News 30 Nov 2023

Herfoss Honda exit 'impacts everybody' says DesmoSport's Henry

Official Ducati team co-owner's ideal scenario is two riders in 2024.

Image: Supplied.

The exit of Troy Herfoss from Penrite Honda Racing at the end of the 2023 season has been a major talking point ahead of The Bend, with DesmoSport Ducati co-owner Ben Henry adamant that the move ‘impacts everybody’ and believes that most teams with an adequate budget will aim to make room for him.

Joint Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) leader Herfoss recently revealed his 10-year tenure with Honda would come to a close following this weekend’s South Australian finals, with his current team officially confirming the decision yesterday.

The announcement opens the doors on the domestic silly season, while the number 17 hasn’t ruled out the possibility of racing overseas. There’s no doubt he is a proven and sought-after talent in the ASBK ranks, with his availability sending shockwaves through the national Superbike paddock.

“Yeah, it does, because it impacts everybody,” Henry told CycleOnline. “It impacts everybody and it’s rare that… I’m going to say it’s probably unprecedented that the top rider of a series leaves his job with nowhere to go. It’s obviously very common for riders to move around, but they have always got a plan, and they know where they are going, and they know what is up.

“In this case, Troy definitely doesn’t have a plan, he’s looking around for what he can get. I know that he has a few preferences, for sure, just whether those teams can find the funding to run him, that’s probably where that lies.

“I can’t see any team in Australia that wouldn’t say, ‘jeez I would love to have that guy’, because there are only a couple of people that can turn up, regardless of how the weekend unfolds, always be somewhere near the front at the end. I think most, if not all teams with a bigger budget, would be trying to see what they can do to find room for him.”

DesmoSport Ducati fielded a two-rider line-up from the Morgan Park round last year, with the addition of former Supersport champion Broc Pearson alongside Bryan Staring onboard the V4 R.

The team opted for Pearson in a single-rider assault this season, with Henry outlining that if Herfoss was to come to the DesmoSport Ducati team in 2024, the ‘dream’ scenario would be in a two-rider roster alongside Pearson, who qualified on pole position last time out at Phillip Island.

“I guess if you are asking me what the dream would be, it would be two riders,” Henry added. “If Herfoss was going to come to my team, and I’m not saying that he is, but I’m saying if it was possible, then I would much prefer a two-rider team.

“You’ve got to keep in mind, we’ve put nearly 18 months into Broc, and I think he is doing a good job, he is definitely coming forward and the focus for us has always been, I’ve always been pretty similar in trying my best to try and run the younger guys.

“Some of that is a necessity to be honest, because I haven’t been able to compete with the bigger teams’ budgets, although now I guess I’m viewed as a bigger team. Honestly, Troy [Bayliss] and I don’t have the budget of some of the teams, believe it or not, that is just the way that it is, the way that our team runs.

“Our team runs on sponsorship, we are not as manufacturer-supported as some of the other teams that the riders get paid by the manufacturer. We have never been in that position, it’s sort of kept us out of the market of the guys that command the big dollars.

“If you are asking me if Troy was going to ride for me, would I love achieve that, yeah mate, of course. There’s no one in the championship that wouldn’t want him on their bike. I don’t want to let Broc go, because we’ve committed to him and he has committed us in the last 18 months, and honestly we have had plenty of highs and lows.

“It’s not been beers and skittles, that’s for sure. I feel like we’ve turned a corner, I feel like the sentiment in the team is good at the moment, and I feel like going into the next round I’m really looking forward to it for a start, and I am really confident that come Sunday we will have a race bike better than it has been previously as a package.”