Yanni Shaw is making the big step up to the Superbike ranks in season 2021 with a new team backed by Sydney based rigging company Specialist Height Access.
26-year-old Shaw will head up the single-rider team wearing his familiar #333 race number on a GSX-R1000 wearing “Team Specialist Suzuki” livery.
We caught up with Yanni and Scott Noble of Specialist Height Access to have a quick chat about how they got here, and what they’re hoping to achieve in season 2021.
Q: Yanni, you’ve been racing for a few years now, give us a quick run down on how you started
“My first race was back in 2015 in the FX Superbike series. I’d only done two or three track days but I was already looking to take it to the next level. Kelvin Reilly from BC Perofrmance suggested I give racing a go, the Ninja 300 cup looked like the perfect place to start so I got a credit card and off I went. I fell in love with the sport, the adrenaline and the fact that racing wasn’t as easy as it looked and I really had to work hard to improve my race skills and race pace. I wanted to be become a better racer and be able to challenge the best.
“I stuck with the 300 production class through to 2019, it was a great learning experience, I knew how the bikes worked and I could judge the improvements I was making. 2019 was a big year for me. I raced Moto3 in NZ and ran a Ninja 400 in Australia winning a handful of races in the domestic series and taking out the Round win at Winton. Being a little older and heavier than some the younger riders in the 300 series was a bit of a disadvantage and I have to admit it was harder to maintain a light enough weight and stay healthy so that’s when I started to look at the bigger bikes. I first rode a 1000 cc in 2018 and the transition to the Superbikes for me is complete this year after committing to the whole ASBK season.”
Q: Most racers who want to progress to the Superbikes from 300s make the move to 600 / Supersport first but you are going straight from the 300s to the Superbikes.
What influenced that decision and has that turned out to be the right decision for you?
“For me at the time, costs were very similar regardless of whether I went to 600 or 1000. My skill level on a bike was still low and learning the 600 would have been just as much of a step as the 1000. Life’s short and I’d seen Jack Miller skip classes so I figured why not. So yes, I feel that it’s the right decision and given my age it places me right where I need to be to progress in the sport!”
Q: Tell us some of the big moments that stick in your mind from your racing experiences to date
“For me the biggest highlight was to wildcard in the Moto3 World Championship and win the New Zealand Moto3 championship in the same year. Having come from nothing in the sport and achieving that after only 5 years from first throwing a leg over a motorbike was a good feeling. The lows of the sport for me are finding the support financially to race at the top. Its hard and it’s the reason a lot of great talent aren’t on our grids anymore and for as long as I’ve been riding I have had to ride with the knowledge ‘if you crash you may not race the next round’. So I’ve learned to be calculated in my approach and to not take stupid risks out on track.”
Q: So now you’re looking at a full season of ASBK with the backing of Specialist Height Access.
How do you feel knowing you’ll be out there competing in a field stacked with talented and highly experience top level racers?
“A lot of the top guys in Australia have been riding Superbikes longer than I have been riding a motorbike and the experience they have is second to none! I look up to and have a lot of respect for each and every one of them. So I need to continue to adapt quickly and learn from the guys in front of me. I now have the chance to ride at at the sort of levels I’ve always aspired to and Specialist Height Access has given me this opportunity.
“Scott and I have the same vision and we both believe that with the right recipe anybody is capable of winning races. Racing superbikes takes skill, determination, experience and financial backing and we think we have all the pieces in place to make for a successful debut campaign. The plan is to learn as a team, ride hard and fast as a team, and build on the great thing we have here. This season will undoubtedly be the start of something pretty cool.”
Q: Are there things that give you that little extra bit of motivation to succeed in racing?
“I have to be honest, some of what motivates me is people that said I was too old to start racing. Of course the earlier you start the better, and I did come to the game later than most. But I’ve learnt so much in such a short amount of time and I think that demonstrates that you can start ‘late’, and still build the momentum needed to get yourself into the top flight if you get your head down and go for it! I owe so much of my riding to all the guys I do track days with and go training with, lending me bikes to ride and always pushing me to ride faster. Right now, we’re dead happy with what we’ve put tougher and we’re going to enjoy where this package takes us.”
Q: Tell us a bit more about your relationship with Specialist Heights Access
“I met Scott at a ride day, we were introduced by a mutual friend actually. I love helping other punters and being a part of the riding community, that’s how Scott and I started talking and look where it’s taken us! If it wasn’t for Specialist Height Access I wouldn’t be able to put together this program for 2021. ASBK is a top level series and it takes backing to be able to mount a serious campaign. We have common goals, we want the team to grow and we have a lot of learning to do. I am still a rookie on the Superbike and compared to some of the old hands, I am really still learning how to ride a bike fast!
“We want to get people to follow our progress, to get behind us and enjoy the journey with us. We’ll do our best to keep engaged with our supporters and make them feel like they’re really involved with the sport and us as a team.”
Q: Scott, tell us a bit about SHA
“Specialist Height Access was founded back in 1998 and our speciality is the maintainance, inspection and repair of premium buildings and structures including the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Our experienced team of Rope Access Technicians provide a wide range of services to clients primarily in commercial and industrial sectors and are qualified to carry out work in the construction, inspection and maintenance trades. Today we stand as the leading Industrial Rope Access Service on offer.
“Our work is primarily in the Sydney region but we do operate interstate and internationally. Most people think of rope access as the guys hanging off buildings cleaning window but the whole industry has involved from those beginnings into one where we provide efficient, cost effective and safe solutions to all manners of problems.
“Now you will find our crews (amongst other things!) installing 600 kg panels of glass into some of the tallest buildings in the country, hanging off wind turbines inspecting blades for damage, scaling dam walls, blasting lead paint off walls in a confined space but also installing and certifying systems to make sure you are safe if you are ever to find yourself on a roof somewhere. You have something that needs doing at height, we’ve no doubt got the solution. And yes, we still clean windows as well!”
Q: It’s a big move for a company to back an independent rider like Yanni
Tell us what you see in him and why you’ve made the call to give him your support
“Yanni has quickly proven himself to be quite the champion on the track. His passion and drive for the sport truly shines through when he is doing what he does best and that’s racing. I met Yanni on the track last year and he helped me improve my form and that was very admirable to see such a young talented professional passing on his knowledge and expertise to other like-minded riders. So for me to be able to give back and support Yanni on his journey up the ranks was a no brainer. We are very excited to be backing this legend. Yanni we wish you all the best!”
Q: Thank you both for your time, all the best for 2021!
Any final words Yanni?
“I am a lucky lad! It’been hard work but we are where we want to be now. ASBK has really started to ramp up and I am really excited to get amongst it and give it my best against what looks like an amazingly talented field.”
2021 Australian Superbike Championship Calendar
Australian All Wheels Race Fest (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC)
Phillip Island, VIC
Winton Motor Raceway (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC, Sidecar)
Mar 12-14, 2021
Wakefield Park Raceway (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC, Sidecar)
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