This weekend the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul arrives at Wakefield Park and Steve Martin has given his thoughts on what we can expect following the Winton season opener.
Wayne Maxwell left the Winton season opener on 45-points, with a race win and a second place under his belt. Second in the standings was Mike Jones going 2-3 for 38-points. Troy Herfoss claimed pole along with a race win but a fall along the way left him with a tally of 36-points.
Here’s the inside line from Steve Martin on what went down at Winton and what to expect at Wakefield Park.
Why did lap records fall in so many categories at Winton?
Steve Martin: “There were a couple of reasons. Firstly, the track was modified slightly, which gave the riders more confidence to use the kerbs. The other thing is that everyone has upped their game. We can see how competitive everything is becoming now by looking at the Asia Talent Cup round in Qatar, where three young Aussies Carter Thompson, Marianos Nikolis and Tom Drane were finishing in the top 10. That shows we’re producing world-class riders here in Australia.”
In the Superbikes, do you see the main protagonists Wayne Maxwell and Troy Herfoss continuing their form from Winton to Wakefield Park?
Steve Martin: “Wayne and Troy are on another planet at the moment. I would love to see them competing in one-off events around the world to show how good they are. It’s up to the others to step up. They all have the ability to do it on their day, but Wayne and Troy can do it week-in, week-out.”
Who do you see at Wakefield Park as being the most likely opposition to Wayne and Troy?
Steve Martin: “Mike Jones has probably been the closest so far. We also know the Dunlop tyres have won at Wakefield in the past, so hopefully the track will suit the Yamaha and Kawasaki teams. We want to see a battle among riders, teams and tyre manufacturers.”
How about Glenn Allerton and his recent resurgence in form?
Steve Martin: “I haven’t got enough words to explain what Glenn has done. He hasn’t got the result he deserves yet, but he has the pace. He’s had some bad luck but the BMW have really turned things around. They’ve stuck by Glenn, they’ve trusted him and now they’ve given him a bike that can finish on the podium. If Glenn was to win at Wakefield, it would be bittersweet because it was the track where he broke his arm three years ago.”
One of the big pieces of recent news has been the return of Anthony West – your thoughts?
Steve Martin: “You can never count him out; he’s a world-class rider and he’s won races at a world-class level. If it’s raining, I’ll be putting my money on Ant because he is an incredible wet weather rider. Even in the dry, if you remember a few years ago when he filled in for Jamie Stauffer, he was on the podium. Anthony always has something to prove and is never happy unless he’s winning, so it will just be another interesting ingredient to add to Wakefield Park.”
Unfortunately three of the main contenders in Supersport 300 and YMF R3 Cup – Carter Thompson, Marianos Nikolis and Tom Drane are stuck overseas or in quarantine. How do you think they’re feeling?
Steve Martin: “It’s a shame they’re not here, but we have to race where we can at the moment. Those three guys knew what the outcome would be before they went to Qatar and they accepted it, and we need to see what they’re doing overseas. If we don’t see them racing in Australia again because they’ve progressed from the Asia Talent Cup to a top-level international category like MotoGP, we’ve done our job with developing young talent through categories like Supersport 300, YMF R3 Cup and Oceania Junior Cup.”
What’s the key to doing a fast lap around Wakefield Park?
Steve Martin: “It’s a track where you have to be perfect. You have to know every bump, you have to have your body positioned right for every moment of every corner. Because it’s such a short track, the lap time difference between riders is very minimal. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the closest grids we have throughout the year. Pole position is super-important as is the race start. You have to have a compromised bike setup – the bike has to brake well, turn well and drive well, which is not something that is always easy to achieve. It’s easy to make mistakes and the person that wins each race will be the person who doesn’t get pressured into making mistakes.”
2021 Australian Superbike Championship Calendar
Australian All Wheels Race Fest (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC)
Phillip Island, VIC
Winton Motor Raceway (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC, Sidecar)
Mar 12-14, 2021
Wakefield Park Raceway (SBK, SSP, SSP300, R3, OJC, Sidecar)
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