Features 3 Jun 2014

Five Questions Why: Matt Walters

Kawasaki front-runner on ASC season and WSBK spec shift.

After starting the season as one of the Australasian Superbike Championship (ASC) favoured frontrunners, Kawasaki’s Matt Walters admits his results are a far cry from his potential across the first two rounds. CycleOnline.com.au caught up with the defending ASC number one plate holder and fired off Five Questions Why.

Image: Keith Muir.

Image: Keith Muir.

Why haven’t the first two rounds gone to plan?

A combination of things really. It’s down to not having the bike quite right and my fitness. These are the two key parts that have really let me down in the first two rounds. I am leaning more towards my fitness, but the last couple of weeks I’ve been flat out in the gym and staying out of McDonalds, so that’s helped me a lot! Also the competition is through the roof, which is definitely making it tougher to win races. When you start from the line you really don’t know who’s going to win. I’m a big fan, but don’t like the positions I’ve been finishing in!

Why do you feel Queensland Raceway will be a better track for you and the Kawasaki?

Wakefield and Mallala are tight tracks. Mallala definitely isn’t slow but it’s not the same as some of the wider, more flowing tracks on the calendar, and it doesn’t really suit our bike as much as others. I think the Kawasaki could come into its own in Queensland, with the higher top speed and a few extra horsepower. I think we’ve got a better chance there than we did at the previous two rounds. We’re heading out to Eastern Creek this week for a quick test and then we’re heading to Ipswich for a test that Paul Free has organised a bit later on. I’m definitely looking forward to building back up the results later in the month.

Why do you feel Wayne Maxwell had such an edge at Mallala and how do you combat that?

I think experience was Wayne’s key. He had that extra bit of experience racing there and he’s obviously done a lot of racing in the Australian championships. He knows how it’s got to be done, and with this format, it’s got to be done right. It’s very hard when you’re a new guy that’s got to come in and try to race these guys that know how it needs to be put together and can do it week in, week out. Also his confidence obviously built race by race. It was a good result given the level of guys he was battling.

Image: Keith Muir.

Image: Keith Muir.

Why will this year be such a pivotal one for road racing in Australia?

It’s good to have all of the previous ASBK guys and then the FX guys in the one series because it takes the racing to that next level. In turn then everyone performs harder and it makes for better racing and develops better riders, I think. I think this year and next year will be really important. We have this structure now and we want to keep it, and keep building on it. We’ve got the riders now, and if we keep everyone together then it can’t not move forward. We’ve only had the first two rounds but you can see that everyone is enjoying the changes and enjoying being there. Finally everyone is on that same page and working towards a better future for the sport which is good.

Why is it a good move for World Superbikes to implement the EVO class regulations as standard?

I reckon it will be a great thing. We’ve seen the EVO class work pretty well so far. Plus in Australia it’s what they’ve effectively done here, bringing everything back to the Superstock spec. It means there is a lot more riders and the level is a lot more equal. It gives everyone a chance, and means it’s not always the massive factory teams up there, the little teams can fight as well. I think it makes for better racing and takes that focus off budget and puts it back on skill. It’d be really easy for any Australian team to build an EVO bike and be at the front at Phillip Island, for example. They would have that track knowledge and experience that the overseas riders might not necessarily have. The gap that was there before is much easier to bridge in Australia, without having to build a full-spec World Superbike which again comes down to budget.