Five Aussie wildcards at Phillip Island WSBK round
World Superbike: Jed Metcher – Kawasaki (Melb), Matthew Walters – Kawasaki (Cessnock, NSW)
World Supersport: Aiden Wagner – Yamaha (QLD)Sam Lambert – Triumph (NT), Tim Boujos – Yamaha (WA)
Young guns Jed Metcher and Aiden Wagner are among the five local riders who will make one-off appearances as ‘wildcards’ in the opening round of the 2015 Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island from February 20-22.
Metcher will join Matthew Walters in the world superbike class at the Swann Insurance-backed Phillip Island round, while Wagner’s compatriots in the world supersport category will be Sam Lambert and Tim Boujos.
Australia’s best chance of a strong result at Phillip Island probably rests with 20-year-old Wagner, who hails from Wamuran in Queensland.
Not only is he the current Australasian supersport champion, but he also competed in the 2014 Moto2 world championship round at Phillip Island as a wildcard, producing a solid performance.
“I had a go at Moto2 and a lot of things didn’t go my way,” said Wagner.
“This year I am racing with my Victorian-based Oz Wildcard Racing Team for world supersport we are in control of our own destiny and have put in a lot of time and development over the last year.
“We currently have three world supersport-spec Yamahas on the go, but when the race comes around we’ll have the best engine in the best chassis.
“We have put a lot of effort into the electronics side of things, and I’m banking on our bike being able to get a tow from the international bikes down Gardner Straight, although we’ll probably be down a few horsepower.
“I’d love a top 10 finish, and top five would be out of this world.”
Wagner has another six days of pre-season testing in the pipeline before round one commences, including an official two-day session at Phillip Island on February 16-17.
Meanwhile, Darwin’s Lambert will race a Triumph 675R (Sam Lambert Racing) and Perth’s Tim Boujos (JR Racing) will mount a Yamaha R6 for the world supersport race over 21 laps. Frenchman Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta) will start the championship as favourite, and he also won at Phillip Island in 2014.
Melbourne-based Metcher, a former world supersport campaigner and European 600 superstock champion, will be making his first appearance in the world superbike ranks, riding a Kawasaki ZX-10R. Following his wildcard appearance, he’ll be jetting off to England to race in the 2015 British Superbike Championship alongside a brace of other Aussies, including Josh Brookes, Broc Parkes and Josh Waters.
Cessnock’s Matt Walters returns to Phillip Island’s WSBK round for the second year running, but this time with a clear mission: to make it to race day. In 2014 he was an 11th hour replacement for injured Italian Luca Scassa in the Pedercini Kawasaki squad but then crashed on Saturday in a high-speed bingle and withdrew. He will also be on a ZX-10R at Phillip Island.
In 2015, the entire world superbike field will be racing under standardised new rules, which will combine superbike class chassis with superstock-spec engines – a cost-saving format which should allow Walters and Metcher to really give some of the internationals a fright in the two 22-lap races.
Among the riding talent on the 2015 world superbike grid includes reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli (Honda), Kawasaki teammates Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea, new entry Randy de Puniet (Suzuki) and Briton Chaz Davies (Ducati).
Tickets for world superbikes are now on sale. At $110* for a three-day pass purchased in advance, children under 15 free**, and on-circuit camping options, world superbikes is an event for the entire motorcycling community to enjoy.People can bring their bikes and ride to any part of the circuit to watch the action and celebrate the enjoyment of life on two wheels.
BAR SBK and VIP Hospitality packages also available. Tickets are on sale by ringing the circuit on 1300 728 007.
*plus processing fee – offer valid to Wednesday February 18 at 2pm AEST. At gate, a three day general admission is $150 so buy in advance, and save $40
** children are classified as 15 and under, and must be accompanied by a full paying adult.
Jed Metcher – Race Center – Kawasaki ZX-10R – Melbourne, Vic
Really came of age racing in Europe in 2011 when he won the continent’s superstock 600 title. He then went supersport racing in the world title and in Germany before returning to Australia in 2014 where he impressed in the superbike ranks after overcoming an early season injury. Has his Kawasaki humming, so could really be a strong presence.
Matt Walters – Kawasaki ZX-10R – Nulkaba, NSW
Has now been a leading privateer in Australia for a number of years, but wasn’t at his best in 2014 as he struggled to get amongst it in a cracker Australasian Superbike Championship field. Got through the preliminaries of last year’s world superbike round at Phillip Island on an Italian-entered Kawasaki, but withdrew after a crash in one of the final practice sessions. Definitely can mix it with the internationals if his form and confidence is up.
Aiden Wagner – Oz Wildcard Racing – Yamaha YZF-R6 – Wamuran, Qld
2014 was a breakout year for Wagner, as he not only reached the summit in local supersport racing but was a wildcard in the Moto2 race at the Phillip Island GP. He wants to eventually take on the world full-time, and he’s spent the best part of 12 months preparing for this world supersport wildcard. Has plenty of dash and confidence, and certainly won’t be intimidated amongst the international brigade. Pencil him in for a top 10 finish.
Sam Lambert – Sam Lambert Racing – Triumph Daytona 675R – Nakara (Darwin), NT
Young rider who’s just starting to make his way in supersport competition, and produced some impressive rides in 2014. The jump in class will be a huge test, but that’s the challenge of making the jump to big-time racing.
Tim Boujos – JR Racing – Yamaha YZF-R6 – Herne Hill (Perth), WA
A former speedway rider turned road racer, Boujos maintains his focus on the Western Australian scene and is a regular front runner in the supersport and superstock ranks. Also won the supersport class in the 2014 Kings of Wanneroo race meeting, which always attracts a strong field. Ha never raced a supersport bike around Phillip Island, so will be a real baptism of fire on February 22.
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