May 11th, 2023

by Andy McGechan

Sam Willacy, Cemetery Circuit 2022

New Zealand’s most popular motorcycle road-race series has become a global phenomenon since its inception back in 2008 and the pre-Christmas competition looks set to go big again in 2023.

With the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across the sporting world these past few years, the news this week that Suzuki New Zealand would ensure its three-round Suzuki International Series would light up the tarmac again this summer has been greeted with yelps of delight from the motor-racing community.

The series has already become such an iconic competition that the governing body for the sport in this part of the world, Motorcycling New Zealand, for the first time last year decided it would make perfect sense to include the first two rounds of the Suzuki International Series – excluding the unique stand-alone Cemetery Circuit Street racing component on Boxing Day – as an integral part of its national superbike championship series.

This year’s Suzuki International Series will be the 15th annual running after it skipped a beat and did not go ahead in 2021 due to the pandemic.

“It’s fantastic to have this continued support from Suzuki New Zealand,” said series organiser Alan ‘Flea’ Willacy.

The revs are already building for the start of the 2023 edition of the Suzuki International Series and international stars may again grace the series programme too.

Top world class riders from the United Kingdom who have turned out for the series in past years include British superbike and Isle of Man TT heroes Guy Martin, Maria Costello, Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman and Richard Cooper, as well as notable and flamboyant Liechtenstein rider Horst Saiger, Australia’s Dan Stauffer, Swiss rider Roman Stamm and Germany’s Thomas Kreutz, to name a few.

The 2023 series will kick off at Taupo on Sunday, December 2-3, then heads to Manfeild a week later, on Sunday, December 9-10, and finally wraps up on the public streets of Whanganui’s renowned Cemetery Circuit on Boxing Day.

The iconic street race event in Whanganui on December 26 will again serve as the spectacular finale and this year it will again be celebrated as the Southern Hemisphere’s premier “round the houses” race meeting.

“Naturally it is great news that Suzuki New Zealand have signed up for another year,” said Willacy.

“The support we have had from Suzuki over the years has been tremendous and this is a competition that has grown in leaps and bounds since its inaugural running in December 2008.

“Suzuki also provide us with a pace car to use on the purpose-built race circuits and around the Whanganui street circuit too and, such is their generosity, this is available for us to use all year round too as we vigorously promote the series.

“The fact that MotoGP world championship racing is screened on TV3 can also be credited to Suzuki New Zealand. I don’t think a lot of people realise the lengths that Suzuki goes to in their support of motorcycling in New Zealand. There will also be three episodes produced to cover the 2023 Suzuki International Series, a popular component of the regular CRC Motorsport Show on television.”

Suzuki New Zealand’s general manager of Motorcycle/ATV/Marine, Simon Meade, said he was thrilled to continue to stand right behind the series.

“We are happy to provide a platform for motorcycle racing of the highest order.

“The various bike classes that are offered by this series cater for all motorcycle owners out there and we know this leads to the high participation numbers that we see in the Suzuki International Series each year. That’s what we’re all about, offering something for everyone.”

CAPTION: Whanganui’s Sam Willacy (Suzuki), chasing valuable points around the streets of his home town during the Cemetery Circuit racing on Boxing Day 2022.

Credit: Words and photo by Andy McGechan,