Josh Waters and Ben Attard have been signed to spearhead Team Suzuki’s Australian Superbike Championship challenge this year aboard the Phil Tainton Racing-prepared 2012 model Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Waters and Attard will make up the team’s two-rider factory squad in the Superbike ranks aboard the highly-anticipated and updated GSX-R1000. After finishing fifth in the ASBK series last year despite contesting a limited schedule due to international commitments, 2009 Champion Waters will enter this year’s series as a clear title contender as he competes in the entire series once again.
“Last year was great with the overseas opportunities, but it was difficult without having the carrot of the championship hanging in front of me at the end of the year,” 24-year-old Waters explained. “This year we’ll try hard and hopefully keep the ball rolling from the final three rounds of 2011.
“I’m really looking forward to riding the new 2012 GSX-R1000; having a new bike to race will be great, so it’s an exciting time as we prepare for the year ahead. Training-wise, I’ve been doing a lot of work with my brothers and will be ready for round one next month.”
Attard showed great promise in taking out the Supersport class of the Australian Endurance Championship for Team Suzuki alongside Brodie Waters and Mitchell Carr in December. After finishing eighth in the ASBK series with multiple podiums last year, he’s now been selected to join Team Suzuki on a full time basis.
“I’m excited that this opportunity has finally come because I’ve been working so hard to get it,” Attard, 31, said. “To be in the top team in Australia and riding the best bike out there is exactly where I hoped to be. I’ve been training hard to get my fitness where it should be, so I just can’t wait to get racing.
“I enjoyed racing with the team at the 8 Hour and it was great to work with them. I have a strong team structure behind me, so realistically I’d like to be on the podium consistently and even win a couple of races. After that, we’ll just see where we end up at the end of the year.”
Team Suzuki’s official Supersport program will be spearheaded by talented 19-year-old Brodie Waters, who returns for his second season as part of the factory operation on the GSX-R600. Waters finished second in the series during 2011 and again enters this season as a true championship threat.
He said: “The season kicks off at Phillip Island and we already know that the bike works very well there. If we can get off on the right foot there then I believe that 2012 will be my best year yet. I just want to be consistent and work towards the goal of winning the championship.”
Triple New Zealand Superbike Champion Robbie Bugden returns as Suzuki’s official satellite rider under the Team Volvo Group Suzuki banner in the Superbike ranks aboard a third factory-supported GSX-R1000. Bugden will also compete for his fourth career NZ national title during the summer.
Team manager Phil Tainton is looking forward to a big year with the return of Josh and Brodie Waters and Robbie Bugden, as well as welcoming Ben Attard to the team in place of Troy Herfoss, who is racing overseas in 2012.
“I’m really confident that the team we have in place for 2012 will be a great one,” Tainton explained. “Naturally, I’m sad to lose Troy but I think that Ben will be a very good replacement and I’ve been keeping an eye on him over the past 12 months. He’s ridden a lot of bikes around the world, so his experience will be good for the team.
“Josh is back to his former self, back to how he was before the major accident he had in 2010, so I think he’ll really show them the way around this year. I was also so impressed with the way Brodie was riding at the end of last year, so if he can start this year off with the same form then I believe he can go ahead and have a very strong season.
“I’m looking forward to competing with the new 2012 model GSX-R1000 and I feel that it will have a number of improvements that we need to progress throughout the year. I’m really positive that it will be a success for us and a new bike is always a great challenge for the team as we work through the development process.”
Team Suzuki will make its official debut at next month’s opening round of the Australian Superbike Championship at Phillip Island in Victoria, run in conjunction with the opening round of the Superbike World Championship on February 24-26th.