Round three of the 2017 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) at Winton will go down as one of the most difficult in the career of Swann Insurance-supported Kawasaki racer Matt Walters, but he’s already working on a game-plan to move forward in the season-remainder.
Walters was unable to extract the usual lap-speed out of his Dunlop-equipped privateer ZX-10R over the course of the weekend at Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria, going on to finish 19th overall for the round after registering a DNF-16 scorecard.
Practice on Friday saw Walters set the 16th-fastest time at the tight and technical three-kilometre circuit, before qualifying 17th following Saturday’s pair of 30-minute qualifying sessions. Unfortunately, hopes of improving in race one were dashed when he was taken down in the first turn, but he later managed to bounce back for P16 in race two.
In an encouraging turnaround, Walters lowered his best lap-time of the weekend significantly to a 1m23.108s – over half a second quicker than his qualifying time – and benefited from the experience of completing the full 16-lap race distance, televised live on SBS and live-streamed online.
“It was definitely one of our more challenging weekends,” Walters reflected. “It’s probably the worst result of my career, to be honest, which isn’t a good thing to be saying, but it’s certainly character-building. We finished the second race and that gave us a lot of info about the bike over race distance, so we can only build on that. We will try to turn this around over winter, get back to Darwin where I’ve had a lot of success, and things should go a fair bit better than Winton.
“We tried a lot of things and the result wasn’t through a lack of trying, that’s for sure. It just didn’t happen, which is disappointing, but we can’t really dwell on it and the plan from here is to push-on as hard as we can. We will most likely go to Sydney for some testing, but aside from that I’ll work hard on fitness, ride motocross and by the time we get to the back-half of the season we should be back on track for some strong finishes again.”
Walters is currently 15th in the championship standings and well within reach of the top 10 in what is a talent-packed field for 2017. The ASBK will continue following a two-month mid-season break when Hidden Valley Raceway hosts round four of the series in the Northern Territory on 7-9 July.