Penrite Honda Racing and Troy Herfoss will have their first opportunity to clinch the 2018 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) when the penultimate sixth round of the season takes place at Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria this weekend, between 7-9 September.
Following four consecutive round wins, 31-year-old Herfoss is targeting his second-career ASBK crown in what has been a remarkable maiden year with the newly-established ER Motorsport-operated Penrite Honda Racing team.
Herfoss wrapped up the 2016 title with Honda at Winton and will be looking to repeat that feat on Sunday afternoon. After dominating Morgan Park's fifth round last month, Herfoss has stretched out a 44.5-point advantage aboard his Penrite Honda Racing CBR1000RR SP Fireblade as he inches closer to the sport's most prestigious title in Australia.
"I haven't been in this position to wrap up a Superbike championship with a round to spare before, but it doesn't feel too much different to previous rounds at the moment," Herfoss said. "It's a nice surprise to be this far ahead in the championship, heading to a track that both Wayne [Maxwell] and I do well at. While winning the title is the goal, it will definitely be hard to wrap it up this weekend - it would be a bonus.
"The lead-up has been good for us, very similar to recent rounds and we seemed to have good speed at the unofficial Winton test. We'll see how we fare on the race weekend, because we can only judge by how our bike felt at this stage, and we are confident going in.
"Winton is a track that I like a lot, one that I've got good memories at from 2014 when I came back to racing and was really competitive and also when I won the championship there in 2016. It makes for good racing and I'm looking forward to getting out there again."
As they have all season long, the Penrite Honda Racing team worked methodically during the pre-race test at the 12-turn, three-kilometre Winton circuit, ensuring Herfoss will enter the round on the front foot when practice opens on Friday. Setting up for the race distance has been key in the pairing's success so far in 2018.
"We're going to be strong, there's no doubt about that, but we think there will be others that are really quick as well," commented Penrite Honda Racing team manager Shaun Clarke. "From the test the other week, it was hard to get a gauge on people, although we have some ideas and a plan that we will work through during practice. If the results go our way we can wrap the championship up and that's always the goal, but our intention is to win races.
"Like Morgan Park, I don't think we will get a true indication of where our competitors are at until midway through race one. It should be a similar scenario this weekend, so as long as we're confident in what direction we head in and what we can provide, we'll be right there. Last year we raced the older model at Winton and this year we've made some major improvements and everything is working better with the current bike. We'll be ready to go."
Three 30-minute practice sessions are scheduled for Friday, followed by a pair of 30-minute qualifying sessions on Saturday to determine the grid - including a championship point being awarded for pole. Sunday's opening 16-lap race will start at 11:10am local time, with race two due to commence at 1:45pm.
Catch all the action via Livestream at www.asbk.com.au throughout Sunday, with live television to be aired on SBS and Fox Sports that afternoon (check your local guide for listings). Follow Team Honda Racing on Facebook, as well as @teamhondaracing on Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates.
Posted on: 7 Sep, 2018