Team Joe Rocket Suzuki PR:
Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Josh Waters rode to four hard-fought second placings across a tension-filled double-header round of the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) at Queensland Raceway on 28-31 May, 2009.
With Saturday and Sunday counting as two separate rounds, and each having their own qualifying session, it was Waters who proved to be ‘Mr Consistent’ with pole position for Saturday’s round and the overall runner-up position on the day.
The Superbike rookie again claimed the overall runner-up trophy for Sunday’s round after qualifying on the front row in an exciting Superpole one-lap qualifying shootout, a first in the 21-year history of the Australian Superbike Championship.
Further tension arrived in the shape of a rain squall just five minutes before the start of the final Sunday race, riders left to choose between wet-weather and slick racing tyres as the best option for their 200-horsepower, 270km/h Superbikes on a wet but drying race track.
Waters’ haul of 81 points across the weekend saw the 22-year-old consolidate second place in the overall series standings behind reigning Australian Superbike Champion Glenn Allerton, with Waters’ Team Joe Rocket Suzuki teammates Shawn Giles and Robbie Bugden fourth and fifth respectively.
The opening 16-lap Superbike race on Saturday was run in two parts after a red-flag stoppage on lap five, with Allerton the victor over Waters and three-time Australian Superbike Champion Giles. Waters chance of the race win on combined times disappeared on lap five of the restart when he missed his braking mark at the end of the back straight and dropped from third to eighth.
“I should have known better than to try and out-brake Robbie (Bugden) from 270km/h,” said Waters, who clawed his way back to second by the chequered flag. “It was a silly mistake on my part.”
Waters was again second to Allerton in Saturday afternoon’s race, unable to find a way past the defending champion.
“Glenn rides a Superbike with a different riding style to me, and I couldn’t get in a position to challenge him,” said Waters. “It’s something I need to work on.”
Giles and Bugden, the reigning New Zealand Superbike Champion, finished fourth and fifth respectively in the 16-lap race.
Waters recorded his third consecutive second placing in Sunday’s opening 16-lap race, just 0.201sec behind Allerton, with Bugden fourth and Giles fifth in another strong showing for Team Joe Rocket Suzuki.
However, drama awaited in the form of a wet final race, with Waters battling with Wayne Maxwell for the race win, the latter taking victory by 0.299sec to give the Suzuki rider his fourth second placing across the two days.
Waters however looked to be on target for the day’s overall round win with Allerton languishing towards the rear of the field after starting on slick tyres. However, as the track dried Allerton upped his pace, passing three riders in the last two laps to finish fifth – and thereby take the overall honours for the second part of the double-header round from the Suzuki rider by one point.
Waters, in his first season of Superbike racing, lies second in the seven-round series on 124pts, 10pts behind Allerton. With Giles fourth (101pts) and Bugden fifth (89pts), Team Joe Rocket Suzuki has three riders in the top five.
In the Australian Supersport Championship 22-year-old Troy Herfoss recorded 4th, 5th and 8th placings across Queensland’s double-header weekend on his Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R600.
Herfoss, the 2008 US Supermoto Champion and in his first full season of road racing, proved how quickly his learning curve is developing with some intense battles across the weekend with 2002 Supersport champion Shannon Johnson.
“Shannon got the better of Troy early on, but Troy learned from that and returned the favour in the next race,” said TJRS manager Phil Tainton. “He’s learning all the time.
“It’s Troy’s first race meeting at Queensland Raceway, so he should be happy with those results given the crash he had to bounce back from.”
Herfoss was fortunate to escape injury when he crashed at high-speed in Saturday afternoon’s race after hitting water on the track surface, the water left by another competitor’s bike which had split a radiator hose.
The next round of the 2009 Australian Superbike Championship is at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway on 7-9 August, 2009.
PHIL TAINTON – TEAM MANAGER
“It’s been a great weekend for the team and I’m extremely happy with the results.
“All four riders delivered great results over what is a pressure weekend. The double-header rounds are non-stop for the riders and the crew.
“Josh’s results were impressive and he showed a lot of maturity in the challenging conditions on Sunday afternoon. He’s only in his first full Superbike season, so to be lying second to the reigning champion after three rounds is a good result whichever way you look at it.
“With Josh second in every race, Shawn on the podium in only his third race meeting back from injury, Robbie moving to fifth in the championship, and Troy continuing to impress in only his fourth road race meeting it couldn’t have been much better from an overall team result.
“Our focus now will be getting our new GSX-R1000K9 Superbikes ready for the next round for Josh, Shawn and Robbie. Fortunately we’ve got two months to the next round, but we’ve got six bikes to prepare.”
“I guess I should be happy with pole position on Saturday, four second placings in the four races and a good points’ haul across the weekend – but I really should have taken some race wins.
“I should have won that first race on Saturday, but I messed up with a silly mistake when I braked too late and ran wide.
“And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a go in that final Sunday race in the wet, but Wayne was just too good for me and I couldn’t find a way past.
“The team has been awesome all weekend and given me the equipment to do the job, so it’s up to me now.
“I’m still riding the Superbike a bit too much like my Supersport bike of last year, so I need to work on my riding style for the bigger and more powerful Superbike. I need to get it upright out of the turns sooner so I can get on the power harder.
“I’m getting sick of coming second. We’ll have the new K9 GSX-R1000 for the next round at Eastern Creek, so I’m looking forward to that.”
“Getting on the podium in the first race was a great way to start the weekend. It was good to be back up there, as at this meeting last year I didn’t get that far.
“I’m happy with the results across the four races and to be lying fourth in the championship at this early stage of the season.
“I feel there’s more to come as my race fitness improves and I get comfortable again on a 200-horsepower Superbike.
“The introduction of Superpole is a good initiative – it added plenty of excitement and is good for the spectators.
“It was pretty exciting being in a group of Superbikes drifting speedway-like into Turn Three as we braked from 270km/h to 80km/h. I love it.”
“It was a strange weekend for us as we had a niggling problem on Thursday that lost us most of the three practice sessions. It was a simple electrical connection but it took us a couple of days to trace the problem.
“We were playing catch-up after that, so to get some consistent top five results is a good outcome in front of my family and local fans. Once we sorted the problem my bike was one of the fastest out there.
“We’ve moved to fifth in the championship and I’m happy with that.”
“I was happy with my race pace this weekend, but I made it hard for myself with my qualifying results.
“The crash in Saturday’s second race put us back a bit as we had to swap to the spare bike, and then go out and qualify for Sunday’s races. I can’t thank the team enough for the work they put in to get me back out there.
“It was a pretty fast get-off, that’s for sure. I just seemed to keep going and going.
“It’s only my fourth road race meeting and my first race at Queensland Raceway, so I’ve still got a lot to learn.
“I learned a lot this weekend racing against an experienced guy like Shannon Johnson in all my races, that’s for sure.”