Round Six – Phillip Island
Preview with Troy Herfoss
With only two rounds remaining in the Australian Superbike Championship, the battle is shaping up as a two-horse race between Troy Herfoss (Honda) and Josh Waters (Ducati), but there is still a slight chance that defending champion Mike Jones (Yamaha) could cause a major upset if anything happens to the leading pair.
Jones also has to worry about who is behind him. Glenn Allerton (BMW) is only six-points off Jones and is also in prime form heading to the Island this weekend, 27-29 October.
After the second round at Sydney Motorsport Park Waters had a 35-point lead over Herfoss, but since then the Penrite Honda man has won six of the last seven races, and finished second in the other. That run sees him take a 14-point advantage over Waters to Phillip Island this weekend. Jones is a distant third, 60 points off the lead.
While it has been a long time since the championship turned a wheel back in July at Morgan Park, six weeks ago there was a round of the Victorian Championships at Phillip Island where many of the major players took the opportunity to do some fine tuning and fettling of their steeds under race conditions.
On that particular weekend, Herfoss, Jones and Allerton, along with rising star Max Stauffer, put on some very entertaining racing. Allerton won all four contests but by some pretty slim margins. Waters was absent as he was still recovering from the injuries that he suffered during practice for the Suzuka 8 hour in early August.
Since then, the “Herf” has stayed down south visiting family and friends while maintaining his regular training schedule, which has recently included throwing a leg over an Ohvale.
Mark Bracks: Are you starting to really like Phillip Island?
Troy Herfoss: “I’m going better I can tell you that for sure. Figuring out what the bike wants to do around there and coming to the realisation that I can ride the track ok, we just have to get the right set-up underneath me.
“The bike is feeling a lot better. Easier to ride really on that track. Definitely a different set-up to whatever I have had before, from what we’re riding at the moment, but we’ve been going in that direction all year as its working at other tracks as well.”
Bracks: Is it more engine, suspension or geometry?
Bracks: So you’re more comfortable with the front or rear now?
Herfoss: “I’ve always been really comfortable on the front. It’s hard to explain really. Rather than relying on a strong front end as much, I’ve got the bike in a bit different position really and finishing off the turns a bit easier. It hasn’t answered all our problems. We’re not breaking lap records down at Phillip Island but given the time of year and the amount of pressure on the top guys in the championship, I’m in a good enough position where I’ll be competitive.”
Bracks: Where did you find the key so to speak?
Herfoss: “We haven’t found any magic piece, but we’ve just made the bike work the way it wants to work. The Honda doesn’t have amazing grip. We spent a lot of time trying to find grip and it hasn’t really been the answer, so we just decided to get the bike to turn as good as possible and let the thing sing.”
Bracks: You don’t mind things getting a bit loose anyway do you, with your dirt track background…
Herfoss: “Nah, it’s working well for me at the other tracks, so it’s been like our philosophy for the second part of the year, we decided to make the bike turn as good as possible on the throttle. The grip is the grip. Don’t go searching for it. It’s a matter of making the bike feel like that at Phillip Island.”
Bracks: You’ve done seven days at Phillip Island lately?
Herfoss: “Yeah, I think it is seven days including the Vic Champs and a few ride days, I’m about halfway to being a local down here! It’d be a helluva lot easier if I lived here and rode here every week. It’s one of those tracks that really rewards local knowledge.”
Bracks: Have you been back on a MX bike?
Herfoss: “Yeah, I’ve on a MX bike and the Ohvales. I also did a day over at Bendigo. I’ve got a brand-new MX bike as well.”
Bracks: Is your body okay after that big crash in Queensland?
Herfoss: “Yeah, collarbone and all eight ribs are all healed up and I’m getting stuck in.”
Bracks: Do you think you now have the psychological advantage.
Herfoss: “I wouldn’t say that heading into Phillip Island, I am sure Josh is quietly confident heading there this weekend knowing mine and his track record there, so I reckon he’s pretty confident. If I get out of Phillip Island on equal points or so I would consider myself to have a bit of an upper hand going into the final round.”
Bracks: No different strategy?
Herfoss: “I don’t have a choice as I don’t have enough of a points gap. Since we left Sydney, I had two rounds. I didn’t think Darwin was a round I would be able to get points back but two rounds I thought, I needed to get a lot of points back on Josh.
“I am going to the island with the buffer I think I need. Could do with a few more to be honest but I think I’ll be a bit more competitive at Phillip Island than I have been. I am always competitive at Phillip Island towards the end of the year. The first round is a funny one. You get guys throwing a few “Hail Marys” but at the end of the year when the pressure is on, it separates a few.”
Bracks: You have won six of the last seven…
Herfoss: “You never know with the weather down there and what can happen, but I know I am riding a lot better than at the start of the year.
“I reckon I have done well over 200 laps there lately, so I think we are in pretty good shape.”
Bracks: How beneficial was doing the Vic Champs.
Herfoss: “It was great to be on track with other riders. Get a few laps to see what they are doing and what their bikes are doing and see exactly where we are at.”
Bracks: Did Glen surprise you?
Herfoss: “No. Not at all. In the longer race he confirmed that he has got better form than he had earlier in the year, because he has been struggling when the grip goes away and essentially, he got quicker as the race went on.
“I wouldn’t say a surprise. I expected him to be super quick in the shorter races and in the longer race I probably thought I may be able to pick him off, but he was really strong. It was good to see actually, as he has been working very hard. He’ll be right there.”
Bracks: What about Jonesy?
Herfoss: “If Jonesy is finishing within a tenth of us at the Vic Titles, he is going to be really fast, as he always seems to be a slow starter and then steps up at the bigger races.”
Bracks: On a different note, have you been keeping an eye on you old stomping ground at Wakefield Park? Pretty cool isn’t it…
Herfoss: “I can’t wait to race there again. There will be a huge crowd there when we go back.”
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.