There were plenty of excited kids on deck early as the sun rose on the first day of coaching at Morgan Park, keen to get underway. The day was run by Advance Rider Training and headed by Dave Fuller and Leo Cash who are both pretty handy riders in their own rights.
The pair has a number of coaches on call for the rider training days, as riders of all experience levels participate, some of them hitting a racetrack for the first time. As such the first thing that happens on these days is all riders, of all ages, have to attend a riders’ briefing, the kids in with the adults.
Originally there was no sessions for the Juniors, but thanks to the exceptional efforts and good grace of both Advanced Rider Training and the Motorcycle Sportsmen Club, the schedule was re-tuned to allow sessions for the kids. Their enthusiasm is very welcome. For the two days of riding a further seven kids turned up making 16 youngsters learning from the master who is McCoy.
After the compulsory riders’ briefing Garry and Dave took the kids aside to explain the proceedings of the day. With such a crowded schedule track time would be limited compared to the freedom of the ranch at GMC Cooyar.
It sure didn’t dampen their enthusiasm though, there was no real need to announce that the junior session would start in a couple of minutes, as the majority of them were sitting at Parc Ferme well in advance, engines revving and hearts racing.
First time out, Garry led the kids out on track to show them around. Then over the rest of the day, he took time to follow each rider, examining their style and at some stage leading them around the track. He would then have a one-on-one chat with them afterwards to check on their progress.
There was also class room time, where Dave Fuller would gather the group and explain the different lines around the tight and technical Morgan Park layout and where to be on track. Aiding this there were also white guide points marked on the track at various places for riders to use as a guide for the perfect racing line in relation to their track position.
Over the two days the young hopefuls were granted a heap of track time, where they learnt plenty that will hold them in good stead in the future, tutored freely by the five-time Grand Prix winner.
One big bonus for the kids and the series was WIN News turning up to interview and film the goings-on on the first day. It was tremendous coverage and was aired from Gympie to west of Toowoomba and all the way down to Coffs Harbour.
With four days of tuition under their back protectors, to say the GP Juniors were excited about four races over the weekend is like declaring that there is a little bit of angst in Lorenzo’s garage.
Then, it started raining. As the dusk turned to night on Friday, the first spots of rain touched down with showers and the occasional deluge overnight. After the two days of perfect track time everything they learnt was to be put to the test with Saturday’s conditions.
GP Juniors Racing at Morgan Park – Qualifying
While it was the third round of the fledgling GP Juniors Cup, it was the first round of the GP Juniors Australia round for the 70cc and 85cc machines. All bikes would also be on the track at the same time, a total of 14 with eight Yamaha R15s, three 85cc and three 70cc machines.
Unfortunately two of the kids that took part in the two days of coaching could not compete because the spread of ages was too great.
Saturday was the official start of the race meeting, so there was another riders’ briefing to attend with the emphasis on the conditions as the showers continued and guaranteed a soaked track. To add a bit of drama, the schedule had the GP Juniors first out on track for their opening qualifying session.
The morning offered no respite as the showers and rain continued, however the Juniors impressed with the way they handled the conditions in Q1, particularly the GP Juniors Cup class who run on stock-standard Yamaha YZF-R15s fitted with treaded Bridgestone BT39 tyres. No wet weather tyres or warmers are allowed in the GP Juniors Cup.
There are two schools of thought on this but with all riders on the same tyre it provides a more level playing field for everyone. The youngsters also learn more about bike control and the false sense that comes with wet weather tyres, and generally if there is a whoopsie the speeds are less, so the damage tends to be less as well.
The sodden conditions allowed some to shine however, and it was three new-comers to GP Juniors Australia that topped the leader board. Glenn Nelson (#239) led the way on his Metrakit 70cc machine fitted with wet-weather tyres from similarly mounted Harrison Voight (#29, Excite Motorsports).
The big surprise was in the GP Juniors Cup class, Zak Pettendy (#14 bikesales.com.au) who had only had one road race meeting but like the majority of the field had substantial experience in dirt track racing.
The riding was impressive with some riders posting average lap speeds of almost 100km/h. A pretty impressive statistic.
The second session was on a fairly dry track which allowed the confidence to build and the lap times to substantially lower, with the usual riders climbing to the top of their respective classes.
Talented Toowoomba local, Tom Browne (#97 Elite Motorcycles Honda RS85), used his track knowledge and experience to grab pole position from Voight on his Metrakit 70, while another new comer in Zylas Bunting (# 87 Honda RS85) rounded out the front row.
GP Juniors Cup series leader, Tom Edwards (#71) led the second row from Glenn Nelson, with Ben Baker (#72) from the NSW Central Coast the second of the Yamaha R15s rounding out the second row.
The third row of the grid was all Yamaha R15s, with rapid Caboolture 12-year-old John Lytras (#308) and, another two riders who are improving immensely at every outing in Max Stauffer and Harry Khouri. Max is the son of multiple Australian Champion Jamie Staufffer, so he has plenty of experience in his corner to help.
Young Harry however, has limited racing experience compared to many of the others but he is a sponge, listening to everything to improve, as he drops his lap times dramatically at each meeting.
The other five riders included Tristan Adamson (Five5 Motorcycles) in only his first ever road race, with the added bonus that it was his birthday weekend. Pettendy was next on the grid beside the youngest of the Hall brothers, Joshua (#23 Metrakit 70) and another debutant Rhys Williams (#429) in 13th position.
A luckless Travis Hall was in the very uncustomary position of last after his bike decided it didn’t want to play, so much so that he didn’t even get a lap in during the second qualifier.
With three different engine capacities it was always going to be a case that the more rapid two-strokes would get away by a fair margin but most were evenly matched. The smaller machines had the legs in the open, but the 150cc four-strokes would close them down in the corners so it opened the way for cat-and-mouse tactics over the course of the four races.
The first juniors race opened the afternoons proceedings after lunch and while the clouds were hovering around, the track was semi-dry but still very cold and greasy. Thankfully, the rain stayed away.
The kids drew plenty of attention from all in the paddock with many folk heading to the fences to watch. We’ll do the full race report of all four races in Part 3 shortly, so stay tuned.
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