News 20 Jul 2017

KTM’s Max Croker looks to Australian championship and beyond

KTM Australia press release:

KTM RC390 pilot Max Croker went two steps closer to adding another Australian championship to his record at the weekend’s third and fourth rounds of the Australasian Superbike Championship 400 Supersport class, at Queensland Raceway.

Still the only rider to have won Australian championships in speedway, dirt track and road racing in the same year – Croker and his KTM RC 390 was unstoppable in both of last weekend’s rounds at QR.

KTM’s LAMS-approved Supersport has pure Moto3 DNA, and Croker used the fact to take out Saturday’s proceedings (7, 1, 1) on a count-back following a crash in the opening race. But on Sunday he was perfect in all three races.

Croker now holds a 73-point lead in the championship after dominating the series’ opening double-header at Sydney Motorsport Park back in April, with a final double-header back in Sydney still to come.

In 2014, the Newcastle teenager became the youngest ever competitor to race in the Moto 2 World Championship, and with his sights set firmly on returning to road racing’s biggest stage, a national championship win would do him no harm at all.

Fellow KTM RC 390 racer, Singleton whizz kid Billy Van Eerde, was third overall on both days, behind experienced competitor Hunter Ford.

On his first ever visit to QR, 15-year-old Van Eerde qualified fourth for the round, but decked his machine in the process when he unloaded the front tyre over a bump at turn one.

Switching to his second KTM RC 390 only made him faster, and he rode to brilliant, 2,2,3 results on Saturday, and 3,2,3 on Sunday.

Sadly however, the appearance was purely for practice, as different laws in NSW will prevent Van Eerde from taking further part in the series because of his age, or lack thereof.

Other top-five orange performances included that of top-level dirt tracker Jarred Brook, who had his best showing on the bitumen yet, with fifth overall (5,5,5) on Saturday, and a fourth in the final race on Sunday.

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Max Croker – KTM RC390: “My next goal is to race Moto 2 in the GPs and if I can be fortunate enough to win this championship, it won’t do my chances any harm! We have a couple of options for next year but we’ll know more about that in the future. KTM has a strong Moto 2 presence and the dream would be to be involved with that. Coming straight from Hidden Valley where we were really strong, I definitely knew we’d be competitive at QR. I qualified second, but we finished first in every practice session, even when it rained, and got first in every single race except race one, where I tucked the front with a seven-second lead and a lap to go, and still came seventh. I was getting cracking starts; the KTMs are unreal off the line. Even when I had to start P7 I was second into the first turn, right behind Bill.”

Billy Van Eerde – KTM RC390: “I’m slowly progressing in road racing. It’s awesome. On the first day, I was off the pace and Max was pulling away, so I wasn’t too happy, but the second day I was able to drop my times a bit and stay with him for a few races. I had a big crash in Friday practice when I hit this big bump in Turn 1 with too much lean angle on, and tucked the front and went tumbling down the gravel trap. I slid off the side and wrecked that bike, so I had to use the second bike. Mum rang me after the first day and told me just to be happy, and the next day I went a lot better. I found a few more lines in the sharp corners and got a bit more confident with the street tyres we use in this series. I had a few moments where I got put out of the seat, but it was still good fun! The next two rounds are back to Eastern Creek, and on some stupid rule you have to be 16 to race this series in NSW, so I don’t really have a chance, series-wise. I just did this for the track time. The KTMs are running awesome, that’s all anyone was going on about, was how good the KTMs were going!

Jarred Brook – KTM RC390: “This was my first time at QR. Some people say it’s a boring track because it’s just four straights and six corners, but I had a lot of fun there. It’s a good track. On Saturday, I qualified sixth and moved up to fifth in each race. I showed some good pace and was able to battle in the front group in one of the races. Then on Sunday I placed 4-6-4 and was up there mixing it with the fast guys, so it was a great weekend. I’ve been spending a fair bit of time on the road bike lately, getting comfortable with it, learning how to set it up better, and practicing my technique. I had a couple of good races with Billy, but Max was on fire!”