Ben Burke talks Chinese Superbike with Ride Rage Radio
RRR: Ben Burke joins us on the line from Bathurst. It’s been a busy time for you lately, Wakefield Park for the ASC, then straight over to China to compete in the last round of the Chinese Superbike Championship.
Ben: “Yeah, mate, it’s been pretty full on at the moment. I was actually counting things up by the time this thing started, I’m having seven weekends away from home. My girlfriend isn’t too happy about it, but I’ll catch up with her later.”
RRR: The good thing is that racing here in Australia and then going over to China to compete in the Chinese Superbike Championship is all being done with the same team, the BC Performance MotoGo Team and great to see the guy that puts a lot of time, effort and money into the team, Patrick Li, being able to go over with you as well and he had some great results in the Superstock Class while you went very well in the Superbike Class.
Ben: “Yeah, we’re had a fair bit of success there in China, it’s a different sort of series to what we’re riding in Australia, but the main reason for it is we just don’t get enough bike time in Australia and we need to be able to develop these bikes to be competitive. So China was a really good way of doing it, there’s plenty of media coverage and stuff in China, so I’ve got to thank Patrick for helping me out to get me out there.”
RRR: And I guess the other important thing is the standard in China is obviously pretty high, because you’re one of the top ten runners in the ASC this year, which is the most hardly fought championship that was seen in this country for quite some time, and to go over there and not completely dominate every race is probably a pretty good advertisement for what the standard over there is actually like.
Ben: “Yeah, for sure, it’s not like what it is in Australia, where you have 20 guys who are within a second of each other. But it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, the fast guys are always still fast, so there’s only sort of three or four guys there that I’m battling with in preference to 20 here, but it’s still not easy. I’ve been pretty happy with how I went with it, but improvement still needs to be made.”
RRR: Well, you’ve got a win in every round event so far, so that’s not a bad effort.
Ben: “Yeah, yeah it is. You always want more, don’t you?”
RRR: Well, of course, the first round, Ben, you actually didn’t compete in the Superbike Class, you were in the Superstock Class, but I know that the last two rounds you actually scored some pretty good points, so where did you actually end up in the Superbike Championship overall, considering that you missed a third of the rounds?
Ben: “I wound up getting third in the Championship. So I missed the first two races, because I was riding 600s, then I had three wins on the trot and a third in the last race, so two firsts and I actually knocked off the championship leader in one of the races in the second round, so he dropped a few points as well. So it helped me out, but yeah, so third in Championship, which made me pretty happy for my first year.”
RRR: And the circuits over there, from what I’ve seen when they had Moto GP over there, they’re pretty astounding facilities the Chinese have actually made to race on over there.
Ben: “Yeah, the circuit that we’ve been racing, it’s been the same circuit each time. It was actually built for the Formula 1, but Shanghai got it so this track is an F1, Moto GP circuit that has never been used before.”
RRR: And the other thing is though too that to go over to the other side of the world and everything does take a fair bit of time off work and effort from the family and everything as well. I know your dad’s a pretty keen racer, do they actually get over there to any of the rounds as well?
Ben: “Yeah, dad’s actually been here each time, he’s been Patrick’s mechanic, so Patrick’s had him working over there and he’s not too bad, we’ve sort of done it each time, that if we’re flying out after work here, it’s a nine hour flight, sort of try to sleep as much as you can on the flight and then straight to the track the next day. The best thing about it is there’s only a two hour time difference, so there’s no jetlag or any of that nonsense.”
RRR: And I guess the important thing for you now and the BC Performance Moto Go Kawasaki Team is the Phillip Island support race, it’s the second round of the Phillip Island Championship.
Ben: “Not far away now. So once again, that’s why we have been doing with this Chinese thing, just get as much time on the bike as possible, for Phillip Island we need as it is one of my weakest tracks. But hopefully we’ll get the setup right and I’m getting myself to be pretty good on the ZX-10R to be competitive.”
RRR: The bike that you rode in China, how different is it in specification to the one you ride here in Australia?
Ben: “Well, we take over our suspension, we run the K-Tex uspension off the bikes here over there, but very similar, it’s got an exhaust system on it, standard motor and we reflash the ECU ourselves. So essentially it’s the same bike, the biggest problem in China, you have to buy the fuel from the track, and it must be about 82 RON or something, I reckon that would make the bikes 20 per cent down on power to what they are here.”
RRR: Does that make them actually easier to ride then, if they’ve got less power?
Ben: “Yeah, you’ve got to change the style again, though, you’ve got to revert back to a 600cc riding style, which helps me at the moment, because it is my first year on the superbike, so I can go straight back into the 600 style of riding quite easily. But as far as helping the riding style of 1,000, it’s not doing great.”
RRR: Well, Ben, it’s been great to talk to you. Great for you and your teammate Patrick to get over there and get some experience overseas and can’t wait to see you on track at Phillip Island for the Phillip Island Support Races and of course the final round of the ASC which is on towards the end of November.
Ben: “Fantastic, guys, thanks for having me. It’s going to be another interesting two months, but we’ll make the most of it and be ready to do it all again.”
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