The moments surrounding 4.40pm on Sunday, August 26 in Horsham, Victoria, will never be forgotten in the mind of 16year old, Bailey Malkiewicz. The talented motocross racer, steered his Yamaha YZ125 through the final left-hand turn of the circuit then hit the finish-line jump, whipping his bike sideways and landing as the 2018 World Junior 125cc Motocross champion!
The calmness of his state of mind was the complete opposite of what had happened in the hours before. Malkiewicz was a pre-event contender in the 14-17 years 125cc world championship as he dared to dream about being a world champion but with little knowledge of the competition, his questions and doubts could only be answered when the racing began.
Malkiewicz started the weekend strongly, posting top five times in both the free practice sessions as his confidence grew. Then it was down to business in the qualifying session where he notched up a fast lap right at the end of the session to give him P-2 and an early selection of his starting position.
Race one and it was on. It’s a two-race affair to be a world champion and it’s time to lay your cards on the table. Malkiewicz rounded the first turn in third and quickly moved into second place and was in pursuit on race leader Mattia Guadnini. On lap two, he drew alongside Guadnini as they entered a tight left hand turn and the pair collided with Malkiewicz falling from his bike. He quickly remounted as he maintained second place and tried to claw back the lost time, but he couldn’t bridge the gap, forcing him to settle for second place.
The second race proved an edge of your seat affair as it was again the two combatants out front. This time it was Malkiewicz with the lead but a mistake on lap five let the Italian through and into the race lead. Malkiewicz stayed close and kept the pressure on with Guadnini cracking on lap 13 of 16, where he went down, as Malkiewicz charged through to take the race lead.
As the strong and vocal crowd saw Malkiewicz come past with the race lead, they got to their feet and cheered the Yamaha young gun on. It was obvious exactly where Malkiewicz was on the track as the crowd noise drowned out the bike and as a wave swept around the Horsham circuit.
With a five second gap entering the final lap, Malkiewicz held his emotions at bay and did exactly what was required. He rode a mistake free final lap as the crowd wished him to the finish line and at 4.40pm on a cool winters afternoon, Malkiewicz became Australia’s and Yamaha latest world champion.
“I just can’t believe that happened,” Malkiewicz said at race end. “I was doing all I could to pressure Mattia, but I could never get close enough to attempt a pass. He rides so consistently that I was beginning to think that I might be able to get by then he made a mistake in one of the rutted turns and I was able to grab the lead.
“Those last few laps are something I will never forget. I could see and hear the crowd as I rode around. There were Australian flags and airhorns everywhere and I just tried to keep my concentration as we still had a few laps to go and I couldn’t afford to lose focus. But the atmosphere was awesome and with about half a lap to go, I figured a had enough gap, so I was able to relax and bring it home.
“Crossing the finish line and seeing every one of the fence waving and cheering was amazing. That’s the part I will never forget. Then to ride over to my team and my family and see how happy and it excited they were was cool. I wanted win here but you never really think it will happen until it does and I’m so happy that I was able to do it.
It has been a sensational year for Malkiewicz who only two weeks earlier wrapped up the MXD (under19) class at the MX Nationals in his very first attempt and now, is the world 125cc Junior Motocross Champion.
“I can’t thank everyone at Yamaha Australia and the WBR Bulk Nutrients Yamaha team enough for all the support and belief in me this year. It has been an awesome season so far and the help and support they have given me has been so good.
“I also couldn’t do it without my family. To see the look on my parents face after the race when I won was the best and he puts in just as much work as me. All my family give up so much for my racing and this makes it worthwhile and they have all played a huge part in my success,” Malkiewicz signs off.
On hand to witness Yamaha’s newest world champion was Ray Howard, head of the Motorsport Division for Yamaha Australia.
“What a fantastic effort by Bailey, his family and the entire WBR Yamaha team and on behalf of Yamaha, congratulations to them on a great accomplishment. Winning a world title at the age of 16 against a high quality international field is an amazing feat and we are so proud of the efforts of everyone involved.
“Bailey proved that with hard work, dedication and great people around him anything can be achieved and at the atmosphere at the track in the moments after his victory made it memorable for everyone at the venue. Bailey deserved his success this year and 2018 will be hard to top for him but he is a special talent and a star of the future.
“Again, congratulations to Bailey and the WBR Yamaha team on behalf of Yamaha and we look forward to more success in the coming years as he develops as a professional racer,” Howard ends.