News 24 Feb 2023

Jones responds to Waters ASBK title favourite label

Yamaha Racing Team rider adopts methodical mindset again towards 2023.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Reigning Mi-Bike Australian Superbike (ASBK) champion Mike Jones has responded to the widespread claims that Josh Waters enters the 2023 season as the title-favourite, approaching the upcoming campaign with a methodical mindset and determined to get the job done once more.

Jones showed speed, consistency and composure on his way to capturing a career-third ASBK title last year, delivering a standout performance in race two at The Bend to underline his latest championship success.

However, after a dominant debut switching to the McMartin Racing team at the MotoGP support races Josh Waters stole the show at round six of ASBK last year at Phillip Island, taking the overall win with convincing pace that saw him achieve a new outright national Superbike record at the venue. With that performance in mind and the sheer speed he displayed at the Sydney Motorsport Park pre-season test, many now have Waters labelled as the number one contender to capture the Superbike crown this year.

“I personally think that when you look at the field as a whole, he is the favourite,” Jones explained to CycleOnline. “He is on a proven race-winning bike with a potential to win a championship, and he has a lot of experience and he has won championships in the past. Like we saw last year, he jumped on that bike and was quick straight away on it, took the lap record here at Phillip Island so he has gelled well with the bike and the team.

“The expectation is that he is going to continue that form, and the reality is he should continue that form all throughout the year. I think that is probably fine or acceptable that everyone thinks he is the favourite, but obviously, from my point of view the season is seven rounds long and I proved last year that you have got to pick your moments where you can take the race wins, and when you can’t you have got to consolidate and try and bank those points so you can build a tally bigger than everyone else.

“For me, the mentality doesn’t really change regardless of what anybody else thinks, I think my own mentality is that I go to the races to do my best, that’s all you can do. If you walk away from the end of the weekend satisfied that you have given it 100 percent, then you can only be happy.”

For Jones, Phillip Island is admittedly his weakest track on the calendar if you use last year’s results as a reference. With two rounds of the championship once more at the iconic 4.45km venue, the Queesland-based rider understands the importance of scoring points there where possible.

“Obviously two rounds here at Phillip Island, at the track out of all of the circuits we race at seems to be my weakest one,” Jones added. “It’s definitely not ideal, but like I said, you have just got to take what you can get on the day and for me, getting those points is the most crucial thing. Whilst I want to try to challenge for the win, that’s my aim, that’s my goal, that’s my job, and that’s what I will try and do. But at the end of the day, if I can’t make that happen then I will settle for the next best thing.”

Following the ASBK opening practice session at Phillip Island this morning, Jones is currently the fourth-quickest rider with a 1m33.396s, 1.257s off his teammate and pace-setter Cru Halliday.