bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup – 2022 Australian MotoGP
The bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup ran as a support class for the Australian MotoGP round over the weekend, with round victors up on the podium in front of 40,000 fans, in the same spot the MotoGP race winners would stand shortly thereafter.
Running three races across the weekend, Ryan Larkin banked enough points from his two race wins to finish on the final podium position overall, while Levi Russo finished in second place, equal on points with the inaugural Mick Doohan Trophy winner and top OJC racer of the weekend, Hudson Thompson.
The bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup returns next at The Bend over the 25-27 November weekend, wrapping up the season with Harrison Watts carrying a strong lead on 276 points total into the final, and only a point separating Cameron Rende and Hudson Thompson 251 to 250 in second and third currently, meaning it’s still anyone’s game.
Here’s the run down from Phillip Island…
FP & Qualifying
For Day One of the event, the riders arrived as excited as could be expected but unexpected delays through the morning led to a reduction in run-time for the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup riders for Free Practice one. Several minutes were trimmed from the only practice session of the weekend, and as a result, all 20 riders took to the track without delay.
The first laps set saw Alexander Codey lead the way with a 2:16.132 in a session that was destined for rapid progression as the field came to grips with the conditions.
Marcus Hamod brought that down to a 2:14.338 on lap two, with still plenty of time to find in a session that was already half-over.
Five laps were the most any of the OJC could manage in the 15-minute session, and while the bulk of the field were continuing to improve in sectors one and two; sector three proved the most difficult.
With less than a minute left in the session, a light rain made its way over the circuit. Multiple riders were caught out by the sudden change in adhesion and the session was red flagged with 19 seconds remaining on the clock.
Hamod topped the session, followed closely by Hunter Corney and Bodie Paige.
William Hunt led the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup riders back out onto the circuit for the all-important solitary qualifying session at Phillip Island.
Roughly three precious degrees warmer, the more favourable track conditions were paired with a full-length session on the cards, and a lap record of 2:11.343 set by Levi Russo in February to chase down.
Russo topped the table after the first lap, a 2:14.212 the time to beat out of the gate. Hunter Corner made some rapid gains on the second lap, clocking in a 2:12.619 to lead the field by almost a full second.
Hamod was next to ascend to the top and sit in provisional pole with a slightly faster 2:12.594, while current Cup leader, Harrison Watts, sat in third just 0.050 behind.
With three minutes left in the session, a new challenger emerged as Ryan Larkin set a new fastest time of 2:12.175, while Corney continued improving to move ahead of Hamod.
As the chequered flag ended the session, the final push from Larkin was more than enough to secure pole position. Corney was second 0.389 behind, while Hamod rounded out the front row with a 2:12.594.
OJC Cup Qualifying Results
|1||Ryan LARKIN||Yamaha YZF-R15||2m12.175||149|
|2||Hunter CORNEY||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.389||151|
|3||Marcus HAMOD||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.419||148|
|4||Cameron RENDE||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.452||150|
|5||Harrison WATTS||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.469||151|
|6||Levi RUSSO||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.063||149|
|7||Sam DRANE||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.110||149|
|8||James WEAVER||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.354||150|
|9||Alexander CODEY||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.378||146|
|10||Ella McCAUSLAND||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.723||147|
|11||Bodie PAIGE||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.812||147|
|12||Hudson THOMPSON||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.862||146|
|13||John PELGRAVE||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.982||151|
|14||William HUNT||Yamaha YZF-R15||+2.423||148|
|15||Teerin FLEMING||Yamaha YZF-R15||+2.754||148|
|16||Valentino KNEZOVIC||Yamaha YZF-R15||+3.218||147|
|17||Elijah ANDREW||Yamaha YZF-R15||+3.683||145|
|18||Abbie CAMERON||Yamaha YZF-R15||+4.143||148|
|19||Toby JAMES||Yamaha YZF-R15||+4.313||147|
|20||Nixon FROST||Yamaha YZF-R15||+9.567||142|
OJC Cup Race One
The heavens were tempted to rain on the parade of the first of three bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup races, but after a small light band cleared between qualifying and Race One, it was all clear for lights out.
Sam Drane, who started in seventh on the third row, had a fantastic start, moving to second by the end of the first lap, while Cameron Rende took crossed the line in first from fourth.
It was apparently very early in the race, that the traditional trading places game would be on the cards, with numerous leaders over the first two laps. Rende fell to ninth by the end of lap two, while Watts took the lead.
On lap three, Watts looked to build a lead but as they crossed the line, he had fallen to seventh while Rende had returned to battle at the front to dice with Larkin for the lead. Ella McCausland became the unfortunate first to crash at turn ten and did not return to the race.
Lap four saw Marcus Hamod, Alexander Codey and Drane come together in a crash at turn two, dropping the leading group from nine riders to just six. While the trio thankfully returned to their feet, their races were over.
With the field down to 15 with two laps remaining, Larkin brought the pack to the line, managing to hold the lead as the front six crossed in a tight formation.
After a tussle for position throughout the final lap, Larkin played the best hand with the perfect run to the line, edging out Levi Russo by just 0.008 and Rende by 0.012. Watts came home in fourth an agonizing 0.013 behind the podium, missing out on a step for the first time in seven straight races.
OJC Cup Race One Results
|1||Ryan LARKIN||Yamaha YZF-R15||15m43.586||146|
|2||Levi RUSSO||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.008||150|
|3||Cameron RENDE||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.012||147|
|4||Harrison WATTS||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.025||150|
|5||Hudson THOMPSON||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.085||148|
|6||James WEAVER||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.217||150|
|7||Hunter CORNEY||Yamaha YZF-R15||+5.297||148|
|8||Valentino KNEZOVIC||Yamaha YZF-R15||+14.931||149|
|9||John PELGRAVE||Yamaha YZF-R15||+16.533||151|
|10||Teerin FLEMING||Yamaha YZF-R15||+16.562||151|
|11||Elijah ANDREW||Yamaha YZF-R15||+16.563||150|
|12||William HUNT||Yamaha YZF-R15||+30.052||143|
|13||Toby JAMES||Yamaha YZF-R15||+30.083||144|
|14||Nixon FROST||Yamaha YZF-R15||+30.583||147|
|15||Abbie CAMERON||Yamaha YZF-R15||+40.230||144|
|DNF||Marcus HAMOD||Yamaha YZF-R15||+2 Laps||147|
|DNF||Alexander CODEY||Yamaha YZF-R15||+2 Laps||148|
|DNF||Sam DRANE||Yamaha YZF-R15||+2 Laps||148|
|DNF||Ella McCAUSLAND||Yamaha YZF-R15||+4 Laps||149|
OJC Cup Race Two
Following the completion of Moto2 Free Practice 3, the bLU cRU OJC riders took to the track for what would be an incredible second race.
Cameron Rende was first to jump to the front, working from fourth to first on the first lap, with Harrison Watts, Ryan Larkin, Marcus Hamod and Alexander Codey, all within 0.127s at the line.
The 30,000 strong crowd were treated to lap-after-lap of incredibly tight racing, and a five-wide battle to the line for almost every single lap.
By the end of the third lap, the front group of 12 had broken away from the rest of the field, but within this dozen, it was still anyone’s race to win as they were split by only 1.233s, with Rende having to battle with almost half the field to try and hold onto first.
Ella McCausland managed to work her way up as high as fourth on lap four and was right in the mix throughout, while Levi Russo had fallen to 12th only to move to fourth on the very next lap.
On lap five, it was Larkin who took the lead with two-to-go as the pack of 12 continued the fight, separated by less than one second as they jostled and toyed with how best to use the precious tow down Gardner Straight.
The final two laps finally saw a crack appear, splitting off the front seven from the pack of twelve, but it was no more than a crack. Hunter Corney led the chasing group that included Hudson Thompson, James Weaver, McCausland and Teerin Fleming.
Up front it was Russo who took the lead – from 12th two laps prior – into the final lap, thrilling the crowd as the top three of Hamod, Alexander Codey and Russo, were split by 0.009 at the line.
The final lap went to the wire as expected. It was all down to who could set up the best on the exit of turn 10 onto the big sweeping final two corners. Larkin played his cards to perfection to take back-to-back wins, while Rende managed to hold off Russo to take second by five-thousandths of a second.
Notwithstanding the entertaining show the Grand Prix bikes were putting on, the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup had well and truly put on a memorable race two.
OJC Cup Race Two Results
|1||Ryan LARKIN (VIC)||Yamaha YZF-R15||15m36.707||150|
|2||Cameron RENDE (SA)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.064||151|
|3||Levi RUSSO (SA)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.069||151|
|4||Hudson THOMPSON (NSW)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.201||151|
|5||Harrison WATTS (QLD)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.206||153|
|6||Alexander CODEY (NSW)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.233||151|
|7||Sam DRANE (NSW)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.245||151|
|8||Marcus HAMOD (NSW)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+0.268||151|
|9||Hunter CORNEY (QLD)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.370||151|
|10||James WEAVER (NSW)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.377||151|
|11||Teerin FLEMING (VIC)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+1.943||151|
|12||Ella McCAUSLAND (VIC)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+2.015||151|
|13||Bodie PAIGE (QLD)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+2.109||150|
|14||Valentino KNEZOVIC (NSW)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+17.311||151|
|15||Toby JAMES (VIC)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+17.398||151|
|16||Elijah ANDREW (NSW)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+17.488||151|
|17||John PELGRAVE (QLD)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+17.489||151|
|18||William HUNT (NSW)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+19.984||150|
|19||Abbie CAMERON (WA)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+28.674||150|
|20||Nixon FROST (VIC)||Yamaha YZF-R15||+42.164||148|
OJC Cup Race Three
The final race of the weekend for the OJC took to a well rubbered, but cooling track. All eyes were on Ryan Larkin from the outset, with a perfect-points weekend on the cards.
But this is the Oceania Junior Cup, and nothing was a given for the pole sitter- or any other rider for that matter.
From the moment the lights went out at the start, it was clear that the field of 20 were growing in track knowledge and confidence, and while the lap times had dropped by around two seconds from the midday race, the racing had become closer.
Fleming and Andrew were the big movers early in the race, while McCausland and Paige both dropped places in the opening lap.
On lap three, Harrison Watts had taken the lead to start the lap, only to low-side his Yamaha YZF-R15 mid-way through the newly named Miller corner – Turn four. Watts managed to pick the bike back up and finish the race to score what could be crucial points come the finale at the Bend next month.
On the next lap, Miller corner became the sight of ‘the big one’. Larkin was looking to make a move to line up on the inside of the pack of riders coming into turn four, but just as he made the move, so did Andrew. Larkin made contact with the rear of Andrew’s YZF-R15 from behind, resulting in a crash that also collected Cameron Rende.
Andrew hit the ground quite awkwardly, resulting in a trip to medical, but thanks to the wonderful protection afforded by his Shark helmet and Ricondi leathers, the likeable and distinctive young man that is Elijah Andrew was cleared the following morning of any serious injury.
The chaos of Miller corner opened the door for a number of extraordinary big moves. Bodie Paige went from 14th to first, Levi Russo made it to second from 13th and Weaver was sizing up the podium along with a rapid Ella McCausland. While McCausland joined the series mid-season, her rapid rise from back marker to contender was noted by many.
But it was the Bodie Paige show for the rest of the race. After capitalising on the chaos of lap four, Paige edged out to a half-second lead coming into the last lap – an eternity on a circuit like Phillip Island where the tow can be so powerful.
As the pack rounded the crucial turn 10 one final time, it looked like Paige could be swamped by the trio of Sam Drane, Hudson Thompson and McCausland. But the #74 kept his cool, became one with the bike, and brought it home for the win.
Drane was next just 0.169 behind, while Thompson managed to hold off McCausland to take a critical third place.
OJC Cup Race Three Results
|1||Bodie PAIGE||Yamaha YZF-R15||15:m6.867||151|
|2||Sam DRANE||Yamaha YZF-R15||.169||151|
|3||Hudson THOMPSON||Yamaha YZF-R15||.263||151|
|4||Ella McCAUSLAND||Yamaha YZF-R15||.390||151|
|5||Valentino KNEZOVIC||Yamaha YZF-R15||.531||153|
|6||Teerin FLEMING||Yamaha YZF-R15||.660||151|
|7||Marcus HAMOD||Yamaha YZF-R15||.917||148|
|8||Levi RUSSO||Yamaha YZF-R15||.956||151|
|9||Alexander CODEY||Yamaha YZF-R15||1.126||151|
|10||James WEAVER||Yamaha YZF-R15||1.248||151|
|11||John PELGRAVE||Yamaha YZF-R15||1.469||152|
|12||Hunter CORNEY||Yamaha YZF-R15||12.104||150|
|13||Nixon FROST||Yamaha YZF-R15||13.893||150|
|14||William HUNT||Yamaha YZF-R15||13.895||150|
|15||Toby JAMES||Yamaha YZF-R15||13.947||150|
|16||Abbie CAMERON||Yamaha YZF-R15||31.765||150|
|17||Harrison WATTS||Yamaha YZF-R15||52.356||150|
|DNF||Ryan LARKIN||Yamaha YZF-R15||2 Laps||150|
|DNF||Cameron RENDE||Yamaha YZF-R15||2 Laps||149|
|DNF||Elijah ANDREW||Yamaha YZF-R15||2 Laps||151|
OJC Cup Event Points
OJC Cup Series Points