News 23 Feb 2024

Who will factor in the race to four-career ASBK championships

Milestone within reach for Waters, Allerton, Jones and potentially Herfoss.

Image: Foremost Media.

No less than four riders will be fighting to become the first-ever four-time winner of the Australian Superbike Championship in 2024, led by Josh Waters, Glenn Allerton and Mike Jones, with defending title-holder Troy Herfoss not exactly out of the equation in a partial schedule.

While 2016, 2018 and 2023 champion Herfoss has made headlines in the off-season after quitting Honda and ER Motorsport at the close of last season, then landing a factory ‘King of the Baggers’ seat in the United States with Indian, he’s a late addition to round one of ASBK with DesmoSport Ducati.

There’s every chance we could see him in as many as five or six of the seven rounds this year – those that don’t clash with MotoAmerica – if the budget can be sourced and logistical challenges can be met, but it effectively makes the wiley 37-year-old an outsider in terms of taking home championship number four. Impossible? Not quite. But you’d have to say it’s a long shot.

That then leaves Waters, also 37, in the box seat if you consider his form in taking the 2023 series down to the wire with McMartin Racing on the favoured Ducati V4 R, claiming a close second in the final standings. He won in 2009, 2012 and 2017, all on Suzuki GSX-R machinery in between trying his hand internationally, and this could be his final legitimate chance of sealing a fourth crown.

Jones, meanwhile, lifted the title in 2015 (Kawasaki ZX-10), 2019 (Ducati Panigale 1299 FE) and 2022 (Yamaha YZF-R1) on a mixture of machinery. He won in commanding fashion on arrival at the Yamaha Racing Team two years ago, but last year was far tougher on his way to fifth in points – luck just didn’t go his way at any point during that title defence. Still, he has to rank as a genuine threat from past history and is still in his 20s as it stands, but will clock over into the 30s come this Sunday.

At the other end of the chart, Allerton is now 43 years of age in the ultimate showing of longevity, operating his own effort with BMW equipment and as motivated as ever to get another trophy, which he won in 2008, 2011 and 2014. He bitterly missed out on P3 in the series last year, but fourth was impressive regardless. It’s safe to say, he performed above expectations after putting together his program late in the pre-season.

Image: Foremost Media.

Allerton was injured during the pre-season in the St. George Summer Night Series and was nursing a lower leg injury in a moon boot just two weeks ago when the final round was on-track in Sydney, but he’s on location this weekend, in a position to race. As well, his second term leading GT Racing is going to benefit from the lessons learnt last year.

You can count on all of the above to factor in the race for the title or podium at the very least, and in contrast, there will be a determined group trying to put a stop to any form of history-making celebrations. Quickest on the opening day of the season at Phillip Island was Cru Halliday (Yamaha Racing Team), his 1m30.890s putting him 0.143s ahead of Waters, followed by Jones.