43 Superbikes on grid for ASBK opener at P.I. WorldSBK
Australian superbikes promise the best domestic line-up in years and the level of talent sitting on the Phillip Island start list for round one of their seven round 2017 Aussie title chase is quite extraordinary.
There’s 43 riders enlisted for the three 12-lap Yamaha Finance races, with a clutch of exceptionally fast incumbents joined by returning Aussie superbike champions who’ve been racing overseas and riders joining the scene from other classes and series.
WorldSBK Phillip Island 2017 Australian Superbike Supports Entry List
- #1 Troy Herfoss – Honda
- #3 David Barker – Kawasaki
- #11 Phil Czaj – Aprilia
- #12 Matt Walters – Kawasaki
- #13 Jed Metcher – Yamaha
- #14 Glenn Allerton – Yamaha
- #15 Nick Marsh – Yamaha
- #18 Ashley Manuel – Kawasaki
- #19 Ashley Fleming – Aprilia
- #20 Alex Phillis – Aprilia
- #21 Josh Waters – Suzuki
- #24 Robbie Bugden – Kawasaki
- #25 Daniel Falzon – Yamaha
- #30 Gary Smith – Yamaha
- #31 Jack Baker – Kawasaki
- #33 Hamish McMurray – Kawasaki
- #34 William Davidson – Yamaha
- #37 Chas Hern – MV Agusta
- #39 Alastair Loomes – Kawasaki
- #46 Simon Galloway – Yamaha
- #47 Wayne Maxwell – Yamaha
- #48 Paul Dutton – Yamaha
- #49 Albie Wheeler – Yamaha
- #50 Callum Spriggs – Ducati
- #52 Corey Turner – Yamaha
- #54 Sam Lambert – BMW
- #56 Troy Guenther – BMW
- #65 Cru Halliday – Yamaha
- #66 Aaiden Coote – Kawasaki
- #67 Bryan Staring – Honda
- #68 Mitch Levy – Yamaha
- #69 Heath Griffin – Ducati
- #77 Adam Senior – Yamaha
- #78 Nathan Spiteri – Kawasaki
- #82 Jake Drew – Yamaha
- #83 Kyle Buckley – Kawasaki
- #86 Beau Beaton – Ducati
- #88 Brendan Schmidt – Kawasaki
- #104 Max James-Beatsonbell – Yamaha
- #131 John Quinn – Suzuki
- #152 Paul Byrne – Honda
- #178 Michael Blair – Yamaha
- #686 Tracey Davies – Ducati
The huge roll-call will arrive en masse for the round, and the anticipation is palpable.
Let’s start with the incumbents, which is a potent enough roll call in itself. Troy Herfoss (Honda) is the rider everyone is gunning for after winning his first Aussie superbike title in 2016 ahead of Yamaha pair Glenn Allerton and Wayne Maxwell.
That trio will all return, but Herfoss has a new teammate in West Aussie Bryan Staring, who will make a full-time return to Australia for the first time since winning the 2010 domestic superbike title. Since then, Staring has spent a year in MotoGP as well as winning Superstock 1000 FIM Cup races.
Two-time Aussie superbike champion Josh Waters is also back for another full-time campaign after competing in the final round of the 2016 championship on a Yamaha. But he’ll now link up with Suzuki in 2017, the marque which has brought him the most success locally.
Yamaha trio Cru Halliday, Michael Blair and Daniel Falzon also return from 2016 ASBK duties, while experienced Kawasaki pair Matt Walters and Robbie Budgen are welcome additions to the scene.
Former European 600 superstock champion Jed Metcher (Yamaha) will also race at Phillip Island, while the rookies looking to snap the domination of the experienced clientele include Troy Guenther (BMW), Callum Spriggs (Ducati) and Kyle Buckley (Kawasaki).
Spriggs has replaced the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup-bound Mike Jones at the Troy Bayliss-owned Ducati team, while the impressive Guenther won the 2016 Australian supersport title. Mitch Levy (Yamaha) is another former supersport rider making the jump to the premier class.
Alex Phillis is also a late addition to the field on an Aprilia. The son of Aussie superbike legend Robbie Phillis has just come off a brilliant performance at the Island Classic in late January when he won took out the final International Challenge race after holding out the hard-charging Jeremy McWilliams.
So how’s the form guide shaping up? In testing at Phillip Island in late January, Blair was the big surprise as he went fastest from Allerton, Falzon, Maxwell, Herfoss, Bugden, Staring, Beau Beaton (Ducati), Walters and Halliday. A soft tyre that would have little chance of lasting the 12-lap race distance though might bring the #178 Yamaha back to the field when the lights go out.
However, riders like Staring will be much better off for the gallop, while Maxwell and Allerton are also former Australian superbike champions for one reason: they know when to flick the switch. And Herfoss will be desperate to start his title defence off on a strong footing.
The lap record for Australian superbikes at Phillip Island is an impressive 1:32.316, held by Maxwell, which is only a couple of seconds off the benchmark for WorldSBK where the machines carry a much higher state of tune.
Meanwhile, the two 22-lap WorldSBK races will be held at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, with WorldSSP (18 laps) starting at 1:30pm on Sunday.
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, for undercover viewing locations at some of the most spectacular parts of the circuit, are $260, while adult single-day passes cost $30 for Friday, $65 for Saturday and $80 for Sunday.
Camping is available for up to four nights for $105. Best of all, children aged 15 and under are in for free, making the event affordable for families of all sizes.
2017 ASBK Calendar:
- Round 1: Phillip Island GP Circuit, (WSBK) VIC- 23-26 February
- Round 2: Wakefield Park Raceway, NSW – 17-19 March
- Round 3: Winton Motor Raceway, VIC – 28-30 April
- Round 4: (TBC) – June
- Round 5: Morgan Park Raceway, Warick, QLD – 25-27 August
- Round 6: SMP Eastern Creek, NSW – 8- 10 September
- Round 7: Phillip Island Circuit, VIC – 6-10 October