Kawasaki’s Horst Saiger Wins Suzuki Tri-Series in New Zealand
He was a long way from his home in Liechtenstein but his first visit to New Zealand proved very successful for Horst Saiger.
Horst used the Red Devils/Kawasaki New Zealand ZX-10R Superbike ridden by NZ’s Nick Cole to victory in the 2013 Tri Series.
Horst surprised everyone by getting on the pace quickly at the Hampton Downs circuit.
“The bike was good to go straight away. It felt very similar to the Kawasaki I raced in Europe this season,” said the easy-going 43-year-old German superbike champion.
Young Auckland rider Jaden Hassan qualified on pole for the Formula One-Superbike class, but Saiger quickly pushed that into the shade when he set a blistering new track record of one minute 03.213 seconds in the day’s first of two F1/Superbike races.
“I got a good start and won the first race”. (Finishing 14 seconds ahead of Taupo’s Scott Moir after Hassan had crashed out while battling with Saiger for the lead).
“But I lost some speed going through turn one in race two. I had a big ‘moment’ and was really lucky not to crash. So, after that, I switched on the bike’s traction control and caught up to (race leader) Jaden Hassan.
Saiger took the lead from Hassan when the 20-year-old Kiwi rising star made a small mistake and he never looked back from there, winning the second race ahead of Hassan by just a fraction over four seconds.
Round two was held at the Manfield circuit a week later and there were high expectations for Horst but the team struggled to find a good setup for the track surface.
A fifth place finish in race one but he came out fighting in race two and finished a close second.
“I am really happy with the Kawasaki ZX10-R and it’s just a pity we didn’t have a fresh tyre on it for the second race. My grip was bad over the last few laps. I was not prepared to take big risks and try to out-brake (the day’s eventual winner) Jaden Hassan on the last lap. It was not worth it.”
“It worked out okay in the end. I am leading the series even better than before and I set the weekend’s fastest time at Manfeild in the last race (1 minute 05.887 seconds), so the next time I come here I’ll have no excuses,” he laughed.
The final round was at the “famous” Cemetery Circuit in Wanganui on Boxing Day (December 26). This circuit is a street circuit and is challenging for first time riders.
A third place in race one extended Horst’s points lead in the series. An easy fifth placing in the second race gave Horst Saiger the Tri series title for 2014.
Horst Saiger says, "I counted before the second race that it's no problem if I get eighth I still win the championship, so I cruised this race and I saved everything for the Robert Holden Memorial race. But I had a very bad start in the Robert Holden by making a wheelie and I went back to eighth position or something, and then I pushed a little bit. I did a 49.1 second lap, which is just one hundredth of a second off the lap record (held by Andrew Stroud), but I was on the limit and I couldn't do that for many laps.
"My first time here in NZ, I started great then I had some little problems because at Manfeild and here at Wanganui you need to know where all the bumps are so you can go fast. If I can come back again this will be a big advantage for next time!