KTM’s RC390 mounted Van Eerde leads Supersport 300 after Wakefield
At the tender age of 14, KTM RC390 Racing Team rider Billy Van Eerde has scored his career-first road racing win in unpredictable weather at the weekend’s second round of at Wakefield Park, near Goulburn leads the ASBK’s Supersport 300 class after.
The young dirt track ace qualified fastest for the event in the wet, then went 2, 2, 1 across the three races to win the round from Jack Mahaffey and Zac Levy, after the last race was red-flagged due to excessive rain.
On the back of a sixth overall finish at the opening round of the championship at the Phillip Island World Superbike Championship round last month, Van Eerde now holds a seven-point overall lead in the Aussie championship.
Billy Van Eerde
“It was my second ASBK meeting and my third ever race on the 390, so it was good to be on the pace at a pretty difficult track where it wasn’t just wide open. It was good to be on the podium and on the pace in front of a lot of fast people. I was happy with the way I rode – particularly qualifying on Pole Position in the wet. I came in five minutes early and Dad just said it probably wasn’t worth the risk of going back out. I was happy with the way I raced, I had some good battles with Reid and all the other guys – great fun! In the second one me and Reid were battling for first and second, and we were like elbows and knees down the straights! That was awesome! I’ve raced against him in junior dirt track, so we’re pretty good mates.”
The unpredictable event yielded up-and-down results for the other two of KTM’s dynamic trio, with Max Croker and his Chris Watson Motorcycles RC390 running foul of Murphy’s Law at every turn to be 13th for the day after a couple of mechanical issues, at a track upon which he’d set identical times to Van Eerde just a week earlier.
“We didn’t have the best of weekends. It was sketchy in the rain and trying to toss up which tyres to use made it difficult. We didn’t have too many sessions where you had to ride the wrong tyres for the conditions – except for that last race there it was pretty hairy! The rain came down and about five bikes went down. We showed good pace in the wet, topping the warmup times on Sunday, but we’d got some water in the engine which then slowed us in the dry, so we were kind of praying for rain the whole weekend after that. Our speed in the dry conditions wasn’t what we’d hoped for after our testing the week before. Back then Billy and I were doing the same times, six-tenths off the lap record.”
Top-level dirt track ace Jared Brook continued to ride the steep learning curve of bitumen racing on his KTM Racing Australia/Wide Bay Motorcycles RC390, and was 15th on the day – despite being one of a number of riders to crash out of the rain-affected third race.
“It was pretty tough. It was a good learning experience once again. This time it was raining, so it was a whole different ball game, running wets and riding in the rain and seeing how the bike handles. You have to brake differently compared to the dry and how you physically ride the bike is different. In the wet you have to stand it up a lot more and definitely radius your corners more so you’re not turning sharp. You’ve got to do all your braking before the corner and then have a little bit of throttle as soon as you can to take the load off the front tyre. Qualifying wasn’t too bad – it was bucketing down and I qualified in 15th – so I’d halved my result from Phillip Island! Each time we took the bikes out on the track we’d make a little change for the better, so we’re definitely learning.”
Croker and Brook are currently 10th and 12th in the national championship respectively.
The championship rankings of the three KTM young guns are a true credit, not just to their ability to apply the motion lotion, but to a motorcycle which – just a month ago – was a completely untried quantity in Australian racing conditions.
The RC390 is a compliant, LAMS-approved commuter with Moto3 World title-winning DNA coursing through its veins, and behind the scalpel-sharp looks lurks a design of pure function.
Scalpel-sharp handling, braking and the best power-weight ratio in its class gives the RC390 an edge in city agility and mountain road supremacy, and KTM’s young guns have been able to show racetrack competitiveness from the very first turn of the wheel.
Australian Supersport 300 Championship – Over 300cc – Round 2
- Billy VAN EERDE – 108
- Zac LEVY – 101
- Brandon DEMMERY – 96
- Tom BRAMICH – 86
- Jack PASSFIELD – 86
- Ty LYNCH – 85
- Hunter FORD – 82
- Corey BRIFFA – 81
- Jack MAHAFFY – 78
- Max CROKER – 71
- Ben BRAMICH – 68
- Jarred BROOK – 52