Tauranga man breaks landspeed record

Tauranga's Scott Wilkins takes the Kawasaki Ninja H2R to over 360 km/h. Photos: Steve Knowles.

Tauranga's Scott Wilkins has etched his name into the history books recently, taking his Kawasaki Ninja H2R to a national record-breaking speed of 364.5km/h one way.

Wilkins, who has five years landspeed experience behind him, and his team poured countless hours into perfecting the Kawasaki's setup for the Landspeed New Zealand Association-hosted 2022 Timed Speed Event in the Central Plateau on March 6.

Attendees were 'seeing green' with three of the top five motorcycle positions held by Kawasakis.

The fastest speed, set by Wilkins on a H2R, was 364.5km/h one way, with 358.4km/h his two-way average.

Not only did the time eclipse the motorcycle record, it broke all New Zealand records for wheel-driven vehicles.

Riding a turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa, Patrick Nussbaum briefly held the New Zealand Motorcycle Landspeed record by clocking an average two-way speed of 348.35km/h earlier in the day.

Mosgiel's Cole Scammel rounded out the podium aboard his turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa, with John Seccombe in fourth, battling with a slipping clutch aboard his Kawasaki Ninja H2R.

Seasoned campaigner Walter Rands-Trevor piloted the first of the naturally aspirated motorcycles. He is no stranger to landspeed having competed on the United States' Bonneville Salt Flats. Rands-Trevor managed to increase his Naturally Aspirated 1050cc NZ Motorcycle record by 1.55km/h on the day. T

his was just enough to log a two-way average speed of 323.35km/h and break the coveted 200mph barrier.

The road to the top hasn’t been easy for Wilkins and his team, who started their landspeed objective in 2017, with each event since then another step closer to the ultimate goal.

Knowing that minor tweaks to aerodynamics, ECU settings, tyres and bike setup can have major consequences at high-speed, getting as little as 10km/h extra while travelling upward of 330kph is a mammoth task.

The years of knowledge within the team proved indispensable on this journey to Wilkin's record-breaking run.

Brett Roberts' expertise interpreting data and tuning the bike, both in the pre-race prep and his on the day adjustments were invaluable.

As the day wore on, richer mapping was necessary to get the most from the motorcycle – ensuring the possibility for man and machine to make New Zealand history.

Wilkins' father and former Kawasaki New Zealand Owner Auckland's Mike Wilkins, along with his wife Pam, were ecstatic to see the record fall.

They purchased the bike in 2016 when Mike retired from his role as Managing Director of Kawasaki NZ.

The 'for closed-course only' Kawasaki Ninja H2R is a different beast when compared to the road-legal Ninja H2 and H2 Carbon models, featuring a factory-claimed output calculation of 326hp.

With Roberts' help, Wilkins' team was able to push this phenomenal number even higher to over 350hp at the crank.

This equated to 303hp at the wheel in dyno conditions - an achievement in itself with only 998cc of displacement to play with.

There has been a phenomenal progression path for this Kawasaki weapon, as it went from a stock standard H2R in 2017, with 267hp at the rear wheel achieving 330.5 kph at the Cliffhanger speed trials in Masterton, to the highly tuned and modified H2R with 350hp at the engine and 303hp at the rear wheel, achieving 364.5 kph in 2022 on Goudies Road, Reporoa.

Team owner and manager Mike Wilkins says the key factors to achieving this goal are two-fold.

"One; we needed a machine that had the engineering strength to absorb the power increase we gave it. For that we thank Kawasaki. And number two, we needed a rider who has the courage and skills to ride the bike at that speed on a five-metre-wide country road - who else but my son Scott. I am so proud of him.”

Now that Scott and his family’s goal has been realised, he plans on hanging up his boots within the Landspeed discipline.

However, Scott has his fingers in many pies and is a major driving force in the motorcycling fraternity, particularly within the NZ Flat Track scene, so he is bound to pop back up wherever two wheels are involved.

The Timed Speed Event was started in 2015 by John Seccombe and a small group of speed enthusiasts.

The maximum limit of 40 cars and bikes registered for the Reporoa-based event on Sunday, with competitors travelling from as far as Dunedin and Kerikeri to take part in the action.

Scott Wilkins and his New Zealand Motorcycle Landspeed record-breaking Kawasaki Ninja H2R.

Across the Tag Heuer-certified ¼ mile timed section, set in the centre of a 6km stretch of Goudies Road, the conditions were virtually perfect. Cloud cover and minimal wind set the ideal stage for records to be broken.

With the event limited by Covid-19 restrictions and no spectators permitted, the comradery between competitors and supporters was electric.

Cooperation and unity were common themes of the day, with racers bouncing advice off each-other to achieve their best times.

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