BRITTEN WINS BACK-TO-BACK NZ CHAMPIONSHIPS.
The Christchurch-built Britten V-1000 racer captured its second consecutive New Zealand motorcycle title as it started the season, with a win.
Factory rider Andrew Stroud took the 60-deg V-twin to victory in the second leg at the final, Invercargill's Teretonga circuit on Sunday Jan 7th, going for an outright win rather than just a cruise home for points. Stroud lead from just after the start to win by more than 14 seconds from the New Zealand distributor-backed Ducati 955 of international racer Robert Holden.
John Britten's widow, Kirsteen, waved the chequered flag as Stroud crossed the line to add the New Zealand title to the World BEARS Series victory which Stroud secured one round early in England last August, and his performance at Daytona's circuit last year that saw the V-1000 record an amazing 188mph top speed.
The previous year, Jason McEwen won the New Zealand Superbike title for the factory. Said Stroud yesterday after his title victory, "We had some braking problems in the first race when a clip came off the front brake master cylinder, spraying me with hydraulic oil. I had to shut down early for the corners just in case the brakes totally gave out but I still managed second." "The team had a bit of a talk between races and told me I only had to finish in the top 10 to clinch the championship. But once I was out there I rode at a pace I felt comfortable with and the bike felt so good I just kept going for it. It's a pretty bumpy circuit here and the team didn't race at Teretonga last year so we had to set the bike up as we went. But I have to say, that after riding the bike throughout the season it's pretty near perfect now. It's always been reliable but it's really quite awesome now."
Grand Prix racer Stroud has been racing the customer Britten, owned by Roberto Crepaldi of Italy, and gifted to the factory for the series after the death of designer John Britten in September. Crepaldi travelled from Italy, to the Ruapuna round to watch Stroud regain the lead in the national series, which had become a battle of the V-twins, between Stroud and international Superbike, Endurance and Road racer Robert Holden, on a Ducati 955 Superbike built to the latest European specifications.
Stroud, had won the first two legs of the series opener, at Manfield.
The following weekend Holden drew level on points at his home circuit, at Pukekohe, Auckland, setting up a fascinating duel on the Britten factory's home circuit at Ruapuna, Christchurch, last weekend.
There Stroud won both legs and the one-off New Zealand Grand Prix title, while Holden unfortunately crashed in the second leg.
At Teretonga the Ducati rider appeared to still be recovering from his Ruapuna crash, but came out to convincingly win the first leg and keep the battle of the V-twins alive. This was of little concern for Stroud, who only had to finish the second leg in the top 10 to record a series win.
He took the lead from before the halfway mark of lap one and was never headed, building a larger margin as he went and setting a new lap record of 1min 0.01 sec.
As he crossed the line he provided his usual victory demonstration with a soaring wheel stand at full stretch on the foot pegs. "It's just great to win another title for the factory," said Stroud "The guys have put so much energy and effort into the bike and it was great to have Kirsteen there as well."
The victory had special significance for the Britten factory, with the General Manager, Perry Rees announcing that 1996 would be a year of substained growth through factory racing support of customer bikes.
"John's ideal was for the V1000 to prove itself through racing and be sold to people who wanted to race it," said Rees. "In this series, and with Roberto Crepaldi's generosity, we have taken a Britten from our first customer and proved it can win Championships even after four years. Remember, this bike has raced at Daytona, the Isle of Mann and came second in the World BEARS Series. The bike still has enormous potential. Winning this championship proves this. Our technicians worked on this bike between rounds, sharpening up the handling and updating some aspects of the motor. We have done this while still achieving total reliability."
Rees said that the factory plans to support customer bikes in the US, Europe, and Japan this year.
The Britten factory was still supported in the New Zealand series by sponsors Mobil 1, ICI Autocolor, James Smith Corner (shopping centre, Wellington), AEI Banner (international freight couriers), Computer World and SBS Brakes.
3 New Lap Records, Manfield, Ruapuna and Teretonga.