Andrew Kisbalazs, a 21-year-old motorcycle mechanic from the Gold Coast, has won the 2015 Ulysses Club Motorcycle Apprentice of the Year Award for the Queensland/Northern Territory zone.
Andrew, who completed his apprenticeship at the beginning of the year, receives a $1000 Supercheap Auto voucher and also moves forward, as one of four national zone winners, as a candidate for the national Ulysses Club Motorcycle Apprentice of the Year Award.
The 28,000-member Ulysses Club created their Motorcycle Apprentice of the Year Award, known as MOATY, to find the country’s best 4th-stage motorcycle apprentice and to promote the idea of a career in the motorcycle industry.
To find the national winner, the country is split into four zones – Qld/NT, SA/WA, NSW/ACT and VIC/TAS – with the winner of each zone shortlisted for the national title.
Though Andrew has been riding and working with motorcycles for years, winning the Qld/NT zone award was a bit of a surprise.
“Motorbikes run in the family,” he said. “My dad’s been riding motorbikes all his life and I got my first bike when I was probably six years old, so becoming a motorbike mechanic was the logical thing.
“I was pretty surprised to win,” he added. “I know I am a good worker but it’s tough to know what the other candidates were like, so to come first in the region is pretty great.”
Andrew works at Ellis Race, Trail, Ride on the Gold Coast. A motorcycle repair business and retailer of a range of bikes – including GasGas, AJP and the Christini all-wheel drive brands – the business is owned and run by Paul Ellis, himself a previous winner of the Ulysses Club Qld/NT zone award.
Understandably proud of his employee’s success, Paul said he knew Andrew had something a bit special as soon as he took him on as an apprentice.
“He was a standout straight away,” said Paul. “It’s not just his knowledge. He actually wants to impress and always puts the extra effort in. I got very, very lucky with him and if anyone tried to poach him off me I’d be poking them off with a stick!
“Honestly, I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t won it. And I think he is a very good chance to win the national title.”
The procedure to win the Ulysses Club award includes a tough interview process with the Club’s national adjudicator Graham Moore. Nominees are grilled with a number of tricky technical questions to gauge their knowledge and skill, and their answers are then combined with other factors, including submissions from employers, supervisors and training providers, before a winner is chosen.
It was, said Graham, another year of exceptionally strong nominees. “The standard of candidates was very high,” he said. “The interview I have with the nominees includes questions regarding practical mechanical and electrical skills on matters such as EFI systems, suspension systems, brakes, engines and electrical systems. And Andrew absolutely blitzed them. His technical knowledge was brilliant.”
Andrew was guided through his apprenticeship by experienced MTA Institute trainer Ken Rahley. Having also trained a number of other students to Ulysses Club awards – including last year’s national winner Peter Cooke – Ken is confident Andrew has what it takes to win the national crown.
“Andrew is very good,” he said. “And this win really shows how good he is. He is one of my standout students.
“In this job, when you get students who flourish, take your lead and expand on that, it is very gratifying and I would not be surprised if he took out the national competition.”
The announcement of the National 2015 Ulysses Club Motorcycle Apprentice of the Year winner will take place at the Club’s national rally in Launceston, Tasmania which takes place from February 29 – March 6. The national winner will receive not only the prestigious title but also the top prize of a new Honda CBR500R motorcycle along with 12 months insurance from QBE.