Kiwi Hero Chandler Has Wildcard Ride In MOTO3

He has been tearing up the tarmac around New Zealand for several years and now Upper Hutt's Rogan Chandler is hoping he can do it internationally as well.

The 22-year-old apprentice carpenter, who races for Yamaha in New Zealand, has been offered a wildcard ride in the Moto3 class at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island, near Melbourne, on October 27 and he will shortly be crossing the Tasman Sea to begin preparations for the big event.

The offer came from owners of the Double Six Motorsport Team, which is operated by Aucklander Chris Malcolm and former Australian professional racer Jack Declyn. Chandler will conduct testing and set-up sessions with the team and the Kalex Moto3 bike at Australia's Eastern Creek circuit, near Sydney, this coming weekend. Chandler won the New Zealand 125 GP title in 2016 and then finished runner-up in the 300cc class the following year, despite his having to skip a round of the New Zealand series when his appendix burst.

He raced a Yamaha R6 in the Supersport 600 class at the nationals earlier this year, finishing fifth overall. "This was not the best result for me ... I had a few crashes," he explained. "I injured my shoulder quite badly and couldn't even raise my hand above my waist for a while, but still I managed to win the day at the final round of the 2019 nationals at Taupo (in April). It was a nice way to end a campaign that had been ruined for me by injuries." His talent and potential was obvious to Malcolm and Declyn, who now give him this opportunity to become New Zealand's first-ever Moto3 racer. "They wanted a Kiwi rider in their team," Chandler said. "Australian rider Yanni Shaw (who won the 125 GP title in New Zealand this season) will be my team-mate at Phillip Island. "I have a wildcard entry for Phillip Island and hopefully I can qualify for the racing proper at the Grand Prix on the Sunday. "I actually wasn't too quick to jump at the chance," he shrugged. "This was because I felt the mountain would be too high for me to climb. It's a pretty daunting task you know? But a friend of mine told me 'don't be an idiot, a chance like this comes along only once in a lifetime', so I gratefully accepted. "I didn't want to get to age 60 or something and look back at this time with any regret. "This is a one-off ride for me. I could never afford to race a full GP season. But it's a dream come true. "I want to use this experience to learn as much as I can and return to race a Yamaha R6 again in the 600cc class at the International Series at home in December and the New Zealand Superbike Championships in 2020."

The MotoGP world championship series (which includes the Moto3 and Moto2 categories) marks the 16th round of 19 in Japan on October 20, with the Chandler debut at round 17 in Australia, while racing follows at Sepang, in Malaysia, on November 3, before it all wraps up at Valencia, in Spain, on November 17.

Words and photo by Andy McGechan