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Waters and Herfoss set the scene for a thrilling ASBK finale

By MA Media 0

The grand final of the 2023 mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, presented by Motul, began at The Bend today, with the Superbike battle between arch-rivals Troy Herfoss and Josh Waters already in hyper mode.

Waters (McMartin Racing with K-Tech Ducati V4R), locked in an unprecedented Alpinestars Superbike tie with Herfoss (Penrite Honda CBR1000RR-R), only annexed top spot in the final few minutes of the third practice session – and in the process set a new best-ever lap around the expansive South Australian circuit, eclipsing Wayne Maxwell’s previous mark from 2021 by 0.66 seconds.

Herfoss, after being the pacesetter for all but two minutes of day one, was second, while South Australian Olly Simpson (Yamaha YZF-R6) was the top gun in Michelin Supersport as that class also goes down to the wire on Sunday.

In fact, all the ASBK classes remain up for grabs in the most spectacular finale to the championship on record and, with more brilliant weather forecast across the weekend, there’ll be no excuses or potential spoilers: it’ll all come down to speed, guile and flair on the racetrack.

Tickets for The Bend ASBK grand final are still available online, and general admission ticket holders on Saturday will also receive free entry into racing under lights at the circuit’s recently inaugurated drag strip.

Can’t make it to the Bend on Saturday? SBS On Demand will have you covered with live and exclusive live streaming of all the qualifying and race action, starting at 10:20am and concluding at 5:30pm (ACDT).


Josh Waters

The anticipation in the Alpinestars Superbike class has started early, thanks to Waters’ withering late burst of speed taking him to the top of the timesheets over Herfoss, followed by Max Stauffer (GTR MotoStars YZF-R1).

Waters uncorked a 1:50.454 on his final flyer, while Herfoss (1:50.604) was the only other rider in the 50-second bracket after producing a consistent body of brilliant work across all three practice sessions.

The scene has been set: the championship leaders are well and truly in the zone, with the fervour and excitement to only increase as practice morphs into qualifying and then Sunday’s two 11-lap races.

“It was a good Friday for us across the three sessions,” said Waters. “We were chipping away all day and changed a lot of everything – including the suspension.

“Just look at the lap times for me and Troy and you can tell something’s important on our minds! It’s great for all the people following the championship.”

Herfoss said he took a conservative approach to day one, despite his timesheet-leading tempo.

“We just worked slowly through a few electronic things, as well as a small chassis change in the third session,” said Herfoss, who will part ways with the Honda team after the final round.

“We are so close and trying to work with the grip levels as they change. A really solid day, and I felt really comfortable on the bike.

“It looks like Josh and I are a little bit ahead of the field at the moment, but you know racing: other riders can wake up on Saturday and be fast so I’m definitely keeping things in perspective.

“I just can’t wait for racing to get underway – it’s exciting.”

Herfoss and Bryan Staring (MotoGo YZF-R1) share the record for the most Superbike wins around The Bend with three each, ahead of Jones (one).

Stauffer (1:51.105), emboldened by his breakthrough Alpinestars Superbike podium at Phillip Island, again upstaged more seasoned riders with his third spot in practice, ahead of Yamaha Racing Team duo Cru Halliday (1:51.193) and defending champion Mike Jones (1:51.537).

Anthony West (Addicted to Track YZF-R1, 1:51.546) was sixth ahead of Arthur Sissis (Unitech Racing YZF-R1, 1:52.156), while Glenn Allerton (GT Racing M 1000 RR) – defending third place in the championship – was back in 11th place and will have to find more speed in qualifying to work himself back into calculations.

Troy Herfoss

Simpson (1:54.840) pushed hard from the outset in Michelin Supersport practice, with this weekend’s grid strengthened by a number of young Aussie internationals returning home for ASBK cameos.

Simpson held onto top spot despite last year’s winner Harrison Voight (YZF-R6, 1:54.866) finishing the day strongly.

Simpson is 14pts adrift of Cameron Dunker (GTR MotoStars YZF-R6, 1:55.660) in the championship, with the latter third in practice from Tom Toparis (Cube Racing Stop & Seal YZF-R6, 1:55.674) and Hayden Nelson (Cube Racing YZF-R6, 1:55.800).

South Australian Ty Lynch (AMR Motorsports YZF-R6, 1:56.370), just 2pts behind Simpson and the third cog in the thrilling championship battle, also kept his powder dry in sixth position.

Olly Simpson

It’s all set up for a nerve-wrecking finale in both classes, with main contenders Brodie Gawith, Cameron Swain and Henry Snell all lurking at the top of the timesheets, with Bradon Demmery also in the hunt as well.

There are 75pts up for grabs in each class across the weekend, starting with the opening races tomorrow afternoon – which can both be seen on SBS On Demand!

More top guns at the very top with one and two in the series, Archie Schmidt and Bodie Paige, the stars of practice.

Schmidt, from Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills, has been a revelation all year with his fast and aggressive riding, and he’ll look to complete a stellar year with a title victory on Sunday.

Schmidt can’t slip up though, as Paige will be there to pounce only being 1pt in arrears, while Hayden Fordyce is third – the only other realistic contender.

It didn’t take long for Garry McCoy to remind us why he is a three-time MotoGP winner, qualifying on pole position in his Sureflight Superbike Masters cameo – the diminutive Queensand fulfilling a long-held ambition to ride a Yamaha TZ750.

He will start from pole position after going 0.3 seconds faster than 2022 The Bend winner David Johnson (Suzuki Katana), with series leader Keo Watson (Yamaha FZR1000) third. Ryan Taylor (Suzuki GSX-R1100) will also be looking to keep pace with the top three in the four five-lap races.

Garry McCoy