Watch this space – Whanganui’s Richie Dibben is the real deal when it comes to racing motorcycles of any description.
Already an international star in the motorcycling code of super moto racing, the 30-year-old bike shop owner has now demonstrated his amazing adaptability by also racing a purpose-built road bike and he’s so far proven to be just as skilled on this totally different two-wheeled machine.
Dibben qualified fastest and scored back-to-back super moto wins on his lightly-modified Suzuki RM-Z450 dirt bike at the opening round of the 2019 Suzuki International Series at Taupo at the weekend and that perhaps came as a surprise to nobody.
But he was in scintillating form also on his Suzuki GSX-R600 road bike in the 600cc Formula Two (F2) class at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, just outside Taupo, on Saturday and Sunday.
This was the start of only his second season of racing in the F2 class, yet Dibben qualified fastest on Saturday and then won his first of two races, passing the chequered flag just ahead of fellow Suzuki GSX-R600 rider David Hall, of Te Awamutu.
Unfortunately for Dibben, he crashed while leading the weekend’s second F2 race the following day and this leaves him an undeserved eighth overall in the F2 standings after this opening round of three in the series.
"I’ll be in catch-up mode for the rest of the series in this class," lamented Dibben. "But I am happy with my form at the moment.
"I have been on the pace after having come back from racing in Australia and I’m feeling good on the GSX-R600. To come away with the win was even better.
Bit of a shame about Sunday. I lost the front end coming out of the hairpin. So it was a win and a zero for me.
"I raced two rounds of the Australian nationals and had two top-fives, so pretty happy with that. Coming back here having more knowledge of the bike was obviously good for me.
"Hopefully I can catch up with good results at Manfeild (this coming weekend) and the final round at Whanganui (on Boxing Day).
"The Suzuki RM-Z450 was running sweet in the super moto class. I won at Whanganui on this same bike last year, so it’s looking promising for a series win in this class."
It was also an encouraging start to the series for 27-year-old dairy farmer Hall.
"I broke the lap record at Taupo in race one on Saturday, but it was quite short and I didn’t have enough laps to catch and pass Richie (Dibben).
"Richie Dibben was really flying.
"I was running second in the second race on Sunday when Richie crashed. I was in the lead after that but the race was red-flagged (stopped). I was behind Rogan Chandler after the re-start but then the organisers stopped it again because of the rain. I’m happy with my form. It’s the best I’ve ever ridden."
Upper Hutt’s Chandler won the round thanks to consistency, his 3-1 scorecard in the two races giving him a one-point buffer over Hall with two rounds remaining.
In the Formula One (Superbike) class, visiting British rider Richard Cooper gave a glimpse of his potential to win the Suzuki International Series when he dramatically improved his results between day one and day two at Taupo.
Although making his debut on the Taupo track at the weekend, Cooper (Suzuki GSX-R1000) finished third in Saturday’s race, but then moved up to challenge for the lead, eventually finishing runner-up, in race two on Sunday.
He is positioned second overall, behind Whakatane’s double race winner Damon Rees, after round one, but obviously showed he is a very fast learner.
“I’ve had a good team around me with Sloan Frost and his Suzuki team,” said the modest Cooper.
“We’ve had some good track time here and I’ve learned a lot.
“I think I’ve proved I’m here for the fight.”
Dibben is supported by Barracks Sports Bar, Totalspan, Bernard Racing, Garmac Engineering, David Jones Motors, Roger Crowley Solicitors, Mike Paul Building Inspectors, BikesportNZ.com and Steel It.
Words and photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com