Matt Walters (Swann Insurance, ZX-10R) has been one of the most impressive privateer riders in the YMI Superbike Championship for season 2018. Although he is only 25, he has been in the paddock for years. Walters is now looking to mix it up at the front this weekend at the Spokes.com.au presents Round 6 Winton Motor Raceway for the Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul Pirelli (ASBK).
Sixth and seventh places at Morgan Park, how happy were you with that result?
We were really happy with the performance after Morgan Park and it was a real confidence booster compared to Darwin, where we struggled. To have such a significant turnaround was pleasing for both myself and my team. We made a few geometry changes during the ride days we took part in and that made a huge difference. It was all about adjusting the chassis and suspension that both need to be strong for Winton, which is another tight and twisty track.
Are you aiming to be top privateer in 2018?
Its definitely one of the goals that I have set for myself. We just try to aim to finish in the top ten in every race and try to race amongst the larger teams.
What are the positives and negatives of being a privateer?
You definitely have much more freedom to go about your racing. Planning your own track days and making your own choices is enjoyable. Obviously having the recourses of a factory team would be preferable, but our team is still strong. It’s a close-knit family outfit with our own workshop and its working well.
Could improving qualifying be the key to challenging at the front?
Qualifying has been our weakest point this season and an area where we can improve. I need to practice my one lap pace and take more risks to see if we can reach a better grid position for Winton. If your starting too far back in a 16-lap race, it makes it difficult to make up ground.
How long have you been competing in ASBK and how does this year compare to other seasons?
My first year in ASBK was way back in 2009, we have been around for a while considering I’m still only 25. The Championship has come on leaps and bounds since I first started and the competition is at an all-time high level. It can only get better from here and if it continues on this trajectory it will be exciting.
What spurs you on to come back year after year?
I’m a hugely competitive person and I love racing bikes. I’m just so lucky to receive as much support as I do from my sponsors to compete at the top level. With my sponsors behind me and if I remain competitive, I will continue to race. The desire to win keeps me going and everyone in the ASBK paddock is like family.
What’s something that people don’t know about you?
I love my 4WDing, camping, fishing and I’m a mechanic by trade.
Do you have any superstitions or race routines?
I’m pretty crazy about cleaning my helmet. Of course, everyone hates a smelly lid!
Your thoughts on the Winton Track?
It’s never been my strongest track throughout the years, but I have been fast there at times. We just have to try to maintain our form from Morgan Park and practice our one lap pace. If we can qualify high up enough, we could be in for a good weekend. The track itself is very tight and twisty but has a nice flow to it. It can be very tricky if you’re not in sync with your lines and setup.
What are your plans for 2019?
We don’t have anything to announce as of yet and still piecing together all of my plans. Hopefully I can be back on the grid full time for 2019 with the backing of my sponsors from this season.
Remaining 2018 ASBK Calendar Rounds
Round 6- Winton Motor Raceway, Benalla, VIC September 7 – 9
Round 7- Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, VIC October 12 – 14