Round One:

Posted: Tue 16 Dec 2003

Website - www.Suzuki.Co.Nz:


AUCKLAND’s Ray Clee and Andrew Stroud carried on the Suzuki GSX-R1000’s domination of big-bore motorcycle racing, heading a clean sweep of the opening round of the New Zealand Production Superbike Championship last Sunday.

Stroud beat Clee – who had prepared both Suzukis – in the first eight lap race on Sunday by just over a tenth of a second with Wanganui Suzuki stalwart Brian Bernard third, just half a second behind. Denis Charlett was fourth on yet another GSX-R1000 Suzuki.

In fact, the only riders not on Suzuki’s all-conquering GSX-R1000 in the top 10 were fifth-placed Chris Haldane (Ducati) and seventh-placed Jon Lowther (Yamaha).

It was a similar story in the 20-lap New Zealand Production Superbike TT – the second of the two New Zealand Championship races at Pukekohe. This time it was Clee who won, with Stroud relegated to the runner-up spot while Bernard was again third. And again Suzuki dominated, with GSX-R1000s filling seven of the first ten placings.

Clee’s win – by an astounding 7.3 seconds from Stroud in the TT – was even more remarkable for the fact it was his first outing at Pukekohe for more than a year and his first competitive ride since the Paeroa Battle of the Streets meet in February.

Not only that, Clee missed all of Friday’s practice and the first qualifying session on Saturday morning as he put the finishing touches to his Suzuki in his Henderson workshop.
He had already prepared two Suzukis for Stroud – a race bike and a back-up machine – and admitted he was far from match fit when he finally rolled his four cylinder fuel-injected GSX-R1000 out of his van for the Saturday afternoon timed session.

Within a few minutes, Clee had ripped off a 59.328 second lap to secure third fastest qualifying time for Sunday’s two races.

“The last time I rode at Pukekohe was in a test session in November 2002 when Andrew and Denis Charlett shared the bike with me,” Clee revealed. “That day I did a 58.2 second lap, so I’ve got some time still to make up,” he admitted as he packed away his Suzuki.

In the first race on Sunday, Clee made a poor start, bogging his GSX-R1000 down on the line and getting away in eighth place.

“I was looking at the lights instead of concentrating on the launch,” he admitted. “But I wasn’t too worried – it was just good to be racing a bike again. I was catching Andrew towards the end and I could have attempted a pass on the inside at the hairpin, but I was too gentlemanly. ”

Clee raced the first race on a set of worn Dunlop tyres previously used by Stroud to win the N.Z. Superbike Grand Prix in early February. He continued to use the same front tyre for the 20-lap TT race, but fitted a new rear.

“I got a better start in the TT but it still wasn’t great,” Clee said. “I wanted to get to the front as soon as I could and control it from there,” he added. “I knew I wouldn’t have enough steam to battle it out late in the piece when the tyres went off so I just got my head down and went hard out.”

From sixth, Clee quickly dealt with Jon Lowther (Yamaha) then blew past Chris Haldane’s Ducati on the straight. Next he slip-streamed Bernard and, holding a tight line, made a breathtaking 290 km/h pass at the kink in the main straight. He then turned inside Stroud in the run over the hill to steal the lead at the end of the third lap. From there, he wasn’t headed and won by more than the length of the pit straight.

Afterwards, a delighted Clee revealed he had two big scary moments on his way to victory, the rear tyre letting go and the back-end of the Suzuki coming around into a couple of almost full-lock slides.
“I had to ease off a bit then,” Clee admitted, “otherwise I risked crashing and that would have been pretty stupid. Those last few laps the tyre was gone and I was anxiously looking out for the white (last lap) flag.”

Clee recorded the fastest lap in both Pukekohe races, with a best of 57.846 seconds at an average of 174.256 km/h in race one.

With a little over a month before the second round of the New Zealand Production Superbike Championship at Timaru’s Level’s Raceway on January 11, Clee says there is a little bit more yet to come from the Suzukis he prepares.

“I’m really looking forward to Timaru. Andrew goes really well there so it will be a lot different to Pukekohe, that’s for sure!”
Clee is a former New Zealand 250 Production Champion (1995) and 600 Sports Production and Formula II Champion (1997).

Round 1, New Zealand Production Superbike Championship, Pukekohe, December 7

Race One (8 laps, 22.4 km)
1. Andrew Stroud Suzuki GSX-R1000 7m 54.009s (170.123 km/h)
2. Ray Clee Suzuki GSX-R1000 7m 54.154s
3. Brian Bernard Suzuki GSX-R1000 7m 54.610s
4. Dennis Charlett Suzuki GSX-R1000 7m 56.509s
5. Chris Haldane Ducati 999 8m 00.502s
6. Jason McEwen Suzuki GSX-R1000 8m 08.734s
7. Jon Lowther Yamaha YZF-R1 8m 09.731s
8. Lance Lowe Suzuki GSX-R1000 8m 10.104s
9. John Fallwell Suzuki GSX-R1000 8m 13.148s
10. Brendon Marshall Suzuki GSX-R1000 8m 13.354s
11. Bruce Hansen Yamaha YZF-R1 8m 19.633s
12. John Hepburn Aprilia RSV1000 8m 19.844s
13. Sean Aitken Yamaha YZF-R1 8m 25.853s
14. Ronnie Dewys Aprilia RSV1000 8m 26.071s
15. Anthony Bradford Kawasaki ZX-9R 8m 29.38s
16. Daniel Ormsby Yamaha YZF-R1 8m 49.732s
17. Bernie Johnston Yamaha YZF-R1 1m 01.435s
18. Lisa Butterworth Suzuki GSX-R750 - 1 lap 7m 54.106
19. Gus van Oyen Suzuki GSX-R1000 - 1 lap 8m 16.215s
20. Ross McKeague Suzuki GSF1200 -1 lap 8m 16.819s

Fastest lap: Ray Clee (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 57.846 seconds, 174.256 km/h

Race Two (20 laps 56.0 km)
1. Ray Clee Suzuki GSX-R1000 19m 38.987s (170.994 km/h)
2. Andrew Stroud Suzuki GSX-R1000 19m 46.264s
3. Brian Bernard Suzuki GSX-R1000 19m 52.795s
4. Dennis Charlett Suzuki GSX-R1000 20m 04.120s
5. Chris Haldane Ducati 999 20m 15.173s
6. Jason McEwen Suzuki GSX-R1000 20m 15.173s
7. Lance Lowe Suzuki GSX-R1000 20m 26.359s
8. Brendon Marshall Suzuki GSX-R1000 20m 27.548s
9. Jon Lowther Yamaha YZF-R1 20m 27.729s
10. Bruce Hansen Yamaha YZF-R1 20m 28.090s
11. John Hepburn Aprilia RSV1000 - 1 lap 19m 45.008s
12. Sean Aitken Yamaha YZF-R1 - 1 lap 20m 08.690s
13. Michael Smith Yamaha YZF-R1 - 1 lap 20m 08.733s
14. Anthony Bradford Kawasaki ZX-9R - 2 laps 19m 39.055s
15. Vaughan Paterson Suzuki GSX-R750 - 2 laps 20m 01.560s
16. Bernie Johnston Yamaha YZF-R1 - 2 laps 20m 20.598s
17. Gus van Oyen Suzuki GSX-R1000 - 2 laps 20m 49.113s
18. Ross McKeague Suzuki GSF1200 -3 laps 19m 39.540s
19. Lisa Butterworth Suzuki GSX-R750 - 3 laps 19m 50.867s

Fastest lap: Ray Clee (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 57.954s – 173.931 km/h