Switcher quickly makes his mark

YANDINA'S Richie Leech is determined to make his mark in the world of road racing after making the switch from motocross this year.

Tenth on the Australian FX Superbike Championship and leading the rookie cup by 36 points after three rounds, Leech says he is still adjusting to the difference between the two disciplines.

The 22-year-old Englishman cut his teeth during a four-year motocross stint in the US before he took up a ride in Australia three years ago.

Once on the Coast, he crossed paths with fellow motorcyclist and Yandina resident Chris Vermeulen, the 2003 World Supersport champion.

It was then that Leech began contemplating the switch.

"I train off the bike with Chris a lot and do my fitness with him. And he comes out to the tracks when he can," Leech said yesterday.

"Obviously with my motocross background, I know how to ride a bike, but there is still a lot I need to learn with the road racing.

"It's more getting my mind up to speed, because it is obviously a lot faster than the motocross.

"The difference in tyres is obviously a big thing as well, because riding on the dirt is very different."

Following his ninth in last weekend's third round of the Australian FX Superbike Championship at Queensland Raceway, Leech said he was happy with the progress he was making on the new machine.

He has set his sights on a podium finish this year, but in the longer term he hopes to head overseas.

"I haven't done many laps around the Queensland Raceway Circuit, so every lap I felt slightly better and more comfortable," he said.

"I'm only 22 and one of the reasons for the switch is because some of the top guys are 40 years old and still competing, and there is less impact on your body. But the goal is to get where Chris was - that is every racer's goal to get to the top of the world."