Superbike and Supersport championship winners on the final round.
The 2016 Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul Pirelli wrapped up at Winton, Victoria, on Sunday, as new champions were crowned. CycleOnline.com.au caught up with Superbike title winner Troy Herfoss and new Supersport champion Troy Guenther post-race.
Troy Herfoss, 2016 Australian Superbike Champion. You must be really happy with that result? It’s been a great weekend for you here at Winton.
Yeah, unbelievable weekend! It’s not how I expected it to play out with the weather and then my two main competitors qualifying further back on the grid, but then they came on strong during in races one and two, so I had to work for it. It would have been nice to win race one and take a bit more pressure off, however I was really happy to win race two and win the championship for Crankt Protein Honda Racing. The whole team have done a great job all year and it’s a massive credit to them. Also congratulations to Wayne [Maxwell] and Glenn [Allerton], who have been really tough competitors. Glenn made me work for that race win in the second race all the way down to the last corner, so it definitely feels like I’ve earned this championship and I’m going to enjoy it.
You had speed on your side this weekend, but you obviously had to remain focused throughout the whole weekend. What was going through your mind during race one, then after it as well when you saw the points at that stage?
I can’t explain how stressful it was trying to ride at my maximum. I didn’t have to win, with where Wayne was, however to try and ride at 110 percent with all that pressure out in front and not chasing anyone really tested me. When I realised I won the championship, I didn’t believe I was going to win until I crossed the line really. I’m really happy to win my first official Australian Superbike Championship and just wrapt for Honda. All the guys in the team have worked hard and we really have worked hard for this. I feel that we deserve it.
How does this compare to last year, because obviously that was massive win in itself. It wasn’t the MA [Motorcycling Australia] series, but at the same time it was the number one series at the point. How does this one compare?
To be honest, I feel like last year I was the number one Superbike rider in Australia and that’s no disrespect to Mike [Jones], because he won the Australian Superbike Championship. I feel like we were in the main championship last year and that was really special. It’s amazing to win the Australian Superbike Championship, but just to be in a championship where I’m racing against the best guys in the country and to win twice now against the best guys feels really good. In saying that, there is something about the title ‘Australian Superbike Champion’. I’ve always wanted that – now my name is on the list next to a long list of riders. Hopefully I can do it a few more times.
Looking back to the Barbagallo Raceway round, did you think this was possible at that point?
After Sydney Motorsport Park we were pretty worried, but I made a lot of mistakes there. Then at Barbagallo I didn’t feel like we made a lot of mistakes and felt like we had a reasonably good bike, but we were still a long way off. From then I was really wondering if we could finish on the top step or even win races. Crankt Protein Honda Racing and I did a lot of testing and Pirelli brang the SCX rear tyre. From then on the tracks really helped me, I felt like I got up to speed quickly and maybe took the wind out of them a little bit at Morgan Park by getting the double win, which put me back into contention. From then on I knew it was up to me. I knew Wayne would be strong here at Winton and also Glenn, but the last two years I have battled with Wayne here and it’s been tough, so I was expecting that again. Just a few things went my way this weekend and took a little bit of the pressure off. I hope Wayne is okay and I’m looking forward to battling with him again next year.
The relationship with you and the Motologic-run Crankt Protein Honda Racing team looks like it has really developed into something special since you joined them and you’ve had a lot of success as well. It just seems like a really, really good fit…
It is a really good fit. I enjoy Paul [Free]’s company off the track and away from the track and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. We all get along great. Also Shaun [Clarke], my crew chief, he is a smart guy and not the sort of guy that lets everyone in. We have developed a pretty good relationship now and we understand how we both work. Outside of that our sponsors, we have Crankt Protein on board and they are really happy with how things are going. And not forgetting Pirelli and the guys at Honda, who I get along with great. Growing up it’s always your dream to ride for Honda – when I was a kid I used to watch Mick Doohan go around and I wanted to ride for Honda. 2017 will be my fourth year with Honda, I’m signed up, I’m sealed and I’m ready to go. I enjoy the relationship I have got and I have always been that sort of guy that enjoys being with the same team. If we can build this relationship I think we will be harder and harder to beat.
You have been overseas before and you then stopped racing for a little while. Once you were back in Australia you said this is where you want to be and obviously on one of the best teams there is. Where to for you now in your career? Is this what you want to do, just keep repeating championships, or do you still have that desire to go and take on the world in a sense?
It gives me a funny feeling when I get asked that question. I think deep down I really want to be Superbike world champion, but in this day and age it’s really difficult to get into a competitive team. I reevaluated things when I started racing again, I feel at home with Honda and the racing is really tough and I can make a living here in Australia, so for me unless Ten Kate Honda are knocking on my door and I’m going to factory Superbike, which is a pretty high ask, I’m staying right where I am.
And there’s a new Honda CBR1000RR next year, that must be exciting as well, and I guess a major challenge in itself.
Yeah, it’s really cool. I haven’t really been involved with a new model before, so I’m glad I’ve got a few years’ experience now with this bike and also Shaun. That’s something that’ll keep us motivated, we’ll be going for another championship and winning races. I know they had a lot of success with this model with Glenn, who took out the 2008 championship, so high expectations and we are definitely looking forward to riding the new bike.
No worries, well thanks a lot and well done on the championship.
No dramas, thank you.
Troy Guenther, Australian Supersport Champion, you must be really happy with the sound of that! It’s been a great finish in the season for you and a really exciting finish.
Yeah, for sure. That last race would probably have been one of the hardest races of my life. Sam [Clarke] put up one heck of a fight, so credit to him, as he was there all the way to the end. This championship would not have been possible without all the support from my friends and family both here and back home. And a big thank you to the Graffiti Alley Racing team, as they have provided me a race-winning Yamaha YZF-R6 machine this year. It’s such a surreal feeling right now!
What was going through your mind towards the end of that second race?
I got into second place, then I saw 0.5s and I thought I might be able to get away from Sam. Then I saw a 0.2s – I’m not going to lie, there was a bit of pressure applied there, but I just tried to take it lap by lap. I managed to get across the line and win the championship, so yeah, it’s a great feeling. As I said, I have to thank my team, YRD and Yamaha and all of our sponsors for their support this year.
Is Winton Motor Raceway a circuit that you like?
I think so now, as I have sealed my first Supersport championship [laughs]. In general Winton is a really fun circuit and since it has been resurfaced it has made it really great to race on this weekend.
What are you are plans after this weekend, for the rest of the year and then into 2017?
This weekend marks the end of our season – we don’t plan on doing Phillip Island. In regards to next season, we are not 100 percent sure yet. We are going to try and sort that out in the next couple of months, but look, the ASBK season has been great and I have had a lot fun racing in it. I just want to keep having fun racing and see where it takes us.
No worries, thanks for your time Troy. Again, well done on winning the championship.
Not a problem, thank you.