Features 11 Jul 2024

Countdown: Early ASBK trends

What's emerging in the opening half the 2024 championship.

The 2024 Mi-bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) returns to action this weekend after a two-month break, with Morgan Park hosting round four in Queensland. In Countdown, we look at the early trends that have emerged in the opening half of the season.

Image: Foremost Media.

5. The impact of Herfoss:
Reigning champion Troy Herfoss will miss his first ASBK round of the season this weekend due to a clash with his commitments in America, however his impact on the title race with DesmoSport Ducati across the first three rounds can’t be understated. Finishing on the podium at Phillip Island and Queensland Raceway, he’s taken valuable points away from those challenging for the crown – and it will be up to those riders to capitalise on his absence at Morgan Park. The three-time champion is due for more appearances with the Ducati squad throughout the back half of the season, and he could very well play a part in how the championship is decided.

4. Toparis still a chance for third Supersport crown:
It’s been an interesting season for Stop and Seal Racing’s Tom Toparis, to say the least. Initially, he was set to step up to the Superbike category following a WorldSSP wildcard appearance at Phillip Island before it was announced he’d remain in the Supersport class domestically for the remainder of the year. And that’s not to mention the ECU saga that unfolded between now and Queensland Raceway third stop. The two-time Supersport champion returned in brilliant fashion at Sydney, sweeping the weekend with a pair of race wins and then claiming the overall victory in Queensland. Despite missing the season-opener – which was three races worth of points – he sits just 33 points behind championship leader Jonathan Nahlous (Yamaha), so he’s still every chance of challenging for a third Supersport crown.

3. The arrival of youth:
One of the most positive trends so far this season is the arrival of youthful talents making their mark in the Superbike category. At Sydney Motorsport Park, we finally saw DesmoSport Ducati’s Broc Pearson breakthrough for a career-first overall podium, while at round three, it was Max Stauffer’s (Penrite Racing SBK) turn to experience the career-first milestone. We also saw Harrison Voight – who is now back overseas for the European Moto2 Championship – podium on debut at Phillip Island in a guest appearance with McMartin Racing, while teenager Cameron Dunker (Penrite Racing SBK) has been highly impressive in his rookie Superbike campaign. The likes of Pearson and Stauffer have no doubt had a boost in confidence with their podium successes, so it will be interesting to see if they can make it a regular visit as the series progresses.

Image: Foremost Media.

2. Now or never for Yamaha Racing Team duo:
The time is now or never for Yamaha Racing Team duo Cru Halliday and Mike Jones if they want to remain in the championship fight, the pair separated by 2.5 points with Halliday holding down second, 29.5 points in arrears to series leader Josh Waters (McMartin Racing). The pair of Yamaha riders have had their fair share of bad luck over the last 18 months, although their luck seems to be turning with Jones dominating the last time out at Queensland Raceway. Neither rider can afford a mistake, otherwise Waters may very well run away with the title.

1. Waters can’t be complacent:
Three-time ASBK champion and current points leader Josh Waters has had a very similar start to his 2023 campaign, where he dominated the opening rounds before the championship lead slowly slipped away (although injury did impact him throughout the later rounds). As it stands, the McMartin Racing rider is in a comfortable position with a 29.5 point advantage in the standings, but he can’t become complacent if he doesn’t want a repeat of last year. Jones has confidence and momentum on his side, and you can’t count out Halliday – one slip up and they’ll be there to capitalise.