From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, Auckland's
Jaden Hassan has experienced them both this season.
The Yamaha ace was simply untouchable at the weekend, roaring
away to victory in both 600cc supersport races at the fourth round
of five in this season's New Zealand Superbike Championships at
Hampton Downs, just outside Huntly.
He had kicked off his national championship campaign with a
solid third placing in his season-opening race at Ruapuna, in
Christchurch, in January, but what followed was anything but
He endured a serious injury when he crashed while testing ahead
of round two of the nationals in Timaru a week later, suffering
broken bones in his back, and he was expected to be sidelined for
between three and six months.
His unexpectedly-early comeback at the weekend could not have
been more positive than it was on Sunday, however, as the
17-year-old took his Yamaha R6 to back-to-back wins, finishing a
solid 6.2 seconds ahead of Wellington's Glen Skachill in race one
and 4.6 seconds ahead of Skachill in race two.
The 20-lap second outing also counted as the one-off annual race
for the national TT title.
"This is my first national title and I'm just so happy," said
"I've come back to racing early but my back's fine .. a little
stiff but that's all really."
Hassan broke the Hampton Downs lap record for the class on five
separate occasions over the weekend, eventually posting a new
record of one minute 5.679 seconds.
"I was just going faster and faster each lap," he smiled. "My
mechanic, Dave Cole, kept putting 'plus zero' out on my pit signal
board and I just kept pushing. The gap was actually not zero at all
but I just wanted to get away from the riders behind me and control
Hassan had set the formula two lap record on the same bike when
he raced there during the Tri Series in December, but now he can
add the 600 supersport lap record to his credentials as well.
"It's a 2008-model Yamaha R6 that's had its engine freshened up
a bit by Dave.
"It's not really possible for me to achieve a top ranking this
season, having missed rounds two and three with injury. I just want
to have fun and winning races is a bonus."
Meanwhile, in the parallel 600cc superstock class - raced on the
track at the same time but scored separately - fellow Yamaha ace
Jake Lewis leads the way.
Christchurch's Lewis won both his 600 superstock races at
Hampton Downs on Sunday, extending his championship lead to 30
points over fellow Christchurch rider Daniel Ornsby (Yamaha
Hassan, Skachill, Lewis and Ornsby, and all the other riders,
will be back in action at the fifth and final round of the series
at Taupo this weekend.