News 14 Sep 2009

ASBK: Third lap record in a row for Suzuki's Waters at ASO


Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Josh Waters claimed his third consecutive Superbike lap record aboard the new 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000K9 at the ‘2-plus-4’ V8 Supercar L&H 500 at Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on 11-13 September.

In a return to the popular ‘2-plus-4’ concept for the first time in over a decade, 22-year-old Waters lapped the 4.45km Victorian circuit at a stunning 1:32.4710 in Sunday’s 10-lap race to claim a new national Superbike lap record.

In maintaining his perfect record, Waters has also claimed lap records at South Australia’s Mallala circuit and Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway since debuting the new GSX-R1000K9 just six weeks ago.

In front of the large V8 Supercar crowd Waters rode his Team Joe Rocket Suzuki to overall second on the weekend, finishing second in both 10-lap races.

Waters, who is in his first season of Superbike racing, battled for the lead with pole-sitter Wayne Maxwell in Saturday’s 10-lap race before slowing at mid-distance as a rain shower swept across the circuit, making track conditions unpredictable. Waters settled for a safe second place, 1.899sec behind Maxwell.

The Superbike rookie admitted that he’d made a mistake when the first rain spots hit his helmet visor.

“I sat up, put my hand up, and slowed – and I shouldn’t have,” said the 22-year-old. “Wayne is riding so well you can’t give him any advantage, and I did.”

It was a similar second-place result for Waters in Sunday’s 10-lap race, again in similar circumstances, but this time behind 2003 Australian Superbike Champion Craig Coxhell.

In a bizarre coincidence both the Saturday and Sunday races had started on a dry track, with a light shower drifting across the circuit at half-race distance before the track started to dry again. On Saturday it had been Maxwell who mastered the slippery conditions best, while on Sunday it was Coxhell’s turn, using his extensive UK Superbike experience racing in changeable conditions.

The whole field had started on dry-weather untreaded slick tyres for Sunday’s race, with the pace in the early laps seeing the national Superbike lap record broken three times on consecutive laps by both Maxwell and Waters, the new benchmark of 1:32.4710 going to Waters on lap three.

Waters, round-winner Maxwell, defending national champ Glenn Allerton, privateer Shannon Johnson and Coxhell all spent time at the head of the pack in Sunday’s race, thrilling the V8 Supercar crowd with close, high-speed Superbike racing on one of the world’s fastest race tracks.

Three-time Australian Superbike Champion Shawn Giles finished fifth overall on his Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R1000 after two strong rides to fourth and fifth placings.

Teammate Robbie Bugden, the reigning New Zealand Superbike Champion, was challenging for third position in race one when he was caught out by the changeable track conditions, tumbling from his Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R1000 at high speed at Turn Two.

The Superbikes stunned V8 fans with top speeds of 300km/h along Gardner Straight into Turn One (compared to 280km/h recorded by the V8 Supercars), with Waters’ new lap Superbike record of 1:32.4710 edging the best V8 time of 1:33.1970, set by Mark Winterbottom (FPR Falcon) in Saturday qualifying.

“We’ve had visits to our pit across the weekend from some of the guys at V8 Supercars Australia, and they like what they’ve seen,” said Team Joe Rocket Suzuki’s Phil Tainton. “We’ve given away more posters this weekend than ever before – it’s been great.”

“It’s been another great weekend for the new GSX-R1000K9. That’s three lap records in a row now for Josh, proving the pace of the new bike straight out of the box and just how well he’s riding.

“It’s also great to see Shawn getting back to full fitness after his injuries of last year and riding with his old aggression.

“It was disappointing for Robbie, as he was right up there with the leading group when he got pushed wide on the damp track. But that’s racing, and he’ll bounce back.

“It’s been a great opportunity to rejoin the V8 Supercars calendar and showcase Superbike racing to a new audience. I’m sure they’ve all appreciated the show the Superbike riders and teams have put on this weekend.

“It is also an outstanding opportunity to dial in the set up at Phillip Island for the remaining two rounds of the ASBK.”

“It’s great to get the lap record and finish on the podium, but I’m a bit disappointed with second overall as the bike had the speed to win this weekend.

“Early on in race one I was comfortable with the pace, and felt I could have pulled out and passed Wayne into Turn One. But once Wayne got the break when the rain came with two laps to go I couldn’t chase him down. He outsmarted me in that one. I sat up and slowed, and I shouldn’t have.

“I was happy with my pace in race two, but didn’t have enough feel to stick with Craig when he came by on the wet track.

“We’re in good shape for the upcoming championship round at the Island in five weeks.”

“It’s great to back on the program with the V8 Supercars. I raced in the 2-plus-4 meetings 10 years ago and loved it back then. The crowd this weekend and the acceptance by the fans have been fantastic.

“The new bike has been fast right from the first time I rode it. I was happy with my race on Saturday – although a bit disappointed to be just 0.023sec off the podium.

“I got a poor start in race two, so had to play catch up. I got past Craig (Coxhell), but then had a big slide at Turn Four and thought I’d better back off. Craig came back past, but I couldn’t stick with him on the wet track. He deserved that one.”

“Not the sort of meeting I was planning on. I feel really comfortable on the new bike, and it was strong right through practice and qualifying.

“Unfortunately I got pushed a little wide in race one at Southern Loop while battling with Shawn and Shannon (Johnson).

“Shannon came under me, and I hit a damp patch. I thought I’d saved it, but then it flicked and I got thrown really high. That’s racing – nobody’s fault.

“I’d like to thank the team for the work they put in on Saturday night to have the bike ready for Sunday’s race. I finished the race on Sunday, but the body was pretty sore and the bike wasn’t 100 percent after its tumble.”

“We’ll be right for the Island in five weeks.”