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Revolving racer – Ted Collins | Columns | Gassit Garage

Ted Collins: I’ve ended my first season in the premier class of Australian road racing as Rookie of the Year. What a roller-coaster rider it was. We started the ASBK season off at Phillip Island qualifying in 23rd place and turned it all around by finishing the last race of the season back at Phillip Island in fourth place!

I have to give huge thanks to the NextGen Motorsports team for sticking by me through the low points this year and also helping me celebrate the achievements!  Stepping up to the Superbike class was definitely a lot more challenging than I had expected, but all the hard work was well worth it to finish inside the top five at the final round.

I still have a lot to improve on in myself to make the next step forward. So now racing is over, I can take time to get stronger and fitter to race the Superbike, and we will see what opportunities next year will bring.

I’ve raced with NextGen Motorsports for three years and my first race on a Superbike was the result of a joke between me and team owner Wayne Hepburn. He said if I wrapped up the Supersport title one round early he’d let me race the BMW Superbike at the final round.

I qualified on Row Six and finished 14th and 16th in the two races. Going in season 2018 I was confident of regular top-10 results but I soon realised my expectations were too high.

The move from Moto3 to 600 Supersport was nowhere near as hard as the step up to Superbikes. So the first four rounds were a struggle, to be honest.

For example, I was really looking forward to Wakefield Park, because I preferred the tighter tracks on the Supersport Suzuki GSX-R600. But it’s a whole different world on a 200hp BMW!

Fortunately, having been with the NextGen team for so long was a huge help. Their technicians knew and told me what I needed to be more competitive. I just had to learn to listen and take it all on board.

The key was not to be angry with myself for not progressing forward like I had expected to and to focus on the little points that all add up to a major improvement. That came in the second half of the season with big steps forward at Morgan Park, then Winton and finally Phillip Island.

I now understood how to get the massive amount of Superbike power to the ground and had even changed my training regime to help me adapt to the different riding style required. Previously in Supersport, mid-corner speed had been my winning edge, not braking or acceleration. That all had to change for Superbikes but it was never going to be an overnight turnaround.

Everyone knows how competitive ASBK has become this season and it was a great feeling to finish fourth overall at the Phillip Island finale. I qualified on the third row in ninth place, which was awesome. Then I backed that up with seventh and fourth places in the two races.

The ASBK top 10 is packed with riding talent and not just from the major manufacturers, but the privateers as well. So to finish the season 11th overall is amazing, and not far off what my initially unrealistic pre-season expectations had been.

Once again I’d like to thank the whole team, especially Wayne Hepburn, Nathan Webb and Shane Kinderis for giving me this massive opportunity to make the huge step into the Superbike class. They went above and beyond with their efforts to give me a competitive package. And also to my Dad, John, who used to be a racer himself, my family and all the supporters of me and the team!

When I began racing roadbikes in the 150 Junior class in 2012, I dreamed of one day racing a Superbike in ASBK. This year my dream came true.