Paul Free returns to Honda for ASBK 2020

Only a couple of years after shutting up his Team Honda Racing operation in Campbellfied and handing the reigns of team ownership over to Deon Coote, and the Team Manager role to Shaun Clarke, Paul Free will be back in Honda apparel for ASBK season 2020.

In recent seasons Free has been crew chief for DesmoSport Ducati, and has worked with both Troy Bayliss and Mike Jones in that time. That combination worked well, with Mike Jones taking out the 2019 Australian Superbike Championship. 

Season 2020 will see the now 48-year-old rekindle a successful partnership after signing a deal to crew chief for Troy Herfoss this season.

ASBK TBG FebTest PI Paul Free Ben Henry TBG
Paul Free (Left) with Ben Henry pictured here at Phillip Island in 2019 as part of DesmoSport Ducati’s ultimately successful campaign for the ASBK Title – TBG Image

Paul Free

“When I was packing up Motologic at the end of 2017 I thought it was all done. I thought the racing scene was in my past.

Paul Free at the M.A. awards dinner at the end of season 2017 where his and wife Laura’s contribution to the sport was recognised. That was going to be it for Paul in motorcycling, until Troy Bayliss gave him a call…. – TBG Image

“Then I got that call from Troy Bayliss asking if I would work with he and Ben in 2018. We had a good year, then working with Mike in 2019 was an exceptional year. These last two years focusing on the role of tech, I have realised that it is the challenge of bringing together the rider and the motorcycle on that quest to go faster that really gets me up in the morning.

ASBK Round The Bend SA Paul Free TBG
Paul Free working on the DesmoSport Ducati at The Bend in 2019, Ben Henry in background – TBG Image

“After essentially mentoring Shaun for many years I am exceptionally proud of the job he has done over the last two years working with the team which led them to Troy winning the ASBK Championship in 2018, and coming so very close in 2019.

ASBK Rnd Phillip Island RM SBK R Grid Troy Bayliss Troy Herfoss
Troy Herfoss and Troy Bayliss on the grid in 2018 – Image by Rob Mott

“I am really happy to be working with Troy Herfoss again as I feel we have a great connection from our successes in the past. He is a fierce competitor and will stop at nothing to get the job done.

ASBK TBG Round Phillip Island Troy Herfoss TBG Sunday
Troy Herfoss took the ASBK Championship lead at Phillip Island’s round six in early October but was pipped to the 2019 Title in a nail-biting SMP decider in November – Image by TBG

“Deon has formed a great team around Troy Herfoss and I think for 2020 the Honda CBR1000RR, combined with the Michelin tyre, will be an exceptionally strong package from the get go. I can’t wait to go testing to learn more about the Michelin tyres and the package that Deon has put together. It will be a really exciting season.”

Troy Herfoss - 2016 ASBK Champion
Troy Herfoss, Paul Free in background – 2016 ASBK Champion

We broke that news here a few days ago about Michelin and also hinted that none other than Jeremy Burgess might be in Michelin’s corner for ASBK 2020, working with Penrite Honda.

Deon Coote – Penrite Honda Team Owner

“2020 is full of exciting things for the Penrite Honda Factory SBK team. First of all we have the all new CBR 1000 RR coming. Secondly we have a new tyre partner in Michelin that have been working hard at coming back to the Australian market with an amazing and competitive product for over the last 12 months. And then we have Paul Free coming back to the Honda Family, to Crew Chief for our rider Troy Herfoss. Paul will bring a wealth of knowledge to the team along with great leadership. Everyone is extremely motivated to get our 2020 campaign under way.”

ASBK TBG Rnd Winton Herfoss TBG
Penrite Honda – 2018 ASBK Superbike Champions – Left to right – Glenn Granger – Troy Herfoss – Ian Collier – Scott Charlton – Shaun Clarke and Team owner Deon Coote most right in picture – Image TBG

As Deon explained, that is some formidable people to have in your garage and will help Troy Herfoss and Penrite Honda to shake down the all-new 2020 Fireblade SP when it arrives.  Although at this stage we believe the team will start the season on the 2019 machine as they have to wait until 20 bikes are in the country for the new generation Fireblade to be homologated and eligible for ASBK competition. 

Honda Fireblade CBRRR SP
2020 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP – The team will likely start season 2020 on the previous model until enough of the new machines are in the country to make it eligible for ASBK competition

2020 ASBK Calendar

27febAll Day01marASBK - Phillip IslandDomestic Road Racing:ASBK

27mar(mar 27)12:00 AM29(mar 29)11:59 PMASBK - Wakefield Park RacewayGoulburn, NSWDomestic Road Racing:ASBK

07mayAll Day10ASBK - The Bend Motorsport ParkThe Bend, SADomestic Road Racing:ASBK

15may(may 15)12:00 AM17(may 17)11:59 PMASBK - Barbagallo RacewayWanneroo,Western AustraliaDomestic Road Racing:ASBK

28julAll Day29ASBK - Morgan Park Raceway ( Test)Warwick, QLDDomestic Road Racing:ASBK

07aug(aug 7)12:00 AM09(aug 9)11:59 PMASBK - Morgan Park RacewayWarwick, QLDDomestic Road Racing:ASBK

11sep(sep 11)12:00 AM13(sep 13)11:59 PMASBK - Winton Motorsport ParkWinton, VICDomestic Road Racing:ASBK

02octAll Day04ASBK - Phillip IslandDomestic Road Racing:ASBK