With just nine days to go until the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship descend on the iconic Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, spectators are in for three-days of action packed adrenaline.
The Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round will fire off three mega days of motorsport from the 24th to 26th February 2023.
Between WorldSBK and WorldSSP, and the ASBK National categories of Australian Superbike, Supersport and Supersport 300, the newly released 2023 schedule will see 14 races on the agenda to kick-off the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season at Phillip Island.
The Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round features three World Superbike races (two 22-lap races and a 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race), with World Supersport returning with two 18-lap races. Along with this, ASBK will hit the track with 9 races in total.
But of course, racers can’t take to the grid without first getting Free Practice and Superpole underway, which will take place on Friday 24 February. On track action will take place each day from 8.50am to 5.30pm across the three days.
Spectators and fans alike will get their first taste of the 2023 season as World Supersport take to the trackf for the first time in free practice at 10.30am on the Friday. With many new faces to the grid in 2023, the likes of GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK rookies Remy Gardner and Dominique Aegerter will get their first official World Superbikes hit out underway at 11.30am on Friday.
The dynamic duo of reigning World Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), 2021 World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK), and six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will no doubt look to hit the ground the running from Free Practice 1; each just as hungry to fight for the 2023 World Championship.
The 2022 ‘Titanic Trio’ of Bautista, Razgatlioglu and Rea have shared the podium 27 times, four short of the record held by Chaz Davies/Rea/Sykes. But, with majority of riders in WorldSBK recent winter tests, it’s looking like we could see some new faces at the front.
Previewing what he thinks might happen this season, WorldSBK Executive Director Gregorio Lavilla said: “There’s some new riders this year, some of them coming from WorldSSP, some from other championships. If I see and analyse the results of the past test, the top three guys are there, but the gaps are closing. I expect once we are a few races into the season, some of the newcomers coming from other classes… I think we can have more parity, or at least I wish the fight is not three; it’s getting larger. Then it’s going to be really amazing to watch.”
There will also be plenty of record breaking milestones in the mix for the 2023 season. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) needs to score at least 197.5 points in 2023 to hit 6,000 points in WorldSBK, becoming the first rider to do so. Spain is also set to hit 70 victories with one more win, with 67 of its current 69 wins coming from three riders: Alvaro Bautista with 32, Carlos Checa with 24 and Ruben Xaus with 11.
And of course, in a milestone that we are sure needs no introduction – spectators are in for a real Aussie treat as they witness the lights go out for Remy Gardner’s maiden WorldSBK race start. It has been a long 7 year drought since Australia last had a full time rider in World Superbikes. There is no denying the impact Remy Gardner will have as the 2021 Moto2™ World Champion steps into the GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team.
ASBK – AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONSHIP SET TO EXCITE
It’s not just WorldSBK and WorldSSP categories that will have motorsport lovers cheering. The ASBK National categories of Superbike, Supersport and Supersport 300 will each be fighting for their spot on the podium, and a strong start to their Championship campaign.
Having recently completed their official pre-season test at Sydney Motorsport Park, it looks like Josh Waters aboard the McMartin Racing with KTech Ducati will be the one to beat. Waters, who currently holds the National Superbike Lap Record at Phillip Island Circuit with a blistering time of 1:31.705 on the Ducati V4R, made a mid-season team change to the McMartin Racing Team in 2022 and hasn’t looked back.
Topping the timesheets in the merged pre-season test, Waters has set a new benchmark for the hard-charging Australian Superbike field.
Behind Waters, there is a sea of blue with both Yamaha Racing Team riders Cru Halliday and Mike Jones following close behind in times after the conclusion of the pre-season test.
The 2023 Australian Superbike grid will also see some young hopefuls looking to fight their way to the top. In the DesmoSport Ducati garage, keep an eye out for Broc Pearson who will look to cement himself as a serious Championship contender, while GTR Motostars rider Max Stauffer will step up from his Rookie status, embarking on his second season in the premier class.
Livson Racing are also in for a competitive 2023 saeson, with the team recently signing 23-year-old Ted Collins. Despite Collins’ two-year absence from the Australian Superbike grid, the former 2017 Australian Supersport Champion will look to shake up the standings and make his presence known on the BMW M1000RR machine.
In the Supersport championship, the 2022 top 3 riders of Johnny Lytras, Ty Lynch and Tom Bramich will each return for another season in the 600 class. The top three however, will have their work cut out for them, with a number of budding young riders stepping up from Supersport 300. This includes the likes of Cameron Dunker, who successfully completed the double in 2022, taking out the Australian Supersport 300 Championship and Yamaha R3 Cup title in glorious fashion.
It hasn’t taken long for Dunker to adapt to the GTR MotoStars Yamaha R6, who finished the recent pre-season test 6th in the combined standings.
The Supersport 300 field will be as competitive as ever, with many new and returning faces to the field. With Phillip Island Circuit’s long straight, it will be all in for the youngsters as they slipstream their way to race victories.