With Round 3 of the 2019 Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) heading to The Bend Motorsport Park for International MotoFest (April 25-28), a massive weekend of motorsport sees the ASBK running alongside the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) to create a truly international event. But what does this mean for the ASBK and for the competitors?
One person who knows what it takes to get to the top of world motorcycle racing is Motorcycling Australia (MA) President, Peter Goddard. The ex- 500cc Grand Prix (MotoGP) racer, World Superbike race winner, FIM Endurance World Champion and ASBK Champion clearly knows what it takes to win at the top level, but also what it’s like to race in the ASBK both as a competitor and as a team owner. He sat down with ASBK.com.au to share his thoughts on the importance of the upcoming round, and how it will help the ASBK to foster more World Championship winners in the future.
Above: Goddard in preparation for the 1993 Australian Grand Prix at Eastern Creek (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)
ASBK: We've come off a record-breaking last round at Wakefield Park, it's the biggest crowds we've ever seen there, and we're going into another great event at The Bend. It's all systems go for the ASBK in 2019, how do you see it?
Peter Goddard: "I've watched its redevelopment from my perspective within MA, but also as an ex racer and ex-team owner. It's really been good to see it re-evolve, being managed and promoted the way it is. It's got some fantastic riders, it's going to good venues, it's getting good media exposure, and the teams are all at a good level. I think it's getting back to what it was in the 80s and 90s, when it was the platform that helped riders to develop and show their potential then get opportunities overseas. It's our premier event, the MotoGP of Australian racing, and I think having MA now promoting it and running it has been a real benefit for the sport and for motorcycling in Australia in general.
Above: Last year's inaugural International MotoFest at The Bend (Pic: Andrew Gosling/tbg sport)
You mentioned ASBK playing an important role as a stepping stone for the young riders that are going overseas, We now have plenty doing overseas racing, whether it's World Supersport 300, CIV, CEV, what sort of role do you think ASBK needs to be playing to equip those sort of riders with the skills they need to forge a career overseas?
Australia in the past has developed some very good riders and was recognised all over the world for nurturing talent. We still have some good riders, but we've had a bit of a drought recently at the very top level of world championship competition, and part of that is because of the lack of opportunity for these riders to get noticed overseas. The ASBK needs to provide that opportunity for them, through having strong links with international manufacturers through our factory teams in Australia and giving riders the opportunity to race in a competitive domestic series where the world is watching.
Now we’re back at the point where if international teams and manufacturers can see a young kid showing promise here in Australia, the championship is once again strong enough to demonstrate that rider can succeed overseas. Having a platform that's recognised internationally is important, it gives people a pathway to competing overseas. It also creates a strong national series that's well respected and has good racing, good publicity, good interest around the country. It's good for the whole sport.
Above: Young Aussie and 2017 YMI R3 Cup Champion Tom Edwards is just one of the riders having graduated from the ASBK to World Supersport 300 (Pic: Jamie Morris/Geebee Images/2SNAP)
You mentioned one of the ways is getting those young riders in front of international teams- plenty of them will be coming to The Bend for International MotoFest next weekend. What sort of role does an event like International MotoFest do for those racers when the ARRC comes to town?
I think it's fantastic that the ARRC's coming to The Bend and are running with the ASBK. The international exposure's very important, that gives us another door opening for our riders to perhaps compete in the ARRC, and for the ARRC riders also to come and do more with our championship.
One priority for the ASBK is to build the level of our championships across all classes, building them so that they are competitive, and providing an environment where our riders can become better racers. We want our riders learning track skills, riding skills and racecraft, because that's important as you go racing abroad to have those skills. Ultra-competitive championships like the ARRC helps to develop a lot of racecraft, because the racing is so close and there's so many riders. We want to try and do something similar.
But the event itself is fantastic. It's encouraging to see what's been achieved by the team at MA and with the assistance of all the clubs and SCB's around the country in again building the profile of Superbike racing in Australia.
Above: YMI Supersport 300 riders in action last time out at Wakefield Park (Pic: Andrew Gosling/tbg sport)
We've got plenty of Aussies on track in the Asian Superbike (ASB1000), plus plenty of action in the ASBK, what else should the fans be looking out for this weekend?
I think it'll be great racing. The Bend is a fantastic track, and this will be our is the second event at the circuit. The layout seems to have the influence of some of the great riders’ tracks in it. It's been very well made, and I think there'll be some good close racing and a lot of action. It’s great for spectators, too, there's good vantage points around the track, good facilities, you can come in the pits and have a look around at all the people and the bikes, and there's a fantastic paddock show too.
One last one: Who's your tip for this weekend?
Oh, that's a hard one because last year there was no rider clearly on top! Unfortunately, I think TB (Troy Bayliss, Desmosport Ducati) has had to pull out of this race (due to injury) which is unfortunate, I'd be backing an old man because I'm an old man myself! (laughs)
I think it'll be interesting, being the riders' track that it is Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda Racing) is certainly going to be strong. But both Team Suzuki ECSTAR Australia riders can be very strong at this track as well, both Wayne Maxwell and Josh Waters. It's not a dragstrip, despite the main straight being reasonably long; there's a lot of corners and a lot of technical areas. So I think Herfoss will be hard to beat, but also I think Maxwell is also looking strong at the moment."
International MotoFest, including Round 3 of the Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship and Round 2 of the FIM Asia Road Racing Championship, kicks off at The Bend Motorsport Park on April 25-28. Don’t miss it!
Want to get up close to the action? International MotoFest tickets are still available! Grab yours now, visit thebend.com.au for more information or to purchase.
Keep up with all the action from the Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship by following us on Facebook and Instagram. For news, video content, rider profiles and much, much more, visit ASBK.com.au. For more information on the Asia Road Racing Championship, visit asiaroadracing.com
Header image courtesy of Andrew Gosling - tbg sport