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|Topic: Australian Superbike Championship returns to Winton next weekend|
In just over a week’s time, Winton Motor Raceway will be transformed into a motorcycle Mecca as the YMF Loan Australian Superbike Championship riders and teams put the finishing touches on their penultimate round campaigns.
Two-wheel talents from across the nation and even trans-Tasman competitors will converge on the rural Victorian circuit to settle the score with their class rivals for the second-last time in 2006, and motorsport fans are encouraged to keep Sunday October 22 free for a full day of amazing action at a great low price.
It has been a momentous time behind the scenes since the series’ last round, with major news from the Honda and Suzuki camps.
Honda recently announced that current championship hopeful and privateer rider Russell Holland would officially join the factory ranks in 2007, joined by Bryan Staring at the main operation.
Holland has produced countless sensational performances throughout the season, and Staring recently impressed in his racing debut on-board the factory team’s Superbike at the MotoGP support races.
Both riders will campaign entries in the series’ premier categories – Superbike and Supersport.
"2006 has been a huge learning year for me so far,” said Staring.
"I think next year all the elements that I have learned will start falling into place and we will be even more competitive."
Accompanying this announcement was the news that Adam Fergusson would race for his own satellite Honda team in 2007, DVS Honda.
Fergusson has experienced considerable success across the past few years within the Australian championship, and is enthusiastic at the move.
Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s Robbie Bugden has flown solo for the past few rounds, with teammate and former Australian Superbike Champion Shawn Giles confined to the sidelines as he recovered from injury.
One of the strongest pairings in the premier class will be re-united next weekend, with Giles set to make a spectacular comeback. He will be part of a thrilling Roulette ride above the skies of Victoria next Wednesday to signify his return to the series.
Racegoers can look forward to some of the hottest racing action of the year as Giles launches a full-scale attack on the competition; not being in the running in the championship means he will give it everything to take the round win.
Team Manager Phil Tainton is pleased to have Giles back on board, and said the team was confident they had a handle on the setup after a successful test in the past two weeks.
“It’s great for the Yoshimura Suzuki Team to have Shawn back on deck for the Winton round,” said Tainton.
“We tested two weeks ago and, as you’d expect after longest lay-off of his career, Shawn was a bit rusty on the first day, but he was getting on the pace on the second day.”
“Since then he’s had a couple of weeks to get over the muscles aches and pains from being back on the bike for two full days and now he’s ready to go racing.”
“Robbie was very quick at the test, he’s been on the Suzuki all year and he had a really strong result at Winton last year with a race win and second overall for the round, so we’re expecting a good result from him.”
“We are really happy with our bike set-up, we received all-new suspension at the start of this year and it has come a long way in the development phase. The suspension is working very nicely with the Dunlops, so we should have a strong combination of bike and riders,” predicted Tainton.
Queenslander Robbie Bugden is also looking forward to returning to Winton, the site of his emphatic rain-soaked race win in 2005.
As always, the Yamaha Racing Team will be one to watch as the bikes first hit the bitumen, with the Superbike and Supersport lineups traditionally strong early in the piece.
Championship leader Jamie Stauffer managed to keep Russell Holland at bay in Tasmania, and knows the task will be equally as challenging as the talented Superbike field contests its two feature races at Winton.
Jamie will be joined by his brother and teammate Dan as the Kurri-Kurri based riders look to feature on the podium once again.
“We had a fairly productive test at Winton this week, and by the end of the two days had the Superbike working quite well,” said Stauffer.
“It’s vital for me to keep up the solid results in this class to ensure we leave Winton with the lead before heading back to Eastern Creek for the decider.”
“I’m looking forward to carrying over the good form we had at Phillip Island and the setup we have looks like it should do the trick.”
Yamaha Racing Team’s Principal John Redding said the team was confident of its chances heading into round, citing the team’s domination of the podium as ‘no fluke’.
“This years consistent podiums by all four riders across both classes are the results of the hard work of our team at YRD,” said Redding.
“Jamie’s focus will shift towards his Superbike program this weekend.”
“His domination of the Supersport class has placed him in the position where he can theoretically take the title this weekend, in fact he would have to be extremely unlucky not too!”
“Dan has come along really well despite a slow start to the year, he and the team worked hard to develop the bike into a package that suits his riding style and that has really shown over the past couple of rounds,” concluded Redding.
Extensive experience will prove very valuable to Kawasaki factory Superbike entrant Shannon Johnson, who furthered his road race career in his earlier years doing countless laps of the Winton circuit.
His solid start to the season was overshadowed by a slip down the championship order, the result of limited testing for the team.
“A few technical issues have slowed our progress in the middle of the season, but that won’t stop me going out there and really having a good shot at a win at Winton,” said Johnson.
“I believe we’ve got a pretty good handle on the Kawasaki at this point, and it’s a credit to the team that we’re still able to challenge for third place in the series.”
A huge field of over 160 entries will battle it out for class honours next weekend, with the event beginning on Friday morning an initial practice session.
Superbike and Supersport riders will chase the perfect qualifying setup on Saturday, with teams working through their tyre and handling options in the hope of recording the quickest flying lap for the day.
Sunday’s ‘main event’ gets underway at 9am, with the ultra-competitive support classes taking to the track to warm up the Victorian crowd. Supersport and Superbike racing will follow from mid-morning, with both categories completing 2 races of 20 laps each.
Fans are invited into an open pit lane during the lunch break, with the opportunity to walk through the pit area and take a look at the Superbikes up close. Riders will also sign autographs, with free posters and a range of merchandise and dealer displays available.
Riders from the four premier factory Superbike teams will head ‘Back to School’ next Thursday, visiting a number of local primary schools to talk with lucky students about the sport of motorcycle racing.
All students will receive a free childrens’ entry pass to the event, and those students that miss out on visits will still get the chance to pick up a free entry pass from selected local dealers, as listed below.
61 High Street, Wodonga.
(02) 6024 3174
Benalla Motorcycles and Power Equipment
82 Sydney Road, Benalla.
(03) 5762 6177
435 Dean Street, Albury.
(02) 6021 8888
7 Benalla Road, Shepparton.
(03) 5821 2459
23 Highett Street, Mansfield.
(03) 5775 3288
118 Greta Road, Wangaratta.
(03) 5721 7400
YMF Loan Australian Superbike Championship, Winton. Superbike/Supersport.
Friday October 20, Practice.
Saturday October 21, Qualifying.
Sunday October 22, Races 1 and 2.
YMF Loan Australian Superbike Championship Standings.
1. Jamie STAUFFER, Yamaha. (NSW) 218
2. Russell HOLLAND, Honda. (NSW) 200
3. Daniel STAUFFER, Yamaha. (NSW) 150
4. Andrew STROUD, Suzuki. (NZ) 138
5. Scott CHARLTON, Yamaha. (VIC) 130.5
6. Robert BUGDEN, Suzuki. (QLD) 126.5
7. Shannon JOHNSON, Kawasaki. (VIC) 126.5
8. Wayne MAXWELL, Kawasaki. (NSW) 95
9. Adam FERGUSSON, Honda. (VIC) 94.5
10. Shannon ETHERIDGE, Suzuki. (NSW) 88.5
Tickets for round six of the 2006 YMF Loan Australian Superbike Championship are available online (www.aus-superbikes.com.au ) and at the gate and cost:
Saturday Adult: $20
Two Day Pass/Sunday Adult: $35
Family (2 adults and up to 5 children): $50
Children (6-15): $10