|BRITTEN COMPETES IN NZRRS|
The NZ Road Race Series consists of five rounds, two races in each. The first round at Teretonga, Invercargill had an extra air of caution as the rider Andrew Stroud and his wife Karen were expecting their first child. This was less apparent as the helmet went on and the race face was being worn. The local PPG Re-seller, Lionel Mason, made a huge day of it with a classic southern Beer & BBQ Bonanza on the deck of a Mainfreight curtain-sider, and we joined in the celebrations after the racing with two wins from two starts.
Within the week baby Jacob Stroud was born and Andrew reluctantly left his wife at the hospital to ride at Levels Raceway, Timaru - much to the delight of the strong Timaru crowd. Again he showed the field a clean set of heels taking out both Superbike races convincingly.
The following weekend was the third round, consistently the hardest fought as it carries the NZ Grand Prix Title. With the full Britten Team hosting guests and supporters in the Driving School building on the main straight and the intense local support it had to be the meeting of the series. The scene was set for a great days racing with high media interest. Andrew was in great form, new born in one arm , helmet in the other, a camera constantly in his face - all seemed to have little effect once on the track.
The first race was hard fought between Andrew and Tony Rees. However after Rees had left the track in a spectacular fashion, Andrew proceeded to run away with the race. The second race, and the one that mattered - The NZ Grand Prix - was a different story. Andrew was taking no chances and ran away with it from the starting grid.s
This is where our good fortune ended. Once leaving the sanctity of the South Island for the hostile shores of the North things came majorly unstuck with an accident on Saturday in practice at Pukekohe - eye witness accounts suggesting that the bike had stepped out from the rear. The result was a refinishers nightmare, but without fully understanding the cause of the accident, and Andrew in hospital with a dislocated shoulder, the decision was made not to race the next day. A rapid retreat was made to the factory in Christchurch to effect repairs and investigate the cause.
After a week without sleep and round 5 at Manfield looming, the van seemed to find its own way onto the ferry. This desperate attempt to make the meeting would end in a strange parallel of the previous meeting where in the second practice on the Saturday Andrew again came to grief. Back in hospital with the same shoulder dislocated and the team no wiser as to the cause, the bike, splendid in its new livery of gold and silver was placed on display with its good side showing. The public interest, although dissappointed not to see the bike race was extremely high. Andrew, out of hospital the next day and needing 8 point to clinch the series, rode a sports production bike in the first superbike race of the day, netting the 8 points required and securing the NZ Superbike Title for 1998.
It could be said that this was the year we really put our paint finishers to the test. In every sense this was a PPG victory. The good news is we have located and rectified the cause of both incidents. Extensive testing has been done by the new owner, Gary Turner and his Dutch rider Lex Van Dijk in preparation for Daytona on March 1st and 2nd, 1999.