Team Suzuki's reigning Formula One Tri Series Champion Andrew Stroud raced to victory in Saturday's opening round at Hampton Downs in New Zealand.
The 44 year old from Waikato qualified his Brother Suzuki GSX-R1000 fastest on a damp track and then finished 2-1 in his two F1 class outings, giving him a solid lead in the series with round two set for Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, next weekend.
Stroud fluffed the start in race one and, although he quickly made up a lot of lost ground, he eventually had to settle for second, beaten to the flag by Wellington's Sloan Frost (BMW), with Christchurch's Dennis Charlett (Suzuki) finishing behind him in third.
Disaster struck for Frost in the next F1 race as he crashed out just three laps into the 12-lapper. With rising star Frost taken away for medical analysis and unable to re-start, it allowed Stroud to lead a Suzuki 1-2-3-4-5 in the next F1 race. He was followed across the line by Charlett, Feilding's Craig Shirriffs, New Plymouth's Hayden Fitzgerald and Auckland's Ray Clee.
With his 2-1 results, nine-time former National Superbike Champion Stroud packed up and left Hampton Downs with a six-point series lead over 2012 National 600 Supersport Champion Charlett - now on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 - with Shirriffs, Fitzgerald and Clee rounding out the top five.
Said Stroud: "Sloan Frost was riding really well, but I managed to catch up and hang on to him in race one. In the next race I was quite comfortable behind Sloan and was in the best spot to see him crash. I think he hit a bump at the end of the main straight and it unloaded his suspension and spat him off. It looked really nasty from my view directly behind him, but I'm just glad he was able to get up and walk himself to the ambulance.
"Dennis Charlett and Craig Shirriffs were giving me a hurry-up in the re-started race. They were both stronger than me on some parts of the track and it's definitely a relief to be leaving here today with the points lead," he added.
Charlett was thrilled with his first outing of the season on the GSX-R1000. He said: "This is absolutely phenomenal for me. Racing the GSX-R1000 is a huge learning experience and to be right up there with Stroud and Shirriffs today was pretty amazing. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the experience," said the 44-year-old Canterbury.
Other class winners were Auckland's Jaden Hassan (Formula Two), Taupo's Scott Moir (Formula Three), Wanganui's Richard Dibben (Super Motard), Auckland's Travis Moan (BEARS) and Palmerston North's Glen Williams (Post Classics).