Massive is the only word for it, with the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit inundated with entries for the Australian classes – particularly YMI Australian Superbike and Supersport 300 – for next weekend’s (Feb 23-25) season opener of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha Finance round.
Entries for Australian superbikes have topped 50 – the biggest ever entry for superbikes in “computerised” history – including the name on everyone’s lips, the return to racing at age 48 of Aussie icon Troy Bayliss.
Supersport 300 has a healthy grid of 41, Supersport features 21 and the YMF R3 Cup boasts 25 starters delivering a bumper grid for the opening round of the Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul Pirelli (ASBK).
Fans are the winners with back-to-back racing and intense competition from the big grids across all three days. The schedule boasts 15 races, with 12 of the battles for the Australian classes, two races for world superbike on Saturday and Sunday and one world supersport showdown on Sunday.
With the YMI Superbike grid at full capacity for qualifying, the scene is set from the get go for a dog-fight against competitors and the clock to make the start grid of 40 riders for the three, 12 lap national races.
“I’ve never seen such an incredible field for our Australian category and with 50 starters it will be a battle royale to make the top 40 for racing. The line-up is brilliant with young talent like Daniel Falzon, riders with vast international experience like Josh Waters, Bryan Staring and Alex Phillis, and of course the return of Troy Bayliss. Obviously everyone wants to race him and now they get their chance!”
Said Fergus Cameron, Phillip Island Circuit Managing Director.
There’s plenty of ‘chatter’ about the return to racing of the three-time WorldSBK champion, Bayliss, who’s coming out of retirement to compete in the national ASBK championship for the first time since 1997.
Bayliss started to show some form of old in a recent two-day test at Phillip Island, and he’ll have to continue on that same trajectory on his DesmoSport Ducati to keep pace with reigning Australian champion Josh Waters (Team Suzuki ECSTAR Australia), Wayne Maxwell (Yamaha Racing Team), Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda), Daniel Falzon (Yamaha Racing Team), Bryan Staring (Kawasaki BCperformance), Glenn Allerton (NextGen Motorsports BMW) and Mike Jones (Allsite Concrete Cutting Kawasaki).
Waters is the deserving championship favourite after he came home with a wet sail in the last few rounds in 2017, with his GSX-R1000R producing an irresistible blend of pace and composure by season’s end.
Meanwhile, rookie Mark Chiodo will partner Waters at Team Suzuki ECSTAR Australia, and a clutch of fast privateers are also primed for title action: reigning Australian Supersport champion Ted Collins (NextGen Motorsports BMW), Mason Coote (AARK Suspension Kawasaki), Michael Blair (Yamaha Gosford), Alex Phillis (Suzuki), Matthew Walters (Swann Insurance Kawasaki), Aaron Morris (Yamaha) and Callum Spriggs (Kawasaki), while former junior speedway star and Moto3 rider Arthur Sissis (Suzuki) is a surprise round one entry.
In Supersport, Tom Toparis (Cube Racing Kawasaki) and Cru Halliday (Yamaha Racing Team) are the big guns, while others fighting for glory in the 21-rider field will be Nic Liminton (Yamaha), Giuseppe Scarcella (BCPerformance Junior Team Kawasaki), Broc Pearson (Yamaha), returning veteran Brendan Clarke (Champion’s Rider Days Kawasaki), Luke Mitchell (Yamaha) and Max Croker (Mat Mladin Suzuki).
The Supersport 300 class remains as popular as ever with 41 riders coming out to play, with race honours likely to be fought out between Oli Bayliss (Cube Racing Kawasaki), Seth Crump (Rock Oil KTM), Tom Bramich (Nolan Helmets Yamaha), Hunter Ford (YRD Yamaha), Ben Bramich (GowMoto KTM), Harry Khouri (Acid Racing Yamaha) and Jarred Brook (KTM Australia). The Supersport 300 grid is dominated by Yamaha, KTM and Kawasaki.
YMF R3 CUP
Finally, as the newest class join the Aussie WorldSBK round, the YMF R3 Cup will showcase an identical line-up of 25 Yamaha YZF-R3s. Tom Bramich (Nolan Helmets), Hunter Ford (Ford Brothers Racing), Harry Khouri (Acid Racing), Max Stauffer (Chris Watson Motorcycles) and Laura Brown (WNR) headline the 24-bike grid.
All four ASBK classes will have three races apiece over the WorldSBK weekend, with practice commencing on Thursday.
WorldSBK and WorldSSP races
The 22-lap WorldSBK races will be run at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday respectively, with Maxwell, Falzon and Herfoss also competing alongside their domestic duties.
The 18-lap WorldSSP race will begin at 1:30pm on Sunday, with even more Aussies to cheer on: championship regulars Anthony West and Lachlan Epis, as well as local wildcard Toparis. All three will be Kawasaki mounted.
Nothing Beats World Superbikes Live At The Island
World Superbikes is super affordable with a 3 Day General Admission ticket just $120^. In an absolute first for World Superbikes at the Island, all 3 Day ticket holders in 2018 gain FREE Paddock access.
Add camping at the circuit campground for up to four nights, and you’ve the perfect location for a summer long weekend away with your mates or family.
Step it up a notch in Bar SBK for only $260 and capture all of the exhilarating action from the circuit’s optimum viewing locations or opt for a VIP Hospitality package.
And as always with World Superbikes Kids 15 & under are FREE**
Nothing beats World Superbikes…Live At The Island.
Book your tickets for the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha Finance Round, Phillip Island, February 23 – 25 2018.
For more information contact the circuit on the toll free World Superbike Hotline 1300 728 007 or www.worldsbk.com.au
*All ticket prices quoted purchased in advance and subject to Ticketek processing fee.
**Children 15 and under are free and must be accompanied by a paying adult.