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Budgen Wins New Zealand Superbike Opener

Team Suzuki Press Office – January 7.  Triple R Suzuki team rider Robert Bugden won both Superbike races at the opening round of the New Zealand Superbike Championship at Ruapuna on Sunday.

The four-time Superbike Champion had a fight on his hands with fellow Suzuki aces Craig Shirriffs, Dennis Charlett and Hayden Fitzgerald; Charlett managing to edge past Bugden early in race two and Shirriffs putting a wheel in front for a short period.

Triple R Suzuki Team Manager Red Fenton said: “We are very happy with that, but we know we can improve. I know we can get faster yet. Robbie rode brilliantly and it’s looking good for next weekend at Levels Raceway for round two.”

Bugden (32) said: “It was a tough old weekend, but I got through it in the end. I have not been able to win the GP title since 2007, so it’s been a long time between drinks for that one. It was certainly nice to get it again today.

“It’s a new bike that I’m riding this year, the L2 model, and we have a few things still to sort out. But Suzuki has been making great bikes for a long time and it was good for me today too.

“I certainly can’t rest. There are a lot of fast riders to deal with. I knew I had to get past Dennis Charlett as quickly as I could at the start of race two and then Craig Shirriffs put me under a bit of pressure too. I’ll go to Levels with the same positive attitude and, hopefully, we’ll get the job done there too.”

Shirriffs finished the day in runner-up spot, with Charlett third and Fitzgerald fourth.

In the 600cc Supersport class, it was the John Ross and Jaden Hassan show: Christchurch’s Ross took his Suzuki GSX-R600 to win the first of two 15-lap 600cc class races, closing in and passing Aucklander Hassan at the start of the final lap.  Try as he might, Hassan could not get back past Ross and that’s how it was as the pair crossed the finish line. However, Hassan won the second race, meaning that they both ended the day level on championship points.

Suzuki’s SV650s scored a 1-2-3 in the Pro Twins class with Hamish Murphy winning the day ahead of Nathanael Diprose and Nick Southerwood.