You can’t compete in a motorcycle world championship event without a massive amount of behind the scenes assistance, and no-one knows that more than Eltham rider Jed Metcher.
The 24-year-old is preparing to takes on the world’s best in the opening round of the 2015 FIM Superbike World Championship – a record 25th running of the event – at Phillip Island next weekend (February 20-22), with his small team based out of Brunswick – most of them volunteers – set to take on the mega-buck factory-backed operations from the likes of Kawasaki, Ducati and Honda. Metcher begins his campaign tomorrow, joining the world’s leading teams as they knuckle down for the final pre-season test in preparation for the opening Swann round.
“We’ve been putting this thing together for about 12 months now, and a number of people have worked tirelessly to make it happen, including Darren Sciberras, Ben Mead and my father (Mal Metcher), It’s been a big team effort on a limited budget, but that really gives me extra motivation to go and rattle the big international teams.
“We’ll certainly do the best with what we’ve got, but you’ve also got to look at the facts: we’ve been going for a year, while the Kawasaki Racing Team, for example, is an experienced outfit with vastly skilled personnel.
“But that’s how it goes, and it doesn’t alter the fact that I really want to make an impact at Phillip Island – in fact it makes me even more determined.”
Despite the David vs Goliath scenario, Metcher at least feels the new standardised world superbike rules – superbike chassis and superstock-type engines — are at least marginally in his favour compared to Aussies who’ve toiled as wildcards in past years.
“Engine-wise it’s going to help as the top factory bikes shouldn’t have the horsepower edge as they once did, but it’s the chassis development and electronics side of things where we are left behind – and it’s nearly impossible to bridge that gap as it takes a lot of time, money and effort.”
Metcher, the 2011 European Superstock 600 champion, will ride a Race Center-backed RC-10 machine at Phillip Island, based on the Kawasaki ZX-10R. Metcher has tested the machine at Phillip Island a few times now, and will return this Monday and Tuesday (February 16-17) for a final shakedown test before round one officially commences on Friday, February 20 ahead of two 22-lap races on the Sunday.
Metcher will be joined at the test session by the 24 other riders in the world superbike field at Phillip Island, including big guns such as world champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda), Tom Sykes, Jonathan Rea (both Kawasaki Racing Team), Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), pre-season pacesetter David Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing Ducati) and fellow Aussie wildcard Matt Walters (Pedercini Kawasaki).
Metcher will be looking to make big inroads at the test, especially with a new gearbox he’s trying out for the first time.
“Hopefully the gearbox will give should give me good punch out of turn four, I’ll also be concentrating on doing some longer runs on day two to really get in the groove ahead of round one.”
The last time Metcher competed at Phillip Island he was the fastest man on track at the Island Classic historic meet in the marquee International Challenge event, but his chances of taking individual honours were nobbled by mechanical failure.
But world superbike will be a far more difficult assignment.
“This has been 12 months in the making and I can’t wait to get out there, we’ve come a long way since it all began in February 2014 and to be showcasing this project on a world stage is very exciting. It will be tough but also very rewarding.”
Tickets for next weekend’s 2015 Superbike World Championship opener, Phillip Island Swann round are available on www.worldsbk.com.au or call the SBK toll free hotline on 1 300 728 007.
Free Fireworks And Festivities For A 25 Year Wolrd Superbike Celebration
Celebrating 25 years of world superbike racing at the island, Phillip Island circuit is staging FREE fireworks and festivities for everyone this Friday night. Gates open at 7pm Friday (Feb 20), with a host of motorcycling legends to entertain the crowd, stunt bikes and KidsZone action all culminating in FREE fireworks to light up Gardner Straight at 9pm. Friday night ‘s 25 year world superbike celebration at Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit – is free for everyone – ticket holder or not!