News 28 Feb 2024

The deficit that could eliminate Jones from title fight

Championship contender facing uphill battle following Phillip Island ASBK.

We’re just one round into the 2024 Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK), and three-time champion Mike Jones already stares down a 31-point deficit in his bid for a record-breaking fourth crown.

The Yamaha Racing Team entry has experienced his share of untimely and unfortunate circumstances since clinching the title in 2022, a season where everything seemingly went in favour of the 30-year-old.

Jones’ title defence last year got off to a shaky start when he suffered a mechanical failure at round two in Sydney, which saw his YZF-R1M go up in flames, while crashing out of Phillip Island’s penultimate round was the nail in the coffin for his title hopes, despite already being a distant chance.

Image: Foremost Media.

The high-speed characteristics of Phillip Island were also always going to present an existing challenge for Jones – and anyone without a Ducati beneath them for that matter – last weekend at the ASBK season-opener, however the Queenslander was dealt a further blow when Pirelli pulled two of their three rear tyre options from selection just hours prior to race one, one of which he had based his set up on in the sessions prior.

While the number 46 wasn’t the only rider impacted by this decision, which was made to alleviate safety concerns following the Island’s recent resurfacing, it did put him on the back foot despite P3 in qualifying putting him on the front row.

“You come to this round knowing it’s going to be a tough weekend, you’re just trying to reduce how tough it’s going to be,” Jones explained to

Image: Foremost Media.

“The thing is, we came into the weekend with three tyre options to use, and I decided on a tyre I thought was the correct tyre to use for my riding style, that would suit my bike on this particular circuit, and it was going to give us the pace over the race distance. And to have that taken away a couple of hours before the race – that wasn’t correct in my mind.

“The argument is that everyone is on the same tyre – my argument to that is yes, everyone is on the same tyre, but the same tyre doesn’t suit everybody and everybody’s bike. It works better for some bikes and some riders than it does for others.

“That’s ultimately the way it went, and it proved to be a big challenge for me and the team to try and find a solution during the races.”

Image: Foremost Media.

While buoyed by the one-lap speed he achieved – prior to the tyre allocation being reduced – Jones was unable to capitalise on his front row start, registering a 5-12 scorecard in the first two outings, while a declared race three following an oil spill meant he was credited sixth after just four laps, denying him the chance to score a more favourable result.

Ranked seventh overall at Phillip Island, the factory Yamaha rider must hit the reset button ahead of Sydney Motorsport Park to keep himself in the championship conversation, otherwise he very well could be eliminated as a realistic chance for the title.

“Although this weekend was super tough, and the result wasn’t anywhere near what we were trying to achieve, you just have to forget about that – you can’t let it affect you for the next races,” he continued.

Image: Foremost Media.

“We’ll go to the next races or next round with more confidence because we know we’ve been fast there in the past and it’s a track that suits our bike a little better – we don’t have as big a deficit to the other bikes. I think we can go there with a strong chance of getting a great result – a result that we aim to achieve.”

The Australian Superbike Championship will descend on Sydney Motorsport Park for the second stop of the seven-round series, racing under lights on 22-23 March.