News 21 Feb 2024

The youthful super-team that shapes ASBK’s next generation

ER Motorsport and Penrite get behind Stauffer and Dunker in 2024 campaign.

Image: Supplied.

It’s the most exciting young team in the Australian Superbike Championship with a rider combination of Max Stauffer and Cameron Dunker, now due to benefit from a merger with the title-winning ER Motorsport organisation, which brings with it a Penrite partnership as title sponsor. Collectively, they form the new shape of the sport’s next generation on a national scale.

At 20, Stauffer is quickly establishing himself as one of ASBK’s most talented prospects, entering his third term in the premier class. And the arrival of 16-year-old Dunker on a YZF-R1 alongside him will make for a combined age that is even younger than reigning champion Troy Herfoss at 37 years of age.

Stauffer and Dunker had been part of Heath Griffin’s independent GTR MotoStars program with Yamaha Racing Development (YRD) support in recent seasons. It was Stauffer’s dad Jamie – winner of the ASBK crown in 2006 and 2007 – who led much of the development through his Maitland-based ‘DoctorMak’ business behind the scenes, so when Herfoss left Penrite Honda to seek opportunities overseas and Honda promptly ceased its factory participation, the stars soon aligned for Deon Coote’s ER Motorsport effort to join forces with them.

“The 2024 season is going to look quite different for me, as we have the exciting addition of Penrite and ER Motorsport team joining us,” explained Max Stauffer. “I’m so pumped to get stuck in for the year as I’m being given such a great opportunity to be more competitive than ever. I can’t thank the team at Penrite enough, as well as Deon and ER Motorsport, and sponsors for this opportunity, also thanks to my family, and Heath for the massive commitment they continue to put in for me. I look forward to getting out on the track at round one with our new team colours and I hope to do them proud.”

While the bikes will remain built and maintained by DoctorMak, key personnel involved in Herfoss’ title run last year including Paul Free and Glenn Granger are part of the bolstered project, certain to elevate the package from the outset on race weekends. The addition of Free, who himself ran Honda’s official Superbike team through Motologic prior to Coote taking charge in 2018, will also see Stauffer and Dunker equipped with Bitubo suspension, now distributed by Motologic.

In 2022, Stauffer ended his rookie season 13th in points and improved to 10th last year, but it’s been flashes of outright pace along the way including a breakout podium at Phillip Island’s penultimate round last year that have sparked increased interest. As for Dunker, he captured the Supersport 300 and R3 Cup titles in 2022, then raced to the Supersport series victory as a newcomer last year, prompting him to step up to the Superbike category despite his youthful age.

“I’m really looking forward to stepping up to the Superbike class this year with such an amazing team around me,” Dunker said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity in this new team. I’m excited for Phillip Island this weekend as it will be my first ASBK race in the Superbike class and it’s a great weekend with the World Superbikes there – I couldn’t ask for a better way to start my Superbike career. I know I will learn a lot this year with all the challenges ahead of me and I am ready to get the season underway. Thank you to Penrite and all of our sponsors for backing me, it will be a fun year ahead!”

Importantly, the decision of Australian-owned company Penrite Oil to remain involved in the sport is a welcome one after first aligning with ER Motorsport when it debuted six seasons ago. On that occasion, the team managed to win the Superbike championship at its first attempt with Herfoss at the helm, which paved the way for what has largely been a successful union together that spans into 2024. Off-track, the presence won’t quite be the same since ER’s transporter has since been sold, however, on-track it’s tipped that Stauffer and Dunker will be able to make a genuine impact as experience builds.

“I’m super-excited to start a new journey with Max and Cam, working with two fresh young guys as they build their careers in the Australian Superbikes,” commented Coote. “It’s a big change for me and for our ER Motorsport team, having worked in a comfortable environment for the last six years – we are looking forward to a new challenge and to being in a new phase of the race journey. The boys have worked hard in the pre-season and both have proven they are dedicated and have gotten up to speed very quickly with the new set-up. We hope to challenge for podiums from the start of the season. I’m also thankful for the continued support from Penrite, it’s fantastic to keep our partnership going and to see them support two young up-and-coming riders, it’s greatly appreciated. As well as our other sponsors, we hope to achieve great results together.”

Honda Australia, meanwhile, has moved to clarify that it’s not exiting the ASBK series altogether, but will instead support Victorian mainstay Mark Chiodo – who also spent a single season as a Penrite Honda Superbike team rider in 2019 – with CBR600RR machinery in the Supersport ranks.