Last year’s third-place finisher in the championship, Luke Mitchell (DPH Motorsport Yamaha), is the early favourite on paper, as last year’s 1-2 – Troy Guenther and Sam Clarke – have both moved on to new challenges. Guenther stepping up to ASBK Superbike on a BMW S 1000 RR, while Sam Clarke is headed for BSB 2017.
Luke Mitchell is one of a massive 21 Yamaha YZF-R6 mounted riders set to take part in the Phillip Island season opener.
Mitchell and Yamaha won’t have it all their way by any means though, as it was fearless rising talent Mark Chiodo (Repsol Gas Racing Triumph) who produced the fastest time during official testing. Chiodo will be one of three riders contesting the Phillip Island round on Triumph machinery. We had a quick word with the Melbourne youngster about the season ahead.
“For 2017 we have just been trying to ride as much as possible to be as prepared as we can for the season, I tend to feel more at ease when I have ridden more often, as you would expect. Our expectations are to always test well, but also manage to bring that into race weekends and gain good results and to try and push towards the championship, but we will take it round by round, and hopefully be up in the first few at all tracks!”
Also keep an eye on class debutants Tom Toparis (Cube Racing Kawasaki), and last year’s R3 Cup winner Zac Levy (Yamaha), for added fireworks, among multiple other up and comers, amongst which are hopefully a few surprise packages.
“Supersport this year will be a real challenge. Even with a few of the top guys from last year moving up to superbikes, there have been a wave of production riders step up and I know how keen they all are to win races. But still, there are a few really fast, experienced guys in there that I was able to watch all of last year, and I know how tough this championship is really going to be.
“My aim for the year is really to just mirror what I did last year, start out the year in a solid position and keep the championship intact, and as the rounds roll through I hope to jump up on the podium and hopefully battle for race wins by the end of the season. The test wasn’t really how I planned for it to go, I did expect to go a little bit faster but I’ve had two weeks to think about it now, and I’m gonna push for a top five when we line up on the grid. The bike feels really good and every time I go out I’m feeling more and more comfortable on it. All that’s left to do is pick a final bike setup with the team, and we’ll get into some racing!”
Sam Muldoon is amongst a contingent of Kawasaki supported riders that will take to the grid, he excelled in the 2016 Australasian Superbike series, finishing up the year in 4th place overall on the Swann Supersport leaderboard aboard his Mick Muldoon Motorcycles Ninja ZX-6R, despite a serious accident early on in the year that saw part of his hand badly damaged. He is a battler, who was once earlier forced to relinquish his racing efforts when he broke both collarbones within six months of each other in a previous campaign. Limited experience on the tracks line up for this seasons ASBK championship will be a welcome challenge for Sam, who plans to test as much as possible and learn the circuits that are foreign to him.
“I guess I don’t have as much experience as some of the other riders, especially at the national level and a lot of the circuits I don’t have experience on compared to the competition so I’m going to have to focus on being efficient and effective with getting the bike set up and applying all of the processes at each round that I need to win. Many testing and track days are lined up. Last year was my best attempt at a national series and we didn’t do any testing but this year will be different.”
In-between professional automotive and motorcycle spray painting for a living and designing the graphics for his race machine, Sam spends most of his spare time training to give him the best chance at achieving his objective of winning the 2017 ASBK Supersport Championship.
“Last year I focused a lot more on weight lifting but this year I’m going to focus more on getting my fitness up and weight down. I’ve made a lot of personal improvements and I am feeling better than ever. I may not be as strong as some competitors at a few of the tracks but I’m just going to come away with as many points as possible and stay at the front of the pack.”
Successful Kawasaki outfit BCperformance are running a Junior team in this year’s Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK), with eighteen year old Jimmy Broadbent. In his third season with the team, Broadbent, who hails from Freshwater, New South Wales, will spearhead an assault in the cut throat Supersport category aboard a Kawasaki ZX-6R machine in the 2017 ASBK series.
“I’m over the moon with the opportunity Kelvin Reilly and the team have offered me,” said Broadbent, whose goals are to set new personal best lap times in every session at the opening round. “I believe that with the experience and knowledge of the team will really help me learn my way around the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Supersport bike,” added Broadbent. Broadbent, who is also aiming to be the fastest rookie in the championship at all the rounds this year, explained that he was extremely lucky to get this opportunity. He does understand that 2017 will be a big learning curve as he comes to grips with the more powerful 600cc machine. “I’m moving off a successful year off the Ninja 300 and I feel like I’m in the perfect position to step onto the Ninja ZX-6R for this year’s ASBK series. I have to say a massive thanks to Kelvin and all the sponsors. I can’t wait for the year ahead.”
Australian Supersport qualifying is scheduled to take place at 1655 on Friday, Feb 24th with race one slated for 1610 on Saturday afternoon. Race two is set to commence at 1000 on Sunday at 1000 before the third of the final 10-lap races scheduled as last cab off the rank on Sunday afternoon, with a 1655 start time putting it immediately after the final of the three Australian Superbike 12-lap encounters.
Tickets for the Yamaha Finance round of the WorldSBK are available through Ticketek, with a three-day general admission pass costing $120 – a saving of $35 over the gate price. BarSBK passes are $260, while adult single-day passes cost $30 for Friday, $65 for Saturday and $80 for Sunday (children aged 15 and under are free). Camping is available for up to four nights for $105.
For tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au, otherwise for more event information ring the Superbike Hotline on 1300 728 007 or visit www.worldsbk.com.au.
Australian Supersport – 2017 WorldSBK Supports Entry List
#5 Ted Collins – Suzuki
#7 Tom Toparis – Kawasaki
#12 Mark Chiodo – Triumph
#17 Brian Houghton – Honda
#18 Joel Rhodes – Yamaha
#19 Bob Mackenzie – MV Agusta
#23 John McCabe – Kawasaki
#24 Jack Dawes – Yamaha
#25 Steve Haslam – Triumph
#26 Michael Knight – Yamaha
#27 Nic Liminton – Yamaha
#33 Steven Willmott – Yamaha
#45 Jordan Carslsson – Yamaha
#46 Aidan Hayes – Yamaha
#47 Giuseppe Scarcella – Honda
#52 Ryan Taylor – Yamaha
#53 Mason Coote – Yamaha
#54 Brendan Wilson – Yamaha
#56 Jimmy Broadbent – Kawasaki
#58 Callum Alderson – Yamaha
#61 Rhys Belling – Yamaha
#64 Sam Condon – Yamaha
#66 Hayden Spinks – Kawasaki
#70 Sam Muldoon – Kawasaki
#71 Lincoln Gilding – Yamaha
#74 Cam Russell – Yamaha
#81 Cambridge Olivier – Yamaha
#82 Chris Quinn – Yamaha
#84 Thomas Bryden – Yamaha
#86 Adrian Forde – Suzuki
#87 Zac Levy – Yamaha
#95 Jake Pruiti – Triumph
#96 Luke Mitchell – Yamaha
#98 Grant Davis – Kawasaki
#486 Justin Case – Yamaha
2017 Phillip Island ASBK Test – Supersport combined times
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