Road Racing News

Overseas TT Heroes: Cameron Donald

When you chat about pure road racing greats from Australia, one name in particular rises to the top, twice TT winner Cameron Donald.

In 2001 a Supersport class winner at Macau, additionally a support race winner at the Australian Moto GP round, Donald went into his maiden TT Races campaign in 2005 carrying an extremely impressive racing CV.

Tipped to gel well with the fabled, mythical Mountain Course, the Melbourne racer who had joined forces with Mick Charnock’s TC Racing squad for his first TT expedition, went onto finish lead newcomer along the way registering impressive 16th, 11th place finishes in the Supersport races.

Additionally in 2005, leading North West 200 newcomer, a podium finisher on his Ulster GP debut with the DMRR Honda team, it was no surprise to see him join one of International Road Racing’s leading squads in the form of Uel Duncan Racing for the 2006 season.

Race week at TT 2006 began in highly productive fashion with a top six finish within the Jester Interactive Superbike race, finishing in front of Mountain Course specialists that included Jason Griffiths, Ray Porter, Carl Rennie and Paul Hunt.

Another top five finish would arise in the sole Supersport encounter, placing just over 31 seconds behind Welsh roads legend Ian Lougher.

Steadily getting closer to matching the pace of the established TT front runners, Donald shocked, surprised, amazed many within the 2e2 Senior race, recording an incredible second place finish, along the way lapping in excess of the 128 mph lap mark.

It would be two years till Donald had a chance of more TT podiums, with his TT 2007 tenure wrote off following an incident at the North West 200 which resulted in a collarbone injury.

The TAS Racing Years:

Towards the end of the 2007 season, Donald back to full fitness was impressing again and his progress caught the eye of various top calibre outfits including Relentless Suzuki by TAS.

The factory supported team soon elected to secure Donald’s services for the 2008 season, it was a partnership that would prove extremely beneficial for both.

Runner-up in a gripping feature Superbike race at the North West 200, Donald went into TT 2008 quietly confident of contending for high level results, taking the challenge to event lap record holder John McGuinness, 2007 Duke Road Race Rankings runner-up Guy Martin and TAS Racing team mate Bruce Anstey.

Consistently near the sharp end of the practice leader board, race week would yield momentous achievements in abundance for the popular Australian.

After problems for early race pace setters John McGuinness and Guy Martin, it was left to former Southern 100 Solo Champion and team mate Anstey to battle it out for Dainese Superbike honours.

Keeping his cool out front, Donald went onto emerge victorious by just over ten seconds. Donald’s maiden TT success was not only the first TT success by an Australian rider in the 21st century, it was also the first big bike TT victory for Suzuki in four years.

Donald made it two wins from two starts at TT 2008 in the corresponding Superstock race, as he outpaced fellow TT luminaries McGuinness and Martin, taking the class honours by over 15 seconds.

His tumultuous race week concluded with a runner-up finish in a dramatic Senior race, which could well have been a third TT triumph for the now ITV4 TT presenter/commentator had it not been for a niggling oil leak caused by a split crankcase on his GSX-R 1000 Suzuki mount.

Now an established modern day TT great, he went into TT 2009 confident that if everything was spot on, clicked together right that more TT triumphs were a distinct possibility.

The pace throughout practice week amongst the anticipated front runners was steadily going up and up but no one could have predicted what Donald would achieve during Thursday evening’s practice session.

Looking at one with the Relentless Suzuki by TAS Superbike, he would go onto record a simply stunning new unofficial lap record of 131.457 mph, making him at the time the first rider to lap the Mountain Course at over the 131 mph lap mark.

Things though can change in the blink of an eye in racing, as showcased by what happened in the corresponding practice session which saw Donald involved in an incident at Keppel Gate, resulting in a shoulder injury that forced him out of the remainder of TT 2009 action.

The following year’s TT Races would prove a highly challenging one for Donald, with just one podium finish secured from the opening Superbike race.

He did though have the honour of riding one of Rizla Suzuki’s Moto GP machines in a demonstration lap, making him the only rider in modern times to ride a current generation Moto GP bike around the fabled, mythical Mountain Course.

2011-2016:

Parting company with TAS Racing ahead of the 2011 season, Donald’s TT tenures from 2011 through to 2013 were with the respected Wilson Craig Racing team, piloting high spec Honda machinery.

Although in these three years, no victories were recorded he did take his TT podium finishes total into double figures.

Superbike class runner-up in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the opening Supersport race of TT 2012 would see him finish agonisingly close to claiming a third TT victory, finishing only 0.7 of a second behind former team mate Bruce Anstey.

After TT 2013, TT 2014 brought pastures new with another manufacturer, this time in the form of the iconic Norton brand.

In contrast to previous rides with Wilson Craig Racing and TAS Racing, who provided him with proven machinery packages, the works Norton’s of 2014 and 2015 were different animals and most definitely works in progress.

Still giving it everything in pursuit of securing top draw finishes, main highlights of his TT voyages with Norton included a solid top 20 placing within the Superbike encounter of TT 2015.

TT 2015 also saw him link up with the world famous Padgetts Racing team for the Supersport races. He went onto secure a brace of 13th place finishes within the middleweight class encounters.

After two years of been away from contending for top draw results, Donald made the decision for TT 2016 to switch back to Wilson Craig Racing.

Ultimately the move didn’t prove prodigious with just one finish secured at TT 2016, a top ten placing in the opening Supersport race.

Since 2016 Donald has stepped away from TT competition but did return to Mountain Course affiliated action at the Classic TT Races in 2017.

Now as aforementioned a member of ITV4’s TT TV coverage, he remains one of Australia’s most recognised, respected, popular two wheel racing exponents.

Words by Stevie Rial

>