Staring & Kawasaki prove strong at ASBK opener
The 2018 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) commenced at Phillip Island, Victoria, over the weekend between 22-25 February with Kawasaki BCperformance’s Bryan Staring capturing a stellar overall victory aboard the Ninja ZX-10R.
Staring delivered Kawasaki BCperformance’s first-ever ASBK round win alongside the opening round of the Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) despite starting from 13th on the grid following qualifying held in mixed conditions on Friday.
That factor made the 2010 champion’s victory even more special, claiming 4-3-1 results in the trio of awe-inspiring ASBK races across the round. It’s a result that bodes well for a strong season ahead, leading the point-standings by one marker following round one of seven.
“I’m exceptionally happy, just so relieved and satisfied to win with Kawasaki BCperformance,” said Staring. “I can’t thank the team enough – they gave me a bike that was so lightning fast and, to be honest, I really had no excuse not to win! We didn’t think it’d be possible following Friday’s qualifying, but it happened and we’re so happy to achieve this result at round one.”
Teammate Kyle Buckley qualified strongly in 11th position, before claiming 17-15-20 finishes. Constantly improving his lap-speed and gaining confidence following an injury-affected last season, he is focused on climbing up the order in coming rounds.
“We achieved three consistent finishes this weekend and, although they weren’t as high as I’d aimed, I can take a lot of things out of round one,” Buckley recalled. “The Kawasaki BCperformance team was great all weekend, they put in a big effort and now I’m excited to get back on the bike and keep progressing from here.”
Kawasaki BCperformance team owner Kelvin Reilly was ecstatic with the result in Staring’s first race weekend together, also confident that Buckley will continue to improve as his confidence grows into the season. It was a memorable result for everybody involved.
“Firstly, I just want to thank Bryan for giving BCperformance our first-ever ASBK win and to be leading the championship is obviously a great result,” explained Reilly. “The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has really come into it’s own now, plus Dunlop has worked really, really hard and I believe we’ve got a strong season ahead of us.
“Kyle struggled a little bit in the test, so he started on the back-foot, but he hasn’t ridden a lot recently. He was injured a lot last year, but we know what he can do and we just have to get him there. We know what he needs to do, he knows what he needs to do and I’m confident we will see a different Kyle from round two.”
In addition to the Kawasaki BCperformance Superbike class duo, the BCperformance Junior Team of Giuseppe Scarcella and Benjamin Baker were also on track in the Kawasaki Supersport and Supersport 300 classes respectively. Scarcella qualified fourth, then rode his Ninja ZX-6R to ninth overall, while debutant Baker was P16 on his Ninja 300.
Swann Insurance Kawasaki’s Matt Walters got his 2018 campaign off to a flying start as well, a fixture inside the top 10 throughout the entire opening round by qualifying 10th on the grid and then lodging 9-8-9 finishes for a well-deserved eighth overall. Brad Swallow also took a point home by taking 20th in race one.
“For us it’s been a really solid weekend and I can’t say enough about my Swann Insurance Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R,” Walters said. “We were hoping to have a consistent start to the year and that’s exactly what we’ve done, so we couldn’t be happier. Now it’s on to round two and my confidence is definitely increasing with each race.”
The Kawasaki Supersport overall was taken out by Cube Racing ZX-6R rider Tom Toparis, winning all three races to lead the series, while teammate Oli Bayliss put forward a number of impressive rides in Supersport 300 to claim the round win.
Round two of the 2018 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) will be hosted at Wakefield Park in New South Wales between 16-18 March.