Swann Insurance-backed Kawasaki pilot Matt Walters surged to a season-best ninth overall in a challenging second round of the 2017 Australian Superbike Championship at Wakefield Park, New South Wales, over the weekend.
The multiple national champion and current Australasian number three rode his ZX-10R to 11th position in qualifying with a 59.719s lap-time, among a stacked field of the country’s top premier class racers.
Mixed conditions were experienced throughout the round at the Goulburn-based 2.2-kilometre circuit, making for one of the most difficult weekends the series will likely see this year.
With mist still in the air and a half-wet, half-dry track experienced at the beginning of the first 20-lap race, Walters opted to start on the safer option of Dunlop wet weather tyres, however a quickly-drying surface made for an eventful outing.
Walters ran as high as eighth before eventually pitting for a bike-swap to his dry set-up at the halfway mark. From there, he powered through to 14th by race’s end and claimed seven championship points in the process.
“We had a bit of a struggle in the first race after deciding to start on wets, but we still managed points in that one,” Walters recalled. “There was a bit of confusion whether or not we were allowed to swap bikes, so I didn’t come in until about lap 10, but we will learn from that and keep moving forward. Every advantage counts when we’re racing at this level.”
Come race two later in the afternoon, with rain still hovering in the region but a dry race declared, Walters impressed by charging to seventh position in tricky conditions when the race was red flagged due to an incident and declared at the end of lap 15. That progress has given him a significant boost of confidence as a result.
“The second race for us was good and we learned a lot about the bike, so we definitely improved on the position from Phillip Island,” he commented. “It has given me a fair bit of confidence to keep pushing on in the longer races, which I’m still getting used to in comparison to shorter races of last year. It’s definitely confidence-inspiring for myself and the team, so I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike at Winton.”
With ninth overall to his credit at Wakefield Park and now sitting 11th in the points-race, Walters will now turn his attention to Winton Motor Raceway’s third round of the season next month. Swann Insurance Kawasaki is also scheduled to test at the Victorian venue pre-race, which will be of great value come the race weekend.
“I feel like consistency is there within the bike and me as well,” said Walters. “We just need to find that half a second to go with the front guys, which isn’t unachievable, but there’s a lot of hard work ahead to be able to do that. We’re more than ready to take on the challenge and try to take advantage of an upcoming test at Winton before round three.”
Round three of the 2017 Australian Superbike Championship will take place at Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria on 28-30 April. Like and follow Matt Walters Racing on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/