Josh Waters arrived for his first trip to the U.S. “stressing a bit” that he’d be be three seconds off the pace on his first trip to America. He needn’t have worried.On a bike, track, and tires he’d never ridden on, and with a bad case of jet lag, Team Suzuki’s reigning Australian Superbike Champion (pictured in an Australian Superbike event) gave all in attendance something to think about, and also raised his profile, by finishing the two-day AMA Superbike test at Barber Motorsports Park with the fourth fastest time.Only Tommy Hayden, Josh Hayes and Ben Bostrom went faster and then not by a whole lot. Waters’ fast lap of 1:26.021 on Thursday morning was just over half a second slower than the benchmark 1:25.435 Hayden turned in in the same session.”Even though Tommy’s [Hayden] still a little bit quicker, I was happy to get within a second,” Waters, 23, from Mildura, Victoria said in a telephone call from the track on Thursday afternoon. “I’m sure Blake [Young – sixth fastest] would’ve been quicker if he didn’t crash yesterday [Wednesday] also. I’m still happy with how I went though.”Waters hasn’t been out of Australia very often. He’d been to the 2006 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez and had flown a bit around Asia. But this was his first trip to the U.S. The test was a gift to Waters for his having won the Australian Superbike title on his first try.”Suzuki Australia have been pushing for a while to have him come over here,” Rockstar Makita Suzuki team manager Peter Doyle said. “It’s not like it just happened overnight.”Waters said Suzuki Japan was also pushing “to say thank you for being loyal to the company. So I’m pretty lucky, I guess, really.”Waters and his team manager, Phil Tainton, had flown here after Waters finished with a pair of seconds at Queensland Raceway on the same weekend that the AMA regulars were at Road America. He currently sits third in the championship, 9.5 points behind the leader.Before he arrived, he knew there were numerous differences between the Australian and American Superbike rules – camshafts, electronics, tires, wheels, etc. – but Waters said the bikes didn’t feel a huge deal different, “but it did feel a bit different for sure. The main thing was sitting on the bike; the tank was so much bigger. And also I run standard handlebars back home and the ones here are real wide.”Waters liked the Barber Motorsports layout, though he found it “a little bit hard to learn because of the blind turns and so on. It was all good. By the end of today I was still messing things up, but not so bad.”With a few adjustments and familiarity with the track, Waters dropped his time by 1.7 seconds over the course of the two days. Sensitive to the AMA Championship, Waters spent most of his time on his own.”If I do a time I want to know I can do it, if you know what I mean,” he said.After a quick visit to the Yosh shop in Chino, California, Waters will head back to Australia and go back to work during the break before the next race. Having shown he can hold his own against the best in the U.S., Waters would like a chance to race here full-time.”For sure that’d be a dream to come over here and race. I guess I’ll have to see,” he said. “Everyone wants to ride the bike I rode today. So I guess I’ll have to see if Suzuki are keen. But I’d love to come over here if they could fit me into one of their families.”
Waters Impressive In Barber Test
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.