Features 11 May 2023

Rated: ASBK form so far

Taking a closer look at some key contenders in the 2023 season to date.

The Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) has provided its share of action and key moments across the opening three rounds of the 2023 season, with some surprises along the way. In this edition of Rated, CycleOnline takes a closer look at the form of a selection of leading Superbike and Supersport riders so far this season.

Image: Foremost Media.

Rider: Josh Waters
Rating: A
Rundown: After winning five from five races across the opening two rounds to start the year, McMartin Racing’s Waters solidified himself as the clear early favourite to capture this year’s crown. For some, it began to become a matter of ‘if’, not ‘when’ Waters could be stopped, and he left Sydney with a 35-point advantage. Waters himself admitted that he anticipated Queensland Raceway to be a more challenging round, and that was ultimately the case. After a fall in qualifying, he notched a pair of fourth-place finishes in the third round, while his closest rival completed a perfect weekend to reduce his championship lead to 18 points. Despite being off the podium in Queensland, no one can deny how impressive Waters was across the opening two rounds this year and he will be looking to return to the top step next time out at Hidden Valley – a track where he has won in the past – to strengthen his position at the top of the standings.

Rider: Troy Herfoss
Rating: A-
Rundown: Herfoss made a welcome return to the top step at Queensland Raceway, dominating the weekend in a fashion that we had not seen from the Honda rider since his major accident at Hidden Valley, in 2021. The Penrite Honda Racing contender showed both sheer pace – qualifying on pole with a new lap record – and gritty racecraft in close combat on his way to a perfect 51-point haul at round three. While he finished on the overall podium at both Phillip Island and Sydney Motorsport Park, he was unable to match the pace of title rival Waters at those venues. However, his return to dominant form at Queensland Raceway could give the number 17 the boost he needs ahead of the upcoming rounds, and he certainly heads to Hidden Valley believing he has a shot at both the round win, and the title come season-end.

Rider: Glenn Allerton
Rating: B
Rundown: GT Racing’s Allerton has been solid across the start of the 2023 season, especially when you factor in his approach to the opening rounds. NextGen Motorsports – the team which Allerton competed with in recent campaigns – indicated it would take a step back from ASBK this year. It was then understood the number 14  to race for a Sydney-based outfit in 2023 onboard a Ducati, but with a competitive V4 R not sourced before Phillip Island, Allerton and NextGen Motorsports team owner Shane Kinderis have made arrangements to compete on a BMW at Phillip Island – in an environment and infrastructure similar to The Bend last season. Despite missing a great deal of pre-season track time and the official ASBK test while he tried to confirm his 2023 plans, Allerton emerged from the opener fourth overall. Prior to Sydney’s round two, the 2023 racing future of Allerton was confirmed as part of the newly formed GT Racing Team, owned by Trevor Groeneveld, notably using BMW machinery for the rest of the season. He was again fourth overall at round two after delivering a spirited and entertaining performance in the second race, and is third in the championship standings after a 5-5 scorecard and Queensland Raceway. Allerton is a proven champion in the series and has competed for race wins on a variety of manufacturers, so if he and the team can find that bit extra to edge closer to the front in the upcoming rounds it is sure to be a thrilling spectacle.

Rider: Mike Jones
Rating: B+
Rundown: Coming into the 2023 season, there was no way Queensland’s Mike Jones could be written off as the defending champion. Despite Waters having a strong pace advantage on the field at Phillip Island, Jones emerged from the opening round with a solid P2 overall result. Disaster struck in Sydney, however, when he didn’t score any points in race one due to a mechanical DNF while running third. Left with one bike for race two, he limped around using dry settings as the conditions quickly changed to wet, ultimately crossing the line in 10th and losing a sizeable amount of points to his title rivals. He entered Queensland 62 points down on Waters, and while he wasn’t able to repeat the dominance he displayed at the venue last year, he was able to develop the pace over the weekend to challenge for victory in both races – the first time he has been able to do so this year. A 2-2 scorecard elevated him to fifth in the standings ahead of round four, and while he still faces a steep deficit to the lead, he has shown that he is capable of winning at a variety of tracks on the R1 and heads to Hidden Valley with the confidence of being victorious at the circuit last year.

Image: Foremost Media.

Rider: Cru Halliday
Rating: B+
Rundown: Every race Yamaha Racing Team’s Cru Halliday has finished this year, he has been on the podium. The number 65 was denied a top-three overall result and crucial championship points at Phillip Island in race one when he fell in a racing incident, but he rebounded in races two and three with a pair of seconds. Setting the pace throughout much of the Sydney round, he was primed in second and looking to attack Waters in the closing stages when the red flag brought a premature end to the encounter. He finished third in the tricky race two conditions to secure second overall at round two, and after topping FP1 at Queensland Raceway, Halliday ultimately went on to score 3-3 results, closing right in on the battle for victory in the first race. Notably with a new crew chief this year in Brent Stephens, Halliday has shown strong pace and potential at each of the three rounds contested so far. He enters round four in third in the championship standings, equal on points with Allerton, and has plenty of races remaining in the 2023 season to land on the top step and claw his forwards in the title race.

Rider: Olly Simpson
Rating: B+
Rundown: Leading in the early stages of his first Supersport campaign last year, Olly Simpson didn’t return to the series until the 2023 opener at Phillip Island after a nasty crash at Wakefield Park last year. Simspon was one of many key contenders to fall victim to the wet conditions in race two at Phillip Island, but has been on the podium in all but one of the other races contested this year. He finished second overall in Sydney and second overall again at Queensland Raceway after notably winning race two, which saw him take the championship lead from round one winner Ty Lynch. Simpson has previous racing experience in Europe having stood on the podium in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, and seems to be building from strength to strength as the rounds unfold this year. His fast starts have helped set him up for strong results and he’s shown that he’s not afraid to hang it all on the line in a bid for victory. Having delivered solid results in the past at Phillip Island and with Tailem Bend being his closest round to home, the key races for Simpson could be the next round of the Supersport championship at Morgan Park, where the South Australian has not yet ridden onboard a 600.

Rider: Cameron Dunker
Rating: A-
Rundown: 15-year-old Dunker has been the revelation of the Supersport class this season, winning two out of the three opening rounds in what is his rookie season in the category. After claiming both the Supersport 300 and R3 Cup titles last year, Dunker stepped up to the R6 for 2023. Round one was a learning curve for the youthful talent, leaving Phillip Island 15th overall after crashing out of the wet race two. At the following round in Sydney, he showed maturity beyond his years to keep his composure and capitalise on a mistake from Simpson to take the lead in the tricky mixed conditions under lights, ultimately riding on to take the race win and round victory. He elevated once more at Queensland Raceway, showing he can deliver results in also in the dry by setting a new qualifying record on his way to pole position, then charging his way to victory in race one. He narrowly missed the win in race two, securing back-to-back overall victories with a 1-2 scorecard to fire his way into third in the standings, 10 points from Simpson in the lead and seven from Lynch in second. With Dunker showing such strong form in the early days of his Supersport career, a worrying thought for his competitors is just how much further he will be able to progress in his rookie season.