WHEN Cameron Dawson made the decision to try his hand on the English tracks this season, the teenager was eyeing little more than a top five.
The 14-year-old and his dad, Ian, had decided to make the monthly trek from their home in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, to tackle the RST Thundersport GB Superteen series in a bid to improve his race craft.
Hoping to eventually start challenging for podiums once he got to grips with the new tracks, top five in the championship at the end of the year was his ultimate goal.
So no-one was more surprised than he was to win the first race of the season before going on to become a regular frontrunner and podium finisher, eventually ending the year as runner-up to Harry Leigh.
“When the season started I was just going to go out and see where I ended up, I didn’t expect to win the first race. That was a surprise,” he revealed.
“This was my first year in England. We decided to go to Thundersport because that was the class with the greatest competition. I wanted to learn more and become faster and we knew that was the best class to do it.
“I didn’t really know where I was going to pitch in so I was happy after the first round.”
After that first win, Dawson, who is backed by Ryan Farquhar, quickly became a podium regular aboard his KMR/Dawson Yamaha R3.
In a championship largely dominated by Leigh, Dawson soon found his feet with the new tracks and enjoyed battling against the UK’s fastest up and coming teenagers.
As the series headed to Snetterton for its final round last month, Leigh already had his hands on the silverware and just needed five points to take the title.
Dawson was new to the Norfolk track and wasn’t sure what it was going to throw at him, so arrived with an open mind. However, it turned out to be his best weekend of the year as he stormed to pole followed by all four race wins and grabbed a new lap record along the way.
“I thought it was going to be a really hard track to learn but I took to it straight away. I knew Harry had to just ride safe to win but I didn’t really think about it and I just got away well and went on to win by 10 seconds.
“I wasn’t expecting that. Then I won again, set a new record and then smashed it again by three seconds and won the final two races. It was a surprise but it was amazing. It certainly gave me a confidence boost to end the year so well.
“The season didn’t always go my way and I had a few rounds which weren’t as strong but there was a lot to take in, new bike and a load of new tracks and new competitors.”
Dawson has also been busy contesting the USBK Junior Cup this year, winning nine races and finishing third, despite missing a round due to a date clash.
But it seems the youngster has enjoyed the English tracks so much he’s decided to come back again next year, although it won’t be on the club scene.
Following in the footsteps of last year’s Thundersport-dabbling wonderkid, countryman Eunan McGlinchey, Dawson is planning on moving into the BSB paddock for a crack at its popular Junior Supersport series.
“Next year I’m going to be racing a 400 in British Junior Supersport and being with Thundersport has helped me learn a lot of the tracks I’ll have to race. A lot of them are still going to be new but at least I’ve got a bit of a head start.
“I think to finish the way we did was the perfect way to end our year. The competition was really tough all year so to come home second in the championship is fantastic.
“I wanted a top five when I entered, and this is just so much better.”
*Main, podium and action images: Colin Port
*Bottom image supplied by Ian Dawson