Interviews 15 Jan 2019

Profiled: Tom Bramich

WorldSSP 300 bound Australian on his career to date.

Words: Russell Colvin

It’s shaping up to be a big year for 22-year-old Tom Bramich as he makes his international racing debut at Aragon’s opening round of the Supersport 300 World Championship (SSP300) in Spain on the first weekend of April. But where and how did it all start for the Beaconsfield-based rider?

Bramich’s road racing career started in 2012, aged 16, on a Honda CBR150 with the Ron Angel Classic Racing team, challenging the junior 150cc class in the Pirelli Road Race Series (PRRS). Straightaway, Bramich showed he had promise, and this was proven when he won the championship during his first year of road racing in the category. In the same year, Bramich also took out the junior 150cc title in the Victorian Road Racing Championship (VRRC).

“It was a pretty cool year in 2012,” Bramich reflected. “At that stage it was all about having fun as I was only 16. In saying that, at that stage I still had the hunger to go and win, which I did.” The following year, Bramich would make the step up to the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK), racing in the 250 production class aboard a Kawasaki Ninja 250cc machine.

In a five round series, he finished third in his debut year in the national series, which was without a doubt a mega achievement for the young rider. He kicked off the championship with a third place overall at Queensland Raceway, then went one better at the second stop at Sydney Motorsport Park, which was a double-header weekend that saw him secure a second overall on the Saturday with two thirds in races one and two, before breaking through to win his first race in the final seven-lap encounter.

Image: Russell Colvin.

“That was massive relief that round,” he continued. “I knew I could run with the front runners but to win a race gave myself and the team a massive boost which we needed for the rest of the year.” The following day, it was a fifth place finish overall, while his first round win came at Broadford’s penultimate round when the Australian 250 Production Championship ran in conjunction with the VRRC round.

Bramich lodged a 1-11-1 scorecard and finished off the year with a fourth place overall at the Island and scored a total of 273 championship points. “It was a really good year in 2013, as I learned a lot really quickly I believe. I learned a lot about both race craft and also bike set-up, which was really important in that class.”

The following year in 2014 he raced a 450GP and a 250 production in the Pirelli Road Race Series. He took out the championship in the 250 Production Sprint and TT Series, as well as winning the Formula 2 Sprint and TT series as well. In 2015, he convinced his mum and dad to buy him a Honda NSF 250 Moto3 machine, and they did. From there, Bramich raced in the Australian Moto3/125cc Championship, which saw him take out the crown, beating Brian Houghton by six points.

That particular year in the ASBK series was a five round championship, where Bramich experienced podium success on three occasions. At the final showdown, he strung together a 5-2-1 results sheet, handing him second place for the round to Houghton’s 2-4-4 result, which was only good enough for fourth place, but it wasn’t quite enough to stop Bramich winning his first national championship.

Image: Russell Colvin.

“It was nice to win that championship in 2015. We were pushed and we were made to work for the title. Just like in 2013, we did learn a lot about racing as a whole as Moto3’s were hard to get to 100 percent perfection.” That same year, Bramich cleaned up in the 125cc/250cc Grand Prix class in the Pirelli Road Race Series in both the Sprint and TT format championship. On top of that, he also locked up the P4 500cc Australian Historic Championship aboard the 1968 Paton machine at Malalla in South Australia.

In 2016 saw Bramich just racing classic bikes as his plans fell through due to financial hurdles. To his credit, he cleaned up in the historic stuff. At the 24th running of the International Island Classic, Bramich won the P4 and P5 championship and took out the Phil Irving Perpetual Trophy.

“While it was a shame not to race full-time in the Australian championship, it was quite rewarding to win the Phil Irving Trophy, as a lot of famous names have been on that trophy before me.” The Victorian thought he would just enter the first round of the ASBK, which was staged alongside the opening round of the WorldSBK at Phillip Island.

Racing on his younger brothers borrowed Yamaha YZF-R3, Bramich walked away from the curtain raiser round in seventh place in the Over 300cc class, but was hooked on that particular championship. He would go onto finish sixth at the second round at Wakefield Park, before taking out the round win at Winton Motor Raceway. From there Bramich led the championship fight till right up until the second last round at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Image: Russell Colvin.

He left Sydney Motorsport Park in fifth place in a six-way fight for the title, however a costly mistake in the second race at Morgan Park’s penultimate round ultimately saw him finish 28.5 points behind eventual championship winner Billy Van Eerde. “To miss out on winning the championship in 2017 did annoy me a fair bit. In saying that, it was my own fault for making those mistakes at Morgan Park and the final round at the Island. If I didn’t crash, the outcome might have been different. It just made me even hungrier for 2018.”

It was basically a dream run for the now 22-year-old in 2018, winning Australian Supersport 300 Championship while riding for the bLU cRU 300 Racing outfit. He finished on the podium at every round throughout the seven-stop series, taking out round wins at The Bend in South Australia, Morgan Park, and Phillip Island’s finale.

“What a year 2018 was – that was our goal to win the championship, but it was the way we did it which was simply amazing as we stood on the podium at every round. It was such a nice feeling to repay back our sponsors, Yamaha Australia and of course John Redding and Ian Irving for picking me to be a part of that program.”

By now, everyone should know that we will see the young Victorian rider competing for the Carl Cox – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki in the 2019 Supersport 300 World Championship. “It came about by Rob Vennegoor running a very good team, so my family and I put in the hard yards by getting sponsors on board to make this project a reality, and here we are now. Just a few weeks away from heading over to Europe and go racing.

Image: Russell Colvin.

“I don’t know where to set the bar. My aim is to of course go there and win as soon as possible. That is what I’m training and focusing on doing. However, as I have never seen the tracks nor raced against the riders over there, I don’t know what to expect. I guess my aim at the moment is to fight for point-scoring positions and then to hopefully be fighting for podium places towards the end of the season. I don’t know the competition. If it was here in Australia, we would expect nothing more than first.”

It goes without saying that Bramich is hoping to use the 2019 season to spring board himself hopefully into the WorldSSP or WorldSBK categories. For now though, he doesn’t want to look to far down the track as he has a huge year ahead of him.

“I need to be successful and competitive in the Supersport 300 World Championship even before I think about WorldSSP or WorldSBK. However, I definitely would like to end up there one day. My dream is to be a professional motorcycle racer and climb through the ranks as I progress.”