Going for broke
MOTORCYCLIST Jaden Hassan doesn’t let anything get in the way of success – not even a broken ankle.
Last weekend, the 14-yearold became the youngest New Zealand rider to win the North Island winter series, despite competing with a broken ankle.
Three-and-a-half weeks ago, with two rounds to go in the MotoGP TZ125, the motor of the Westmere teenager’s bike seized at 180kmh. He was thrown over the handle bars on to the track and the bike landed on his right ankle.
Even when he realised it was broken, Jaden says the thought of quitting the race never crossed his mind.
“This was always my goal. I wanted to be in the last round.”
He couldn’t bend his ankle properly but Jaden still finished the second to last round more than 50 points in the lead, securing the title before last weekend’s final round.
Although he started riding dirt bikes at age seven, Jaden only progressed to riding a TZ125 grand prix bike a year ago.
At just over six foot, and significantly taller than his competitors, his height has been a disadvantage on the small bike – the Motomail Yamaha TZ125 weighs only 69kg.
Working part-time at Motomail specialist motorcycle store has helped to pay for modifications to the bike to suit his tall frame.
Able to go up to 225kmh, Jaden says the speed is what he loves about racing, even though it sometimes makes him nervous before races.
“It’s not a slow bike. When you’re lining up on the grid it’s pretty nerve-wracking.”
Jaden’s father Greg Hassan, who also has a racing background, says he gets more nervous watching his son race than when he races himself, but says Jaden knows what he’s doing.
“I really trust his judgement and ability to ride the bike,” says Greg.
“He looked pretty good right from the beginning and he just keeps getting better.”
He says Jaden’s success so far has come with good advice and help from sponsors and also motorcycle engineer and mentor Dave Cole.
“It’s not just the rider, it’s the advice and the preparation as well,” says Greg.
Jaden will take time out from school at Western Springs College to travel to the South Island next month where he’ll test-ride the tracks for next year’s nationals in January.
“Being so new and young to the sport, time on the bike is really important,” says Greg.
Although he will be the youngest there, Jaden says winning is in his sights.
“It’ll probably be the most competitive nationals in a while. But I believe we have the package to go for the win.”
Fast track: Jaden Hassan is riding his way to the top.