“I’ve done a couple of days with Paul and actually, including only a few days ago for a bit of a shakedown to spend a bit more time together out at Morgan Park.
“We’ve done two days at QR. One day was really good. We had a private day with Bryan [Staring], Mike [Jones], Cru [Halliday] and Broc Pearson. It was after Wakefield and it was really good. We made a huge step from the race at QR and confirmed a few things from Wakefield. Even made some more progress.
“To put it in some context; the last test I did with Paul was at QR the week or so before Darwin [last year]. Icant remember what lap times I was doing but anyway I was stronger.. On that day Mike was there on the Ducati and he was going a fair bit faster than the race and we were quicker again.
“This year at the test I was faster than I was last year. I was really happy. The main thing was is that I felt really good and my pace at the test was a lot faster than I was at the race. I think I am starting to get my head around it, my body and the tyres and being back with Paul, my confidence is growing by the day. Every day on the bike really.“
“That’s right. Phil and I would’ve got there. We were basically there at Wakefield. We were that close. I am 100 per cent sure, that going from Wakefield to Darwin with Phil we were going to make a step onto the podium.
“I thanked him and said to him I wish he could be around for at least another round to taste a bit of success with me. He came in when I was absolutely at rock bottom and there was no amount of stuff he could do to the bike to make me go fast. It was all in my head so unfortunately, he didn’t get to taste much success with us but he definitely put me well on track to get back to the top.”
It’ll be like fitting an old glove on now that ‘Freebie’ is back with you?
“Phil worked with me when I got me started in road racing. But he didn’t work directly with me I had Chris Ogden with me then Wazza (Monson), so I never worked with Phil directly and besides that I was pretty green and didn’t know what I wanted with the bike anyway to be honest.
“The difference with Paul, he was working alongside Clarkey and we were always testing together with Jamie and every team mate I had, so Paul was with me and obviously, in the past few years we’ve done a lot of testing together and a lot of riding together and to be honest Paul has come back at the right time.
“Like I said to him, the first day we went riding I am back to feeling normal now so you don’t have to worry about testing stuff for the bike to make my body work, now just get down to business. I said to him I really want you to be a bit hard on me and sort of …… like assume that I am back where I was and start critiquing me and make sure you let me know where I am lacking because I feel that I am getting back to where I was. I need to stop hearing the people saying, ‘you’ll be right. Your body is still getting better’. I just want to hit the tracks now and push on.”
“Well that will be something that people will remember if I can go back there and get a really good result and just, well, that will put that all behind me and there’ll be no question; I’m back to where I was. Honestly, I am so motivated about going there to get a good result just for that fact really.
“It was a bad crash but… it was a very unfortunate crash, and I was very unlucky, to be honest. We don’t know exactly why I crashed, but you have to imagine that I was pushing a little too hard on the first lap so I’ve just gotta be mindful on the first lap.
“Honestly, I am so motivated to be there and ride down pit-lane and get back to business.”
Do you like the Darwin track?
“I love it. That’s the thing. People ask me what my favourite track is. It’s.. honestly it’s up there, if not my favourite track. The surface is great. It’s got a big fast straight. A technical back-side. The middle right hander, you can light the thing up there during the race. It’s got everything. Its one of my favourite tracks.
“It’s just unfortunate that I’ve had a bit of bad luck there. I’ve gone well there in the past. The first time I rode the Honda there, (2017) it was a brand new bike and I finished second in both races.
“In 2018 I was unlucky not to do the double. Troy (Bayliss) and I had a great battle to the last corner and then I won race two.
“Last year in Darwin, I had never followed Wayne so comfortably in all the time he has been on the Ducati and I’ve been on the new Honda.
“Everything was going great there, so I thought it was my weekend to really put the foot down but anyway I’ve had some bad luck and I am definitely going back to a track I really like.
“It’s definitely an amazing track. It’s got so much grip. I’ve always loved the back end ofDarwin, it is really technical and you have just got to be on the edge of the tyre all the way. You’ve got to be braking hard on the edge of the tyre. You have to have a lot of feel for the edge of the tyre. It’s such a good part of the track. You can feel the bike moving around you all the way.
“I’ve mentioned this a lot; it is one of the most physical track plus it gets so hot and the tyre gets so greasy… It’s got everything that track. That’s why I love it. You can’t get to the end of the race, at the front of the race, if you’re not physically fit.”
So how do you reckon you’ll go there with three 16-lap races?
“I am only a little bit worried that I’ll now only be as fit as the next fittest guy. Not a lot fitter than the next guy… I am in really good shape.”
ASBK On-Track Schedule Darwin
Add half an hour to times for eastern seaboard AEST
Free Practice 1: 8:50am (30 min)
Free Practice 2: 11:45am (30 min)
Free Practice 3: 2:55pm (35 min)
Qualifying 1: 9:10am (20 min)
Qualifying 2:9:35am (15 min)
Race 1: 1:10pm (16 laps)
The slightly different format of the Hidden Valley event – where there are three races instead of the usual two – also has slightly different TV times and broadcasters.
In 2022, Fox Sports Australia will broadcast live nearly every on-track session plus all races.
As has occured in previous years, Channel 7 will broadcast races one and three live-to-air alongside the regular Supercars TV coverage.
Post event, ASBK TV will work with TV production partners AVE to create a special edition replay of ASBK Round 4 – Darwin. This special edition will be broadcast on SBS – Sunday 3rd July 1300 – 1500 AEST.
As well as the always epic racing, this special edition will feature exclusive behind the scenes action, colour stories and all the thrills and spills from one of the great rounds of any season; Hidden Valley, NT.
ASBK Live Broadcast information
Fox Sports Australia
Friday – Free Practice 2 and Free Practice 3
Saturday – Qualifying 1 & Qualifying 2, plus Race 1
Sunday – Race 2 (Exclusively Live on Fox) & Race 3
Saturday – Race 1
Sunday – Race 3
Sunday 3rd July 1pm- The ASBK Darwin Show
Check the Event Schedule and your local guides for exact times
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