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Racer of the week- JACK GALLAGHER | Columns | Gassit Garage

I ended up hanging off the left hand side of the bike with a handful of throttle heading straight towards a fence

My dad took me to the Island Classic one year and the rest is history! Wandering through the pits I sat on a racebike and was instantly hooked. Since that day l have basically ate, slept and breathed motorcycles. I attended a come-and-try day at Broadford using one of Chas Hern’s 250s, and following that we bought a 250 proddy to attended the junior development days at Broadford. I also completed all four levels of the California Superbike School at Phillip Island and Eastern Creek. So within a short time had l become very involved in road racing.

Before too long I was heading to Mac Park at Mount Gambier to try my hand at racing competitively. It was the Pirelli Road Race Series and I was on the grid surrounded by adrenaline junkies on all sorts of different bikes. There must have been five different classes in that race and I’ll never forget the feeling of absolute exhilaration that stayed with me as we drove home from that race meeting. I raced in five events, didn’t crash, and managed to get on the podium too. It was also a great chance to meet lots of like-minded people with an obsession for motorcycles.

Fast-forward 12 months to 2014 and I was off to Queensland to compete in the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) round at Willowbank with a couple of mates. By that stage I’d had lots of coaching from some of the best in the business and also done a fair bit of club level racing and had a go at dirt track with the good people from the Harley Club of Victoria. I managed to get on the podium at the ASBK round and life was good – we had a few sponsors, a shed full of bikes, a full agenda and the trophy cabinet was slowly filling up. I was asked ride a 250 at the Vic titles for JLT Insurance Brokers at the end of 2014. It was a great meeting and I pushed the bike and myself as hard as I could to finish second by a bike length.

Come 2015, I decided it was going to be my year. I had brand new Ninja 300, loads of support and a thirst to be at the pointy end of the competition. The first round of the Pirelli Series at Broadford was going great for me and by the second race I actually beat one of my coaches, Mark Ferrari, which was a great achievement as Mark is no slouch. In the third race I managed to get the holeshot but things went pear shaped on the exit of turn one as I made contact with another rider. This threw me off and I ended up hanging off the left hand side of the bike with a handful of throttle heading straight towards a fence. Unfortunately, after hitting the fence, I was thrown into a tree and sustained multiple serious injuries. This scored me a helicopter ride to the intensive care unit at the Alfred hospital where I would spend the next two weeks. Apart from going through a few tough times in hospital it was then that I discovered the true heart of the race community and wow, what a big heart it is!

I was absolutely inundated with support, which was a great help and gave me the inspiration to work hard on my rehab and get myself back to the racetrack. Not once did I consider the option of not racing again. When my dad said to me, “We can give up racing and go and see the world,” I replied: “Yes. But we would only go to watch motorcycle racing.”

About five months after I received medical clearance I was back on the bike. We did a trials day near Heathcoate and, with the help of Race Center in Brunswick, I was back at Broadford racing at an Interclub round where I made a clean sweep by winning all three races. I was back where I wanted to be, and all was good with the world again.

Now it’s 2016 and I have just begun development on my Yamaha R6. JLT Insurance Brokers has jumped on board and are sponsoring me for the next two years. The future looks bright and I’m aiming to jump into the Supersport class later in the year and once again looking forward to getting to the pointy end.

by JACK GALLAGHER

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