Landbridge Transport and YRD backed Superbike Team set to contest 2020 Australian Superbike Championship with Aiden Wagner
Every time Aiden Wagner has stepped on a Superbike in Australia he has won races. From the very first time he rode a Superbike, as stand-in rider for an injured Jamie Stauffer at Eastern Creek a few years ago, Wagner won straight off the bat.
In 2014 Wagner had won the Australasian FX Supersport Championship thus when Stauffer was out injured early in 2015, Paul Free put the then 20-year-old Aiden on the Team Honda Racing Fireblade.
Wagner returned Free’s faith by stunning the cream of Australia’s Superbike riders. Wagner not only won the first ever Superbike race he contested, after having to fight his way through the field, but he also lowered the Sydney Motorsports Park lap record to 1m30.666s along the way…
Team Honda wanted to retain Wagner for the remainder of the season but the youngster had dreams of racing overseas, and chose to chase those dreams. That decision and the experiences that followed were costly, in more ways than one.
Wagner turned down that plum domestic ride in favour of putting some of his own funding and backing into a World Supersport campaign, with the Intermoto Express Team. On paper, at least, everything looked good. The bikes ridden by other riders in the squad, Lucas Mathias and PJ Jacobsen, had proven competitive. Countryman Andrew Pitt was in the team, and had helped orchestrate the deal to get Wagner on board. However, the team quickly fell apart and had all their motorcycles, truck and equipment seized by Czech Police. Wagner was left high and dry, and seriously out of pocket…
Pitt then managed to help get Wagner a seat on an FIM Superstock GSX-R1000 Suzuki at Portugal. He immediately impressed the team and was invited to stay on, but then a ride with Pedercini Kawasaki ride was put in front of him. He chose the Pedercini route but was taken out by his team-mate in his first outing and then landed at PTR Honda. A mount that proved uncompetitive.
Wagner then moved to the GRT Racing team on an exotic MV Agusta but the machine proved a little too exotic, it was a season plagued with problems.
For 2017 he signed again for the WSS, this time back on a Honda with Gemar Lorini. Things started out well with a seventh place at the season opener at Phillip Island, Wagner then backed up with an eighth place finish at the next outing in Thailand.
From the outside, things looked to be on the up, but during the fourth round at Assen Wagner seriously injured his shoulder. Aiden was only getting second-hand cast-off parts off his team-mate’s bike and the team were running out of money. It looked as though he was perhaps on a hiding-to-nothing so the Queenslander headed home for shoulder surgery and sat out the remainder of the year. Wagner also had a left knee reconstruction late in 2017.
In early 2018 Wagner did perform a fill-in role for PTR Honda at Phillip Island but was physically not able to ride at his potential. He then focussed on rebuilding his strength, riding motocross and also mentally recovering from what had been a sorely testing few years in Europe. The time away seemed to serve him well.
Wagner was back in domestic competition early in 2019 and again, his speed was stunning and the results came instantly. Wagner took pole at this year’s season opener with a 1m32.191s, almost half-a-second quicker than anyone.
Wayne Maxwell pipped him at the post for the win in the opening Superbike encounter by 0.147s, but the pair clashed in the second race.
Wagner and Maxwell touched as they negotiated turn 12, and it was Maxwell that came off second best, while Wagner went on to take the race win.
Aiden then went on to another victory in the final race of that weekend to win the round, and take the early lead in the 2019 Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship.
It was an amazing comeback that ruffled the feathers of the ASBK Superbike regulars, and clearly announced that the 24-year-old was going to be a real contender for the 2019 Australian Superbike Championship.
Then ASBK went to Wakefield Park…
Wagner was baulked by a number of riders that left pit-lane right in front of him as he barreled down the Wakefield Park main straight at full pelt during Friday practice. He was left with nowhere to go, it was take out a number of riders from behind at 250 km/h, or head for the dirt. He chose the dirt, and it bit him hard.
The onus is on the riders leaving pit-lane to check the track is clear, and due to the wall almost all the way to the exit onto the main straight at Wakefield Park, it can be quite hard for riders to tell what is coming down the chute.
Wagner was left with one completely destroyed YZF-R1, while he himself was also well battered. Wagner tried to ride the opening Superbike race later that weekend at Wakefield Park but after three laps his shoulder popped as he hit the brakes for turn one. Game over. His shoulder now so badly damaged it was even popping out while he slept.
The young Queenslander was off for more shoulder surgery, this time around really major surgery.
Bone was cut from his pelvis to help rebuild his shoulder, and his humerus also had somewhat of a cut and shut job to aid in the shoulder reconstruction.
Now, four months on from that surgery, Wagner is now fighting his way back to full strength and fitness ahead of a full-on assault on the 2020 Australian Superbike Championship in a Landbridge Transport Superbike Team, complete with YRD backing.
He has been working hard with a physio as he moves towards regaining full movement in his shoulder, and expects to hit the gym early next month.
He is not permitted to ride until the end of the year, and will start out with training on a motocross bike before he takes to the tarmac again.
At this stage the new team, managed by Sam Costanzo, will be a single rider Superbike effort and, effectively, somewhat of a satellite Yamaha set-up with YRD backing under the Landbridge Racing banner.
Wagner is hoping to recreate the sort of team he had around him at the start of season 2019, and this time around will also have Sam Costanzo onboard pulling it all together and managing proceedings.
If his previous form is anything to go by, it is clear that Aiden Wagner will be fighting for the 2020 Australian Superbike Championship from a stronger base than ever come round one next season.