Nitro newbie claims underdog status

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When it comes to the unpredictable world of nitro motorcycle drag racing, being consistent can be just as important as smashing out six second times and 200mph plus top end speeds.

Les Holden is hoping that theory will work out for him with his debut in the ANDRA Top Fuel Motorcycle Championship as part of the Home Group WA Nitro Slam at Perth Motorplex.

Holden will be riding a small cube nitro Harley and said his team will have to race hard to be in with a shot – but what they give away in outright horsepower they can be make up for with the ability to get down the track every time.

“I know that we’re going in as the underdog with a 120 cubic inch bike, but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I think consistency could win the day there.”

The field for the Home Group WA Nitro Slam includes current national champion Mark Drew and former national champions Chris Matheson, Chris Porter and Ian Ashelford.

With 13 riders entered in total for the opening round of the ANDRA championship, Holden said competition for the eight bike field will be tight.

“The pressure will be on everybody and for us just to qualify would be a major achievement,” he said. “If we could do that and win the first round, that would be awesome.”

Since his last time out, Holden has made several changes to the clutch and the fuel system set up with the hope of producing some bigger top end speeds from the nitro Harley.

“Hopefully we will see some improvements, I’d like to see some 7.3 second times,” he said. “I know there are a lot of new riders in the field and experience does count.”

Speaking of experience, Holden does have a fair bit of that in his corner, with Top Fuel and Funny Car driver (and fellow firefighter) Allan Dobson to provide some help with tune up and riding advice.

During the week Holden also got some track time on a big cube nitro Harley, doing some test passes on Gordon Crawford’s bike.

“Unfortunately it kept turning right and touching the centre line at half track,” he said. “If it worked out good I was going to ride that.

“It was a lot bigger and harder to ride than mine, the bigger rear tyre makes a massive difference, it’s very hard to steer. With the clutch set up the cannon was coming in way too late, with that bike you need to apply the power early to have control and we need to just look at realigning the back wheel and checking the wheelie bars.”


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