By Russell Colvin
After an eight-month break since the second round of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) – the championships will finally have a grand finale this weekend.
And Jam Jerrup’s Zack Johnson is ready to bounce back from the break – caused by the ongoing Covid pandemic and subsequent border closures around the country.
The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was originally planned to host the final round however, due to current Victorian border restrictions, this was not possible.
Instead, the ASBK circus will head to The Bend Motorsport Park for the first time since 2019 after last year’s South Australian round was cancelled due to the global pandemic.
Johnson enters the final round of the championship determined to take the Australian Supersport 300 title-fight all the way down to the wire.
Following an impressive second place overall finish at round two of the championship in mid-April at Wakefield Park, it has left Johnson wanting more.
The second-place result made Johnson, who has recently finished his four-year carpentry apprenticeship while working for his father’s business – Rebuilder in Pakenham – feeling confident heading into this weekend.
Johnson sits 35-points behind the current championship leader, Ben Baker, and with a total of 76-points up for grabs, this championship is far from over.
According to the 21-year-old, who is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, his approach is to take the weekend step-by-step and to try and chip away at Baker’s championship lead.
“I know it won’t be an easy task this weekend as Ben [Baker] and other riders will be fast around The Bend Motorsport Park,” Johnson said.
“But like the team and I did at Wakefield Park, we stuck to our own program throughout the weekend and it played out pretty well for us in the end.
“If we apply the same work ethic like we did at the two rounds this year, I don’t see why we can’t take the fight to Ben and the rest of the front running riders.
“It’s motorsport, and anything can happen in motorsport, so it’s not over till it’s over,” he added.
Like most riders in Victoria and New South Wales, track time for Johnson has been limited in the past months due to lockdowns.
Thankfully, this is not playing on Johnson’s mind as he thoroughly enjoys racing at the 4.95km circuit which has a total of 18 corners – inspired by some of the most iconic race circuits from around the world.
“I’m feeling as confident as I can be heading into this weekend,” said Johnson, who has recorded two top five finishes from six race starts in the Australian Supersport Championship in 2018/19 at The Bend Motorsport Park.
“Coming off the back from a good result in April, it has given me the boost which I needed heading forward.
“My crew chief, Chris Edmunds, and Dad have managed to get a little bit of testing in before this weekend and we gained more information about the Bitubo suspension which will help us even more.
“I believe our potential is good for this weekend. I‘m excited to get to The Bend and go racing, and hopefully deliver the team and our sponsors a good result, and maybe a championship.”
Action gets underway this Friday with three 20-minute practice sessions, then two qualifying sessions on Saturday before race one later that afternoon, while races two and three will be held on Sunday.