TEAM JOE ROCKET SUZUKI:
Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Josh Waters believes two recent ride-days at Victoria’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit will give the 22-year-old an added edge for this weekend’s winner-take-all final round of the 2009 Australian Superbike Championship.
Three riders are separated by just nine points after six rounds of the 2009 series, with Waters, in his debut Superbike season, 2pts behind series leader and defending champion Glenn Allerton.
Allerton’s teammate Wayne Maxwell is a further 7pts adrift of Waters, with Sunday’s two 12-lap races at the fast and flowing Victorian circuit to decide the 2009 championship in a thrilling season finale.
Waters tested at the 4.45km Phillip Island circuit on 16 and 17 November, and despite both days being public ride-days the Superbike rookie believes he’s found some set-up changes that will give his Suzuki GSX-R1000 an advantage over his two championship rivals.
“There were a lot of bikes on the circuit at the ride-day – up to 40 in every session – and it was hard to get a clear lap because of the speed differential,” said Waters. “But I was able to concentrate on the parts of the track where I know I have to improve.
“I’m really happy with the bike and the changes we made,” added Waters. “The team has given me the equipment to win the championship, so it’s up to me now.
“I know what I have to do. I’ll be going out to win both races on Sunday and just worry about myself – not what anyone else is doing.”
Team Joe Rocket Suzuki manager Phil Tainton believes that the two-day test had been worthwhile with the team concentrating on suspension set-up, fuel mapping and tyre selection.
“Since debuting the 2009 bike Josh has set new lap records at the first three circuits we visited,” said Tainton. “We’ve improved the bike every time we’ve raced it, and we’ve found a few more improvements after this recent test.
“We’ve now got more power and better power delivery – around 210 horsepower at the rear wheel. We’re in good shape.”
Waters was a race winner the last time the Superbikes visited Phillip Island, when the class ran as a support category at October’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
The 22-year-old thrilled the big crowd in Sunday’s race two when he timed a slipstream pass to perfection in the run to the chequered flag to take victory by 0.024sec over Maxwell, with Allerton third. In race one Maxwell had reversed the result with a 0.166sec win over Waters, with Allerton again third.
Underlining the competitiveness of the 2009 Australian Superbike Championship, Waters’ laptimes were faster than some of the MotoGP bikes, with his Suzuki
GSX-R1000 recording a top speed in excess of 300km/h into Turn One.
Waters’ Team Joe Rocket Suzuki teammates Shawn Giles and Robbie Bugden currently lie fourth and fifth overall, giving the new 2009 GSX-R1000K9 three of the top five positions in the championship. Giles is a three-time Australian Superbike Champion (2000, 2001, 2002), with Bugden, a three-time and reigning New Zealand Superbike Champion.