New Zealand’s Jaden Hassan is spreading his wings.
The 18-year-old Yamaha ace from Westmere, in Auckland, has packed his helmet and boots and headed off to race this weekend at round five of the Australian Superbike Championships at Queensland Raceway, near Brisbane, “just to gain a little extra international experience”.
Although already a well-travelled racer, the teenager is keen to gain as much international experience as in can in the coming months and years.
Hassan has leased a Yamaha R6 from Australian racer Josh McGrath and the action begins for him this Friday with testing at Queensland Raceway, followed by 600cc supersport class racing on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s a fairly low-key campaign, but all good experience, which is what it’s all about. He’ll have to get used to using the ‘control’ Dunlop tyres, something he’s not raced with before,” said his father, Greg.
Jaden Hassan arrived in Australia last week and immediately set to work preparing for his upcoming races.
“We had a positive first day at the track and we were just over two seconds off the pace on a very second-hand rear tyre. So, with the shock (suspension) a bit closer and some better tyres, I’m looking forward to getting back out on the track,” he said.
Hassan’s racing career in New Zealand has been nothing short of sensational, the youngster twice third in the national 125GP class, in 2009 and again in 2010.
He learned his craft racing the tiny Yamaha TZ125 but the tall teenager had simply outgrown that competition in more ways than one, struggling to contort his lanky frame into the saddle.
He stepped up to the 600cc class for the first time in 2011 and – remarkably for a young rider on debut in the category – finished first-equal in the 600 superstock nationals that season, level on points with fellow Yamaha ace Midge Smart, of Inglewood, but forced to accept the No.2 spot on the count-back rule.
This season he was obliged to spend much of the early part of the season sidelined with injury, but bounced back to claim fifth overall in the 600 supersport class, despite completing just five of the series’ 10 races.
He officially broke the lap records at Hampton Downs and Taupo and also raced under the lap record at Manfeild in a non-championship event just last month.
If Hassan can replicate that sort of form in Australia this weekend, there’s no reason why he can’t produce a podium finish or at least bank some worthwhile experience to call upon when he races the New Zealand Superbike Championships again at the end of this year.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com