The signs are looking ominous for rivals of Whanganui motorcycle star Richie Dibben in this year's national championship series.
With two out of five rounds now in the record books, the Suzuki star has won five races from six starts in his Supersport 600 class and now has more than two races up his sleeve with just nine races to go, three races at each of the remaining three rounds.
The 30-year-old Whanganui bike shop owner was simply untouchable at the opening round of this season's New Zealand Superbike Championships in Christchurch, just over a week ago, and he was similarly impressive at round two near Timaru at the weekend, ballooning his championship lead out to a massive 54 points over his nearest rival, Palmerston North-based former Greymouth rider Ashton Hughes.
Dibben was sensational in every outing in the Supersport 600 class at Christchurch, the virtual newcomer to the competition qualifying fastest and then winning all three 600cc races over that weekend.
And the Suzuki hero kept the momentum going at round two at Levels International Raceway, near Timaru, on Saturday and Sunday, registering a 1-1-2 score-card in his three races.
"I'm happy with my results and thrilled to be able to extend my points lead in the championship chase," said Dibben afterwards.
"I was close behind Dale (Finch, from Christchurch) in the last race of the weekend, but I was running out of rubber. After he had crashed a couple of times already in the series, I knew I need not worry too much about him beating me here.
"We now head to the North Island tracks for the rest of the series and I'll be much more comfortable there because I'm more familiar with them.
"The season has been quite amazing so far. I sort of knew I'd be on the pace but I didn't really know what to expect this year.
"I have simply raced smart and done what I've needed to do to get points."
There is a short break in the competition now and the series resumes with round three at Hampton Downs on March 7-8 and then the nationals continue on at Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, on March 28-29, before wrapping up at Taupo on April 4-5.
"I missed the Hampton Downs event last year, but believe I should be able to pick it up there okay," said Dibben.
Meanwhile, in the 1000cc Superbike class, Whakatane's Damon Rees leads the championships chase, although he now abandons the series as he heads to races overseas, just as visiting Australian Suzuki star Lachlan Epis is making his move towards the top.
Epis finished overall runner-up to Rees at Timaru at the weekend and he is now up to third in the series standings, just 13 points behind Christchurch's Alastair Hoogenboezem.
Other class leaders after the weekend's second round of the national series at Timaru are Whangarei's Jason Hearn (Supersport 300, provisional); Whangaparoa's Nathan Jane (650 Pro Twins); Taupo's Andy Scrivener and Tina McKeown (Sidecars); Invercargill's Cormac Buchanan (Supersport 150) and Nelson's Tyrone Kuipers (GIXXER Cup 150).
2020 NZ Superbike Championships calendar:
Round 1 – January 11-12, Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch;
Round 2 – January 18-19, Levels International Raceway, Timaru;
Round 3 – March 7-8, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, North Waikato, Mike Pero MotoFest;
Round 4 – March 28-29, Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild, Feilding;
Round 5 – April 4-5, Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com