CAMERON DONALD THE TAS CONNECTION
I’ve done a lot with BMW this past two years with the adventure riding groups. In Australia it’s the fastest and growing segment and BMW still hold the crown with that, complimented by the GS range. Last year I got to go on the GS Safari Enduro from Mildura to Alice Springs, which is a trip for the most experienced of riders. It went up through central Australia, through some of the big deserts and up to Alice Springs. That’s a part of Australia I’d never seen as I’ve always been away racing, so to do that in an 80 strong group of riders. That was epic actually. Some of the things you see and achieve in those massive sand dunes; it is life changing. I really clicked with that and GS owners are a special brand of people. You build the experience and they will come and support it. They arrived from all over the world and after a hard day’s riding, we would have a beer and discuss many things and of course the TT would be part of that.
I was also at the BMW launch of the new RR in Portugal with BMW Australia at Estoril. Ironically one of the manufacturers that I didn’t race for but have had more to do with post racing career than any other brand. In Australia they are the most pro-active brand. BMW is out there doing stuff, holding events like the RR Experience at all the circuits and I got to demo the HP4 at every track.
Yeah I’ve done some really cool stuff with BMW and with my TAS Racing connection it’s great to see my old team working with them also. I would love to have been able to ride the S1000RR at the TT with all the new gismos and can understand why the boys are able to do what they are doing on them now. Maybe I’ll get invited to do a parade lap in 2021 on a SYNETIQ BMW for a TV feature…
Cameron Donald enjoyed a 13-year tenure in pure road racing, but the popular Australian will always be remembered best, for his imperious Isle of Man TT double with TAS Racing aboard Relentless Suzuki machinery back in 2008.
What made that Manx double all the more impressive, was that it came in only his third visit to the TT Races, and but for an oil leak in the closing stages of the coveted Senior event, it would have returned a hat-trick for the Victoria based Aussie.
“That’s racing,” as Donald nonchalantly explained, when we caught up during a recent Zoom chat at his home down under, where he continues to carve out a career in the two-wheel industry as a TV pundit, bike tester and celebrity tour guide. Some of which has been conducted for BMW Motorrad in his native Australia.
After cutting his teeth in the Australian short circuit and Asian championships in the early Millennium years, with some tangible success, an introduction to pure road racing came via the Armco lined Macau Grand Prix. And it was while racing at the Guia Circuit, he got to meet some of road racing’s top performers, where the seed for a trip to Europe and a certain iconic little motorsport mad island in the Irish Sea was sown.
Beer in hand, relaxing on his sofa, Donald clicks back the years, then takes up the story…
YEAH I FIRST GOT TO KNOW ABOUT THE TT WHEN I WAS RACING AT MACAU AND GOT TALKING TO JOHN MCGUINNESS AND MICHAEL RUTTER AROUND 2002. WINNING RACES AND BEING CONSISTENT IN THE SUPERSPORT CLASS AT MACAU LED TO A TEAM GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO COME AND DO SOME BSB ROUNDS IN 2004. THEY WERE BASED IN COUNTY ANTRIM, SO MY FIRST TRIP TO THE UK WAS IRONICALLY TO NORTHERN IRELAND.
I also got the chance to go and watch the TT that year, and once I saw it, I just thought to myself, ‘I have to do this’. I made my debut in 2005 and did quite well, as the leading newcomer; then I was back in Ireland doing the roads.”
Continuing the story, Donald said: “Racing and living in Northern Ireland felt very comfortable. There were so many similarities to me living in a small village out of Melbourne. Work hard and play hard, it was much the same. We were all on the same level. I’ve always been one of those people who struggled with homesickness, big time, and it was probably at the detriment to my career at times. But living in Northern Ireland helped that, as I just clicked with the people.”