2015 Swann ASC FX Superbike Series Launch – By Trevor Hedge
The 2015 Swann Australasian FX Superbike Championship was officially launched via a live on-line panel show broadcast from AVE studios at Artarmon, NSW, yesterday evening. By 9am this morning the recorded show, which is available for viewing further down this page, had already recorded over 1200 viewers, clearly underlining the anticipation building towards a very promising season 2015. The show will be available on-line here for the next week. Excerpts from the launch will also be shown along with a 2014 season round-up on an SBS Speedweek special which will be televised between 1500 and 1600 on Sunday, February 15.
Promoter Terry O’Neill was extremely pleased to announce a three-year deal with Swann Insurance for the naming rights to the series covering seasons 2015, 2016 and 2017. Providing a level of continuity unprecedented in modern Australian Road Racing, at least since the days when Shell backed the Australian Superbike Championship back at the turn of the century.
Reigning Swann Australasian FX Superbike Champion Wayne Maxwell was to be part of the panel but a cycling accident yesterday morning sent the Melbourne based rider to hospital for stitches in his head and thus he couldn’t make the flight to Sydney. Maxwell was otherwise largely unhurt though and the hiccup will hardly make a dent in his training program let alone in the preparation for his title defence in 2015.
Of course that title defence will not be on the Honda Fireblade SP that he used to such great effect to beat his teammates to the title in 2014, but onboard the all-new 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1M.
Maxwell’s teammates at Team Yamaha for 2015 will be Glenn Allerton, who joins the Tuning Fork brand after a long association with BMW, and previous Team Yamaha incumbent Cru Halliday. At 26-years of age, Halliday is the younger member of the team and showed great sparks of promise along with a new found aggression in 2014 on the unfancied previous model R1. It will be extremely interesting to see how quickly Halliday can get a handle on the new machine. If he manages to out-perform his two extremely well credentialled teammates, the dynamics in the Team Yamaha pit garage might get very interesting indeed!
Both Halliday and Allerton were present for the launch broadcast which may be viewed further down this page. Unfortunately, it is highly improbable that Yamaha will have the new R1-M models in Australia and race prepared prior to the World Superbike Championship event at Phillip Island, thus their first competitive outing on the new machines is likely to be the opening round of the Swann Australasian Superbike Championship at Sydney Motorsports Park on the last weekend in March.
Troy Herfoss was on hand at the launch to throw his hat in the ring for Team Honda where he will ride alongside Jamie Stauffer in what will be a two-rider team in 2015. Team Honda will have the opportunity to blood themselves in competition at the World Superbike round prior to the Swann ASC Series opener, and for that event Team Honda will boast a three-rider line-up with Josh Hook also to ride a Fireblade SP at Phillip Island before he starts his new adventure with FCC TSR in the Japanese Superbike Championship.
Glenn Scott will once again be Honda mounted for season 2015 on a Fireblade SP in what will be his third year in the Superbike class. Scott came out very strong at the start of season 2014 but struggled a little in the latter half of the season, his aim for 2015 will be to not only come out strong but stay strong right through to the season finale at Sydney Motorsports Park the first week in December.
Once again, there is no official Team Kawasaki in 2015 but a bevy of dealer supported riders will front the grid including Sean Condon and Matt Walters.
An interesting development for Kawasaki fans is that Ben Henry’s long running Cube Racing Team continues with its support from Australian Outdoor Living for 2015, and is expanding to a two-rider Superbike team with Mike Jones joining Henry on the ZX-10R machines. Henry is also hoping to expand the team further with two riders in the FX300 Ninja Cup category.
Earlier in the day Kelvin Reilly had announced the plans of his burgeoning BCperformance squad and was present on the launch panel to detail his aspirations for season 2015, the team’s third year in Australian road racing competition. Ben Burke will be joined on the BCperformance ZX-10R Superbikes by South Australian motorcycle dealer Evan Byles. Kyle Buckley makes the step up from the FX300 Ninja Cup category to join seasoned veteran Paul Young on ZX-6R Supersport machines. It will be interesting to see Buckley further develop in 2015, and if he can put one over Youngy in a race or two that will be a huge feather in the 19-year-old’s cap.
NextGen Motorsports effectively pulled the pin at the end of season 2014 but plans are afoot for the squad to be back on the grid in 2015 with a very Kiwi bent! Negotiations are underway to field Sloan Frost and Ryan Hampton onboard BMW machinery. Things are far from settled bus as they say, watch this space…!
Another development, perhaps also a little out of left field, are the plans of Steve Trinder to back Kevin Curtain on an Aprilia RSV4 at selected rounds again in 2015. The Sydney Motorsport Park rounds and Queensland Raceway are on their current radar at least.
Capacity allowances for twins are now pushed out to 1300cc across both of Australia’s domestic race series in order to accommodate the new Ducati 1299 and preparations are being made for Beau Beaton to compete in the Superbike category on the booming Italian thoroughbred. Craig McMartin is also likely to continue his long running Ducati campaign in the Pro Twins category.
Beau Beaton might also make an appearance in Formula Oz, not on the Ducati but on the delectable Irving Vincent. Always a crowd pleaser and a welcome shot of exotica at any race meeting to spice up pit lane.
Terry O’Neill has made some amendments to the rules to help the support categories more effectively contesttheir championships across the long seven-round series by allowing them to drop their worst round from the final results. Or if finances or injuries don’t allow a rider to make a round of the series at all, they are not disadvantaged completely and ruled out of the running for their respective titles, as they are still allowed to compete for the title with their six best performances of the year. This new rule applies to all classes apart from the premier Superbike category.
In other developments the long running three short race format across both Saturday and Sunday is going to be changed up a little for 2015. Some rounds will see riders contest two longer races instead of the three short races, the decisions on individual race schedules for each of the seven rounds are still being finalised and will be announced at a later date but it is refereshing to see things changed up a little. This could also help to bring other riders to the fore who are better able to manage their tyre life or perhaps have less power or a machine that is kinder to the tyres but doesn’t get to show that advantage in the shorter races.
For those of us that simply watch from the sidelines the March 27-29 season opener seems aeons away. For those preparing race teams, race bikes and the promoter’s team putting everything behind the scenes to bed before the season opener, that time will fly by and round one will be upon them before they know it.
After the Sydney Motorsports Park season opener at Sydney Motorsports Park in late March the FX Series then heads to South Australia’s Mallala Raceway on the weekend of May 15-17.
The third round of the series sees competitors return to Sydney Motorsports Park on the last weekend in June before heading to Queensland Raceway in mid-August for round four.
Wakefield Park is the venue for round five on the last weekend in September before the series heads further south to Winton on October 23-25, the weekend following the Australian MotoGP round at Phillip Island. Allowing those riders competing in the Phillip Island Championship as support categories to both the WSBK and MotoGP weekends to move immediately to Winton before the majority of those competitors have to wind their way back further north to home.
The 2015 series finale will be staged at Sydney Motorsports Park on the first weekend in December. And adding a further twist to the series finale is that racing will be conducted until 8pm on the Friday and Saturday evenings. The shape of the final round’s full schedule is still taking shape, but it is looking likely that the final will be a two-day event run as day-night meetings across the Friday and Saturday only. The finale will also witness three long races rather than two short races.
It’s shaping up to be a long and exciting year of competition, round one can’t come soon enough!
Click below for video from the 2015 Swann Australasian FX Superbike Championship launch
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