Interviews 8 Aug 2017

Profiled: Corey Turner

DesmoSport Ducati newcomer on his career so far.

Youthful Queenslander Corey Turner has been a revelation in the 2017 Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) presented by Motul Pirelli, essentially emerging from nowhere to becoming one of the hottest prospects in the premier class.

Turner has had quite a colourful career in the sport, racing various international championships in a host of categories, despite only being on the bitumen for the last six years. As most kids are introduced to the sport, Corey’s father raced in his prime before getting himself and his siblings involved.

Getting his first bike at two, Corey was racing the discipline of dirt track by the time he was five years of age, where in the following years he’d rack up two Australian titles and three Queensland championships. From there, his career took a different turn, as his dad took on a new job that saw the family step away from the sport.

“My dad has raced for most of his life in speedway, on the road and even sidecars as well,” Turner explained to CycleOnline.com.au. “He got my older brother and sister into racing dirt track, then when I was two years old I got my first dirt bike, and by the time I turned five, I was racing dirt track as well – that’s how I got the racing bug.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

“I won two Australian dirt track titles on the 50cc and three Queensland titles, but dad got a new job in boats and we kind of gave up for a bit – I think I had seven years off. Josh Waters actually invited me out to Queensland Raceway one weekend to watch him race, and yeah, I just wanted to have a go at road racing ever since. I bought my first race bike, and 2011 was my first year racing on the road.”

The now 19-year-old said it was a difficult transition to road racing, he knew the basics of riding, but struggled to come to terms with the particular style that’s needed to competitively race a road bike. “It was definitely difficult, I didn’t really understand road racing when I first actually gave it a crack – I kind of just knew how to ride a bike.

“It took me a while to get my head around how you’re supposed to ride a road bike, but we did a lot of coaching days and I pretty much went out and started racing, which I guess is the best way to learn. In 2011 I was on the Metrakit 80, but when they introduced the Moto3 class to Australia, Kazu Kuroda from K1 Racing was bringing them in and wanted me to get on one.

“We ended up buying one, and there was obviously only one class of them in Australia, which was the Australian Moto3 Championship that runs alongside the ASBK. That was my first year of national racing, and my second year in road racing.”

After a successful year finishing runner-up in the Moto3 championship, Turner sought tougher competition overseas, throwing himself into the deep end to race the European Moto3 championship – a breeding ground for some of the world’s best riders. After a year in the category, an opportunity presented itself to graduate to Moto2, where he eventually spent the next two years before moving to Japan with yet another opportunity, this time on a superbike.

“I finished the year really strong in Moto3, basically, we wanted to chase more competition, so through some contacts and some people, we ended up heading to Spain in 2013 and doing the Moto3 championship there in the CEV. We soon realised how hard and expensive that was, but the year after we had the opportunity to race in Moto2, so I ended up racing that class in 2014 and 2015.

“I went and did a race at the end of the year in 2014, just on stock 600 with a Japanese team. They wanted me to race in the Moto2 class in Japan, and that soon turned into a superbike ride, which I was pretty happy about. I did four rounds of the JSB with them, and that included the 2016 Suzuka 8 Hours as well.”

Turner explained the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours was an eye-opener, however being away from home in Australia soon started to catch up the young talent, and a decision was made to return back to Queensland, eventually finding himself in the ASBK as a Yamaha-mounted privateer.

“It was definitely the hardest race I’ve done in my career, it was only me and Mark, where as most teams have three riders. It was definitely the most physical race I’ve done, but to be in a world championship race, it was definitely an eye-opener – it was crazy.

“I left Australia when I was 15 and I hadn’t been back since, it’s a bit different when you’re overseas, especially because I was by myself in Japan – I was missing home a little bit and it was getting harder overseas. I didn’t want to stop racing, especially after putting in this much effort, so that’s how I turned to the ASBK. My old man surprised me with an R1 at the end of last and it all took off from there.”

Image: Motorcycle Pics.

In just four rounds, Turner has lodged a series of credible results, including an ultra-impressive fourth at Darwin’s fourth round, where he narrowly missed the podium by three points. It’s safe to say he’s rapidly found his feet in the championship, sitting eighth in the standings as three rounds remain.

His efforts have caught the attention of multi-time world champion Troy Bayliss, who has enlisted the teenager to replace the injured Callum Spriggs on the DesmoSport Ducati team for the remainder of the year, an opportunity that could potentially accelerate his career in the premier division.

“The ASBK has been really competitive, and yeah, Darwin was great for us – everything just clicked that weekend and everything was going good. To get fourth was awesome. I’m gutted for Cal, he’s a great guy in the paddock, but I’m definitely keen to start riding the Ducati – I’ve already put a couple of laps on it, but I’m excited to do some more days testing this week. I can’t thank Ben Henry and Troy Bayliss enough for giving me the opportunity – I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what I can do on it.”

Turner will officially debut the Ducati 1299 Panigale S at Morgan Park’s fifth round of the 2017 Australian Superbike Championship in his home state on 25-27 August.

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