Superbike stars set for Phillip Island 2+4
Australia’s elite Superbike riders are set to buy into the battle between form duo Josh Waters and Wayne Maxwell when the title fight resumes at Phillip Island this weekend.
Sharing the stage with the V8 Supercars for the second consecutive event, the QBE Australian Superbikes brought to you by Motul are set to thrill once more, this time at one of the world’s greatest Grand Prix circuits.
A race apiece on Saturday and Sunday will offer riders the opportunity to end the winning ways of Waters and Maxwell, who have claimed every available race win since November last year.
A half-point round win saw Maxwell make some ground on the points leader in Western Australia, but the Team Honda Racing rider admits it will take an almighty effort to stop the Suzuki fast man this weekend.
“There’s been a long rivalry between myself and Josh that goes back to the days of us racing Supersport together,” said Maxwell.
“He’s been pretty dominant this year and it’s time for us to step up and put it to an end.
“We’ve been working really hard on the development of the CBR and hope to have made up more ground with the new suspension package this weekend.
“It’s exciting to be racing with the V8 Supercars again, and having our races telecast to such a huge audience is great for the sport’s exposure.”
Maxwell has clawed his way back into contention in the premier class, sitting second despite not finishing the opening race of the season, also contested at Phillip Island.
Another rider eager to peg back the points gap is 2011 titleholder Glenn Allerton.
The Procon Maxima BMW rider sewed up his second title a round early last year, but says the landscape has changed and knows little will be decided before the final turn in the final race of the season.
“I’m actually feeling really good heading into the weekend, the last few rounds have been a building phase for us but I think the Procon Maxima BMW is where it needs to be at the moment,” said Allerton.
“I didn’t do myself any favours with a jump start in the first race at Perth, that set me back a fair bit so I’ll be working hard to make up the ground.
“Josh (Waters) has the momentum right now but it doesn’t take much in this game for things to swing in a different direction.
“He and a number of other guys will be very strong. It will make for great racing and hopefully I can be there when it counts.”
Cube Racing’s Ben Henry brings the momentum of his best-ever Superbike race and round result to Phillip Island, hopeful of continuing the strong run at a circuit he enjoys.
Henry claimed a third place race and round finish at Barbagallo Raceway a fortnight ago, upstaging a number of highly-credentialed competitors in the mixed conditions.
“Barbagallo was a massively satisfying result,” said Henry. “I run my own team and do everything from sourcing sponsors to building the bike and driving the truck, and to get a third against such a strong field was great.
“I’ve usually been pretty handy at Phillip Island, I’d say its one of my favourite tracks and I’ve had some good results there in the Superstock 1000.
“I’d really like to transfer that speed to Superbike and keep the ball rolling with another top result.
“Saturday looks like it could be wet and for some reason I find it a bit easier in those conditions but I’ll just take it as it comes and push as hard as I can.”
Team Volvo Group Suzuki rider Robbie Bugden is pleased just to be a starter at the event after his huge high-side crash during the second race in Perth.
The four-time New Zealand Superbike Champion looked set to launch an attack on the race leader before being thrown over the handlebars under brakes.
Importantly, Bugden was left nursing just bumps and bruises following treatment by the Suzuki RACESAFE team, and he said he would be back to full health for the weekend.
Phillip Island’s four seasons of weather in a day mean riders will once again need to respond quickly to any changing conditions.
24 riders will take part in the combined grid Superbike/Prostock competition, progressing through a series of practice and qualifying sessions before Superpole on Saturday.
This fast-paced showdown will determine the front row of the grid for the two 12-lap races, both of which will be screened to national audiences on Channel 7’s comprehensive support category coverage. (Check local guides for times, variations and digital channels)