Features 11 Jul 2023

Profiled: Harrison Watts

OJC and MiniGP Australia champion on breakout season and 2023.

Youthful Queensland-based rider Harrison Watts delivered a breakout season last year, winning the Oceania Junior Cup (OJC) in addition to the inaugural FIM MiniGP Australia Series with Evolution Sports Group (ESG). For 2023, Watts steps up to an Ohvale GP-2 with ESG, also transitioning to a Yamaha R3 in the Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) with TeamBWR, determined to learn and deliver the best results possible. The 15-year-old features in our latest Profiled piece.

Watts didn’t spend much time on a motorcycle until he turned 11 when he received a Kayo, and he cut some laps with QLD Mini Moto before completing his first race in 2020 with the North Coast Road Racers at the age of 12.

The following year he joined the OJC and finished fourth overall in what was a promising debut season in the category, setting him up for a breakout year in 2022 where he would again race in the Oceania Junior Cup and also compete on an Ohvale GP-0 in the first-ever FIM MiniGP Australia Series.

Watts impressed in both categories last year, winning the OJC title at the final round in Tailem Bend and also standing tall in the five-round MiniGP Australia Series to underline a breakout 2022 season.

“It was really emotional, and all of the hard work paid off that year,” said Watts. “I was really excited to win both of the championships and it helped set me up for offers this year. It sort of helped me gain my name sort of thing in racing I guess. To win the championship it’s all about consistency, and you’ve just got to be consistent and not crash.”

Image: Foremost Media.

Watts’ results in the MiniGP Australia Series scored him a ticket to the FIM MiniGP World Series at Valencia, contested in November last year. There, he progressed across the two days and reduced the gap to the leaders each time out before finishing the qualifying races in P15 and P11.

“It was pretty cool,” Watts added. “They were very fast. I learnt a lot from over there, just to show how much quicker we can get, and how much I can learn and improve. They are just crazy over there. Just like how much corner speed they carry, like you follow them into a corner and the next minute they would be at the next one already. They just carried so much corner speed.”

Watts made the natural step from the OJC to the Supersport 300 and R3 Cup categories for 2023, and he enters the second half of the ASBK season determined to work his way forward from 15th and 13th in the championship standings.

“For the offer, Brian [Wood] emailed Dad and we accepted and being in TeamBWR this year has been pretty good,” Watts continued. “The first few rounds have been a bit of a learning curve, because we’ve been chasing our toes a bit but hopefully the rest of the season is a bit better.”

This year, the FIM MiniGP Australia Series expanded to two premier classes, with a new 190cc category joining the championship alongside the existing 160cc class. Watts stepped up to the 190cc category for 2023, contested on Ohvale GP-2s with 12” wheels by riders aged 12-16 years old.

Image: RbMotoLens – Rob Mott Photography.

The ESG rider left the opening round of the series equal on points for the championship lead, but a fall during race two at Newcastle meant he relinquished his spot at the head of the standings.

“I find the 190 a lot better, because I’m a bit taller than the other riders so it helps me with a bit more power, a bit bigger,” he said. “This season is shaping up pretty well, I crashed at Newcastle, which was a bummer because I was in the championship lead but this year should be pretty good.

Next on the agenda for Watts is round five of the Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship this weekend at Morgan Park, followed by the third round of the 2023 FIM MiniGP Australia Series at Ipswich. The number 27 plans to take each race as it comes, but has his sights set on securing a spot once more in the FIM MiniGP World Series later this year.

“We sort of just take it as it comes,” stated Watts. “It depends how well I can do in the rest of this season in the ASBK and see what offers we can get for next year.”

“I’m currently second and four points off the championship lead [in the 190cc MiniGP class] and coming into my home round, last year I won by 10 seconds in each race so hopefully this year I can do pretty well there. Hopefully, I can win the championship and go overseas.”