Features 2 Feb 2023

Q&A: ASBK rider movements

Unpacking the key rider and team signings leading into season 2023.

While there are a number of those that are staying put in terms of rider movements when it comes to the 2023 Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship, there are some intriguing and interesting developments that have already been confirmed or are in the works. In our latest Q&A feature, we unpack some of the most topical points in the rider market as the season-opening races at Phillip Island fast approach.

Image: Foremost Media.

Q: With DesmoSport Ducati dropping to a single-bike effort for 2023, what does that mean for the future of Bryan Staring?

A: When news broke late last year that former Supersport champion Broc Pearson would be the sole DesmoSport Ducati rider in 2023, it left last season’s number three Bryan Staring effectively without a ride. That said, while Staring will be out of a factory seat for this season, it appears he has some options in the works and it’s very likely that he will return to the championship despite skipping this week’s official test. An announcement of his plans expected in the near future.

Q: What has happened to NextGen Motorsports and Glenn Allerton?

A: Winning two Australian Superbike Championships together, Glenn Allerton and NextGen Motorsports could rarely be counted out of contention with BMW machinery. However, it’s clear that the NextGen outfit will take a step back from ASBK, with Allerton to find a ride elsewhere to continue in 2023. We understand that a deal for Allerton to race-on is developing, and all roads appear to be leading to him being on a Ducati this year. What that infrastructure looks like and when he will debut with the new machine still remains unclear, but one thing that is certain is Allerton’s capability to be a front-running contender with the right equipment underneath him.

Q: Who, at this stage, will be notably absent from ASBK in 2023?

A: South Australian Daniel Falzon will be a notable absentee from this year’s championship, the longtime Yamaha rider opting to not contest ASBK in 2023. A significant contributing factor to the decision is his need for corrective surgery to undergo the removal of all the rods and pins in his leg and back after an incident at The Bend in 2021. Also, Falzon and his team made a considerable investment to the MoTeC electronics unit for 2022, believing it would be a control ECU from 2023. With such not the case for this season, they were disheartened to not see that development not come to fruition. Three-time ASBK champion Wayne Maxwell is now retired from full-time competition and, after the number 47 set a front-running standard for an extended number of years, he will certainly be a notable absence from the grid this year. Finally, Anthony West has shared that he will not continue with MotoGo Yamaha in ASBK this year and at this stage an alternative ride in ASBK has not been formally announced for the experienced international.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Q: Is there anyone making the step to Superbike this year?

A: Interestingly, there are no marquee riders from the development classes that are confirmed to make the jump to Superbike this season to compete in ASBK. Namely, Supersport champion John Lytras will stay put to defend his title and, likewise, 600 challengers Ty Lynch, Tom Bramich, Scott Nicholson and Dallas Skeer will remain in Supersport. However, a number of riders will make the step up from Supersport 300 to Supersport, led by dual R3 Cup and Supersport 300 champion Cameron Dunker.

Q: Who is switching manufacturers for the upcoming season?

A: Looking at the premier class regulars, two names feature – Matt Walters and Mark Chiodo. After an extended 13-year racing tenure with Kawasaki, longstanding ASBK competitor Walters will switch to the Aprilia RSV4 1100 for 2023. The move provides a refreshed approach for the number 12 and sees him remain on Pirelli tyres, but switch to K-Tech Suspension for the first time. It also sees him equipped with a more contemporary platform, previously racing on a 2019 model ZX-10, rather than the latest generation model from the manufacturer. Chiodo piloted an R1 in a privateer ASBK effort last year, also debuting in the British National Superstock Championship on a Yamaha with the assistance of renowned technical expert Stuart Winton, but will make the switch to Honda as he competes in both the BSB paddock and ASBK again this year. Admittedly, trying to get everything dialled on the R1 domestically proved to be a challenge for Chiodo as a single rider in small team. While Yamaha Racing Development (YRD) provide an unrivalled level of support to up-and-coming road racers, Chiodo outlined that is in fact Honda in the UK that provides high levels of support. That, coupled with the opportunity to purchase a proven, well-developed bike to compete in Australia on a brand where he has felt comfortable in the past ultimately proved decisive in his 2023 decision. Having raced an R1 in his own privateer effort for the penultimate round of ASBK at Phillip Island in 2022, former national 600 champion Ted Collins returns to the paddock full-time with Livson Racing this year onboard the BMW M 1000 RR.

Q: Are there any other notable mentions?

A: While there was a degree of off-season chatter surrounding defending champion Mike Jones switching Penrite Honda Racing, Yamaha Racing Team’s line-up was confirmed to be unchanged in the end when Jones and teammate Cru Halliday announced their extension with the outfit. Likewise, Troy Herfoss remains with Penrite Honda Racing, as Josh Waters will complete the full-season with McMartin Racing Ducati as an effective replacement for the now-retired Maxwell. It is expected that Lachlan Epis will compete in the Asia Road Racing Championship and young international sensation Senna Agius will contest the opening round of ASBK onboard a Honda before venturing overseas for his second season in the European Moto2 Championship.