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Michelin Supersport and Road and Race Supersport 300 riders aiming to kickstart 2024 with a bang

By MA Media 0

Round one of the 2024 mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul (ASBK) at Phillip Island from February 23-25 will not only showcase the superstars of Superbike, but also the ultra-competitive Michelin Supersport and Race and Road Supersport 300 classes where victories are usually measured in milliseconds.It all equates to a smorgasbord of top-flight local action alongside the 2024 World Superbike and Supersport season openers, after which the ASBK Championship really begins to stretch its legs in the second-ever night race at Sydney Motorsport Park on March 22-23 when the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup and Superbike Masters join the roster.However, it’s all about Phillip Island this weekend. We’ve already previewed the intriguing Superbike battlebut the power plays will be just as intense in Michelin Supersport and Race and Road Supersport 300.Can’t get to Phillip Island? Not a worry, as the Superbike and Michelin Supersport categories will be televised on SBS Sport, SBS On Demand, Stan Sport and Sky Sports NZ on Sunday, February 25 from 1:00-3:00pm AEST.All practice, qualifying and race results from Phillip Island will be available here.

Last year’s Michelin Supersport action from Phillip Island

Michelin SupersportIf there is such a thing as a ‘sweet spot’ in road racing, the closest you’ll get is the ultra-competitive Michelin Supersport category.Like Superbikes, production-based Supersport machines possess thoroughbred racing instincts, but they are lighter and don’t have the sheer intimidation factor of their larger-capacity brethren. In turn, the class is a perfect platform for riders to hone their race craft and machine setup without having to also manage brute horsepower.That has a twofold benefit: for riders moving up from the Supersport 300 class there is a clear pathway, while it has also been an extremely successful feeder category for Superbikes since way back in the 1990s.In 2024, the anticipation has gone up a notch in Michelin Supersport with Kawasaki and Honda both reintroducing their respective four-cylinder models – the ZX-6RR and CBR600RR – to renew hostilities with Yamaha and its all-conquering YZF-R6.Whether that will cause a ripple or turn the championship on its head will begin to crystallise across the three 10-lap races, but one rider whose path is clear is that of Olly Simpson (YZF-R6).The South Australian finished second in the 2023 championship and, with reigning champion Cameron Dunker now a Superbike rider, Simpson will be desperate to seize the early initiative at Phillip Island.His last outing at the grand prix circuit was a hapless one after ‘frying’ a clutch, and the best way to eradicate that memory is by lapping at the sharp end of the pack.However, local Supersport tradition dictates that not everything always goes to plan, and the opposition will come thick and fast from riders such as Jonathan Nahlous (Complete AV YZF-R6), Jake Farnsworth (Wurth Race Developments YZF-R6), Tom Bramich (Apex Group YZF-R6) and emerging 16-year-old Hayden Nelson, who has switched allegiances to Kawasaki in 2024.That’s just focussing on the class incumbents: a brace of ambitious and fearless Supersport 300 alumni will also step up to Michelin Supersport in 2024 and, if Dunker’s experience in 2023 is any guide, their transitions will be seamless. Those riders include reigning Race and Road Supersport 300 champion Marcus Hamod (Motocity CBR600RR) and Brandon Demmery (Race DNA Motorsports ZX-6RR).And there’s a third layer of suspense thanks to an injection of new or returning Superport riders: Stop & Seal-backed duo Corey Turner and Archie McDonald (both YZF-R6), Marcus Chiodo (Honda Racing Australia CBR600RR), Jacob Hatch (RaceDNA Motorsports ZX-6RR), Zachary Johnson (Rebuilder Signs YZF-R6), Hunter Ford (Held Australia YZF-R6), Declan Van Rosmalen (Addicted to Track YZF-R6) and Jack Mahaffy (Timber Panel Products YZF-R6).It’s a 27-rider field brimming with talent, so prepare for three rolling Michelin Supersport scrums of the highest order….

Olly Simpson at Phillip Island Round 1, 2023

Race and Road Supersport 300It’s one of the most hotly contested categories in the ASBK Championship where riders – the majority, teenage tearaways – go hammer and tongs.This modern-day ‘250 Production’ class – referencing the days of yore when 250cc two-stroke machines ruled the small-capacity production ranks – is the proving ground for future stars in motorcycle racing across the globe.What sort of action can we expect to see at this weekend’s opening round of the Race and Road Supersport 300 Championship – and all season long for that matter? Nothing less than nail-biting action and a gaggle of riders all fighting for victory. In race one at last year’s corresponding round, the top 10 were covered by 0.886 seconds after the eight-lap journey. You get the gist…In terms of performance, while Supersport 300 machines – dominated by the Yamaha YZF-R3 and Kawasaki Ninja 400 – only punch out around 42hp and top speeds just north of 200km/h, the building blocks of a successful rider are maintaining corner speed and developing the art of slipstreaming, which you will see plenty of down Gardner Straight.This weekend’s grid for the three eight-lap races includes a 27-rider mix of current ‘office bearers’ and those progressing from the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup – names like Harrison Watts, Tara Morrison, Mitchell Simpson, Ryan Larkin, Will Nassif, Alex Codey and Oscar Lewis.However, the party could well be spoiled by Czech hard-charger Petr Svoboda who is set to make a one-off round appearance for his German-based team Kawasaki team. Svoboda finished sixth in the 2023 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship.Purchase tickets for Phillip Island here.