147 riders across four classes will contest the first round of the Australian Superbike Championship held at Phillip Island, February 24-26.
Superbike and Supersport 300 grids are chockers, meaning all riders will have to be at their best from the word go.
Sixteen racers will be run, comprising of three World Superbike and Supersport races, three races apiece for domestic superbike, supersport and supersport 300, and four historic races.
The Australian Superbike Championship has enjoyed a renaissance in the last couple of years, and the popularity of the class is reflected in 43 riders enlisted.
The line-up across the three 12-lap Yamaha Finance races is mixed, with experienced hands like reigning champion Troy Herfoss, Wayne Maxwell, Glenn Allerton; international players returning home like Bryan Staring, Josh Waters, Matt Walters and Alex Phillis; and strong contenders Cru Halliday, Robbie Bugden, Daniel Falzon and Beau Beaton.
They’ll all lock horns and face an onslaught from the young stars like Michael Blair, Callum Spriggs and Troy Guenther. Blair was the fastest in a recent ASBK test at Phillip Island ahead of Allerton, Falzon and Maxwell.
Aussie Supersport has attracted 35 entries, with Luke Mitchell amongst the most credentialed following his third place in the 2016 championship.
Mark Chiodo will be tough to beat after setting a cracking pace at the recent Phillip Island test session.
Supersport races will be held over 10 laps.
Qualifying alone will throw up a challenge for the 300 Supersport competitors, with 48 riders entered it’s sure to be chaotic.
The burgeoning class is proving to be a magnet for experienced riders and emerging talent alike, with a number of the rookies coming straight from dirt track competition – a discipline that has helped mould a number of Aussie road racing icons like Casey Stoner.
WorldSBK icon Troy Bayliss’ son Ollie will be one of the riders in the three eight-lap races.
Finally, the majority of the 21 riders in Historics will be backing up from the recent Island Classic meeting, including Chas Hern, Dean Oughtred and Craig Ditchburn – the trio most likely to be circulating at the pointy end in the four six-lappers.
Meanwhile, the two 22-lap WorldSBK races will be held at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, with WorldSSP (18 laps) starting at 1:30pm on Sunday.
Tickets for the Yamaha Finance round of the WorldSBK are available through Ticketek, with a three-day general admission pass costing $120 – a saving of $35 over the gate price. BarSBK passes, for undercover viewing locations at some of the most spectacular parts of the circuit, are $260, while adult single-day passes cost $30 for Friday, $65 for Saturday and $80 for Sunday.
Camping is available for up to four nights for $105. Children aged 15 and under are in for free, making the event affordable for families of all sizes.
For tickets visit Ticketek. For more information ring the Superbike Hotline on 1300 728 007 or visit www.worldsbk.com.au