Features 30 Jun 2022

Top 10: Topics to follow in ASBK

Key points to be aware of at the halfway point of the 2022 season.

As the 2022 Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship enters its second half, there are a number of key storylines unfolding. We look at the Top 10 topics to follow so far in this year’s series as the final three rounds approach.

Image: Foremost Media.

1. Jones’ title to lose with YRT:
Taking three overalls from the four rounds contested thus far in 2022, Yamaha Racing Team’s (YRT) Mike Jones has control of the championship thanks to his speed and consistency – he’s the only rider to have finished inside the top four in each of nine races, with five wins and eight podiums. As his closest rivals have all had a DNF or low points haul, the number 46 enjoys a 40-point lead at the top of the standings. While there are at least six races remaining, the margin Jones carries over his rivals and the advantage he currently has when it comes to race pace make it his title to lose.

2. Return to form for Herfoss:
Despite having to overcome near career-ending injuries sustained at Hidden Valley last year, a 11-13 scorecard at Phillip Island for the Penrite Honda rider was an underwhelming surprise for many. The double Australian Superbike champion was quick to improve, landing P6 overall at QR and fourth at Wakefield –  just missing the podium in race two. In what was a near fairy-tale weekend in Darwin, he returned to the scene where the injuries were caused 12 months earlier and finished second overall, showing the fight, pace and aggression that we are accustomed to seeing from him. Heading to Morgan Park next  – a track that he likes and has won at in the past – Herfoss has his sights set on closing the gap to Jones.

3. Regroup for Maxwell to minimise mistakes:
Two costly mistakes for reigning champion Wayne Maxwell have been a huge contributor to the 40-point deficit he faces to Jones. The first came in the opening race of the season at Phillip Island, crashing out of the lead and missing out on a likely 25 points. Most recently in the third race at Darwin, he fell while running second, losing a potential 20 points. He was able to remount on that occasion and finish P11, and with that score 10 points. If the Boost Mobile with K-Tech McMartin Racing rider had finished those races in the position he crashed out of, he would be only five points away from the lead. Another mistake will surely mean game over for Maxwell in the championship hunt, baring anything major happening to Jones, and the number 47 has vowed to regroup and work towards minimising them moving forwards.

4. 727 Moto Team restructure and refocus:
Following the third round at Wakefield, the expanded 727 Moto Team effort for 2022 underwent a major restructure and realignment. It was announced that championship-winning crew chief Paul Free would part ways from the outfit, and the squad would not compete in Darwin in a bid to focus its resources to season end. Furthermore, Broc Pearson also left the team in the build-up to Hidden Valley, with the outfit drafting in longtime international rider Broc Parkes from Morgan Park to line up alongside Jed Metcher in the premier class. Notably, Ty Lynch is also under the 727 banner in his bid for the Supersport title.

5. Battle to be top Ducati:
Bryan Staring impressed on his debut with DesmoSport Ducati to take the overall win and early points lead at Phillip Island. He carried that strong form to Queensland Raceway, but crashed out in race one while challenging Jones for the lead. After a mediocre round at Wakefield, he was again in podium contention at Hidden Valley, ultimately third overall for the round. He trails Maxwell by seven points entering the season’s second half, both undoubtedly eager to be the top placed V4 R rider at the each of the year.

Image: Foremost Media.

6. Time is now for Halliday:
It was a strong start to the 2022 season for last year’s number three, Cru Halliday. He immediately gained more front in feel in line with YRT switching to Pirelli and was solid at round one, despite bad starts at Phillip Island, to finish second overall. A mechanical DNF at QR was a painful blow to his championship hunt, but he was able to rebound and score another overall podium at Wakefield in P3. Darwin was a disappointing round by his own account –  fifth overall with 6-5-6 results. Now 66 points from the lead, and 19 from Bryan Staring in third, the time is now for Halliday to return to the top three and win races where possible to keep himself in contention come season end, and keep equal status within the team.

7. Maxima BMW in search of step forward:
Six ASBK titles are shared between Maxima BMW pairing Glenn Allerton and Josh Waters, with the duo both eager to earn a record-breaking fourth championship. Equipped with the M 1000 RR, the question rises if the platform is capable of winning races. Allerton showed it was a front-running machine last year, then suffered a challenging start to 2022. He rebounded at Darwin and overcame a grid penalty – starting P10 for exceeding track limits in qualifying – to finish an impressive second in the final race. Waters adapted swiftly to the BMW, qualifying on the front row at Phillip Island and scoring a podium at QR. However, the Victorian’s progress has seemingly been brought to a halt in the last two rounds, unable to land in the top five overall. With multiple podiums on the M 1000 RR, the team will be searching for a solution to land on the top step.

8. Podium within sight of Sissis:
For much of 2022, Unitech Racing’s Arthur Sissis has been the leading privateer, showing on multiple occasions he is able to mix it up with the factory-supported teams. A breakout Superbike race performance in the second bout at Queensland Raceway saw the number 61 miss the rostrum by two-tenths, and he shot to the lead in race two and Darwin and maintained P1 for the first five laps. Now that he has proven more than capable of a top-five, a podium finish is not off the cards for the South Australian in the remaining rounds.

9. The next move of Supersport champion Pearson:
Current Australia Supersport champion Broc Pearson made the step to the premier class with the 727 Moto Team this year with the goal of winning a race in his rookie season. After a challenging start, it was announced that he and the squad would part ways in the build-up to round four of ASBK at Hidden Valley. Initially, 727 Moto Team owner said he would release Pearson from his commitments with the team, under the condition he would not race a superbike for the rest of the season. He later retracted that stipulation which seemingly leaves Pearson free to go where he can land a ride. The 21-year-old is one of the most promising up-and-coming talents competing on the domestic circuit, and tested both Honda and Yamaha machinery before his Superbike debut. It has not been officially confirmed if he will compete at Morgan Park, which begs the question of where he will end up in his return.

10. Rise of new Supersport contenders:
With the top three from last year’s Supersport championship either graduating to the premier class or heading overseas for a portion of the season, it’s left the door open for new contenders to rise. John Lytras has done exactly that, bouncing back from a mechanically plagued round one at Phillip Island to take the round wins at Queensland Raceway and Wakefield. He leads the series by 17 points ahead of Ty Lynch, as Scott Nicholson – who claimed a career first Supersport victory in race one at QR – is third a further 18 points adrift.