Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Josh Waters kicked off his 2009 season with the overall win at the 2009 Australian Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island at the weekend.
Commencing his first full season of Superbike racing with the team, Waters had a perfect start to his title assault with victory in the opening race. The 22-year-old backed up with a hard-fought third in race two to finish the round with 43pts and the championship lead aboard his TJRS GSX-R1000.
Waters' 43pt tally across the two races gives last year's Australian Supersport runner-up a narrow one-point lead over defending Superbike champion Glenn Allerton with Wayne Maxwell third on 39pts.
Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Shawn Giles finished fourth overall on 33pts in his comeback ride from serious injuries received mid-way through last year. Hampered by a lack of strength in his left ankle, the three-time Australian Superbike champion carded fifth and fourth placings on his TJRS GSX-R1000 and lies just 10pts off the championship lead.
The opening 10-lap Australian Superbike Championship race on Sunday morning saw Superbike newcomer Waters master wet and treacherous conditions to take a 6.855sec win over the more experienced Daniel Stauffer, with Maxwell third.
Giles was fifth, just 0.151sec behind fourth-placed Allerton.
In a thrilling race two on Sunday afternoon, reigning champion Allerton took victory from his team mate Maxwell by 0.011sec, with TJRS team mates Waters and Giles separated by just 0.141sec in third and fourth.
Multiple New Zealand Superbike champion Robbie Bugden had a frustrating meeting by his high standards on his TJRS GSX-R1000, finishing eighth overall on points with 12th and 6th placings after two tardy starts left him back in the pack.
"I gave myself too much work to do," said Bugden. "I could match the lap times of the leaders, but once they'd got away in the early laps there was little I could do."
The Phillip Island meeting marked the first appearance for 2009 of all four factory-supported Superbike teams which will contest the upcoming seven-round Australian Superbike Championship, with the Phillip Island results sending Team Joe Rocket Suzuki to Tasmania's Symmons Plains circuit for the second round next month full of confidence - and the team to beat.
In the opening round of the Australian Supersport Championship, new Team Joe Rocket Suzuki signing Troy Herfoss recorded sixth and fourth placings to secure fifth overall on the points table on his TJRS GSX-R600.
Herfoss, the 2008 US Supermoto Champion, was competing in only his second road race meeting, with the 22-year-old racing at the 4.45km Phillip Island circuit for the first time.
Bryan Staring and Judd Greedy (Suzuki GSX-R600) shared the Australian Supersport Championship race wins to finish on 45pts apiece, Greedy taking victory over Staring by 0.054sec in race one, with the results reversed in race two by 0.011sec.
The Phillip Island Superbike World Championship race meeting also marked the public unveiling of Team Joe Rocket Suzuki's new custom-built 2009 Mack Trident transporter, the impressive rig drawing plenty of admirers from the visiting international Superbike teams.
Phil Tainton - Team Manager:
"It's been a great weekend for us and I'm extremely happy with the results. We were looking for a good start to the 2009 Superbike season, and all three riders delivered. With Josh taking the win, Shawn in fourth in his comeback ride, and Troy inside the top five in only his second road race meeting, it shows we're on the right track for the year ahead.
"Some recent testing at the circuit helped us get the GSX-R1000s set up to suit the fast Phillip Island circuit, and to give Troy track time on the GSX-R600. The results have been great, but we've learned a lot too.
"The whole team now has good momentum heading into the 2009 ASBK season. I'd also like to congratulate Judd for his results in the two Supersport races on his Suzuki GSX-R600."
"It's a great way to start the year, and it's been good fun riding the Superbike. I was a bit worried when I headed out on the warm-up lap as the track was wet and the Superbike has so much power. I opened the throttle and thought 'oh oh'.
"It was a bit scary at first until I got used to it, but then I was scraping my knee around corners in the wet. I was a bit disappointed with race two as I got a bad start and let the leaders get away in the opening laps. But to be leading the championship after the opening round is a great position to be in."
"It's a great way to start the year, and it's good to be back on the bike after such a long break. Phillip Island always creates good racing - I really love the circuit. Both races were entertaining. I'm very happy with my weekend's results, and I'm now looking forward to getting myself race fit and getting on top of my injuries.
"I had a bit of trouble with me left foot, as I didn't have the strength to push on the footpeg like I usually do. But that will come with some more races under my belt. The Superbike class looks like being really competitive this year - one of the toughest yet."
"I'm really pleased with the weekend results. It's only my second road race meeting and my first race at Phillip Island, so I've still got a lot to learn. The team has been great with helping me settle in to a whole new discipline of motorcycle racing, and I can't thank them enough. I've learned a lot this weekend racing against guys like Jamie Stauffer, and with advice from Shawn and Josh."
Superbike Overall Results (Round 1): 1 Josh Waters (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 2 Glenn Allerton. 3 Wayne Maxwell, 4 Shawn Giles (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 5 Dan Stauffer, 6 Craig Coxhell, 7 Jamie Stauffer, 8 Robert Bugden (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 9 Brayden Carr (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 10 Zac Davies.
Superbike Championship Points (after 1 of 7 rounds): 1 Josh Waters (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 43pts, 2 Glenn Allerton 42. 3 Wayne Maxwell 39, 4 Shawn Giles (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 33, 5 Dan Stauffer 33, 6 Craig Coxhell 31, 7 Jamie Stauffer 28, 8 Robert Bugden (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 24, 9 Brayden Carr (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 23, 10 Zac Davies 21.
Supersport Overall Results (Round 1): 1 Bryan Staring, 2 Judd Greedy (Suzuki GSX-R600), 3 Ben Attard, 4 Jamie Stauffer, 5 Troy Herfoss (Suzuki GSX-R600), 6 Scott Charlton, 7 Christian Casella, 8 Cameron Keevers, 9 Dustin Goldsmith, 10 Jake Horne.
Supersport Championship Points (after 1 of 7 rounds): 1 Bryan Staring 45, 2 Judd Greedy (Suzuki GSX-R600) 45, 3 Ben Attard 35, 4 Jamie Stauffer 33, 5 Troy Herfoss (Suzuki GSX-R600) 32, 6 Scott Charlton 30, 7 Christian Casella 29, 8 Cameron Keevers 28, 9 Dustin Goldsmith 24, 10 Jake Horne 21.