IT’S a busy life for Invercargill teenager Michael Wilson.
Studying full-time, after-school work, selling firewood to fundraise and training is all part of the package for the James Hargest College Year 12 pupil as he is about to compete in the seven-round Gixxer Cup, which takes place on various race tracks throughout New Zealand.
It means that before the end of the year, Michael (17), who races a Suzuki GSX150F, will compete in the tri-series at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park, Taupo; Manfield Circuit, Feilding; and Cemetery Circuit, Wanganui.
And it’s bound to be just as busy in the new year when he continues to compete at Christchurch, Levels Raceway in Timaru, Hampton Downs and back up at Taupo for the final in the series.
One of only three motorcyclists in the South Island to be selected to compete, and the only one south of Timaru, he is keen.
Michael, who has also competed at Burt Munro Challenges, said competing on the new Suzuki, courtesy of Southern Suzuki, was quite a change from riding old British bikes, in particular the Rudge he had ridden for the past three years.
Although he took up a Suzuki 250 last year, it was on the classic Rudge he twice placed second as well as a first at Pukekohe Park Raceway, just south of Auckland, earlier this year, which has also boosted his confidence. He also competed last year at Hampton Downs on the Rudge.
He had competed at two previous Burt Munro Challenges, also on the Rudge, winning at Teretonga Park last year on the classic bike.
“I beat dad (Rhys Wilson) by seven seconds.”
Why, at such a young age, was he so keen to race, especially with the old Rudges?
“I’ve been brought up with them. Dad inspired me with his Rudge.”
Rhys also races, including at seven or eight Burt Munros, at three or four classic festivals in the North Island, including Pukekohe and Hampton Downs, and at Methven in Canterbury when it was going.
“He’s basically followed me right round.”
The Gixxer Cup, with the catchphrase “growing future champions”, is aimed at riders aged 14-21, and involves riders on identical Suzuki GSX150F motorcycles.
Asked what his goal was for the seven-round series, Michael said, “to stay upright”.
It was more about the future. “It was more to progress my experience than about placings – that will come with experience.
“As the series goes on… with experience… placings may come, but I’m not looking at placings yet.”
To help fund the venture, Michael not only worked part-time at an engineering firm after school, he has also split and sold firewood for months. On top of school, work and fundraising, he has also managed to fit in on-track training.
Rhys said being a member of the Southland Motorcycle Club as a junior development rider had also helped with some of the funding, with the club “helping out” with entry fees.
It was Michael’s third season on the club’s track at Otatara, where he had competed for the past couple of seasons.
“Working up” is his constant theme.
As well as the bike, leathers and helmet, Southern Suzuki has also helped by transporting his motorcycle around the country.
The first race of the series begins on Sunday in Taupo.
- Firewood for sale, phone Rhys Wilson on 027 221 0999.