Houterman joins big boys
NATHAN Houterman turns 18 today, just days after he joined the big boys on his 1000cc Superbike.
Houterman contested the opening round of the 2011 ASBK (Australian Superbike Championships) at Phillip Island, racing in the same fields as the World Superbike competitors, including 2010 world champion Max Biaggi and round one victor Carlos Checa.
While Houterman wasn’t competing with them for points, it was an eye-opener and the teenager grew in confidence as the weekend progressed.
In the first race, he was last of the Australian Superbikes home.
But that in itself was an achievement as five competitors did not finish in the wet conditions.
“It was good to earn some good series points,” Houterman said.
“I played it safe really.
“I’ve only got one bike and it was wet.”
There was also the fact he had only had three previous rides on his new Pro-Stock 1000cc bike and was unfamiliar with the Phillip Island circuit.
In the second race, Houterman’s confidence was up and his results showed it.
He finished 19th of the 27 riders who completed the race and was third of the C Grade riders to finish.
“I pushed a lot harder, got my times down and made my way through the pack,” Houterman said.
“By the end of the race, I had times to match the top three guys.”
It left Houterman hungry for more.
“It was my first race on the 1000cc bike,” he said.
“I really liked it.
“I didn’t find it too hard to come to grips with.”
That didn’t prevent nerves before the race however.
“Hell yeah,” he said when asked if he was nervous.
“But I find I race better when I’m nervous.
“It does leave (once the race starts).
“Then you’re just in a big concentration zone and it’s a big adrenaline pump.
“You’re heart’s racing.
“It’s a pretty demanding workout.”
One of the main reasons Houterman moved up to the 1000cc bike from the 600cc Superstock bike he raced last year is it better supports his 86kg frame.
“I wasn’t getting dropped in the straights when I got into a slipstream,” he said.
“It was really fun, going really fast, up to about 300kph down the straight.
“Into the first corner really quick at about 240kph.
“Phillip Island is a great track – very fast.”
It has given Houterman enormous confidence heading into this weekend’s racing at Tasmania’s Symonds Plains circuit.
While Symonds Plains represents round two of the Australian Superbike (ASBK) Championship, for his Pro-Stock 1000 category it is round one, with Phillip Island a glorified warm-up.
“Everyone else had been practising there in the lead-up at Phillip Island,” Houterman said.
“Symonds Plains is a new track so most of the others probably haven’t used it either.”
Houterman will get another crack at Phillip Island later in the season and is confident he can make a big impression then.
“I expect to go a lot better for the round of the series that matters at Phillip Island later in the year,” he said.