Teen tearaway on track
IT HAS been a year of some highs, numerous lows and a lot of learning for Nathan Houterman.
The Plainland 18-year-old completed his debut season in the Australian Superbike Series at the final round at Phillip Island on November 19-20.
Houterman went into the final round of the season 13 points from third place in the combined A, B and C 1000cc class.
"This weekend was probably the most important event for me this year," Houterman said.
Rain saw Houterman play it safe in qualifying, ending up 12th on the grid for the opening race.
By then the bike had been re-set for dry conditions but rain five minutes before the start threw his plans into chaos.
"I had chewed my wets out in qualifying (the same ones I've used all season) and had no time to try to sort out new wets," Houterman said.
"So on went the old ones.
"I began working my way through the field all the way up to the rear of sixth place when I hit this big puddle and the back-end just aquaplaned out from under me and I slid straight into the gravel trap.
"The boulder pit destroyed my upper fairing and smashed the left hand rear set to pieces and sandblasted the left hand side of the bike.
"So I was unable to continue the race and watched my chance of finishing third disappear."
Houterman's mechanic and dad Matthew worked late and started early on the bike to have him ready to race the following day.
Houterman managed to finish eighth in race two and sixth in race three.
It meant he finished sixth in the series, just outside his top five goal in his rookie season.
There was some good news for Houterman, who competes on a fraction of the budgets of most of his rivals.
"I have at least attracted some industry interest which is a major bonus and should be of some help for next year," he said. "I've learnt a lot from this year and should be a lot stronger and more competitive next year."
As it was, Houterman would not have been able to compete as he did without the support of his sponsors like Avery's Concrete Cutting Service and Porters Plainland Hotel.