The 2010 Viking Group Australian Superbike Championship is set to kick off in less than 24 hours with International Entertainment Group (IEG) going into their second year as series promoter with strength and enthusiasm.
A record number of Superbike entries and a growing list of competitive factory backed teams have instilled confidence in the Promoters of the 2010 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK).
With intense rivalries and some incredible talent taking to the tracks this year IEG managing director Yarrive Konsky said that not knowing the outcome is one of the best things about the sport.
“It’s the unpredictability of the end result that keeps people interested,” Konsky said. “Rivalry, hard fought battles and confrontation is what people what to come and see.
“Road Racing at this level isn’t about mate-ship on the track – it’s about bragging rights, standing tall amongst your peers and rivals, and claiming the win against all odds.
“No other event will capture such intense rivalry between so many past and present Superbike Champions.”
MA CEO David White believes that the ASBK is on the right path to increasing the profile and strength of Australian road racing.
“Changes, such as the ones IEG have implemented are integral to regenerating interest and creating a profile for the sport,” White said. “Involving the ASBK with the V8 Supercars has been a great step forward for the development of the championship, showcasing our sport to a wider audience of motoring enthusiasts.
“The re-introduction of this partnership further highlights the strength of the Series, and with such a depth of talent and variety of motorcycle brands competing in the Championship this year, we can expect to see some spectacular racing.”
The 2010 ASBK has four new factory supported teams competing, with Ducati, Aprillia, KTM and Triumph entering teams through various mediums and are looking to the ASBK to encourage greater interest and sales for their respective brands and products.
Team principal of ESG KTM Wayne Hepburn is looking forward to the 2010 championship.
“Last year was outstanding when you consider the global economic crisis,” Hepburn said. “IEG honoured their original commitments to riders and teams, even after copious amounts of funding were pulled.
“The TV broadcast was great, we were on TEN, ONEHD and Foxtel and no other national based races can or will be able to rival such broad coverage. This is everything my team needs to attract outside industry awareness, support and acceptance.”
Hepburn was also thrilled with the team’s progress.
“Shannon Johnson and Chris Trounson are doing a superb job,” he said. “The team has united well and the new KTM RC8 is a real race weapon that has so much untapped potential so we’re looking forward to round one.”
ESG KTM will line up against the newly formed Motologic Ducati team consisting of Jamie Stauffer and Jordan Burgess, Natural Aprilia team spearheaded by Daniel Stauffer and Cole Odendall, Aluma-Lite Ducati’s Ben Attard and Suzuki’s satellite Racers Edge Suzuki team rider Scott Charlton.
These new teams and a host of privateers will be chasing after the existing powerhouse Team Suzuki team and newly formed Honda sponsored satellite teams – Demolition GAS Honda and FTS Honda Racing.
Suzuki Australia general manager Perry Morison believes in the direction IEG is taking the ASBK and is looking forward to Suzuki’s all out assault on the series this year.
“The 2009 ASBK Superbike Championship took a giant leap forward with an excellent TV package, great promotions, the re-introduction of prize money, and a long-awaited return to racing with the highly successful V8 Supercar series,” Morrison said.
“IEG really stepped up to the challenge of rebuilding our national championship and should be congratulated for what they achieved in a tough year for our industry.
“Suzuki is excited to commence the defence of our Superbike championship this weekend, and we wish everyone involved a successful and safe season at the national level.”
Team Suzuki rider and reigning Australian Superbike Champion Josh Waters is quietly confident that he and the team will continue on from last year’s form.
“The GSX-R1000 is the class leader and Team Suzuki is the best team out there,” Waters said. “I am not going to dispel the likelihood of Maxwell, Allerton, Stauffer, Staring or even my teammate Giles for that matter, challenging me for the win this coming weekend, but I truly believe we have the continued and consistent support needed to win at this level.
“Phil [Tainton] and the boys have done a great job preparing the bikes during pre-season testing and I am confident we will stand on top of the podium come Sunday afternoon.”
Waters’ fierce rival, Demolition GAS Honda rider Wayne Maxwell, thinks otherwise.
“I started slow last year, it was my first year back racing Superbikes, and my speed came in the latter part of the championship,” Maxwell said. “Testing has gone well and Demolition GAS Honda has done an amazing job to give me a bike capable of winning the title.
“Racing is not about making friends on the track – it’s about winning and that’s what GAS and Honda are expecting.”
If only one thing is certain, the championship is now well and truly wide-open and will be difficult to predict.
Practice will start tomorrow morning before time qualifying takes place on Saturday.