Features 28 Feb 2023

Debrief: 2023 ASBK Rd1 Phillip Island

Overall winners Waters and Lynch recall first round in Victoria.

McMartin Racing Ducati rider Josh Waters started his 2023 Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship challenge in the best possible way, qualifying fastest and then securing three race wins, as Ty Lynch (Yamaha) showed both speed and composure when it counted in Supersport to take the early points lead at Phillip Island. CycleOnline caught up with both riders after the races for this Debrief feature.


Image: Foremost Media.

Opening round of the 2023 season, a big result for you and it must feel good, like a relief of sorts? What is the feeling?

Yeah exactly that, a relief. I read what everyone writes and I was like yeah I went alright at a couple of events, but it is a long year. Obviously, I have clicked with this bike, I have been able to ride it better than almost any of the other bikes, so yeah.

Three races this time round, so obviously super important in that. Was there one race of those that was a particular highlight for you? 

Race one lap time of a 1:31.0 was a pretty special time, I never aimed for that or thought I’d be able to achieve that, so that was awesome. The Yamaha guys have made a huge step forward, we need to keep working into Sydney Motorsport Park, Cru [Halliday] will be really strong there, he’s done a lot of laps, even Mike [Jones], Troy [Herfoss] and Glenn [Allerton], a lot of them will be.

Is it a case of capitalising on your strong points? Also, obviously, we haven’t seen the full potential of you at so many other circuits on this schedule. It’s going to be interesting. 

100 percent, I think the dark one for me is Morgan Park, I’ve still gone alright there I’ve just never won a race there. But, looking forward to riding the bike at the next few rounds, I can’t wait to ride this bike in Darwin though and fortunately I’ve got some data from Tailem Bend even though I didn’t get to finish the second race at Tailem Bend because I got taken out at turn one. I feel more at home now, and I think that showed in what we were able to do.

We’ve seen over the years you in a variety of structures, your own program at times, full factory teams at times and now this. Wayne Maxwell, we saw what he was capable of with the McMartin Racing team and on the V4 R, but the bike doesn’t ride itself. Is it interesting for you to be in this position? 

Mike has also ridden on one of these bikes and it didn’t click with him and then got on the Yamaha and it clicked, so yeah for me, the team and the structure and everything is just perfect at the moment. I’m very fortunate and I feel like I’ve really fit in well. To have Wayne [Maxwell] also there, because he’s so fresh off racing, he’s so like okay what can we do try and get better, and also he’s raced against me so he knows what I ride like, so I’m pretty bloody lucky.


Image: Foremost Media.

Congratulations on the overall! You can’t get a much better start to the championship than to be leading after round one, how does it feel to take that early lead and how important is it to do so?

It’s so important, it’s such a long championship. We came into the championship saying we’re not going to accept anything less than a win, we played it smart and we’ve come away with the championship lead. On Friday I was 11th, I was kicking myself and knew I had to get my ass into gear, we just had a reset Friday night, we didn’t change the bike and went out in the first race and 1.8 seconds faster, we just got the mojo back and got everything clicking. It was the same at the Eastern Creek test, I was just nowhere, off the pace, but we found it again.

Race two in the wet was pretty pivotal, with a lot of key contenders going down. What was going through your mind you a lot of the guys falling? In the end it was a really dominant race from you. 

Even if you look at the timesheets, I wasn’t the fastest, but I pretty well got moving straight away. I tried to chase Harry [Voight] for those first couple of laps but he was gone, that kid has so much talent, I tried to reel him in and it wasn’t happening so I decided to settle for second cause it was a good points haul regardless, especially after turn two, three or four of the top guys ended up running off or crashing, unfortunate for them but lucky for us so we’ll take that. When Harrison went down, I was just trying to stay upright, I think nine people ended up crashing and eight DNF that. So it was super important to keep it upright and stay on track, just keep it smooth, calm, cool and collected.

Race three again on the wet tyres, but a variety of conditions thrown at you this weekend. Was it a case of managing inside your mind what you needed to do to get the overall?

Sort of. By about lap six I knew I had to get past [Jack] Passfield, I wanted to finish in front of Lytras but he sort of got past me and I had nothing for him. Little rider error, I left traction control on, I’ve never even ridden with it normally, so for me to leave that on was a full rookie mistake, which I shouldn’t be doing in this day and age. We still ended up fifth, I was just trying to manage the tyre early, the new Michelin was awesome, I’m stoked to be working with those guys, Alex and Doug have been fantastic to work with, the tyre didn’t go off towards the end where everyone said they started to hit a wall and start to plummet, some guys ride through that better than others but I was singing through on the Michelins.

Sydney Motorsport Park up next, you made reference to the test earlier on but how do you feel everything has progressed from this round. Like you said, switched to Michelin tyres this year and what are you thoughts and feelings entering the next round?

After the test I thought I was doomed, but we made some changes on Friday that has pushed us in the right direction, so now I’m not so concerned, I’m actually excited to get there. The most important thing is to put points on the board and try lead the championship leaving there too. It’s a relief, I feel like I ride this bike better than I’ve been able to ride just about every other bike, I’ve just clicked with it.