Motrorcycle racer Lachie Thomas moved to Uralla three years ago to help run the family café, Galloping Gourmet. His first ride was at 10 years of age, and now he has his sights on the World Superbike championship and Moto GP.
How long have you lived in Uralla, and why did you relocate from the Southern Highlands?
I have been living in Uralla now for around 3 years, having relocated from Mittagong in the Southern Highlands. One of the main reasons for moving to the New England was the fact that there are a number of good schools. Coming from a family with four children, it was definitely one of the main drawcards. I work in the family business in Uralla – The Galloping Gourmet Café – which has been a very quick way to feel part of the very friendly community.
When did you first become interested in riding?
I first became interested in riding bikes at the age of 10, when Dad bought a Honda CT 110 (Postie bike) home and told me: “If I could start it, I could ride it”. After watching him start it several times, I eventually got the hang of it – and this is when I became hooked. I knew there was no turning back. Since getting a dirt bike as a Christmas present from Mum and Dad when I was 14, I can’t remember a weekend when I wasn’t riding bikes. Even if I wasn’t allowed to ride a motorbike, I’d be on a pushbike.
What is your current ranking with the Superbikes, and where do you compete?
This year I am competing in the Australian Formula Extreme Superbike Series. I currently have a 16-point lead in my grade. My goal this year is to take out the C grade series title and move up into B grade next year.
The series is held mainly along the East coast of Australia. Round 1 was held at Eastern Creek, where we took 3rd place in C grade for the weekend and also set a new Personal Best time of 1:35.553. Round 2 was at Wakefield Park in Goulburn; I had a win for the weekend in C grade and finished 4th overall in race 3. The team and I were stoked with the results, because it means that we have a competitive bike to head into round 3, which will be held at Queensland Raceway.
Having never ridden at Queensland Raceway, I am keen to get some practice in before the race meeting, which will be held in July. Then we head down to Wakefield Park Raceway for round 4.
Round 5 is then to be held down in Winton in Victoria. There is a fair bit of travelling involved, but it’s an enormously exciting sport – there’s no way I would ever miss any rounds.
Describe the bikes that you ride?
This year I am riding a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. We chose the Honda, because it is one of the lightest and most manoeuvrable bikes in the Superbike field. When we were deciding which bike to go with, we also looked at the race tracks we would be racing on this year.
A lot of people make the mistake of choosing the most powerful bike they can get hold of and not taking into consideration the technical tracks, where horsepower isn’t the most important element. This was one of the major considerations when choosing the Honda.
Although the class is named ‘Superbike’, we have rules and restrictions we have to follow, so that all the competitors’ bikes are as competitive as each other. This means that it comes down to the rider’s ability and our ability to set the bike up to suit the conditions of the track. It’s all about suspension and set up, rather than horsepower.
Unforgettable moments in your racing career?
The time I was racing at Winton Raceway in Victoria and I had qualified on pole, started well, but was overtaken halfway through the first lap. The next thing, a rider crashed in front of me – and we both ended up in the gravel. The consequence of that was I lost the Australian Nakedbike title by three points.
Do you have or need sponsors?
This year I am lucky to have support from Ed and Irena from ‘Oz Motorcycle Leathers’. They are the Australian Suppliers of GIMOTO Leathers from Italy. They supply me with made to measure race suits. The leathers I am currently wearing are made from 100% kangaroo hide; this is significantly lighter than the normal cow hide suits. The leathers fit perfectly and look great. Oz motorcycle leathers are in Surry Hills in Sydney.
Support has also come from Georgie from ‘Armidale Food For Thought’ and of course, ‘Galloping Gourmet of Uralla’. It is fantastic to have support from local business in the New England; there is so much this area has to offer. It is exciting to be able to promote the area for its services and attractions through the wide coverage that the Australian Formula Extreme Superbike Series has with both free to air and pay television coverage.
It is an expensive sport, so we’re always looking for sponsors! Companies can help us ‘in kind’ or pay to put their logos on the bike, helmet etc. I’m happy to be a superfast billboard!
There are sponsorship proposals outlining all the benefits for local business available by contacting Lachie on 0458 712 429 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Does your family support your love for this sport?
The support from my family is one of the most important aspects of my racing career. Without the support from my family and dad (David Thomas), there is no way I would be at the level I am now. He has been my coach and mentor right from the start.
What about the danger?
Motorcycle racing has come a long way in the last few years in terms of rider safety. The safety equipment that we wear is the best quality and while sliding down the road at 180 km per hour looks like it hurts, pride is usually the only thing that is damaged.
There is no denying this is a dangerous sport; however, the only time we are ever going fast is on the track in a controlled environment – where the conditions have been determined safe by a lot of well qualified people and there are medical personnel on stand by who can usually get to an injured rider within seconds of an incident.
What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal would be to do well enough in Australian Superbikes to eventually head overseas and race in the Spanish Grand Prix. From there, I would move up into either the World Superbike championship or Moto GP.
This story was published in issue 61 of New England Focus