Hayden Nelson wins Australian title

Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week

Hayden Nelson – motor cycle riding

This week's sportstar winner, Hayden Nelson, with Keenan Groundwater from award sponsor, Iguana.

This week's sportstar winner, Hayden Nelson, with Keenan Groundwater from award sponsor, Iguana.

A BIT of local knowledge played a big part in Hayden Nelson’s win in the 85cc 9-under 11 years final at the Australian Junior Dirt Track Championships raced at Taree Motor Cycle Club’s Old Bar Roadside Circuit.

Hayden, 10, is the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week, earning a $50 open order at Iguana.

He has been riding at the track since he was four. He moved into the age division this year and his form going into the final was strong, with two firsts and a second in the three heats. However, Hayden was the second qualifier behind Tom Drane, who has dominated major races in the division. Tom beat Hayden in the last heat.

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“I knew it would be important to get a good start,’’ Hayden explained.

Experience told him it’s difficult to pass on the Taree track. So the rider who gains the early advantage is well placed to take line honours.

“I was able to get the hole start,’’ Hayden said.

However, there was still plenty of race to be run. There wasn’t much between Hayden and Tom throughout, however, Hayden held on to cross the line and clinch his second Australian championship. He won the seven-nine years 65cc title at last year's national title.

The win caps what has been a busy couple of years for Hayden, who has ridden at meetings in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. Going into the national titles Hayden spent most of his spare time riding on a track carved out at his family’s Tinonee property to gain valuable practice time.

He started riding a bike when he was three, helping his dad, Craig, the president of Taree Motor Cycle Club, round up cattle. Hayden was riding competitively from the age of four.

Earlier this year he contested the Australian junior long course championships at Mildura, where, despite struggling on the track, he still managed two fifth placings in finals. While there he was also grabbed the opportunity to try endurance riding. Hayden took part in the Hattah Desert Race, run by the North West Victorian Motor Cycle Club. There were 85 riders in his age division and Hayden finished 21st outright and 12 in his class.

“It was different racing for two hours instead of a couple of minutes and it was hard riding in the sand,’’ he said.

However, Hayden enjoyed the experience and hopes to start again there next year.

Bike racing makes it hard for Hayden to play other sports, as he can be away on weekends for riding commitments. He has played rugby league and soccer and hopes to have a run of soccer next year with his mates from school. Long term his dream is the same as just about every young bike rider around the world: “I’d like to ride in the MotoGP,’’ he said.