By Russell Bennett
Tom Bramich pilots what are essentially rocket ships on two wheels, but there’s so much more to his journey as a motorcycle racer than just outright speed.
The Beaconsfield 21-year-old has composure, maturity, discipline, racing IQ and sheer talent in equal measure – all the ingredients of a champion.
Testament to that is Bramich following in the footsteps of Aussie motorsport legends such as Mick Doohan and Daryl Beattie as winners of the coveted RK Chains Samurai Trophy.
The annual award, presented earlier this month, recognised Bramich as Australia’s most improved and outstanding young talent – both on track, and off – during the 2018 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) season.
The trophy – one of the most iconic in Aussie motorsport – capped off a remarkable season for Bramich, who earlier claimed the Australian Supersport 300 title.
He races all around Australia at the nation’s most iconic racetracks, and capped off his Supersport title in style last weekend with a win at Phillip Island.
His remarkable consistency is one of his biggest strengths, but he’d be the first to make one key admission – there’s no way he could achieve what he has to this point without his incredible support network behind him, including his family, friends, sponsors and crew.
Bramich raced in two classes this year – Supersport 300, a premier class including a range of different manufacturers and bikes; and the R3 Cup, an incentive-based Yamaha cup.
It was at South Australia’s Tailem Bend – where Bramich qualified in pole position, and picked up a pair of wins and a second-place finish – where he first started to believe he could be in contention for this year’s Supersport title.
Another key factor behind Bramich’s success this season was Trevor Manley, who he worked with to continually improve his bike.
“Trevor went above and beyond every single time to make our bike better and faster,” he added.
Not only did Bramich clinch the title at Phillip Island, he also picked up a race win to do so. He said simply focusing on winning the race kept any potential distraction of his place in the championship out of his mind.
“The thing in our class is that you can’t be conservative – you have to always try and attack and go for the lead, otherwise you’ll just end up nowhere,” he said.
“I think that really helped me narrow my focus because I just knew I couldn’t think that way. It was actually easier to try and go for the win than to just try and conserve points.
“Winning the championship, the main feeling was relief – and just feeling so happy for everyone who helped me get there; all my sponsors, Trevor, my mum and dad, and everyone else.
“I get all the glory of being on the bike and winning, but without the people behind me and backing me it wouldn’t be possible for me to even be there.
“I was just so happy for the people who’d done so much to help me get there. Just having your team believe in you, no matter what, makes such a huge difference. It doesn’t just all come together – you have to have the team, the bike, and then the rider.”
Moving forward, Bramich is weighing up his options – which could lead to competing in Europe next season.
“I really hope it opens up a few opportunities to race in the World Championship – that’s where I’d like to set my sights – or to race here domestically on a 600 Supersport bike,” he said.
“We’ve got a fair few options to consider and we have to work through those in the next few weeks.”
But he knows those options wouldn’t even be possible if not for the support he’s received along the way so far.
“With a lot of friends and local businesses in the area, it made it possible for us to even race,” he said.
“They’ve been a great support, not only in terms of sponsorship, but just their support at the track.
“Just them being there means they believe in me, and when we win, we all win together and that’s the fun part.”
His is an extremely expensive, logistically challenging sport to travel to, and compete, all over the country.
“It’s an expensive sport, and without people helping you it wouldn’t be possible to do. It’s just the nature of the sport,” he said.
When it comes to the key to his success in 2018, it’s impossible to look past Bramich’s remarkable consistency.
He didn’t finish off the overall podium at any one round, with third his lowest result.
He also didn’t have any race DNFs (Did Not Finish) to his name.
He puts this, in part, down to his analytical way of thinking while riding, and his ability to execute a carefully-calculated strategy.
“I don’t think I’m the fastest outright rider, but I’m probably one of the smartest,” he said.
Bramich was keen to thank his sponsors in helping him achieve the remarkable in 2018. They include: Yamaha Motor Australia, JLT Sport, Nolan Helmets, Ricondi, Forma Boots, TM Performance, Nelsigns, Autobarn Narre Warren, Extreme Clean, Boardpro, SJG Plumbing, Northside Prestige, and Pablo’s Motorcycle Tyres.