Champions Herfoss and Dunker recall seventh round in South Australia.
Penrite Honda Racing’s Troy Herfoss scored his third Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) at the 2023 season finals at The Bend, while 16-year-old Cameron Dunker became the youngest-ever winner of the Australian Supersport crown. CycleOnline caught up with both riders after the races for this Debrief feature.
2023 Australian Superbike champion, Troy Herfoss! Congratulations! It must be an amazing feeling?
Thanks Troy, it’s just incredible, honestly it just doesn’t get better than that for me – I had the best weekend of my career. I got to battle with one of my fiercest competitors in the last 20 years, Josh Waters, and we both rode really well and pushed really hard. Josh rode the bike to the ground literally to try and win that championship, and I really appreciate that to go to the final round like that, and both of us ride like that, it was incredible. Then to be able to literally enjoy my last lap with the team, with a bit of a gap to just soak it up. It’s just been an incredible ride, it’s probably as good as it gets for me, in sports.
Can you talk us through that last race there? After pole and the win in race one, you could have afforded to get second to him, but it looked like you went out and gave it a really good shot at winning it, leading before Josh went down. What was the plan of attack for that second race, was it to win it like you did?
I wanted to win the championship. Josh and I have been so close this year, it’s been so close and you can’t really pick a winner, and I just wanted to race Josh, really I have loved racing Josh all my life, and it just hasn’t aligned this year. Every time he has been really strong, I haven’t been able to match him, same when I’ve been strong, he hasn’t been able to match me. This weekend, Friday was just like on, Saturday was on, I got the pole position but we were like pushing each other so much. That second race, that was fast, it was so hot out there and he was riding so fast. I literally, I was trying to manage what I was doing and not make any mistakes, he ran wide at the hairpin and I just slipstreamed him. I just had to take it, we were riding such a different lap here, and I couldn’t make a move. I thought maybe if I put myself in that position, he will be in the same position as me, where he can catch me in places but not be able to pass. Josh is such a good rider and a trustworthy rider, I didn’t think he would do something stupid, like he never has, but for him to go down swinging like that, I know he’s got an injury, Josh never speaks about it, but he’s just such a champion and a tough competitor. Now in my career, I have got to have battles with Wayne Maxwell, Mike Jones, Josh Waters and Glenn Allerton, like I have raced for championships with all of these guys now, and it is exciting for me.
Finally how special was it for you to close your stint with the team, with Honda, like this? I guess it has got to be the best possible way to put yourself forward for potential opportunities in 2024.
It’s funny, people have been asking me why are you doing this, but look at it this way, the Darwin crash, Deon [Coote] didn’t have to keep me as a rider then, I was out. Imagine if I had been forced out of the team then, or last year, I didn’t ride very well and he had every right to replace then, and he didn’t. Imagine if he did, I wouldn’t have felt great. We went through all of that and this year has been so good, almost perfect, and yeah I just feel like it has been such a good run. It’s like a perfect way to do it. I don’t even know what next year is for me, I don’t know what is possible, I don’t know what my value is around the world, or in Australia. I’m still so competitive, I just want to let it soak in for the week and see what the feeling is.
Cameron Dunker, 2023 Australian Supersport champion, on your 16th birthday! Talk us through the feeling.
Yeah I mean it is an amazing feeling, especially to do it on my birthday. I’m really happy with how the season turned out, especially being my rookie season, like the first round wasn’t greatest for us having a DNF and a 14th or something, so really happy bring it back from there and just build and build each race. Sydney I had a win and sixth, and yeah just got better and better each time and every time we got on the bike we kept improving. Yeah, I’m really happy.
For a rookie season, it can’t really get much better. For 2024, is it going to be a case of defending the title or are you not 100 percent sure yet?
Yeah I think it will be title defence, I think I’m still a bit young and not experienced enough to be on a Superbike. Hopefully, do a few tests and rides on a Superbike, and maybe it will get me going a bit better on a 600 after doing that. I’m really looking forward to what next year brings, and we will see what we can do.
For you it’s been a year of progress, but in saying that, you’ve been competitive from round two where you took the overall win. What’s been the key to get up to speeed so quick in this class and deliver the rookie season that you did?
I’m not really sure, because in Australia it is really hard to ride and stuff like that. We did a few of the [St George summer] night series races, then the official test, then straight into round one. Then maybe a few more ride days, I wasn’t old enough to do any ride days at Eastern Creek or Phillip Island. Yeah I don’t know, all of the other riding and hard training sort of really helped me get through that, and made me adapt really fast.