News 12 Nov 2009

Oz RR: Johnson and KTM impress at Kings of Wanneroo event



Event name:    Kings of Wanneroo International
Location:        Barbagallo Raceway (WA)
Event date:    Sunday 8 November, 2009
Team rider:    Shannon Johnson of South Morang VIC


Rider        Class        Bike        Qualifying    Race 1    Race 2    Race 3    Round result

Shannon Johnson    Open Class     KTM RC8 R    Pole        3rd    DNF     DNS    15th


Rider         Class
Johnny Rea    Open Class


Shannon Johnson – Racer

“I honestly can’t really explain how much I enjoyed the entire “Kings” weekend, so many positives have come from the weekend that the final results is less significant in the overall scheme, said Johnson.

“During the practice sessions myself and  KTM Road Racing Team Manager and Technical Manager Rob Twyerould made small little set up steps, every one of them a forward one.   By the end of the day we had set the fastest times in each of the three sessions, in doing so that meant we were faster than a World SBK race winner, plus World SS Champion, British SST Champion, Irish SBK Champion, Isle of Man TT winners, and to be honest I will fill the page with all the international riders credentials! But we were faster.

“Saturday morning qualification session we knew was going to be tough to top, we did know that the first session was going to be faster though, because as the circuit temp went up the lap times would too.

“I had a good battle with Johnny Rea, he went out on circuit first setting the fastest time, I went and bettered it.   He then went faster bumping me back to second, I went out again, and pushed the pace up even more.  Finally he tried to beat the time, and came up short; our little team with the KTM RC8 R had set a time that a current World Class SBK rider could not respond to.

“In the second session we made some more changes, and decided to stay with our used tyres, concentrating on race set up.  We set a time similar to our first session, quite a bit faster than anyone else, which was great considering we had old rubber, then after coming in to make a change when leaving the pit I noticed a rider sneaking in behind me.   It happened to be Johnny, so I sat up and waited, as did he, I went full gas for half a lap, so did he; I figured he wanted a tow. I thought to myself we have 45 laps of racing for this so why not make a show of it now?

“Sunday morning warm up was no different to each of the other five sessions, we were fastest with Johnny right behind us.  It is great for our confidence to know that a rider as skilled as he was really trying to get in front of us, but we could respond and maintain our position.

“Race one; I fluffed the start, not what I needed. I got bumped wide in turn one. I tried to make some quick swift passes to not let the front pack get away, but the tight twisty circuit has very limited passing opportunities.

“I worked my way to third, but had already given away a couple of seconds, matching laps times tenth for tenth  – even going faster than we did in qualifying we couldn’t bridge the gap.  I took a small chunk out although as the lapped riders started to be a problem that reversed and added some more.

“In race two, I knew I couldn’t make the same mistake, so I didn’t. I got the jump and led the first few laps. I was passed, then as the leader went into turn one he ran a bit wide, wide enough for me to fit. Well it was when I first looked anyway, been just in front he didn’t see me and we hit. Quite hard really, his front wheel hit my gear lever whilst I was hard on the gas bouncing my bike into neutral from very high RPM.  I quickly put it back into gear, but in this time I’d lost that half wheel lead we were dead even exiting turn one.
I simply held the throttle open and arm wrestled my way back to the lead for a few more laps. Although I did notice a tight feeling with my bike, maybe the impact had done more than first thought.

“Johnny came by with a nice block pass; I followed for a lap and soon found that he didn’t have any more pace than me, so it was game on.  As I entered turn one the bike went a long way sideways, thinking I went back too many gears I kept going but the same thing happened in the next turn.

“Sadly our day was run; however what we achieved over the weekend was simply awesome.  Not only had we made a lot of small little changes to the bike that made it easier to ride, we learned a great deal, made some great friends, put on a show for the crowd, and more importantly for KTM and myself we showed we can run with World class race winners.”

ROB TWYEROULD – Road Racing & Technical Manager

“Shannon’s potential on the KTM RC8 R is second to none, said Twyerould.  “He continues to impress every time he is on the track.

“A great advantage to the KTM team at Kings of Wanneroo was having Shannon’s crew chief and manager from the Evolutions Sports Group on hand (Mark Trounson and Wayne Hepburn), as this allowed us to take the bike to another level.

“Mark and Wayne are former road racers themselves and are also well versed set up and technical requirements for superbikes.

“To sum up the year from my perspective it has been incredible, having been very involved with dirt bikes all my life, it has been a steep learning curve to get my head around the tar, and the precision need by rider and machine to get the best lap time.

“I finish the year with a huge amount of respect and admiration for Shannon Johnson, who has been an absolute professional to work with, I look forward to our continued relationship in the coming seasons.”