Jaden at front of the pack
His age and his height might be working against him, but Jaden Hassan is quickly racing to the front of the country’s motor sport pack.
The 14-year-old says he was rapt to gain third place overall in the National Superbike Championships which ended last month.
As the youngest rider in the 125cc competition by two years, Jaden says third place is as good as he could hope for.
“I thought going into it that if I could get a place in my rookie season that would be pretty good,” he says.
The competition was held over five rounds with races at Teretonga racetrack in Invercargill, moving up through Timaru, Christchurch and Manfeild and finishing up at Pukekohe Raceway on March 8.
Jaden says the first challenge was his first race in Invercargill, on a track he had only ridden once before.
“I’d only been down there once but I really like the track so I picked it up pretty fast.”
Despite being new to the track, he took second, third and fourth places in his early races and continued to stay near the front of the pack. A crash in the qualifying round also left him with a painful, possibly broken, foot but Jaden says he never considered quitting.
“When you’re out there and the adrenalin’s going, you don’t really notice it too bad.”
He is no stranger to riding through injuries, and won the North Island winter series last year with a broken ankle.
At 1.8 metres tall, Jaden says he has a definite disadvantage riding on the smaller 125cc bikes compared to the other riders who are closer to 1.5 metres tall.
He felt the pinch during the second round, finding it hard to get comfortable on the track at Timaru and only gaining third place in one of the races.
“The second round wasn’t so good. I couldn’t quite get comfortable enough to move around on the bike.”
But by the time he reached Auckland again, he was back on form, winning his second race and gaining second and third in the others.
The Western Springs College student is philosophical about going too far too fast and says he plans to stick with his bike for another year.
“It will be cramped but I don’t see the point in moving to a bigger bike when I’m still learning.”
He’s hoping to defend his title at this year’s winter series competition.
Great result: Jaden Hassan at the Manfeild race of the National Superbike Championships.