Features 14 Jun 2023

Conversation: Josh Waters

ASBK leader on Suzuka opportunity and upcoming Darwin round.

Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) leader Josh Waters recently emerged in Japan, testing with the S-Pulse Dream Racing team onboard a Suzuki in preparation for his return to the iconic Suzuka 8 Hours event between 4-6 August. Now back in Australia, the McMartin Racing Ducati rider looks ahead to the fourth round of the 2023 ASBK championship this weekend and features in our latest Conversation.

Image: Supplied.

Great to see you testing in Japan, preparing for another Suzuka 8 Hours! How did the opportunity with the S-Pulse Dream Racing team come about? Was it something you had planned for a while? 

With that event, I was just contacted out of the blue. That was pretty cool and I look forward to it. I’m fortunate that I have done the race a few times, maybe it’s a bit of being with some good teams and having some good success. Maybe that helps.

Seeing you compete onboard the McMartin Racing Ducati in Australia, what was the change like hoping back on the Suzuki to test for the 8 Hours? What were the differences compared to the Suzukis you have ridden in your last few outings at the event? 

The bike, it was like night and day different because I have rode the Suzukis but the last few years I have done the 8 Hours I have actually been on a Superstock bike. The bike that I rode last week was like a full-blown superbike, so it felt night and day different. Everything was different. The main thing is the tyres, the Bridgestone is the tyre we used over there. I didn’t feel as comfortable on the bike as what I feel on my McMartin Racing Ducati, so I look forward to getting back on my Ducati this weekend.

Looking at the timesheets, it appeared you were P8 overall at the Suzuka 8 Hours test?  

Yeah, it’s hard because even that, there are two HRC bikes and it depends, it might be the same rider doing the lap time, but on two different bikes. Also at that one, it was more about the average pace you could do, because a lot of the guys maybe weren’t in Endurance-spec yet, and were more what they call time attack or sprint mode. I was happy with how it all felt after a big break from there and it’s just good to ride another good bike against other good riders.

Image: Foremost Media.

While we are on the topic of racing in Japan, is competing in the national championship over there something that has ever interested you? 

Nah it never really did and also it would be difficult now to get into it, because they are trying to support… there’s not a heap of young Japanese guys coming through, so they are trying to support those guys, which is good, or they are doing the other Asian countries that sell a lot of motorcycles. So they are supporting the Thais and the Indonesian riders, also Malaysians. I like going to Japan, doing the endurance, that race, stuff like that, it’s the same timezone, only an hour behind Melbourne time.

Looking ahead to ASBK this weekend in Darwin, you’ve got a good track record at Hidden Valley. Is there a reason or a particular point at that venue that makes you gel with it so well? 

I’m not really sure, I always enjoy it but it’s a circuit that a lot of my competitors also really enjoy, I think everyone lining up there on the grid likes it. I’m sure everyone that is going there this weekend is positive in their space of mind and think that they are going to go well. I’ll just try my hardest and try and I ride the bike the best I can. I know will the team will do what they can to help.

We’re approaching the halfway point of the ASBK season this year, but are there any discussions that you’ve had with the McMartin Racing Ducati team that you can share about continuing together beyond 2023? 

I would like to, but at the moment my focus is just going the best I can this year and that is the best thing I can do for next year. It would help the team, it would help everyone involved to keep interest. At this minute, I’m just focused on going the best I can at each round, and whatever happens, happens. But yeah, it would be great, the environment is really good, I’m enjoying it and I’m sure the team are.