Features 10 Jan 2017

Catching Up: Glenn Allerton

Yamaha Racing Team's triple ASBK champion on season 2017.

With three Australian Superbike Championships to his credit and after finishing runner-up last season, Glenn Allerton enters the 2017 season with one target – to regain the crown. Recently re-signed to Yamaha Racing Team following an ultra-productive off-season, the 35-year-old will spend his third season aboard the factory YZF-R1M. CycleOnline.com.au spoke to Allerton about his feelings ahead of Phillip Island’s opening round on 24-26 February.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

You’ve just re-signed with Yamaha Racing Team for 2017. Why’d the deal take so long to come together?

Yeah, look I don’t quite understand why it took so long. I felt like in 2016 I had a really good year and I probably should have won the championship, but we had a little mishap at Wakefield Park where we had a DNF and it was like a 30-point swing. For me, if we didn’t have that accident, we would have been the champions for sure, so I’m not sure why it took so long for them to make the decision on whether to give us a contract or not, but I was pretty confident after finishing second in the championship and feeling like I should have won it that I was one of the better picks for the ride. I’m glad to finally get it out of the way.

It’s an important contract however, one that will see you enter the season with potentially your best chance at the premier title in a number of years considering Yamaha’s significant amount of testing recently…

For sure, because a lot of things are going right for me at the moment. We’ve got continuity and the bike has come forward because of comprehensive testing in the off-season. You know, everybody’s been working hard to try and rectify the issues we had in 2016 where we felt like we could have been stronger. Dunlop has been really good with the testing program and they seem to be extremely motivated to give us the best possible package with the tyres and to attack 2017 with the intention to win the championship. Most people and teams would be happy to finish second, because it is a great result in a tough field, but I’m in it to win it and I’ve won three championships before – I know that when I get everything right and the bike set-up’s correct, I’m the fastest guy out there, and I’ve proved that time and time again. So, I’m motivated to win the championship, that’s the goal for me and I think we’re in the best position we’ve ever been in.

What are your thoughts on YRT scaling back to a two-rider effort for 2017 with yourself and Wayne Maxwell at the helm?

I mean, I enjoyed having Cru [Halliday] as a teammate, but it was a big team and a lot of work for the staff. When it comes to the crunch, we’re really there to do a job and that’s to win the championship. I guess with the budget that they have, they probably had to scale back to attack it with a little bit more testing, spend a little bit more money on development, and in my mind that’s why they scaled it back. I had a good time in the past two years with Cru and, to be honest, I think he deserves a ride. It’s just a shame that our sport isn’t big enough to have more than about four factory riders, which sucks because looking at this year there’s probably about eight guys who can win races. I’m just glad that I’m where I want to be as far as the team that I’m on goes and the package that I have.

Are there any major changes for you in terms of team structure this year?

The team’s had a bit of a restructure with the way they run it at the track. Before, you just had your own individual mechanic and then there were people above that like Kev [Marshall] and Kroozy [Dave Kresvan] was the suspension guy. That’s sort of changed for this year as we’re going to have our own crew chief who can also do your suspension and also a mechanic. This year I’m going to have Stew Winton, who was Josh Brookes’ crew chief when he won the BSB championship, and I’ve already been testing with him. We have a relationship from over the years in the suspension industry, we get along well and we’ve already started to develop the bike in the direction that I feel is the right way forward with the new Dunlop tyres. I’m pretty excited about how it’s working, because I feel like there is more attention on me and what I’m looking for in feel from the bike. The Wakefield test that we did just recently was probably the best ride that I had in 2016 – I felt the most comfortable I have and the lap-times showed that I was definitely on the pace. My feeling going into next season is really positive and I feel really strong.

Image: Keith Muir.

Is defending champion Troy Herfoss the primary target or do you see other rivals becoming more favourable for the crown?

It’s unknown. I’m not sure who’s going to be the hardest one to beat, because Wayne is on the same bike and team as me – he’s a tough competitor and never stops trying… he really digs in. Over the years that I raced against Bryan Staring he was really tough too, so I mean for sure the target’s going to be on Troy’s back, but with a new bike coming they’re probably going to have a development period. Knowing what it’s been like over the years, that’s not always an easy period, it can be frustrating and if you’re not confident with the new bike you can struggle. We don’t have that with our bike, we have continuity and the confidence is high, so I feel like this should be my year.

You started out with victory at Phillip Island’s opener almost one year ago. How important is it for you to match that result next month?

It’s important to hit the ground running because it’s a short series. Yeah, there are going to be more races this year, but it’s really important to get a good result at the opening round. I actually just drove down yesterday to do a track-day on my personal bike at Phillip Island and I’m really excited about spending heaps of time on the track – I’m taking advantage of the fact that I ride a lot. I don’t think anybody else in the country spends as much time on the bike as what I do, but I absolutely love riding, whether it’s my practice bike or race bike. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much form going into a championship and I know I can win from the word go.

Awesome, well it’s definitely shaping up to be a cracker of a season and we look forward to the lights going out on a new year. Thanks!

Thanks mate.