The Yamaha Racing Team (YRT) of Wayne Maxwell and Daniel Falzon have been granted wild card entries into next month’s opening round of the Yamaha Finance World Superbike Championship (Worldsbk) at the iconic Phillip Island Circuit.The event marks another career milestone for both riders as it will be their debut in the WorldSBK class on their Yamaha YZF – R1M’s and both will be working double time as the event is ran in conjunction with the opening round of the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK). The team and riders will be on the go the moment they pull up at the picturesque circuit on February 22.
For Victorian based Wayne Maxwell, it represents a great opportunity to race at his home circuit in front of a huge crowd and international TV audience. While Maxwell has had previous experience at the WorldSBK, he raced Moto2 some years ago, this will be his first time lining up on the WorldSBK grid and one that he is looking forward to.
“What a huge way to start the year!” Maxwell begins. “Being the combined round of WorldSBK and ASBK will see the team working overtime but it’s an experience everyone is looking forward to and one where we can gain plenty of positives.
“The track time will prove invaluable for the myself and Daniel while the team gets to work side by side with other Yamaha teams and take in knowledge from their racing developments that we can put into use further down the track. Our bikes will be similar for each class so adjusting shouldn’t be difficult and I can’t wait to line up against some of the highest profile, world class riders on my home track,” Maxwell ends.
For Falzon, his dream start to 2018 continues to grow. First, signing up with the factory Yamaha Racing Team for the 2018 season, to now getting the chance to race at the opening round of a world championship has Falzon pinching himself at what has unfolded for him over the past months.
The event will also mark as Falzon’s debut ride with the Yamaha Racing Team and like Maxwell, will be dual classing it with the sharp focus on winning the ASBK championship.
“It was great to receive the news that myself and the team gained a wild card entry to the WorldSBK at Phillip Island in February,” Falzon explains enthusiastically. “I’m excited for the opportunity and obviously we need to be realistic about our results as we are lining up against some of the best riders in the world, on some of the best bikes in the world.
“The experience and exposure gained from racing at an event like this is invaluable for us and it’s going to be an exciting weekend.
“It’s a gruelling schedule with three x 12 lap ASBK races as well as the two x 22 laps WorldSBK races over the two days but I’m ready for the challenge and have done plenty of work on my fitness during the off season.
The WorldSBK is a one off event for YRT so the teams’ focus will remain squarely on the ASBK where I’m hoping to match the result I achieved last year,” Falzon ends.
While Australia has a proud road racing history and record at world championship events and produced some of the biggest stars of the sport, team manager John Redding, is measured with what he expects from his team and riders over the weekend.
“Looking at the times and splits of previous WorldSBK rounds at Phillip Island and put them against what we do at the ASBK rounds and I expect us to be competitive and around the top 10 mark which is a good result, given the ASBK spec bike our guys will be racing.
“The riders and the team will also benefit from the additional track time they get, not only the amount of racing but the length of the races and the addition testing involved. It also gives our team and sponsors additional exposure as this is also a YMF sponsored event.
“I’m confident that the riders and team will do themselves proud and we can get our 2018 season off to a flying start,” Redding signs off.
The Yamaha Finance WorldSBK round fires into life on February 22-25 and again the Island will shake with the roar of motorcycles.
Images: Russell Colvin