AMBITION: Chad Reed tries out the Newcastle Showground track yesterday. Picture: Darren Pateman
CHAD Reed feels he is starting to hit top gear again as he prepares to celebrate tonight the career of the man who hardened him for his rise to the pinnacle of motocross and supercross racing.
Despite missing the first of four Australian Supercross Championships rounds, Reed is in the running to steal a fifth title tonight in the series finale at Newcastle Showground.
The Kurri Kurri-bred superstar trails defending champion Jay Marmont by 15 points and second-placed Daniel McCoy by eight after winning the past two rounds. Marmont, who won the first round, needs only a top-three finish to win the series. Reed is equal third with Lawson Bopping.
But with Newcastle as the setting, the return of multiple world and AMA Supercross champion Reed and the final top-level race of his cousin, Craig Anderson, will hold equal billing with the title tussle.
Reed was pleased to be involved in the farewell to Anderson, a 13-time national champion.
‘‘It’s a sad and exciting moment to be part of,’’ Reed said. ‘‘You’re celebrating an amazing career, the winningest rider in the sport in Australia. To have a cousin like that to look up to all of my life has been huge.
‘‘I’ve followed in his footsteps and for the most part always tried to outdo him.
‘‘I thrived on trying to be better than him.
‘‘If he did something at 17, I’d wanted to do it at 16.’’
Reed, one of Australia’s richest and most well-known sportspeople, is ramping up his return to the sport after a horror crash in February which sidelined him for nine months with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and broken leg, ribs and vertebra.
The 30-year-old credits Anderson with helping foster the toughness and drive that has taken him to the top.
‘‘We’ve always challenged each other,’’ he said.
‘‘As kids he was the big brother I never had and I’m sure I was the little brother he picked on the whole time.
‘‘I remember having a broken wrist and getting out of a cast and two days later he pushed me over and I broke it and had to spend another six weeks in plaster. It was tough love.’’
Reed gave the showground track the tick of approval after a run-through yesterday, saying it was the best he had seen in Newcastle.
Although keen to put on a show for his home-town fans, Reed was focused on building towards his American campaign.
He returns to his Florida home on Monday to begin preparations for the AMA Supercross series, which starts on January 5 in Anaheim, California.
From there he will compete in 17 rounds over 18 weeks.
‘‘I’m feeling pretty bouncy this weekend,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve had a great week at home.
‘‘You take nine months away from it and you kind of ride yourself back into a pace.
‘‘I feel like the pace is starting to come back for me now.
‘‘I’m praying for good weather tomorrow and we get a clean race.
‘‘The 20 laps is for me about just laying it down and seeing what I’ve got.
‘‘I want to leave here knowing we need to work on this or that, or we’re going quite well.’’
Marmont was focused on making a strong start and riding smart tonight.
‘‘Chad’s an awesome rider and he always lifts a level in Newcastle. He’s been doing it here since he was 15,’’ Marmont said.
‘‘He’ll be hard to beat, but I’ve prepared well mentally and physically and hopefully I can match it with him.’’
More than 5000 tickets had been sold yesterday for the event, which starts at 6.30pm.