Meet the Australian contenders who will ride in the 125cc Grand Prix at Phillip Island this weekend.
This weekend’s Iveco Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix will mark a massive occasion for some of Australia’s brightest up and coming talents, with the four Motorcycling Australia-selected wildcard riders set to put their best feet forward on the world stage.
For Josh Hook, Jordan Zamora, Levi Day and Nicky Diles, competing in a world championship event is as a dream come true, the four earning their way to the international ranks via very different strategies and backgrounds.
Motorcycling Australia recently profiled the four MA wildcard riders in the lead-up to this weekend’s event, again showcasing their commitment to nurturing young Aussie talent on the world stage.
Aussie rock band Jet wrote a song called, Seventeen.
The chorus begins, “seventeen don’t mean a thing.” Obviously they haven’t come across teenage road racing sensation Joshua Hook while on tour.
Which is surprising, seeing the 17-year-old has been doing about as much travelling as a rock band as part of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup.
After spending much of the past two years racing away from our shores, Hook returns home for what will be his moment in the sun, a wildcard entry in the Moto125 class for the 2010 Iveco Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Looking forward to the prospect of racing at the famous Island circuit, Hook said despite his two years in the Rookie Cup the prospect of racing in front of a home crowd will be the ultimate thrill.
“Riding in the Rookie Cup you’re racing in front of big crowds during MotoGP events so you get pretty used to it, but at Phillip Island it’s going to be different,” he said.
“It’s good being an Aussie with all the other Aussies in the crowd.”
The Taree-native has seen more of the world than most 17-year-old’s and has come to realise the importance looking after his body.
Preparation and recovery have become major aspects of Hook’s life off the bike, as he battles the difficulties associated with regular long-haul flights.
The importance of body management and sleep has become paramount.
“Sometimes you don’t get the chance to do all the things you would like to do before a race, but we like to try and get in early so my body can adjust to the time zone and I’m not tired or feeling flat before a race,” he said.
“I make sure I’m eating the right food and drinking plenty of fluids before and after the races.”
Competing with some of the world’s most promising riders for the past two years has given Hook and hunger and desire to succeed, especially after seeing several of his former Rookie Cup rivals make the jump to MotoGP
A points finish at Phillip Island is a goal Hook is desperate to achieve.
“You can compare lap times and splits with the 125s and I would be about around 20th position,” he said.
“If I have a good weekend I’m looking at the top 16; I want to get some points.
“I look at some of the riders who were in the Rookie Cup and are racing in the world championship now I think I’m just as good as them and can race at that level.”
Turning 18 next year, Hook will be faced with a difficult decision over the coming months over what competition he will be riding in come 2011.
“The next step up would have to be MotoGP,” he said.
“We’ll have to look at sponsorship if we won’t to race in the world championship or Spanish championship.
“At the end of the year we’ll have to sit down and look at what we want to do next.”
Young Hook can be sure we all will be waiting to see what the promising youngster can produce over the coming years.
Life is about taking your chances, and it’s often in times of adversity we realise how important it is to take these chances.
This adversity makes us hungry, more determined and driven to grasp opportunity.
Ask Levi Day about his past six months and you will understand why he is ready to take on the world as a Moto 125 wildcard at the 2010 Iveco Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix next weekend.
Making his MotoGP debut at Phillip Island last year, Day was predicting a big 2010, with a series win in the Australian 125GP Championship the 21-year-old’s major goal.
A stunning start to season saw Day finish second at Hidden Valley, but this would be his only round for the season as tragedy struck.
“We started 2010 really well, but then I broke my scaphoid while practicing and it meant three months in plaster and five months off work,” he said.
The scaphoid bone is situated between the hand and the forearm, and is notoriously slow to heal.
This was a dark time for Day, who had set some lofty goals after making his wildcard debut at last year’s MotoGP, where he finished a respectable 28th.
“It was my first broken bone and it turned out to be a pretty bad bone to break,” he said. “It was pretty tough when you can’t do any training on the bike, but with setbacks you never let them get you down.”
The time off his bike was just the remedy to refocus the South Australian, who has set his sights making the most of his second wildcard opportunity.
“All I wanted to do was train much harder when I came back,” he said. “An opportunity like MotoGP doesn’t come around every day, so you have to give it everything.”
His maiden 125GP bow at Phillip Island in 2009 was a tough initiation into the world of Grand Prix racing, with a crash in practice a less than ideal welcome gift.
“I got taken out in practice and that meant I had to race on my spare bike,” he said. “I finished 28th, which I was happy with, but I’ll be gunning for a better result this time around.”
The experience of racing at Phillip Island in front of a huge home crowd will work in the favour of Day, with many of the other Moto125 wildcards set to experience their first taste of international racing.
Day feels he can draw on his 2009 ride to become a more potent force come next weekend.
“I’m little bit more organised this time around, but still a bit nervous,” he said. “With the crowds you don’t notice them as much when you’re out there racing, so it really doesn’t put you off.
“You’ve just got to stay focused, think about the race and focus on your race lines and strategy.”
It is this steely determination that has Day out to make the famed Phillip Island circuit his own next weekend.
At just the tender age of 17, Jordan Zamora is less than a fortnight way from the biggest weekend of his short, but promising road racing career.
The Queenslander has the chance to thrust himself on to the international stage as a wildcard entrant in the 125 class for the 2010 Iveco Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
With a mixture of nerves and excitement coursing through his talented veins, Zamora said the prospect of racing at the nation’s premier motorcycle circuit during the biggest weekend of the year had seen the early onset of pre-race jitters.
“I’ve already got the pre-race jitters and I’ve been having a couple of sleepless nights just thinking about it,” he said.
“I’m really excited and just can’t wait for the weekend to come around so I can get out there are start racing.”
The 2010 Australian 125cc Championship has seen Zamora announce himself on the national stage, winning rounds at Hidden Valley and Queensland Raceway to start off the season.
Going on to finish second in the series, the Eurotwins Brisbane rider said the developing relationship between himself and mechanics Bevon Coleman and Scot Rinaldis has been pivotal to his successful championship campaign.
“We tried a couple of rounds (of the Australian 125cc Championship) last year, but we didn’t have the equipment or setup to compete,” he said.
“Now we have a great setup and everything works well, which is down to the great work of my mechanics.
“The relationship I have with my mechanics has been amazing. They get the bike perfect for racing every time, which has been brilliant for me.”
Starting out his road racing career at the tender age of 14, Zamora was destined to be a bike rider from a young age, with father, Carlos an avid rider and motorcycle racing fan.
“My old boy has always been into bikes so when I was young he really got me into them and I fell in love with racing,” he said.
Despite a career that has seen him conquer most challenges he has faced, the bullish youngster knows the international quality field in Phillip Island will be the ultimate test both physically and mentally.
“It’s going to be something else down there,” he said. “There will be quality riders and I’m just trying to focus on qualifying and making sure I finish the race.”
Modest goals these may be, but Zamora is aware of the opportunity a MotoGP appearance can bring, with a strong show going a long way to helping him realise his long-term goal of riding professionally for a factory team.
A dedicated MotoGP fan, Zamora admits he will be on the look out to bump into some of his favourite stars, including Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and 17-year-old 125 sensation Marc Marquez.
MotoGP is much like your favourite food, once you’ve had a taste all you want is more. For Aussie 125cc rider Nicky Diles the MotoGP is something he desperately wants more of.
A year of personal growth and development on and off the bike has the Victorian well-placed to make the most of his second 125 wildcard for the 2010 Iveco Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
His debut on the world stage started well, but ended in despair as a wheel clip from a competitor brought a premature end to the 2009 race for the budding star.
Most would react badly, but Diles has moved and is keen to show the motorcycle world what he is capable of this weekend.
“I was coming into the second turn and another rider came into the corner behind me a bit too hot and ran into my back wheel which sent me off the track,” he said. “Last year we had our fair share of bad luck, but you’ve got to move on – this year’s a lot different.”
Performing well through qualifying, but struggling to match the top speeds of the international riders, Diles has addressed the issue with his new bike performing strongly in testing.
“We’ve been gathering a lot of data and information and this bike is a lot faster,” he said. Last year we were down against the international riders by about 20kph top speed. Already from our testing we’re 10kph faster.”
The confidence of closing the gap is only part of the job ahead for Diles, with his focus on preparing himself mentally for the challenge ahead.
“My physical training hasn’t really changed much, I’m just doing a lot more mental training,” he said. “It’s all about confidence. You’ve got to be feeling good about yourself and looking at all the positives.
“If you start thinking about negatives aspects you’ve lost before you’ve even started.”
This positivity is infectious, but Diles isn’t getting carried away. He knows the weekend will be one of the biggest tests of his fledgling career.
“Because of the experience of last year I know what to expect and I’ve set high expectations on myself,” he said. “Although I know what to expect it’s still going to be hard out there.”
One thing that Diles believes will work in his favour, and all the local wildcard hopefuls, will be the boisterous home crowd.
The Aprillia RSW Racing rider describes the opportunity of racing at Phillip Island during the MotoGP as one of the best a rider can experience.
“I’ve been to Phillip Island a few times and I love it,” he said. “It’s one fastest circuits in the world, but you’ve got to not let that shake your confidence.
“The spectators may make some riders feel anxious, but being a home crowd it hypes me up and prepares me for the race.”
The excitement builds and for Diles the day for redemption comes into focus.
The 2010 Iveco Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix will be held at Phillip Island from 15-17 October.