An incredible sixth round of the 2019 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) at Phillip Island saw leading independent rider Matt Walters charge to a front row start and season-best result of fifth overall.
The Kawasaki-supported Ninja ZX-10RR rider from the Hunter Valley showed strong pace all weekend long, completing Friday’s practice in seventh with an encouraging lap-time of 1m33.716s.
Walters broke out with significant speed on Saturday, advancing straight to Q2 after setting the fourth-fastest lap in timed practice with a time of 1m33.289s. It was in qualifying where he lifted, posting a stunning 1m32.545s lap for P3 and a front-row start for the first time in his ASBK career.
“It’s one of the best weekends I’ve had in years, without a doubt,” beamed Walters. “The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR was working great from the moment we got here, we had a strong qualifying session and obviously the front row start really helped in the race.”
The 26-year-old New South Welshman didn’t waste the opportunity of starting at the front, remaining in podium contention during the early stages of race one before crossing the line in seventh place.
Looking to improve and target the podium, Walters dug deep in the second outing where he nudged the top three, ultimately escaping mayhem to finish a satisfying fifth. His 7-5 scorecard granted him fifth overall and he’s now ranked seventh in the championship standings as the first privateer entry.
“The first race wasn’t too bad,” he continued. “I got pushed around in the first few laps and wasn’t able to get going, but in the second one I got a good start and got away good. Towards the end of the race, the tyre started to give way a little, so I thought it was best to stay on it and not wreck it. I really would’ve liked to be on the podium, but I’ll take what I can get at this point of the season!”
The ASBK now heads to Walters' home track at Sydney Motorsport Park on 1-3 November, which with the added confidence of Phillip Island’s performance, he’s now targeting a podium to complete the season.
“It’s good to be riding on the same level as the guys at the front and I think staying in the top five would be a fairly good finish for us at Sydney Motorsport Park. If we can get a podium - we were nearly lucky enough to get one today - but, being my home race at Sydney, I think we should be aiming for the podium or another top five.”
Like Matt Walters Racing on Facebook and follow @mattwalters12 on Instagram, plus visit www.asbk.com.au for further information on the series.