seven-round affair, the first three rounds having been an integral part of the Suzuki Series pre-nationals competition, which wrapped up on Boxing Day, and it continues on as a feature of the four-round superbike nationals. 

That means that round two of the superbike nationals at Levels Raceway this weekend also acts as round five of the GIXXER Cup.

Parker is riding a Kawasaki Ninja 250 in the 250cc Production class, the same bike formerly raced by fellow Timaru man Grant Ramage, the 57-year-old multi-time former national champion who is also helping to mentor Parker.

"I only started road-racing in April last year, but I've had a lot of help from local guys Grant Ramage, Richard Willetts and Brent Garven," said Parker.

"I didn't have such a great time in Christchurch last weekend because I crashed twice, once in each class, and that's set me back a bit. But I did manage to finish second in the 250cc Production NZGP race and I got a trophy for that ... my first trophy, the first of many I hope.

"Hopefully I can stay upright at Levels this weekend," he said.

Ramage, meanwhile, is still competing and currently he is ninth overall in the Supersport 300 class after the opening round in Christchurch, just ahead of fellow Timaru man Willetts.

I'm just doing this for fun these days, but I'm still managing the same lap times as I achieved last season. It's just that the young men are going faster now. They should be going faster than me, though ... I'm just a fat, old man now," he laughed.

Meanwhile, a lot of the weekend's focus will no doubt also go on the premier Superbikes class, with the three riders on top after last weekend's nationals series opener – Wellington's Sloan Frost (Suzuki), Glen Eden's Daniel Mettam (Suzuki) and Whakatane's Mitchell Rees (Honda) – separated by just one point.

Leaders in the other bike categories are Christchurch's James Hoogenboezem (600cc Supersport, Triumph), Tauranga's Regan Phibbs (Supersport 300, Yamaha); Hamilton's Jordan Burley (650 Pro Twins, Suzuki); Christchurch's Nick Cain (250cc Production, Kawasaki); Christchurch's Dennis Charlett (Superlites, Suzuki); Rodney's Blayes Heaven (125GP, Honda); and Auckland's Peter Goodwin and Kendall Dunlop (Sidecars), but nothing is secure and all the classes could be given a shake-up at Levels this weekend.

After Sunday, the riders will cross Cook Strait for the second half of the season in the North Island.

North Waikato hosts round three at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, near Meremere, on March 3-4, before it all wraps up at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo on March 17-18.

The 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships are supported by Honda Cars, providing safety/medical vehicles, Pirelli tyres, Corprint, CTAS and MX Timing and the inaugural GIXXER Cup is supported by Suzuki New Zealand.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,


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