As the first round of the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup approaches this weekend, mcnews.com.au caught up with the Australian class rookie who has had a rapid rise to international competition.
The word “meteoric” is often used to describe a young sportsperson’s impressive rise up the ranks, and in the case of 13-year-old, Cameron Swain the term hits the bull’s eye – with force.
Young Swain is going places. For his age – just 13 – (DOB 14/08/2008) and relative lack of motorcycle racing experience, compared to many of his age or even a tad older, he appears to have an innate talent that has been reflected in his remarkable rise.
What an adventure awaits in the desert oasis of Qatar then to the tropics of Malaysia and Indonesia during 2022.
What were you doing when you were 13? Sure as shit, you weren’t about to share a race paddock with your MotoGP heroes and race on the same track as them!’
Last year, Swain won the OJC to join Carter Thompson and Marianos Nikolis as victors in the class. It’s not just that he won the shortened series, it’s the way he did it that made folk sit up and take notice.
In the nine races last year, he was never off the podium, taking six wins, a brace of second places and one third place – the only OJC rider to podium at every race, and he wrapped up the title with two races to go.
Maybe even more impressively, Cam never crashed in his two years in the OJC and won the 2021 title by 56 points. In the close contact and competitiveness of junior racing, that is astounding, so early indications are extremely positive.
Not too shabby for a kid, who never raced on the dirt competitively before hitting the tar – as do so many of his peers.
This year, Cam will also compete in selected rounds of the ASBK in the Dunlop Australian Supersport 300 Championship and Yamaha Finance R3 Cup, but he will miss three rounds due to date clashes with the ATC.
Allowing for his absence he is still sure to make an impressive impact on the domestic championship. On his first hit out in the two classes, at the ASBK test in January, he was the fastest. It’s a pity for us he couldn’t strut his stuff at the first round of ASBK at the Island last weekend, as he would’ve added another spark to the cauldron.
As a life-long bike nut, there’s a pang of jealousy of what the modern world offers young riders.
In 2022 there are six rounds of the ATC, five of them are alongside the MotoGP circus with the final round alongside WSBK.
Swain joins past OJC winners, Carter Thompson, in his third year and Marianos Nikolis in his second attempt at the ATC title.
In the pre-season test at Qatar last weekend, Cameron had his eyes opened to the intensity of the challenge and was 18th fastest. While he was closer to the rear of the field than the front, the positive to take out of that was that he took six-seconds off his lap-times in the two days.
What epic experiences for talented teenagers, sharing race paddocks with the world’s best. There is no better inspiration than being surrounded by your idols and heroes. Many of us oldies would relish a similar opportunity in our younger years. It shows how far the development path has evolved.
Good luck to all of them that have the opportunity to have a crack with the world’s best talented teenagers to chase their dreams of racing success.
So, remind me Cam, how old are you again?
Just 13… All the more remarkable at your age for what you have achieved already
CS: “Yes, it is unbelievable getting into the Asia Talent Cup. The experience I am going to have racing on MotoGP tracks and to be on all those other tracks in Asia is just insane to me.”
Are you still pinching yourself about how fast this has happened?
CS: “Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get into ATC. Of all things, I found out through a mate through PlayStation, he said “Cam, you’re in ATC. Look at your Instagram. I was like ‘whatever yeah you’re lying.’
“I checked, and I was in! That’s how I found out. It was pretty cool.
“Originally, we were going to go race in Britain this year, to do Moto3 coz that’s what we could afford.
“We had offers from European Talent Cup, but we just couldn’t afford to do that, so we were looking at Northern Talent Cup and British Talent Cup. We were going to do the British Talent Cup but then the Asia Talent Cup came up, and it’s free. You don’t have to pay for your ride. We have to pay for flights and food. They pay for the accommodation. It has got people far in the sport, so it’s the best thing I can do.”
So will you be competing in Australian Champs.
“Yes, I’ve joined ProGP Racing this year. We had a very positive test with the team at the ASBK test and we topped the timesheets in the class on the first outing with all the other boys in the 300s. It was awesome.”
Tell us where you started. I know but others don’t.
CS: “Most people come out of dirt bike racing, and they all have Aussie titles on dirt track, but I mucked around on dirt bikes on the farm and stuff like that. I did some flat track days to do some practice, but I never raced or anything like that.
“When I was about eight Dad said, “do you want to have a go at Lakeside on a little Honda NSF100?”
“It all started from there. I said to Dad, that was the best day of my life riding on the road is so much more fun than dirt track. Getting so low to the ground and going fast. That first day was so much fun, just mucking around. I was still in my dirt bike gear.Ever since then all I’ve wanted to do was road race.
“We were thinking of doing dirt track as well, but Dad said I’d have to choose one or the other as we couldn’t afford to do both. Road is just so much more expensive on its own, but I picked road because it’s so much more fun.
“So, I’m getting to the top now in Australia. It’s all going well. It’s pretty unbelievable.”
So how many races did you do before you started with OJC in 2020.
CS. “With racing I was just riding on the little Kayos with MotoStars. I wasn’t old enough to do anything else, to be honest and I also did some stuff with North Coast Road Racers. I was old enough to go train at Morgan Park. It’s now my home track. I only stared racing there at the beginning of 2020.
“I think before OJC I did two races; one at the VRRC on the R15 machine against Archie McDonald and Angus Grenfell and got some experience and had some battles with them, then Motostars go kart tracks on R15. That was all the racing I did before OJC.
Were you surprised how well you did in OJC because many of them come off the dirt tracks and have a lot more experience with racing?
CS: “In my first year I was sort of… I was expecting to be in that top ten because at the practice days at Morgan Park I was doing times within a second of the boys in OJC, when I wasn’t old enough to race, so I had an idea I wouldn’t be at the back. I thought I’ll see how it goes.
“2020 was the first year and a bit rough. We only did the round at PI. I was third overall in the test, and the best result in my debut was fourth in one of the races.
“Most of the year was cancelled because of covid but we did the double header at Wakefield. I’d only been there once and all the other boys that were at the top were going there frequently. I had to sort my stuff out, real quick. We struggled a bit, but I managed to get a podium at the start of the weekend, then the rest of the weekend we were struggling for setup with suspension.
“We had a look at what the other boys had on their bikes, setup-wise as we had no idea in 2020, and then in the last race we got the podium again which was excellent. in that last race we got it right after doing some changes to the bike to make it similar to the top boys.
“Trevor Manley helped out heaps getting the suspensions dialled in awesome for the 2021 season.”
In 2021 you dominated like no one else has done in the class. It was very impressive to watch.
CS: “Yeah, six wins in only the three rounds. That was the most anyone had achieved in a whole season with six rounds and the fact I did it in three rounds – podiumed every race. Every practice I was pretty much in the top two
“Six wins, two seconds and a third. On the front row every race.
“Without Trevor Manley… to be honest, he gave me so much help.
“There’s also Jason Salter from Ride Dynamics in Queensland. He’s another sponsor I have who does my suspension. Him and Trevor helped out heaps to get the R15 set up for last year.
“I wanted to go in and show I had what it takes to nominate, and I managed to do it.
What’s the biggest buzz besides the speed?
CS: “Depends on the tracks.Phillip Island, the biggest rush you get is going through the fast corners, really cranked over on some of the fastest corners in the world for GP tracks. It’s just something else.
“Then you go to tracks like Winton and Morgan Park and it’s the change of direction heaps real fun and real technical tracks in getting the flow right.”
For the ATC this year; what would you be happy with? What are your goals, or you going to see how it unfolds?
CS: “Dad bought a Moto3 bike, and I’ve been doing training on that at the Bend and Wakefield. We didn’t get to tryout because of covid, and we’ve only had two months’ notice for ATC that we were in.It’s going pretty well at the moment. I’m pretty happy with what I am doing as we went well at the Phillip Island ASBK test and at Wakefield and the Bend.
“Going into ATC, I just have to see what happens. I hear things that people have had successful years there and loved it although it’s really tough. Some other people have had a bad year. Honestly, I just have to see what happens
What year are you in at school this year?
CS: “Year 8.”
Year 8 and you’re doing all that? That’s impressive.
CS “For training I do cycling and a bit of gym. I train in the garage with my trainer from Fusion Fat Loss and Nutrition, who is a sponsor that came on board. He has a gym in a really hot garage, and we do around 40 minutes non-stop going for it. I don’t do too many weights as I don’t want to build up muscle.
“I’ve lost a kilo and hopefully I’ll lose a bit more, because you have to be light for these Moto3 bikes so you can’t have heaps of muscle and be too heavy.
“Unfortunately, I am one of the bigger guys in it.”
MB: Well, I am sure you are going to go ok. All the best, mate.
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