Motorsport: Fired-up Lewis returns from Europe

By Andy McGechan

Teen sensation lacks for nothing in the talent and bravery departments.

Rangiora's Jake Lewis (Yamaha), now with seven months' top international competition under his wheels. Photo / Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Rangiora's Jake Lewis (Yamaha), now with seven months' top international competition under his wheels. Photo / Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

Nine countries in seven months, South Islander Jake Lewis has certainly clocked up the air miles on his way to becoming New Zealand's next big thing in motorcycling.

Back in April, the 17-year-old double New Zealand road-racing champion left his Rangiora home bound for Europe, travelling with his former national road-race father Rob.

This was just weeks after clinching the national 600 superstock title at the New Zealand Superbike Championships' final round at Taupo.

And the victory that day had signalled his second consecutive season of celebrating national championship glory - he picked up the New Zealand 125GP title last year - and in both instances he had been making his debut in the class.

This year he was riding a Bob McCleary Yamaha R6, a huge leap in horsepower from the 125cc bike he rode a season earlier, but he has proven to be a quick learner and certainly lacks for nothing in the talent and bravery departments.

In was with all this in mind that the two Lewis men decided to hit the road, to see how far this sport could take them.

"I left to compete in the European Junior Cup, but, after a few races, we decided it was not really where I wanted to go," said Jake Lewis.

"We were given the opportunity to step up to race in the European Superstock 600 competition and jumped at the chance.

"We didn't really have a base as such ... we lived in a camper van and just drove from country to country, event to event."

The intrepid Kiwi pair travelled through and raced in Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, San Marino, the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal, returning home only last week.

"It was a bit hard at first dealing with the food and languages but we generally found a few people at each stop who could speak English. It was a struggle to work out at times what we were eating, but the food was actually really great.

"Watching the racing, I thought I would be among the top 15 in the 600cc class, but when I got on the track, I realised just how fast these riders were. It was definitely an eye-opener, " said Lewis.

"Motorsport is the No1 sport in Europe, next to soccer, and I was blown away by the quality of the riders.

"I really felt I learned a lot and I'm now much faster than I was.

"I feel really at home now on a 600 and will be racing the New Zealand Superbike Championships on a Bob McCleary Yamaha R6 in the 600cc supersport class this coming season."

The five-round national championships kick off in Christchurch on January 5-6, with rounds to follow in Timaru (January 12-13), Invercargill (January 19-20), Hampton Downs (March 16-17) and, finally, the series wraps up in Taupo on March 23-24.

- NZ Herald

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