CHAMPION KIWI HEADS TO THE NETHERLANDS FOR NEXT ROUND
They say it’s harder to defend a title than it is to win it in the first pace, but, operating this year from her base in Dusseldorf, in Germany, Auckland’s Avalon Biddle will be out to disprove that theory.
The 23-year-old from Orewa was the FIM European Women’s Cup Champion last year, winning the title ahead of Estonia’s Anastassia Kovalenko and Swiss rider Laura Rodriguez, with Hungary’s Viktoria Kis and Britain’s Charlie Oakland rounding out the top five.
It was a winning year for Biddle in 2015, who also became the 450cc Superlites class champion in the New Zealand Superbike Championships.
However, it was an abbreviated domestic campaign for her this season — she contested the final round only of the 2016 New Zealand Superbike Championships at Hampton Downs in March, finishing the weekend sixth overall in the 600cc Supersport class — and she flew off to Germany almost immediately afterwards Biddle had little time to unpack and find her feet before she was thrust into the task of defending her European crown — the opening round of nine in the 2016 European Women’s Cup was at Aragon, in Spain, just over a week ago — but she comfortably won the day and therefore has a valuable early lead in the championship.
Biddle actually finished 15th overall among the 33 riders who lined up at Aragon, but she was the first female finisher in that race. Canada’s Stacey Nesbitt was the next-best female, finishing a long way behind Biddle, in 27th position overall.
The FIM European Women’s Cup is run in conjunction with the men’s FIM European Junior Cup — the competitors race on the track together but are scored separately — and it is an integral part of the glamour World Superbike Championships series, with which it shares the programme at each round.
Racing alongside Biddle is fellow Kiwi Connor London, the Aucklander up against the world’s elite young men in the parallel FIM European Junior Cup.
London finished 18th at Aragon.
The next round of the championship is set for Assen, in The Netherlands, this weekend (April 17).
“I think my campaign will be so much better a second time around,” said Biddle.
“I’m not so nervous any more, I’m getting to like German food and both Connor (London) and I have good Kiwi mechanics to support us, Auckland’s James Charlton and Tauranga’s Jared Love.
“My approach to the European Women’s Cup is different to last year.
“Having now raced all these women before, and beaten them too, my focus this year is to see if I can improve my overall results against the men.
Orewa’s Avalon Biddle is keen to defend her European Women’s Cup title this season.
“The men don’t treat the female riders any differently. We all just see another rider and another bike that has to be respected and, hopefully, beaten on the track.
It’s an extremely competitive atmosphere and, right from the day’s first practice session, it’s all on.”
All the riders in the competition are on virtually identical machinery, competing on identical Honda CBR650F bikes. The women are battling on equal terms within the European Junior Cup competition, while enjoying a unique championship of their own.
The entry fee for the series includes ownership of the bike, the transportation of it to the events, technical and coaching support, tyres, fuel, work-stations and hospitality unit. All the riders need to do is arrive at the track with their riding gear and a mechanic/helper and they are ready to race. At the end of the season they can take the motorcycle home with them.
“Because we’re on identical machinery, it all comes down to rider skill and not an individual’s budget or horsepower that might have been added,” said Biddle.
The European Junior Cup series sponsor is WIL Sport, a New Zealand-based company headed by Phil and Cheryl London, of Taupo. For more than 15 years, WIL Sport has actively assisted more than 200 athletes. Biddle and London both receive massive personal backing from WIL Sport, without whom their campaigns would not be possible.