Champ watching his back
Jaden Hassan has already made history becoming the youngest ever New Zealand Superbike champion at 20, but with younger brother Aaron hot on his tail it may be a record that slides through the family.
He’s had far from a perfect season riddled with technical issues, engine explosions and crashes. A chance to wrap up the series at the final stage in Taupo in March began with a horrendous setback.
Jaden was sitting in poll position when he ripped off a knee slider on the warm-up lap.
‘‘Everything went really, really downhill,’’ Jaden says.
‘‘I had to actually come into the pits while everyone else was starting up on the grid and put a knew knee slider on so everyone was going into turn two before I even got off the line.’’
Valuable seconds had been lost but the Westmere rider got into a rhythm and against all odds managed to clinch the series.
‘‘With two laps to go I hit second and put my head down, caught the leader, passed him and managed to gap it on the last lap.
‘‘It was absolutely all on and we pretty much ran lap record pace all race to try and close him in.
‘‘That was definitely the race of my career,’’ he says.
Reaching the pinnacle of New Zealand motorcycling has consumed a huge part of the now 21-year-old’s life.
He has achieved so much at such a young age and now wants to take a break.
‘‘Winning made all the sleepless nights, training and horrible months before – dealing with all the stress – worth it,’’ Jaden says.
‘‘Part of the reason I’ve decided to take a year off is to give myself mentally a break.
‘‘Suzuki says they’ll always have a bike for me so I’ll come back with the same team, same sponsors and do it all again.’’
As Jaden settles in for a bit of rest and relaxation he may need to keep an eye on 16-yearold Aaron, who is starting to take his older brother’s records one by one.
The youngest rider in the 600cc Superstock championship, Aaron has achieved three podium finishes in a field of experienced riders, some of whom are eight years his senior.
‘‘I just wanted to come into the season and get a podium,’’ he says.
‘‘I’m pretty happy that I got three because there’s a lot of experienced people there.’’
Aaron has treated his first season with Suzuki as a learning curve.
Now with a bit more race time, the top position is in his sights.
‘‘I just want to have consistent podiums throughout the next season and run the pace at the front.
‘‘I would like the championship, but realistically top three.
‘‘I’ve still got a way to go, this year I can definitely make an improvement.’’
While riding in separate classes Jaden says sibling rivalry has never turned sour.
‘‘It’s definitely helping each other out in an intense way,’’ he says.
‘‘We’re all pretty loud so if I don’t think Aaron’s doing something right I’ll tell him and the whole pit will hear it.’’
They both stand at around 1.9m so the Hassan brothers tower over counterparts. Having a well set-up bike is critical.
A good relationship with technicians has also allowed the pair to tweak and mould their bikes into serious speed machines.
The brothers agree there is one key factor crucial to their success – their father’s support.
Jaden and Aaron Hassan with the machines that hurtle them around a track at speeds close to 300kmh.