NextGen BMW rider and three-time Australian Superbike Champion Glenn Allerton is currently on the sidelines with injury, but was a very interested and close observer of the ASBK proceedings at Morgan Park on the weekend.
Trev caught up with Glenn to get his thoughts on how the weekend unfolded, and how he rated the performance of the guys and teams he generally races against.
Trevor Hedge: So Glenn, I think it’s fair to say here at Morgan Park that the Penrite Honda squad overall has really dominated this weekend. They’ve done such a good job in giving Troy the tools he needed, and Troy brought it home for them…
Allerton: It’s absolutely a package. The Honda team have given him a good package. There are five other riders who are really good riders, but right now Troy’s head is around that Honda, and the team is doing a great job, they always seem to have a bit extra when they need it.
In those races you could see that Troy knew just how much he could let them go – in that first part of that second race, you could see when that gap got a little bit too big for him he could just close it down. I was helping out with some circuit commentary and everyone was quite excited about Bayliss doing a lap record of 12.9 and I said, ‘You have to watch Herfoss here,’ because as soon as he got past Maxwell and he had some clean air and needed to push, he did a 12.6 straight away.
That’s a blistering lap, that’s as good as in qualifying… half way through a race on a race tyre… They’ve got quite a good package there, he’s confident and he’s recently done a fair bit of riding at the Suzuka 8 Hour. You can see the way he carries himself on the bike that he’s done a lot of time lately. Penrite Honda are the package to beat.
You know this racing can do funny things though. I feel like at the start of 2017 when I broke my arm, I thought I had the package to beat and I was the form rider. Then the first practice at Wakefield I broke my arm…
The thing about this game is, none of us are invincible. Troy still needs to keep doing all the things he needs to do. This sport can be cruel sometimes. It’s the same for all the riders, you have to keep pushing, and the Honda team have done a good job pushing themselves into a position where they have a rider who’s confident and they have a really good motorbike. That’s what we just saw, an amazing performance.
Trev: A one rider team….that can have its advantages, but also at this level it can have its advantages, in regards to having two fast riders working on set-up and tyre longevity together pooling that knowledge. What’s your take on that situation?
Allerton: I just think that they have elevated the team to another level, no disrespect to Freebie (Paul Free, previous team owner), and what he had with the old team, but with Deon (Coote) taking over the team I think they have probably taken things even a little higher, and perhaps now have even more funding, with Deon and Elite Roads backing their campaign.
They’ve also done a great job in letting Clarkey do his job as crew chief. I won my first championship with Shaun Clarke and the guy is really smart, and obviously he’s only got better since then. I think maybe the budget being a bit bigger for those guys, and being a one rider effort, it is probably a bit easier – with the budget side of things. They’ve actually – and I said this earlier – from Tailem Bend this year on, things have definitely developed and progress been made.
Trev: And what do you think about Troy Bayliss this season, coming back, is he about where you thought he would be?
Allerton: He’s better than where I thought he would be, to be honest with you. I didn’t think he would be able to do what he’s doing. He’s proven us all wrong, obviously age hasn’t had too much of an effect, he’s super fit, he’s fast and you can tell that he wants it.
The bike’s bucking and weaving and he just keeps winding it on. You look back at his career as a three-time World Superbike Champion, so you think, why couldn’t he do that? With age that fire burns out, but it hasn’t for him. He’s impressive and for me I’m a little bit disappointed that I haven’t been able to be out there, because of a few big accidents…. I really wanted to rub elbows with Troy Bayliss, so it’s a bit disappointing for myself.
Trev: Josh Waters has struggled over the last couple of rounds, they also had a bad start to this weekend but then they seemed to have made a bit of a breakthrough today though…
Allerton: The first race didn’t go great for them, but that second race he looked like the only person taking it to Bayliss at the start, and when I looked at the lap times, he was 0.4 faster than Race 1, which is a massive gain. The team obviously went back and had a look at some of Josh’s comments and the bike overall, made some changes and it looked like the front end was working much better second time around.
Maybe they changed things on the front end, maybe it was electronics or engine braking, as that also effects front end behaviour. He definitely looked more confident and that was a really good effort. On that last lap of the race, Waters got really close to Herfoss, but Herfoss did have it in hand if he needed to respond I think he easily could have.
Trev: Your teammate from last year Wayne Maxwell, he’s not really starred this season but he always puts the points in the bag and he’s closest to Troy in the championship still…
Allerton: Yeah he is, he’s still scoring points, he’s good at qualifying, and if you can get a good qualifying you can drag yourself out of all the crap behind. In that first race he got a pretty average start and was in some big trouble there, and then the red flag came out for the accident and he got a really good start [in the restart], which really shows the difference a good start makes.
He’s a wily character, he knows how to get it done, and he’ll be ruthless when he needs to. The Honda and the Ducati have jumped forward, and Yamaha need to step up to the plate to get their guys competitive.
For me I really feel like I was in a better position getting towards the end of Darwin, with my bike, I was definitely stronger than the guys on the Yamaha, and coming from Yamaha and seeing the weaknesses, I know where they are struggling.
There is some great insight from Glenn’s comments there. Unfortunately he will still be on the sidelines at Winton but plans to make a return to racing at the Phillip Island ASBK finale in October.
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