Houterman plays it safe for points
FOR Nathan Houterman, his home track advantage at Willowbank wasn't enough to overcome a deficit in the power department.
Houterman finished seventh after the three races of Round 3 of the Australian Superbike Series in the Prostock 1000cc category on June 14-16.
The 20-year-old's 2013 has been a mixed bag so he was hoping to make a mark at his home track.
He had finished seventh in the opening round at Phillip Island, but skipped round two in Tasmania.
"For the lead-up to the round at Queensland Raceway I really needed to get some track time," Houterman said.
"Unfortunately my last two track days were cut short due to having gearbox issues and the next one cancelled early due to a tragic accident."
Instead Houterman got his practice in at Warwick's Morgan Park track, for Round 1 of the Queensland Road Race Championship on June 8-9.
Going in as defending champion, the Plainland-based racer qualified in second position and the grids were to be progressive for the championships.
He was beaten to pole by Brett Kitchin, sparking an intense rivalry between them for the title.
Kitchin on his BMW S1000RR held on narrowly to take race one from Houterman on his Honda CBR1000RR.
"In the second race Kitchin rode a fast race, so I sat in second place behind him and made a move in the second last lap to take the win," Houterman said.
"In the third race I did the same thing but this time it wasn't as easy.
"We exchanged positions numerous times on the final lap.
"In the fourth race I had the race until the final stretch, Brett pipping me over the line by 20 thousandths of a second."
Houterman and Kitchin both finished equal in points accumulated over the round but Kitchin was awarded the title on a countback.
While disappointed at finishing second, the weekend provided Houterman with the perfect practice heading into Round 3 of the Australian Superbike Championships.
"Friday we set up our pit garage, got our bike checked and attended a briefing, plus two 15 minutes practice sessions and tyre marking," he said.
"Unfortunately I knew this round would not be great for me as the more powerful Kawasaki and BMWs would swallow me up going down the straights.
"My goal was to get valuable championship points and to improve my personal best times."
At the qualifying round on the Saturday, Houterman decided to try to save his tyres, putting in just one flat-out lap to qualify 12th on the grid.
But technical issues plagued him in race one.
"I had an issue with my chain stretching," he said.
"When I hit a false neutral and then down shifted the bike rocked back and forward throughout the race."
Houterman finished in 12th position with a best lap time of 1:13.244.
"After repairs to the drive train I was ready for race two," he said.
"I had to take it easy on the start so I didn't damage it.
"By the second last lap I managed to get into eighth spot but struggled to hold the position on the back straight, getting done in the last lap and finishing ninth." In the process he set a new personal best lap time of 1.11.7.
In race three Houterman finished seventh for 11th place for the round, leaving him in seventh spot for the 1000cc class.
Next round of the Australian Superbike Series will be at Eastern Creek on August 3-4.