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Lewis Heads Back To Europe


MARCH 18, 2015: Rangiora's Jake Lewis is packing his bags again for a season of motorcycle racing in Europe.

Although still aged only 19, it could be said that this multi-time former New Zealand road-race champion outgrew the domestic scene a long time ago.

Now with a couple of years of overseas experience, he will again this year tackle the competition that is just one step below the full World Superbike Championships (WSBK), the European 600 Superstock class.

"I will tackle the series by travelling by van and caravan between the countries, just like last year," said Lewis, who will again be joined by girlfriend Avalon Biddle, the girl from Orewa who also turned heads with her results last season competing with success in the parallel European Women's Junior Cup.

"Most of my new MVR Yamaha Racing Team is Dutch, although with a few Belgian mechanics, and they will take the bikes and hospitality set-up from event to event. I just have to turn up and race."

He is no stranger to racing the world's elite and such a long way from home.

Lewis was just 16 years old when he won the New Zealand 125GP title on debut in 2011 and then he secured the 600 superstock crown the following year, collecting the New Zealand GP titles in both classes along the way.

He took his Yamaha R6 to finish third overall in the 600cc Supersport class in 2013 before heading to Europe to tackle the eight-round  European Junior Cup competition in 2013 and he stunned the world by winning this competition on debut.

The European Junior Cup is an entry-level class to the World Superbike Championships and open to riders from all around the world aged between 14 and 19.

Winning that title certainly kicked open a few doors for the young Kiwi, who returned the following year to race in the next higher level of competition, the European 600 Superstock class.

That proved to be a mixed bag for the South Islander in 2014 and he had to settle for 31st overall at season's end, but still he'd done enough to attract the attention of some of the big teams in Europe and will now race for the MVR Yamaha Racing Team, based in the Netherlands.

"I found it was a big step up last year to go from the European Junior Cup to the European 600 Superstock class and it will possibly be tougher this year because they have just raised the age limit from 21 years to 26 for 2015.

"We will race in Spain, Holland, Italy, Portugal and France this year. They gave dropped the United Kingdom off the calendar and there are seven rounds in total with the opening round at Aragon, in Spain, a double-header.

"I came up against these Yamahas during the series last year and they were very fast machines. They had so much power. I guess it's the old saying 'if you can't beat them, join them'.

"The MVR Yamaha Racing Team approached me at the end of last season and it's good to know that people were watching me and noticed that I had potential. Hopefully I can progress next season to racing the full WSBK championships series.

"I'm really excited about this. It is a fantastic opportunity. I guess it's a make it or break it year for me and I'll be putting everything on the line."

The first round is on April 12, but Lewis has work to do in Europe with pre-season bike testing before then. He left New Zealand on March 8 to get an early start.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan,