NSW Central Coast’s James Weaver can’t wait to get back on track for the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup Grand Finale, rounds 2 and 3 of the Australian Superbike Championship at Wakefield Park Raceway, December 3-6.
The 12-year-old Woy Woy Public School student in his first year in the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, presented Motul, is thrilled racing is recommencing having been on hold for several months because of COVID-19.
Weaver began riding at the tender age of 4-years-old aboard a Yamaha PW50, at the Central Coast Junior Motorcycle Club, where he gained a passion for motorcycles and racing.
“It was a bit scary as all the other kids were much bigger than me, but it was really good fun,” Weaver recalls.
While he excelled at dirt track and progressed through to the 65cc and 80cc classes, he had always wanted to try road racing.
At 8-years-old, Weaver had a weekend training with Oceania Junior Cup Official Coach, and former MotoGP rider, Damian Cudlin, at Port Macquarie.
“I always had an interest in it as Dad had done it and I had a weekend training with Damian. That was it, I was hooked,” said Weaver.
His Dad, Mark Weaver fondly remembers the training session. “He had a go on the Kayo and came in with a big grin and said that’s what I want to do. He got a Kayo for Christmas that year and started doing ongoing training with Damian.”
Fast forward three-years and Weaver is now one of a select few racing in the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup as part of the ASBK Championship.
However, it wasn’t a smooth transition for the young Weaver as he broke his collar bone two days before the Official ASBK Test in January this year, and only received doctors clearance to race three days before round 1 at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
“I was very nervous, and I was really scared because everyone had been training twice a week and I had been off the bike for six weeks.
“But the first race was really good. I just had to get my rhythm back, and I improved a lot over the weekend reducing my times by 5 seconds.
“It was very nerve racking competing in front of the WorldSBK paddock, but I enjoyed it.”
Weaver is now focused on cementing solid results at the Grand Finale at Wakefield Park Raceway.
“I’ve been to Wakefield a few times and I like the track, although it’s bumpy. The racing at Wakefield will be close.
“I feel pretty confident of a good result. I’d like to try and get a top 10 result.”
Weaver will compete in the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup in 2021 and plans to do plenty of training on a Yamaha 300 in the hope to compete later in the year in the YMF R3 Cup.
“I would like to get a top 5 next year in the Oceania Junior Cup and hopefully, by the end of the year race in the R3 Cup.”
Weaver hopes racing in the ASBK leads one day to being able to race in either the WorldSBK or MotoGP, but for now he can’t wait to get back racing with his mates in the Oceania Junior Cup.
“It’s really tight racing, like one lap you could be running 2nd and the next lap you could be running 10th.
“When you are on track it’s like a war, and then when you come back in, everyone is like good race. We are all friends.”
His Dad, believes it is the Oceania Junior Cup training both on and off the track that is setting up not only James, but other riders for the future.
“The racing is a good indication of Damian’s training and when James enjoys what he is doing, he really excels.
“I’m very proud because James’ riding has far exceeded anywhere I could have gone.
“It’s just a really good experience being with my son, bonding with him, and doing something that he loves doing and something I love watching him do.
“When he was young I used to worry about him a lot because I had no control over what he was doing, but now I’m fully confident in his riding ability. He’s quite advanced and that’s due to the training he is doing with Damian.
“The Oceania Junior Cup kids are so fast. They are incredible to watch and love what they do.
“They are all great kids. They are modest, there is no big egos, and they are really good sportsmen.”
While being a confident, yet a modest young man in his racing abilities, James’ Dad realises his son will have bragging rights over him for many years to come.
“Ever since James has been 9-years-old, James he has smoked me,” he said laughing.
Whereas for James, the best thing about beating his Dad’s track time by 6 seconds was on returning to the pits and hearing his Dad say: “I’m proud of you”.
ASBK race fans will be unable to attend the Grand Finale at Wakefield due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, fans can catch all the action live via ASBK TV partners SBSHD, Fox Sports Australia and Fox Sports Asia on both Saturday and Sunday
Pictures by Andrew Gosling and Russell Colvin