The weekend was all about achieving the goal of a podium finish in the championship, and not individual results over the weekend for the Kawasaki Connection Rover Coaches Team.
Whilst Saturday’s FX Nationals didn’t go according to plan with Matt sustaining a crash in Race one that saw him slip back in the overall FX Nationals Series point score, hard work by the Kawasaki Connection Rover Coaches Team, along with support from new sponsor BCPerformance by Bikes Connect saw the Kawasaki Ninja repaired and ready for action on Sunday.
Sunday morning presented perfect conditions for racing; Matt qualified fifth in the short session to determine grid positions for the first of three important races for the 2012 Australian FX Superbike Championship. Matt scored a strong fourth place finish – most importantly ahead of Brayden Carr, Matt’s nearest rival for third in the championship - in the first race to ensure the day was going to plan. However the nerves went up a notch when Matt retuned to the pits to advise he had been affected by arm pump issues in the closing stages and was struggling to maintain control of the powerful Ninja ZX-10R through the tight sections of the circuit.
Any thoughts of riding conservatively went out the window when Matt got a flying start and led the field for race two on Sunday. Matt held the lead, riding hard, for the first two laps but lost two positions on the following lap. Watching his pit signals from the team closely Matt opted for a safe finish to extend the buffer over fourth place in the championship and came home in seventh place.
The final race of the season saw the job almost done, but once again sensible riding was the order of the day. Matt rode the Ninja hard for the first few laps and then concentrated on maintaining the gap over Carr to secure third place in the 2012 Australian FX Superbike Championship. More importantly for the family team from Cessnock was the fact they were only beaten by a factory race team.
Team Manager Carl Walters was, by his own admission, nervous coming into the round “Today wasn’t the day to be a hero and try to win races, I told Matt that before we even got here. This weekend was about ensuring we did the job and I have to say I was a bit worried yesterday when he crashed, luckily the damage was minimal and we were able to get it ready for him to start the third race to make sure it was all OK. Then with the arm pump issues he had this morning I told him to take it easy. So what does he do, goes out and leads the first few laps of race two. It’s a great result for us, the team is Matt, my wife Cherie and myself. We did have some help this weekend from the guys at BC Performance and that was helpful. I would also like to pass on my extreme gratitude to all at Rover Coaches, they have stood buy us for years and their support is invaluable. Also a big thanks to Glenn “Bargs” MacDonald from Kawasaki Australia, he has also been a great help to us for many years. Thanks guys, we couldn’t have done it without you”.
We couldn’t have done what we did today, or this season, without the help we have had” said an elated Matt Walters following the presentation. “Glenn MacDonald at Kawasaki, Aaron Lewis at Rover Coaches have supported us for many years and Kelvin Reilly from BCPerformance who came on board this weekend, thanks for your help and allowing us to get this result. We had set our sights on a top five finish in the championship at the start of the season and we were able to go better and finish top three. I would also like to pass on a big thank you to Murray Sayle, Murray has helped me personally for many years now and it’s great to have someone with that much experience take the time to help me out. As always, a massive thanks to mum and dad, they have sacrificed so much again this year, it feels like a win when you look at what we have and who finished ahead of us. I’ll now start training for next year with renewed enthusiasm.