Waters podiums at Barbagello SBK

Team Suzuki's Josh Waters narrowly missed out on a third consecutive round win in the 2012 Australian Superbike Championship by just half a point when a red flag forced an early stoppage of race two in Western Australia's third round at Barbagallo Raceway at the weekend.

Contesting round three of this year's ASBK series in the first two-plus-four event of the year alongside the V8 Supercars, Waters raced his 2012 Suzuki GSX-R1000 to the Motul Superpole before finishing the pair of Superbike races with 2-1 results respectively. That result would usually amount in an overall victory for the 2009 ASBK Champion, but a premature conclusion near the halfway point of race two meant that half points were awarded, forcing Waters to settle for second overall and just half a point shy of arch-rival Wayne Maxwell.

Maxwell snatched the opening race win from Waters in the dying moments as the nation's top Superbike riders put on a breathtaking display of wet weather riding, making an aggressive manoeuvre stick into the final turn. Race two was all Waters though, before Suzuki team mate Robbie Bugden came unstuck, which prompted the early finish.

Said Waters: "It was a really good weekend because last year I was overseas on World Superbike duties, so didn't get to race at Barbagallo. I was a bit nervous coming in, not knowing how I'd go. I started off the first session fastest, which was a surprise, and then I qualified on Pole.

"In the first race it was a close one in difficult conditions, but Wayne got me, and then in race two in the dry I had a good battle with Robbie on the opening lap. I was getting away from them and almost stretched my lead out to two seconds, but then unfortunately Robbie Bugden crashed. That meant we only got half points for race two, but a Pole and first and a second is pretty good. We're only at round three so it's very early in the season, so we just need to keep our heads down and keep the ball rolling."

Waters now enjoys a handy 33.5-point lead in the series over Maxwell with four rounds remaining, vying for his second career premier class title for Team Suzuki in Australian road racing.

Experienced team mate Ben Attard was a consistent fifth overall at Barbagallo despite a trying weekend, struggling in the damp conditions during race one before an electrical gremlin struck him in race two. The Queenslander now sits fifth in the Championship standings.

"The round wasn't great for me, but fifth overall is a good result considering," said Attard. "I finished fifth on track in the wet and then moved up to fourth when another rider got handed a jump-start penalty. In the last race we had an electronic issue and finished eighth, which was the best we could do. It wasn't a great weekend, but heading back to Phillip Island hopefully my run of bad luck is over with. We'll just keep trying and hopefully move forward."

The WA round saw Team Suzuki Supersport regular Brodie Waters make his anticipated Superbike debut aboard a third factory-supported Phil Tainton Racing-prepared GSX-R1000. He raced to a calculated eighth overall via 8-7 results gaining valuable seat time in race conditions for the weekend.

"I would have liked to have gone better, but the conditions didn't help me out," said Waters. "After a wet weekend I was a little tentative in the opening laps in the dry, but just kept plugging away and the experience was good for me. Hopefully it will help later in my career and I'll definitely be aiming to keep improving at Phillip Island."

Four-time and current New Zealand Superbike Champion Robbie Bugden again continued his impressive form since stepping onto the 2012 model GSX-R1000 before his weekend came to a crushing halt. The Queenslander took seventh in race one after qualifying third, but crashed out of race two while challenging for a podium position.

"We had some pretty good speed in the dry and I got the holeshot, dropped back to third, and then climbed back up to second," Bugden reflected. "I was just starting to find my rhythm, posted the quickest lap of the race trying to run down Josh, and then going into turn one I just selected the wrong gear and it threw me over the handlebars. It was a silly little mistake and the bike was feeling really good, I really felt we could have taken it to Josh, but it wasn't to be. We'll have to wait another day and hopefully my wrist is okay so we can continue on the form at Phillip Island in a couple of weeks."

Bugden's demise was a bonus for Western Australian local Ben Henry, who made it two GSX-R1000s on the overall podium with a satisfying third place overall for the round with the Australian Outdoor Living-backed Cube Racing Suzuki team.

The Superbike championship will continue with another two-plus-four round alongside the V8 Supercars at Phillip Island in Victoria on May 18-20th. Australian Supersport will be back in action at Queensland Raceway on June 1-3rd.

Superbike Results:

1. Wayne MAXWELL 34 2. Joshua WATERS (Team Suzuki) 33.5 3. Ben HENRY (Cube Racing Suzuki) 25.5 4. Glenn ALLERTON 25 5. Ben ATTARD (Team Suzuki) 23.5 6. Cameron STRONACH 21.5 7. Jamie STAUFFER 20.5 8. Brodie WATERS (Team Suzuki) 20 9. Scott CHARLTON (Suzuki) 19 10. Lubomir SAFRANEK 14.5

Superbike Championship Standings:

1. Joshua WATERS (Team Suzuki) 130.5 2. Wayne MAXWELL 97 3. Glenn ALLERTON 96 4. Jamie STAUFFER 87.5 5. Ben ATTARD (Team Suzuki) 85.5 6. Robert BUGDEN (Team Volvo Group Suzuki) 83 7. Ben HENRY (Cube Racing Suzuki) 80.5 8. Scott CHARLTON (Suzuki) 62 9. Chris TROUNSON 26 10. Chris McMILLAN 24

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