I didn’t realise how much was involved in road racing until I was offered a ride in the SSP300 class this year. It’s not just getting on the bike and riding, I now have to watch what I eat and do regular training on my pushbike as well as other exercises to make sure I am fit enough to finish each race. But I am loving it.
Round 1 of the ASBK, as support class for WSBK Phillip Island, was amazing and I couldn’t have ever hoped for the results I achieved. With mixed conditions on the first two days I managed to keep my times fairly close to the top of the board while trying not to do anything silly to hurt myself.
During qualifying, everyone was questioning whether to go out on wet or dry tyres. We took the risk with dry tyres (along with most of the others) and it paid off. Much to my surprise when I came into pit lane, I had pole position, which I am really proud of because there are so many really good riders out there.
Jed Metcher and Darren Sciberras from Race Center had the bike set up fantastically for me and I felt really comfortable riding
it, especially considering this was only the second time I have raced at Phillip Island.
Qualifying for the R3 Cup was not quite as successful, running off at Turn 12 on my first flying lap, but I managed to regain some confidence and finish with a second-row starting spot of fifth, which I was still really happy with.
My favourite sections of the Phillip Island track are Turns 2 and 4, where I feel like I can take advantage of having high corner speed.
The racing in both classes was full on. Having never experienced running with the front pack, it was a real eye-opener… shoulder to shoulder through Turn 1, sometimes five wide. In all the races there were at least six or seven really experienced riders fighting for the win. I was lucky enough to be there with them and I scored two podium finishes in the SSP300 class and then sixth in the last race, to give me fourth overall for the weekend.
After the first race in the wet I was really upset with myself because I knew I had made the wrong tyre choice. It taught me how important these decisions are, though, and how my style can affect the choice.
In the R3 Cup I finished eighth in the first race after going out on wets because it had been raining before the race, and I just ran out of tyres before the finish. I finished fourth in the other two races, which means I managed to finish fifth overall for the weekend, so I am really happy with my results.
I am really looking forward to the second round at Wakefield Park, but it’s a completely different track so I will have to learn from the fast guys and try to stay with them.
As I write this we are right in the middle of testing and, even though it has been cold, everything is just clicking and I’ve been able to go under the lap record already, which feels amazing.
I feel like the preparation leading up to this year has been just right, giving me a lot of confidence to push harder. Stephanie Redman at California Superbike School has been a fantastic mentor, but she doesn’t take it easy on me. Every time I go to one of their schools I feel like I learn something new.
Thanks to my sponsors Excite Motorsport (from Penrith), Race Center, Acid Racing Australia and Hi Tec Oils for helping me get here.
As appeared in AMCN Mag Vol 67 No 21