News 28 Feb 2016

Yamaha defects to ASBK for full 2016 campaign

Factory Yamaha Racing Team exits Australasian Superbike series.

Image: Russell Colvin (YRT).

Image: Russell Colvin (YRT).

Yamaha Racing Team (YRT)’s six-year stint in the Australasian Superbike Championship (ASC) is over, with the official factory team confirming this weekend that it will move back to the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) fulltime for 2016.

On one of the most important race weekends of the year at Phillip Island’s World Superbike opener, YRT revealed Yamaha Motor Australia management finalised the extraordinary decision on Wednesday this week.

Multiple national champions Wayne Maxwell, Glenn Allerton and Cru Halliday of YRT will join fellow factory team riders from Honda and Ducati, as well as top-tier privateers, in contesting the ASBK fulltime this season.

“It was Wednesday afternoon, [YMA motorsport manager] Ray [Howard] and I got an email from [YMA managing director] Steven Cotterell saying that he’d decided we were going to go and race ASBK,” YRT team manager John Redding told “His biggest justification for the change was that we want to be racing the best people in the country.

“Our current bikes are ASC bikes, we hadn’t put any thought into preparing them for ASBK and we probably in the short-term won’t be able to. There’s an intensive amount of work allowed under ASBK rules, not just the work, but the development, so we will possibly after Wakefield be able to begin to develop the bikes to ASBK spec.

“The bikes do appear to be competitive, but at the same time we are racing the best in the country and we don’t want to be giving away anything to anybody, so as soon as we get the opportunity we will be visiting the cylinder heads, compression ratios and electronics that are allowed under the ASBK rules.

“We like any wins where the racing’s really close and you’re racing the top guys and there’s a few of them, not just one or two. From that point of view, any form of racing like that is worthwhile going to, regardless of where it was. Last year was the closest I think it’s been for such a long time. If this year’s the same that would be great.”

It was previously announced that YRT would be staying in the ASC series until sanctioning complications within the series forced Wakefield and Winton to be axed – leaving just Sydney, Queensland Raceway and Mallala on the six-event schedule.

That prompted Yamaha to reconsider its position entering the new season, swiftly entering the Phillip Island ASBK opener on WorldSBK weekend despite missing recent pre-season testing at the venue.

It was expected a final decision would be made on Sunday night following the three domestic Superbike class races, however that was moved forward by upper-management and the team was advised prior to the on-track action in Victoria.

Yamaha’s decision to contest the ASBK – which boasts Yamaha Motor Finance as its naming-rights partner and includes the newly-formed R3 Cup development category – comes after six years in the FX-based ASC series.

YRT clinched the 2010, 2011, 2012 (Kevin Curtain) and 2013 (Broc Parkes) FX-ASC crowns, before a two-year stint from Team Honda Racing within the Australian Road & Track Rider Promotions (ARTRP)-managed series saw Wayne Maxwell and Troy Herfoss eclipse them for the title in 2014 and 2015.

The ASBK has now secured all three factory teams for this year. Honda already confirmed it was withdrawing from the ASC in favour of the ASBK once again after re-signing Herfoss and Jamie Stauffer, while Troy Bayliss’ incoming official DesmoSport Ducati entry of Mike Jones has also committed.

It’s been a positive return to the ASBK for YRT so far at Phillip Island, with Maxwell claiming the first pole position of the year on Friday and Allerton storming to Saturday’s opening win of the season. Two more 10-lap races will take place today.