Jason's the One:

Posted: Wed 24 Dec 2003

Prepared by - Ray Whitham:

McEwen the One to Beat:

Palmerston North\'s Jason McEwen (Suzuki) might well be hoping that the old show-business adage that a poor rehearsal means it will be alright on the night might also apply to motorcycle racing when he lines up once again for the Cemetery Circuit races at Wanganui on Boxing Day.

After frustrating machine problems kept him off the podium at Pukekohe two weeks ago, McEwen will be keen to get quickly on the pace at Wanganui where a win in the premiere class this year will make him the most winning-est rider in the 51 year history of the Cemetery Circuit. But it won\'t be easy.

Brian Bernard (Suzuki) of Wanganui, pole-setter at Pukekohe, is chasing the local honour of being only the third rider from Wanganui to win the feature class. Former NZ 125cc champion and a debut winner at Paeroa two years ago, Dennis Charlett of Palmerston North, will be a huge challenge to both, as will former winner Chris Haldane (Ducati).

Honda\'s Shaun Harris of New Plymouth, this years Road Racer of the Year and double Isle of Man TT winner, will start favourite in the Formula Streets class. But that\'s where it ends. Craig Shirriffs, Palmerston North, the defending NZ 600cc Sports Production champion was a winner last year at Wanganui. Another contender is Jared Love, Hamilton, in serious come-back mode this year on his Suzuki. And then there\'s the youngsters, Karl Morgan (Auckland) and Hayden Fitzgerald (New Plymouth).

Perennial crowd-favourites, the sidecars, feature a strong field with former winners, brothers Chris and Ritchie Lawrance racing their 600cc Isle of Man spec machine. It was very quick at Pukekohe and around the tight Cemetery Circuit it could be a winner.

Two Australian visitors, Mike Casey (Ducati) entered in Formula Streets and Super Motarder Peter Brown (Husaberg) add an international flavour to the meeting.

Wanganui is Round One of the 2003/04 Battle of the Streets series and the 17-race programme will also feature races for BEARS, Classic and Post Classic classes as well as the popular Super Motard\'s.

In an innovative change the feature Robert Holden Memorial race will be run in 3 x 5 lap successive legs and will be restricted to the 15 fastest bikes.

Scrutineering is on Xmas Day, practice starts at 8/30am and the Parade of Riders is set to go at 11/15am. The parade this year will be headed by a specially-honoured rider invited by the Wanganui Motorcycle Club to complete the \"Legend Lap of Honour\", while yet another rider will be granted the \"Freedom of the Cemetery Circuit\". No names yet.

Racing starts at 11/30am and the on-track commentary will be carried on FM 100.6.
The forecast is for clearing weather.