AFTER cutting his teeth in the 2011 Australian Superbike (ASBK) Series, Nathan Houterman is looking forward to putting the lessons learned into practice in 2012.
In a sport where any extra weight is a disadvantage, Houterman has had to find ways to compensate for his 186cm, 86kg frame.
"I've been working on my off-bike fitness in the off-season with distance running of about 10-13km every two to three days, sprints once a week and a bit of light weight training," the Plainland 18-year-old said.
"I have also just joined back up with A1 Boxing to further my off-bike fitness."
Houterman has also lined up a host of new sponsors to help him continue to compete with the big budget teams in his 1000cc Prostock class.
They range from Avery's Concrete Cutting and the Plainland Hotel to Dunlop tyres, making his task of keeping up with the big budget teams a bit easier.
"I've managed to get full K-Tech suspension support for the year," Houterman said.
The bad news is Houterman's improved fitness won't be matched by an improved bike for round one of the ASBK series at Victoria's Phillip Island from February 24-26.
"Disappointingly, I've not been able to attract major bike manufacturer support yet so I'll be competing the 2012 season on my 2010 Honda CBR 1000cc Prostock bike, due to financial constraints," he said.
"Last year was tough with all the interstate travel. It's going to be very hard to stay with the front-runners on my dated Honda but it should be a step forward towards hopefully attracting major bike manufacture sponsorship for a more competitive next season."
Houterman remains optimistic he can overcome some of his bike's shortcomings this season.
"While the bike might be a bit less competitive this year, as a rider I am starting to get to know the interstate tracks," he said.
"I'm still getting faster and getting to know the bike better, as well as continuing to improve on my racing skills. So 2012 is shaping up to be a very interesting year again.
"My goals are to make the top three in A/B grade Prostock 1000cc in the ASBK.
"All of the rounds apart from the Barbagello round (Western Australia) will have the Prostock 1000cc class racing with the Superbikes but scored separately. I'm really looking forward to the longer races which really suit me."
Houterman will practise at Queensland Raceway next week in a final tune-up before heading to Phillip Island.
"Round one at Phillip Island is part of the World Superbike Championships so it will be great to share the pits with the world superbikes and extremely exciting to be watching them compete in that atmosphere," he said.
"Qualifying will be tough but with a few races under my belt at Phillip Island, I now feel I know the track much better."
On debut last year, having never previously seen the Phillip Island track in person, Houterman finished third in the 1000cc Prostock C class.
While he chases national glory in 2012, Houterman will not neglect his home state's honours, pursuing the Queensland Superbike title at Warwick and hoping to go one better than his second in last year's Queensland Road Race Championships.
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