Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Josh Waters drew first blood in the Supersport support races at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island at the weekend.
In conditions many riders described as the worst they had raced in, Waters got the better of an enthralling battle with Wayne Maxwell when he drafted by in the run to the chequered flag to take victory by just 0.041sec on his GSX-R600.
The Friday race, held in front of 24,000 spectators on a wet track in darkening conditions, was the first of what should have been four races for the Supersport competitors across the MotoGP weekend.
However, the second race on Friday afternoon was abandoned when storm clouds swept across the circuit, reducing visibility to a level that race officials deemed unsafe.
"The wet track conditions didn't worry me and I wanted to race, but officials made the right decision as visibility was really bad," said Waters. "The only way I could have raced would have been with a torch taped to the side of my helmet."
Waters also added fifth and fourth placings to his weekend tally in Saturday and Sunday's races to finish second overall on 58 points, 12 points adrift of Maxwell.
With in excess of 50,000 spectators at the Victorian circuit on Sunday's main race day - and well over 100,000 across the three days - the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix is the largest stage that Team Joe Rocket Suzuki will perform on in 2008.
In addition to his on-track commitments, Waters provided spectators at the event with expert comments via his role as on-course commentator on GPTV, a role he shared with team-mate and three-times Australian Superbike Champion Shawn Giles.
Giles was unable to compete in the Superbike support races at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix as he is recovering from injuries sustained at the Queensland round of the Australian Superbike Championship in July.
In Giles' absence, Team Joe Rocket Suzuki's Superbike responsibilities were shared by 2003 champion Craig Coxhell and reigning New Zealand champion Robbie Bugden.
Coxhell finished fourth overall after carding fifth, fourth and third placings in the opening three races, but his chance of an overall podium finish was thwarted when an off-track excursion in Sunday's Race Four dropped him down to 19th.
Bugden's meeting was one of frustration; a stone holing the radiator on his GSX-R1000 on the warm-up lap of the second race, and then a technical problem in the fourth forcing the Queenslander into retirement.
A fighting fourth in the third race, just 1.201sec behind Coxhell, was small reward for a meeting which promised more for the Queenslander.
The next outing for Team Joe Rocket Suzuki is the final round of the 2008 Australian Superbike Championship at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway on October 17-19th.
Phil Tainton - Team Manager:
"Overall the meeting didn't work out as I'd hoped, but racing can be like that sometimes. The grand prix is the biggest meeting for the year and a great opportunity to show Team Joe Rocket Suzuki to a wider audience.
"Josh's win in the opening Supersport race got the whole team off to a great start, but we struggled to maintain the momentum after that. Craig was heading in the right direction and getting faster with each outing, but then a small error dropped him out of podium contention in the final race. Robbie had a lot of bad luck - first with the holed radiator, and then having to pull out of Race Four with just a lap to run.
"Our focus now is the final round of the Australian Superbike and Supersport Championships at Eastern Creek in two weeks and we'll be looking to finish the season on a high."
"I really enjoyed that first Supersport race with Wayne, even if the track conditions were some of the worst I've raced in. I knew it would be touch and go in the drag to the line, but I made it - just! I was keen to do the second race on Friday too, but the officials made the correct decision by abandoning it as it was too dark to race. I would have needed the headlight re-fitted to my GSX-R600.
"Although I ended the meeting second overall I was disappointed with my results in my dry races on Saturday on Sunday as I know the bike and I are better than what the results sheet showed."
"I felt like I was in with a chance of the win in the final race as the team had been working on my set-up and getting the bike better with each race - and the results showed that. In that final race I could see Glenn Allerton and Jason O'Halloran getting away and I was getting impatient to find a way past Jamie Stauffer and Shannon Johnson.
"I tried to go under Jamie at Turn One as I was getting frustrated, and then I nearly lost the front and had to pick the bike up. By the time I'd run off the track, across the gravel, and then rejoined, I was way back in the pack so it was a frustrating way to finish off the weekend, as I really thought we had the pace to challenge Glenn and Jason in that final race."
"It hasn't been one of my best meetings, firstly with the hole in the radiator, and then having to pull out of the final race. It was unfortunate, as we had an opportunity to showcase Australian Superbike racing for the first time on a Sunday at the GP to a massive crowd. I'm sure they liked what they saw - it was just a pity I wasn't able to fight for a podium finish on this occasion."
Superbike Overall Results: 1 Glenn Allerton, 2 Jason O'Halloran, 3 Shannon Johnson, 4 Craig Coxhell (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 5 Chris Trounson, 6 Trent Gibson (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 7 Jamie Stauffer, 8 Scott Charlton, 9 Chas Hern (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 10 Michael Blunden (Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Supersport Overall Results: 1 Wayne Maxwell, 2 Joshua Waters (Suzuki GSX-R600), 3 Scott Charlton, 4 Jamie Stauffer, 5 Jeremy Crowe, 6 Bryan Staring, 7 Chris Casella, 8 Daniel Stauffer, 9 Judd Greedy (Suzuki GSX-R600), 10 Grant Hay.