The first teams are settling in to Phillip Island ahead of Friday’s first on track sessions for The 6 Hour 2010.
With some rain forecast for Friday and Saturday, but fine and sunny conditions expected for race day Sunday, the challenges for all the teams are multiple; get plenty of track time for each rider, get as much dry data as possible and keep it on the track.
For Team Suzuki Australia, and for team principal Phil Tainton, The 6 Hour represents a huge challenge.
“I feel like I’m a little under prepared,” Tainton admitted. “These endurance races are definitely won and lost in the pits so we’re doing whatever we can to make tyre changes as quick as possible.”
Famous for his powerful engines and flawlessly prepared bikes for the usual 25-minute Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) races, Tainton has made some changes to lengthen the riders’ stints and ensure longevity.
“The guys are fast enough, the bikes are fast enough, but we’ve changed the spec of the engine to try and use less fuel,” Tainton continued. “The rest of it’s up to the pit crew.”
Despite Tainton’s typical low key approach, Team Suzuki features three national champions in their four rider lineup with muti-time ASBK champion Shawn Giles paired with 2009 ASBK series winner Josh Waters on a 1000cc Superbike. In the Supersport 600cc class, 2010 Australian Supersport Champion Troy Herfoss is paired with up and coming racer Brodie Waters.
If Phil Tainton is feeling the pressure, then Paul Free from Honda Racing must be really feeling it. As team principal of the newly formed Superbike outfit, Free has been busy building a one-off bike for the event.
Having brought on board two past champions of Australian Superbike racing in Jamie Stauffer and Glenn Allerton, he is rightly confident of a good result.
“I rate our chances very highly for this weekend,” Free said. “We’ve got two of the best riders in the country – very consistent and very fast riders, and with the team of people I’ve got around those two riders and the Honda product. I think we’ve got every chance to win it.”
For Demolition Plus GAS Honda Racing team principal Geoff Winzer, the pressure is clearly on the other guys. With last year’s win under his belt and two of the top Phillip Island riders in the world in his garage, Winzer’s team is clearly the one to beat.
For rider Wayne Maxwell, being teamed with British Superbike 2010 runner up Josh Brookes is very promising.
“Josh and I have been good mates for a long time now and the opportunity to do an endurance race together has been a dream come true,” Maxwell said. “Josh is a knowledgeable guy who can bring a lot to the team and we’ve both ridden Suzuka 8 hour endurance races so we’re as ready as we can be.”
And while the major teams have their claims there are many more who stand ready to shake up the podium if given a sniff.
Isle of Man racer Cameron Donald has returned to Australia to team up with 2010 ASBK number four Scott Charlton on a Phil Tainton Racing-prepared Suzuki.
Triumph Australia have put up their wickedly versatile Daytona 675 with Christian Casella and European-based racer Jed Metcher.
Up and comer Glenn Scott has been paired with former World Endurance Championship winner Warwick Nowland on a Kawasaki ZX-6R.
As well as the main event, there are a number of support races across the weekend including 400-125-260cc, BEARS, Sidecars and Juniors.
The Juniors offer spectators the opportunity to see the stars of the future and this year The 6 Hour race weekend will see the Phillip Island debut of Remy Gardner, son of 1987 World 500ccGP Champion Wayne Gardner.
For event organiser James Spence, The 6 Hour has occupied his mind since the conclusion of the Oran Park event a year ago.
“We made a huge splash last year, but knowing full well that it was to be Oran Park’s last hurrah, I was already eyeing Phillip Island,” Spence commented. “For motorsport fans, Phillip Island is the spiritual and dare I say it ‘cultural’ home of motorcycle racing.
“It’s been a great move as we’ve managed to attract top teams, riders and sponsors so I’m confident that we’ll see a great turn out to support this emerging and exciting event.”
The 6 Hour would not be possible without the support of the presenting sponsor Bel Ray as well as many other supporters: Bridgestone, Whites Racing Products, Excelgene, Pirelli, QBE and All Seasons Hotels.