YRT’s Cru Halliday doesn’t take life too seriously and is one of the more laid back characters on the ASBK scene. Now in his eighth year with YRT and several championships under his belt, he is one of the established stars of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, presented by Motul.
Halliday charged to a second place finish at the opening round of the 2020 ASBK championship and was in good form heading into round two. He was in tune with his new Yamaha YFZ- R1M and ready to apply the pressure to series leader, Wayne Maxwell, at round two at Wakefield Park before before the world shuttered to a holt with COVID -19.
Australian road racers are accustomed to a break between events and certainly don’t log the practice and training hours the off road or motocross riders do. But, no rider can afford to sit on their hands while there is a break in the action because the talent is thick at the top of the Superbike championship and more than a handful or riders and teams are capable of winning on any one day.
With the ASBK pencilled to reignite in the coming months, we caught up with the number 65 to see what’s been happening in the life of a road racer when there is no road racing.
I see the number 65 R1M is parked up and gathering dust in the YRT race shop but the 65 YZ250F has been getting a work out. Does riding off road or MX have and benefit to your road racing?
Motocross is a huge benefit with keeping fit and a big part of my training. They say it’s the most physically demanding sport and really helps to keep me bike fit. We have a few tracks in the area that are accessible every week and now that restrictions are lifting I can add it back into my program.
Would you consider yourself a full blown, flannel shirt wearing, Tuesday arvo, Appin bandit?
No flannos in my wardrobe mate, I’m all about the bling when I hit the motocross track – nothing but the latest kit for me. Some of the boys at the track are saying my bike is more factory then their factory bikes so even if I don’t go fast, at least I look fast.
Explain the career path it took for you to become a road racer, as a kid was dirt track always the racing that you were drawn to?
I started in BMX with my brother then it was onto motocross and 50 racing. 50 racing took us to the US with a big event in Vegas each year. After that I competed in Supermoto, that gave me the tar bug and really set me up well for my road racing career particularly with braking.
The ASBK field now is ultra-competitive and makes for some great racing, in your career, has this been as strong as the championship has been?
Yeah the field is definitely stacked right now. I think at round one we had something like 12 Australian Superbike Championships on the grid with multiple riders that have competed overseas. There’s a lot of competitive bikes and teams this year so it is definitely the strongest it’s been in a long, long time.
The fitness or endurance is often spoken about in dirt bike racing, but explain fitness levels and the demands on your body in road racing and how it differs?
I guess we don’t have the varying and rough conditions in road racing that the MX guys have but road racing is still very demanding. The bikes are a lot heavier, the speed is higher, so the braking force is a lot stronger. Your upper body gets a workout and we lock the tank with our knees in the corners so upper leg strength is important. If it’s hot that adds another element to it as well with the gear we wear.
This year the ASBK was set to run a round back in conjunction with the Supercars in Perth. Do you think this would have been a good step for the championship to take?
For sure. The Supercars have a big audience. The events are huge and really professionally run. I got to compete in the 2011 event at Phillip Island and it was a great thing to be a part of.
Eight years in the same team and I imagine there is a lot of different machinery you have raced over the time, does one bike stand out over the time?
Yeah I’ve raced two different R6’s and four different versions of the R1 if you include the Formula Oz bike I ran in 2012. This 2020 YZF-R1M is by far the best bike I’ve competed on. It’s so much more refined over the previous model and a dream to ride. I’m definitely chomping at the bit to get back out there on it when the championship gets back under way.
Last year you were in the championship hunt right up to the final race, what’s it going to take to make the final step and finally bring home an Australian Superbike Championship victory?
Consistency. We started the year off so well but fell away a little at the end. Wins will be nice but if we can pick up from where we left off at Round 1 and keep it going throughout the rest of the year there’s no reason why we can’t bring home the championship. I’ve got a good team and great bike underneath me so I will be giving it everything I can.
Photos by Andrew Gosling and Russell Colvin