Features 20 Jun 2023

Debrief: 2023 ASBK Rd4 Hidden Valley

Overall winner Herfoss recalls fourth round in the Northern Territory.

Penrite Honda Racing’s Troy Herfoss stormed to an important win at round four of the 2023 Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) at Hidden Valley, going 2-1-1 in the races across the two days to move within eight points of the series points lead. CycleOnline caught up with him after the races for this Debrief feature.


Image: Foremost Media.

Back-to-back overalL ASBK wins. Congratulations on the win again Troy, talk us through the feeling.

It was incredible. I said after QR, we’re heading to a track where Josh [Waters] has the record amount of wins, Mike [Jones] won here last year and I had some success here over the years. We probably all come here expecting to win, and you saw that in the races, us three and Glenn [Allerton] we’re all battling for the win. I was in a position where I really needed to win, to gain points in the championship. So, I just can’t believe I’m leaving here eight points down in the championship. it’s a credit to the team, to be honest.

From the outside, it looked like the momentum really swung in favour of Josh after race one where he extended that points lead. But, you were able to rebound on day two, capitalise on his race two mistake and then control race three from the front. What changed for you to really be able to step up and control the race like that?

Race one and race three were really similar conditions. I definitely felt like we, as a team, didn’t get the most out of the bike in race one, and Josh, as you know, is so good when he leads from the front. I just couldn’t ride any faster, I was going as fast as I could go. But, because it was so greasy. It wasn’t physically hard, I just couldn’t get any more out of the bike. Josh just controlled it so well, we finished a second down, but he had a fair bit on us. We changed the bike for race two and race three. I think I was lucky to get the holeshot, cause I could ride at my pace and block and control the race the way I wanted to. The way it turned out, with it being so hot and greasy, we had the supercar races before that, so that laid the rubber down and made it a little greasier. But, for whatever reason, the pace I had today was good enough, so that was really fortunate. I don’t know exactly what the turning point was. But, I’ve got a feeling it didn’t have anything to do with how we rode our motorcycles, it was probably a bit of outside influence.

Touching on that outside influence. As a rider, when you have that and you have a machine that you’re on that’s protested by them. What’s your response to that? Obviously, you went out and delivered a commanding race-two win. But, what’s the mindset like when you have that kind of noise happening outside the race track?

It’s hard to put into words, really. Like, put it this way. Do I think I’m a better rider than Josh? Probably not. But, that team dragged something else into the equation. That put tension in the air and created tension. I think that affected the outcome of the weekend, to be honest. Basically, it’s not always the fastest guy that wins. Honestly, I don’t know why they did that. Okay, they must have thought that we were cheating, but they obviously didn’t consider their rider and the way he would react, I think.

Racing is such a mind game in itself, isn’t it? I guess there’s obviously going to be speculation as to why that protest was made. From what I understand, there was also a protest made by Penrite Honda Racing following race two, towards McMartin Racing Ducati. Do you feel like that would’ve been made if there wasn’t a protest from them to you in race one? Or was that a protest that was going to be made anyway? Or, was that more in response to the initial protest?

You’d have to speak to Deon [Coote] about that to be honest. There’s nothing personal about making a protest, it’s going to clear a lot of stuff up. But yeah, I don’t know exactly the reason for the protest. That’s something you’d have to talk to Deon about I think.

Fair enough. Moving past all of that. Back-to-back wins, it’s really great to see you back in that fighting form now. How would you rate the form you’re in currently compared to the best you’ve been in your career? Do you feel like since the injury in 2021, you’re back to your best form? Or is there still more to come from Troy Herfoss?

I’m certain there’s more to come. What the injury has taught me is, the rider can’t make all the difference. So, we’ve worked so much as a team to get to this point, and I think that we haven’t reached our potential, there’s no way. So, I think we’re going to keep getting better. I’m not saying I’ll get better as a rider. I think I’m riding as well as I can. But, we’re learning a lot about how to get more out of the bike, so that’s exciting.

That’s exciting for you guys, for sure. But, I’m not sure it’s as exciting for the other guys [laughs]. For you, Morgan Park is up next, it’s a track you’ve been quite strong at in the past, and you’re probably the favourite heading into that round. How important was it for you to get this win at Hidden Valley before heading to Morgan Park?

It’s so good to go to Morgan Park. We had a quick ride there a week or so ago and I feel a lot better than I did there last year. Last year I struggled a lot, physically. But, I’m certain that we’re going to be competitive there, so that’s good. The only problem for me is that this championship rewards winning, and like you’ve seen Mike these last two rounds, you could’ve thrown a blanket over us for the last four or five races in a row. It’s a really strong track for him and he’s super hungry as well. So, I still need to close some points to Josh as well and I need to beat Mike, so that is going to be hard. The other thing is, we went to Morgan Park last year, and everyone thought Mike was going to put a nail in the coffin, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work out that way and Wayne [Maxwell] dug deep and ended up getting a clean sweep there. So, who knows, Josh had been good there in the past when he’s been comfortable on his bike. You just don’t know what can happen in this game.