Round Six Alpinestars Superbike Preview: The Maths, The Form and The Very Big Round
Today in the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul (ASBK), we are talking Alpinestars Superbike….!
Coming into the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship (WSBK) round, the Alpinestars Superbike Championship is in a fascinating and potentially game-changing position.
From round one – ironically at Phillip Island earlier this year – reigning Champion Wayne Maxwell has made defending his Championship unusually difficult, and at times, seemingly impossible. While he was dominant in every session leading into race one on Sunday the 27th of February, not long after the flag dropped, he found himself in the gravel trap at The Hayshed on lap five.
Failing to capitalise on his favourite circuit has proved costly for the former Champion. A resurgent Bryan Staring was rightly brimming with confidence aboard the DesmoSport Ducati Panigale V4R. It became the running joke “Maxwell is behind by about the length of The Hayshed”.
Though quiet at Phillip Island, Mike Jones was able to impress himself upon the Championship via outstanding results at Queensland Raceway (two wins plus an extra point for pole). Pole plus a win at Wakefield saw Jones just pull ahead from the rest of the field, while Maxwell found himself unable to make a dent in Jones’ lead.
The Hidden Valley round in Darwin saw Maxwell start to loosen his grip on the title and Jones moved into warm and rightful Championship favouritism. Jones was at his tenacious best on a weekend where the Yamaha was not the preferred machine but still caught the flight south with 70 points in his carry-on luggage, while pole-sitter Maxwell was troubled in races one and three, netting just 53 points on a three-race 76-points-on-offer weekend.
Darwin also saw a joyful and resurgent Penrite Honda Troy Herfoss well involved, taking second overall on his CBR1000RR for a very-much welcomed return to the ASBK podium, while Staring powered his way to third to keep himself in the top three for the season.
At Morgan Park, the Yamaha R1 was expected to enjoy the tight and bumpy running at the 1.5km circuit. Despite this, Maxwell muscled and wrestled his Boost Mobile by K-Tech Panigale V4R for an unexpected pole and two wins, keeping his Championship hopes alive. He still faces a 29-point deficit with 127 maximum points left in season 2022.
And so here we are, back at The Island for another three-race weekend. It’s fair to say that Maxwell has- when upright- been the go-to racer at this circuit since 2009, so expectations are high and with it, the pressure, and at various critical moments this year, team and rider issues have proved costly.
This WSBK round has much intrigue because at round one at Phillip Island, Jones was third overall with both Staring and Cru Halliday ahead of him.
Team-mate Halliday saves his best racing for the Phillip Island GP Circuit and if Maxwell stays upright and up front for all three races, and some other riders can climb up the order, then the 29-point deficit could be down to single-digits heading into the finale at The Bend.
The Bend, where Maxwell took the double win in 2021 to clinch the title…
Live Broadcast Information (in Australia):
SBS 1-3pm highlights of race one & two Australian Superbikes and Australian Supersport in replay plus Australian Superbikes Race 3 live during the two hours of coverage
Stan Sport 1pm – 3pm highlights of race one & two Australian Superbikes and Australian Supersport in replay plus Australian Superbikes Race 3 Live over the two hours of coverage