News 29 Jan 2018

ASBK teams firm ahead of Phillip Island pre-season test

Official two-day test to commence in Victoria on Tuesday morning.

Image: Keith Muir.

The first official outing of the 2018 Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) presented by Motul Pirelli is scheduled for Phillip Island on Tuesday as a two-day test organised by Motorcycling Australia (MA) takes place in Victoria.

Tomorrow will mark the first time we see this year’s line-up on-track together, with an assortment of new rider combinations due to roll out as part of their new teams in preparation for next month’s opening round.

The defending champion Team Suzuki Ecstar squad will expand with Josh Waters to be joined by rookie Mark Chiodo on-board the Phil Tainton Racing-prepared GSX-R1000Rs, marking the team’s second entry into the ASBK championship. Corey Turner will also be Suzuki-mounted in a privateer effort backed by Brisbane Motorcycles, with Alex Phillis also making the switch at Phillis Racing.

Yamaha Racing Team (YRT) recently confirmed its revamped roster of the returning Wayne Maxwell alongside team newcomer Daniel Falzon, while Cru Halliday makes the step back to Supersport aboard the latest YZF-R6. Halliday’s appointment at YRT comes in addition to Yamaha’s wide-spread Yamaha Racing Development (YRD) program that will support a number of privateers.

Continuing on an R1 in the Superbike class will be a variety of talented private teams including capable New South Welshmen Michael Blair and Mitch Levy. It’s also been indicated that Aaron Morris will be Yamaha-mounted in the premier class this season.

Kawasaki will support a selection of teams in the series, led by BCperformance’s new signing Bryan Staring – the 2010 championship winner – and Kyle Buckley, who enters his second season in the premier class. Matt Walters will also be aboard a ZX-10R once again with his family-run Swann Insurance Repsol Kawasaki team, as will Callum Spriggs and rookie Mason Coote as promising privateer entries among further inclusions.

An additional rider included on the entry list for the test at least is Mike Jones, the 2015 champion due to ride a Kawasaki after spending last season with Racing in Europe. His future is yet to be confirmed, unable to be contacted in the lead-up to the test.

DesmoSport Ducati made the biggest move of the silly season by bringing in team co-owner Troy Bayliss to ride its factory Panigale, as the 48-year-old makes a comeback a decade after claiming his third Superbike World Championship. Also Ducati-mounted for the test is ex-national champion Jamie Stauffer, teaming up with Craig McMartin for a one-off appearance at this point.

Although still yet to be made official, Honda has slimmed down to a single-rider team with 2016 champion Troy Herfoss returning for another year as Penrite Honda Racing. Following the departure of Paul Free as team principal under the Team Honda Racing banner, it’s understood that the new-look Deon Coote-owned effort will be primarily backed by Penrite, continuing with the CBR1000RR SP2 that debuted last year.

Triple ASBK championship winner Glenn Allerton has transferred from YRT back to Next Gen Motorsports – the outfit in which he won the 2011 and 2014 titles – riding a BMW in addition to the team’s reigning Supersport champion Ted Collins, as he moves up to the premier class full-time this season.

The Cube Racing team is also certain to factor in the Supersport championship as it enters Tom Toparis on-board a Kawasaki for a second term, also featuring Oli Bayliss in Supersport 300, while seven-time American champion Mat Mladin has declared he is forming a team using Suzuki GSX-R600 machinery with Supersport newcomer Max Croker at the helm.

Phillip Island’s first official test of the season will see the YMI Superbike division joined by the Supersport, Supersport 300 and YMF R3 Cup categories, all preparing for round one on 23-25 February alongside the opening round of the Motul Superbike World Championship.