South Australian Arthur Sissis produces his first career podium finish today in the Moto3 category. Photo: Getty Images
On the day Casey Stoner said goodbye, his teenage Australian successor may have said hello.
South Australian Arthur Sissis produced his first career podium finish at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix on today in the Moto3 category - the smallest of the Grand Prix motorcycle classes.
In his first year of Grand Prix racing 17-year-old Sissis had never finished above fifth place in 15 previous world championship events.
Yet the Adelaide youngster diced with, and held off a chasing pack in his first race around Phillip Island, riding his Red Bull KTM into third place behind recently crowned Moto3 world champion Sandro Cortese and Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira.
Sissis has graduated from motocross bikes, to speedway, and now road racing.
In a sport where Australian hopefuls always struggle to get financial support and a ride at the highest levels, Sissis has a guaranteed spot on next year's Moto3 grid with Red Bull already signing him for 2013.
But he hopes his podium finish on today's Stoner undercard will unlock more sponsorship potential to keep his dream alive of emulating the two-time MotoGP champion, and other Australian world champions Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner.
"It's going to be hard to do that, but if I keep on going like I am now and keep on progressing through the ranks, hopefully I can be like Stoner," Sissis said.
"I didn't think that I did the best I could this year with some rides, so maybe next year.
"I was really nervous going into the race because I wanted to do well."
Sissis' Red Bull teammate Cortese led most of the race after starting from pole position.
Oliveira made a late-race pass on Cortese, but the German recovered to re-take the lead on the second-last lap.
Oliveira, riding a Honda, finished second.
Cortese had already wrapped up this year's world crown at the previous event in Malaysia.