Christchurch Superbike debutante Dennis Charlett had one eye on his rev counter and one on his nearest rival going into the final leg of the 2012 Suzuki Tri-Series on the Cemetery Circuit in Wanganui yesterday.
Charlett came out on top to claim his first ever Tri-Series of any class, on his first attempt on the tight Wanganui street circuit and in his first ever time competing in the Superbike category riding his GSXR1000 Suzuki.
The 44-year-old came into the final leg in Wanganui after inheriting the series points lead from defending champion Andrew Stroud who crashed and broke his collarbone during the second round at Manfeild two weeks ago.
Hard on Charlett's heels was Valvoline BMW S1000RR racer Sloan Frost who made up for a nasty crash in the first round at Hampton Downs by winning both Formula One legs, but that still wasn't quite enough to put him ahead of Charlett after the pair both placed third at Manfeild.
The major winner at Wanganui in all three races of the F1 class was Nick Cole, but he was not in the Tri-Series hunt after engine problems in the first round. Charlett and Frost, however, battled each other in the minor placings and went into the last series race of the day with Charlett needing to finish immediately behind, or in front, of Frost. He could not have another ride separate them if he was to finish behind Frost.
"I kept an eye on Sloan from the second race onwards and just made sure I was right on his wheel. If someone got between us I passed them," Charlett said.
"In the last race I found it quite easy to keep up with him and I even pushed him a few times showing him my wheel on several occasions. Sloan was racing quite aggressively, but I was able to keep on his wheel and win the series.
"This is my first ever Tri-series win in any class and my first ever time on the Cemetery Circuit. In fact, it's also my first time competing on Superbikes."
Intermittent showers during the day had riders guessing whether to swap to wet weather tyres or stay with the slicks. Charlett said his team decided to stay with slicks counting on the rain to clear and the track to dry in the searing Boxing Day heat.
"That was a decision made by wife and race team. All I had to worry about was riding and much of the success is down to my Underground Brown Suzuki team working hard with Robert Taylor and our Ohlins suspension set up. I'm a very light rider, so it was quite difficult for them to get the settings right initially," Charlett said.