It is a long way from Frankfurt in Germany to New Zealand's Hampton Downs race circuit in the Waikato.
But Frankfurt man Thomas Kreutz is pleased that he endured the more than 24-hours of flying to race at the opening round of the International Tri Series just north of Huntly on Saturday.
The 34-year-old German supersport champion was impressive on his first visit to the north Waikato track, running with the leaders until an uncharacteristic crash saw him drop back to finish 16th in the first of two 30-rider Formula Two races on Saturday - his best lap time in that race actually registering him as the second quickest rider.
He then took his borrowed six-year-old Yamaha R6 to fourth in the next race to end the day eighth overall in the F2 class, a category that was eventually won by fellow Yamaha man Jaden Hassan, of Auckland, who bagged both wins.
"The bike is an 'old lady' and I have to stroke her a bit and not be too hard on her, but it's actually faster than the stock bikes I have been racing back home," said Kreutz.
With Kiwi racing legend Dave Cole handling the mechanical duties, Kreutz said he was delighted with the ex-Sam Smith bike and was looking forward to the next races in the series.
"When I arrived the bike was all decorated with a German flag graphic and everything. I felt like a rock star, like I was Valentino Rossi or something. The crew here have been fantastic."
He makes his debut appearance at Manfeild, on the outskirts of Feilding, for round two of the series this Sunday and then races the final round on the public streets of Wanganui, tackling the famous Cemetery Circuit, on Boxing Day.
Kreutz has a fine pedigree for street racing, having won a similar street race in Germany on 14 occasions and this perhaps elevates him to rate as one of the favourites to win the F2 class on Boxing Day.
"I looked up the Wanganui Cemetery Circuit on YouTube and so I've seen what it's all about. I'm looking forward to it.
"My decision to come to New Zealand was very sudden. I have an English friend who came to live in New Zealand a few years ago. He persuaded me to come over. Things just grew from there.
"I'm surprised at how fast the New Zealand riders are. I thought I'd do better than I did at Hampton Downs.
"But it's my first time in New Zealand but I am loving it."
Let's hope the Wanganui public take him into their heart on Boxing Day and give him the vocal support he deserves.
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