The rider that had everyone’s tongues wagging with his strong performance over the two days of the recent test at Phillip Island was Aiden Wagner. The 25-year-old Queenslander makes a return to Australian domestic racing after three ill-fated years overseas and overcoming injuries sustained in the process.
He looks like he means business, as in a very talented bunch he was second fastest, splitting the pair that came second and third in the title last year in Wayne Maxwell and Troy Bayliss, on an R1 that he claims has a completely standard engine – at the moment.
Before he head overseas, Aiden was a fierce competitor in the Supersports class with strong results in 2013 when he finished seventh in the class although he didn’t compete in the final round.
In 2014 he finished in the top three of the championship and did a Wild Card ride at the Australian Moto2 Grand Prix with the MarcVDS Team before he headed to the Supersport World Championship in 2015 with the CIA Landlords Insurance Honda Team, alongside Englishman Gino Rea. He finished 20th with best results of three 13th places and two 14th places.
In 2016 he moved to the GRT Racing team on an exotic MV Agusta but maybe a bit too exotic as it was a season plagued with problems that yielded 26th overall for nine points.
His best result was a 10th at his home race at Phillip Island and things looked promising but from then on progress stalled with a 15th at Burinam and a 14th at Misano his only other points scoring races in what was a challenging season in the pit box.
For 2017 he signed again for the WSS, this time back on a Honda with the Gemar Team Morini. A 14th at Phillip Island was followed by an eighth place at the next round in Thailand.
From the outside things looked to be on the up after finishing 17th at the next round at Aragon, but by round four at Assen in the Netherlands the relationship was all over and Wagner came home soon after.
Since his return to the Land Down Under he has been having some repairs to his body, which he described as ‘falling to bits’ following Europe.
With an extensive rehabilitation successfully behind him and a good team around him Wagner adds another spicy ingredient to an already mouth-watering combination of talent to fight out the championship.
MCNews: Are you surprised with what you’ve done with the last couple of days?
Aiden Wagner: Yea, I had pretty high hopes coming into it. A lot of people wrote me off after going overseas and the results overseas were not that great. But I always knew I had gained experience doing that, as bad as some of the bikes were. So I always knew we could be fairly strong, I knew we could probably go for the privateer cup, but I still wanted to maybe go for the championship and fight for podiums really. So it’s good to be right up the pointy end, not just above the privateers. We’ve got more left in the bike yet. It’s a fully standard motor, so we know we’ve got little bits and pieces to make up 10ths here and there.
MCNews: Has this refocused your ambition for the year?
Aiden Wagner: Definitely, I’ve had a couple of reconstructive surgeries and just sat at home. I started riding the motocross bike, and started impressing a few people on that, with lap times and what not, with what I was doing on the motocrosser. So I thought well, bike fit, body fit, might as well throw a leg back over and came together with Landbridge Transport, and thanks to mum and dad and everyone who helped me get back on the bike. I’ve got a few good people in my corner helping me. Adrian Monti is in my corner on the suspension, and with the guys in my corner we’re making leaps and bounds. So definitely focused back for the whole championship.
MCNews: So what happened in Europe?
Aiden Wagner: A lot of the time I was diagnosing problems for the main rider, and the issue with my bike, when a part would fail they would unbolt the part from the main rider’s bike and bolt it onto mine and he’d get the new part. So I tried to stick with it for as long as I could, but it just came to a head, where we just weren’t making any progress for a couple of seasons, just in the same sorta positions.
Also my shoulder and knee were falling to bits, so we thought pull the pin, get those fixed. I’ve had a couple of little calls, but nothing promising. Especially with the depth of the ASBK paddock now, in the Superbike class there’s quite a few fast guys up the front, so racing back home is a lot more interesting and a lot more fun. So as long as we’re enjoying it on the bike, we’ll be strong and competitive for the whole season.
MCNews: So you’re happy with the weekend?
Aiden Wagner: Very happy with the weekend, I know we’re only going to go forwards. Races aren’t won in the one weekend, have to make it through the whole season and stick to the black stuff. But you know, from what we’ve shown already, we’ve put together a pretty strong package and got some good guys that are making the bike really ridable for me.
The first round of the Australian Superbike Championship will be held alongside the opening round of the Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island 22-24 February.
Kawasaki Superbike – Phillip Island Test – Merged classification
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