News 24 Nov 2011

AFL star Jason Akermanis on track for road race debut at the 8 Hour

Colourful AFL star Jason Akermanis will launch his first serious bike racing effort at the Phillip Island 8 Hour Enduro, campaigning a Honda CBR 600 in the Superstock class at the inaugural race.

With backing from Honda Motorcycles, 34 year old Akermanis has assembled a talented team of five riders for the enduro – backed by the Caulfield Park Community school.

“To be honest, the island’s 8 Hour is my first serious bike race,” said the 2001 Brownlow Medallist who has been riding bikes since l999, but never in a racing capacity.

“But I have been riding for years, and have done lots of ride days at the island. My best time round there is a 1.48 on a supersport 600, and while I will have a go, I sometimes come unstuck,” said Akermanis, who crashed in testing at the island Tuesday and is feeling the pain with a bruised body and damaged knuckles.

“I was pushing it pretty hard and I went up through Lukey Heights, hit the front brake, the bike got light and I was still going too quick so I hit the brake again and ended up lowsiding it. The only good news is I’m not quick enough to highside!”

“I’m a bit sore, but I’ll be on the bike next Sunday.

“My Uncle Pete used to ride solos back when I was a kid, and it seemed like we used to go and watch him race most weekends. I think he inspired my passion for bikes,” said Akermanis.

The Akermanis race team is a unique project. Caulfield Park’s students struggle to fit into the conventional teaching system so attend the alternative school. The project has been developed to allow them to see behind the scenes of a race team, be involved in bike preparation and expose the pupils to the real world conditions of motor racing and mechanics.

Work began several months ago with the students designing the fairings of the Honda CBR600RR as well as learning about the mechanics of the bikes to ensure it is competitive come race day.

Akermanis’s on-track team mates also show potential. Wattleglen’s Aron Burgess won the 2011 Victorian Superstock 1000 title and Ferntree Gully’s Dean Oughtred boasts success in the Victorian titles, having scored first place in 2008 in the superbike category and winning the 2011 Victorian supersport crown.

Andrew Kenrick from Canungra joins the team, and his partner, motorcycle instructor and mother of one, Erin Tablot, is also trackside.

Akermanis is a triple premiership AFL player who played for the Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs, and hopes to convert his talent for anything sporting to the racetrack.

The inaugural Phillip Island 8 Hour Australian Endurance Championship will be held Friday December 2 to Sunday December 4.

The 8 Hour will kick off at 9.30am Sunday morning and the 25 plus teams, with a minimum of three riders per squad, will race for 8 hours and an estimated 285 laps and 1250 kilometres of energy sapping racing.

Tickets are $45 for a three day; or $25 for Sunday only and are available at the gate. Concession and child (aged 5-15) rates available. Children four and under free.