Orewa’s Avalon Biddle admits her latest foray into racing overseas was a little tougher than she’d expected.
The 18-year-old Auckland Massey University student, the New Zealand No.2 last season in the highly-competitive 125GP class, was thrilled to be invited to compete in the FIM Asia Cup of Road-racing at Sugo at the weekend but, even with her vast experience of rubbing elbows with top Kiwi talent, this event in Japan was a real eye-opener.
The Asian Cup at Sugo, actually round two of four in a series, included leading riders from all around the Asian region – Thailand, Philippines, Japan, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Singapore, with Biddle the sole New Zealand competitor.
All the bikes were supplied by the race organisers – 150cc four-stroke Yamaha YZF R15 model bikes – each one identical to the next and the riders had their motorcycles allocated to them through a ballot system.
“It was tougher than Avalon expected,” said her father Keith, who travelled with her for support.
“Even though all the riders were on identical bikes, Avalon was up against some fulltime professionals and many of them weighed a lot less than her … they were small guys and the power-to-weight ratio really favoured them.
“If it had been a flat track, Avalon might have fared better but you could see some of the riders pulling away from her, particularly on the uphill sections.”
It was a rough start to the weekend for the plucky Kiwi girl as she crashed during qualifying, although Biddle recovered to snatch a creditable eighth spot on the starting grid.
Race one on Saturday was dominated by the Team Indonesian pair of Sucipt Topan and Wawan Hermawan, who finished 1-2 respectively, while Biddle had to settle for 11th position overall.
Biddle suffered a little bad luck the following morning during the warm-up session before the second race, crashing the bike when her side-stand dug into the track surface.
However, that was soon forgotten, she dusted herself off to reach the start-line and then found herself in ninth position after the first lap.
At the end of the second lap she had dropped to 11th but she fought back up to tenth and then inherited ninth spot when a rider ahead of her fell off. Biddle remained ninth until the chequered flag.
“My crashes were just slow-speed ones, so no real damage was done,” she said. “But they did dent my confidence a bit.
“It’s a pity really, because those crashes meant I missed out on quite a bit of track time.”
The next round of the series is set for Circuit Taipei in Taiwan on October 23, with the fourth and final round in Thailand in November, although, at this stage, Biddle has no plans to be involved in those races.
“This trip to Sugo is just for the experience really. It is my off-season at the moment,” she explained.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com