DOB – 5/12/06 – From Melbourne
He who crosses the line first takes the win, but all the way down the field these kids are having battles and wins of their own, most of which go largely unnoticed.
One kid kicking goals and working his way up the field is 15-year-old Angus Grenfell from Victoria who is currently riding for the Artbox Team in the FIM JuniorGP European Talent Cup Championship.
Angus has a long history of racing in Australia, starting with dirt track and moving to road racing when he was just 11 years old. He achieved many podiums throughout the Oceania Junior Cup series and 2nd overall in the championship in his maiden year. He adapted well and continued this form moving up to the Australian Superbike Championship, Supersport 300 class in 2021.
With a dream of turning his passion into a career, Angus and his mother Lauren have taken the leap and moved their life to Spain for the season. This allows Angus to train on a motorcycle regularly and continue to hone his craft. While I haven’t personally had the pleasure of working with Angus as a coach, he is always polite, pleasant and up for a chat, and just like all the others here is working his hardest to make his way. I admire this and it’s always good to see another Aussie doing well, so help in whatever little way I can.
So far it’s been a tough run, but he is heading in the right direction. The European Talent Cup Class has 50 riders split between two groups, of which only 28 qualify (top 14 from each group) with the remaining 22 going into the last chance race on Saturday afternoon. The top two riders then take up grids spots 29 & 30 in the main race on Sunday, with 3rd and 4th position being reserves.
With 2022 being Angus’ first international race season, and the level in this championship being extremely high, it is no surprise that his season didn’t get off to a fairy tale start. Round one always let’s you know where you are at, and Angus unfortunately found himself not qualifying and missing out on a reserve position for Sunday’s race by 1 place. While it is disappointing for any kid to be in this position, he handled it with grace and got to work. Taking advice from his team and using his mid-week training to be more prepared for the next round.
Round 2 was in Valencia, a track where the Spanish locals excel, and our Aussie riding style tends to suffer the most. Despite this Angus got off to a good start and was already closer to the qualifying cut off than he had been at Estoril. Q1 he finished in 20th position and only needed to find 0.5 of a second to make the cut. He went out in Q2 with some improvements in mind, but unfortunately while saving a near high side on lap 5 the bars moved so violently in his hands that it managed to create a fissure fracture in his wrist. In immense pain he pulled in and that unfortunately was the end of his weekend.
A plaster cast and less than three weeks later, he found himself at round 3 in Barcelona. Coming into the round he was at a disadvantage from the start. He couldn’t train as he wanted between rounds and although the fracture was stable and strong, he was still in pain… Oh and he’d never ridden Catalunya Circuit before.
Thursday and Friday didn’t go so well, riding through the pain and trying to get up to speed while learning the circuit, the best he could manage was 19th position and more than 2 seconds away from 14th position.
Determined to not be beaten he worked with the advice from his team and came into Saturday’s qualifying a new rider. He rode well and managed to drop more than 2 seconds from Friday’s best time, despite this though, he still didn’t qualify, finishing in 19th position in his group and once again in the last chance race (LCR).
After two weekend of sitting out on Sunday we wanted nothing more than for Angus to be in one of those top two positions. The LCR isn’t televised, so we sit there watching the live timing sector by sector. Angus got off to a good start and tagged himself onto the back of the leading group. With two laps to go he was still sitting in 6th position, we watched with anticipation and crossed fingers in the hope that he would get his chance to run in the main race.
Crossing the line with one lap to go he had only gained one place moving into 5th, which was good, but not enough. So when we saw the number 36 jump to 2nd, and then hold it all the way to the line, you could only imagine the excitement. He had qualified!
Knowing there is a possibility you won’t even get to run in the main race, each session and every day is filled with stress when you are below 14th position, and it was clearly not just Angus and his family who felt this. When Angus stepped out of the back of his pit box he was met with cheering from many fellow riders and supporters. The huge grin on his face along with a little tear shed by mum shows the relief felt from what he had just achieved.
While last place on the grid may not look that good on paper, it does show Angus’ hard work, determination, and grit that pushed him through the last chance qualifier. He started the race on Sunday from 30th position and it was going pretty good. Battling for 20th position until he crashed avoiding a rider with just 1 corner to go, bringing his race to an end.
The learning and challenges never stop in this sport, and quite often its difficult more than it is easy, so it’s important to take the wins as they come and acknowledge the progress along the way.
Angus’ journey has just begun and as they say in Europe, “step by step”. Weekend before last he put one foot in front of the other and took a few. Congratulations Angus, I look forward to what the next round in Jerez brings.
FIM Junior GP European Talent Cup