2016 RK CHAINS SAMURAI TROPHY FINALISTS | Sport
Key industry members have voted the four finalists for the 2016 RK Chains Samurai Trophy.
AMCN readers are now invited to be involved with the voting process to determine the winner of the 2016 award.
The four finalists are:
Voting closes on 16 January, and the winner announced on 30 January.
Name: Troy Guenther
Resides: Brisbane, Queensland
Category raced in 2016: Australian Supersport Championship
In his second year in the Supersport class, Guenther made the switch from a Kawasaki ZX-6R to a Yamaha YZF-R6 machine with the Graffiti Alley Racing team. Throughout the season he was locked in combat with Sam Clarke for the championship, and the battle went all the way down to the wire in October at Winton Motor Raceway. Guenther got off to a flyer at Phillip Island in February by scoring pole position – his only pole for the year – and backed it up with a round win. In the next two rounds he scored third and sixth to lead at the halfway point of the season. His fourth overall at Barbagallo Raceway, however, saw him leave Western Australia 10 points behind Clarke. At his home round at Morgan Park he chipped into Clarke’s lead and headed to Winton just eight points behind. And after Race 1 at Winton, things got even tighter. Guenther snared the first race and Clarke finished fifth, turning the tables again. Going into the final race of the year, Guenther was leading by a single point. Clarke did everything he could to try and stop the Queenslander from claiming the crown,but Guenther held his nerve to win the championship becoming the youngest rider to claim the Australian Supersport crown.
Off the track, Guenther has been a joy to have in the paddock. Never do you see him without a smile on his dial and he has been generous with his time for the media and the fans. This year Guenther will step up to the Superbike class with the Next Gen Motorsports, who reunite with BMW Motorrad to field an S1000RR.
Name: Sam Clarke
Resides: Perth, Western Australia
Category raced in 2016: Australian Supersport Championship
Just like Troy Guenther, Sam Clarke left it all on the tarmac in his efforts to win the 2016 ASBK Supersport Championship, but was finally edged out in the very last race of the season. It was fitting that those two did finish first and second in the title fight as they were the only riders in the class to win two rounds each in the 2016 season. Clarke was also the only rider to score double race wins, and he took the most poles over the year, heading up the grid at Wakefield Park and his home round at Barbagallo Raceway. While he may have missed out on the championship, take nothing away from him for giving it a red hot go throughout the year. On top of that, Clarke and his whole team deserve a big round of applause for doing the whole season despite the difficulty and huge financial cost of travelling from the west to the east coast for five rounds.
In 2017, Clarke will pack his bags and head to the UK to compete in the 2017 Dickies British Supersport Championship with CF Motorsport riding a Yamaha YZF-R6. We wish him luck and we’re sure he’ll do Australia proud!
Name: Brayden Elliott
Resides: Tumut, New South Wales
Category raced in 2016: Australian Superbike Championship
The 2015 Australian Supersport Champion made his premier class debut on the Knobby Underwear/Royan Truck & Trailer Repairs Suzuki GSX-R1000. Elliott scored five top 10 overall placings, with a best round result of fourth at Wakefield Park thanks to a 6-6 card. Elliot finished the year in sixth place overall, first privateer rider home and just 10 points off the factory Ducati rider Mike Jones – a result he can be very proud of. This year he will ride for CF Motorsport in the British Superstock 1000 Championship aboard a Yamaha YZF-R1.
Elliot is one of the most liked characters in the ASBK paddock. The quietly spoken New South Welshman was always a positive presence at the ASBK rounds, and even appeared at different events such as the final round of the Supercar Championship at Homebush, showcasing both himself and his team sponsors very professionally. Elliott will be a huge credit to his new UK team in 2017. Let’s hope he can go all the way in one of the world’s most cutthroat championships.
Name: Tom Toparis
Resides: Goulburn, New South Wales
Category raced in 2016: Australian Up to 300cc Production Championship
This young gun has already been labelled as a possible next big thing in Australian motorcycle racing and, you never know, maybe a future world champion. Toparis joined the Cube Racing team in 2016, which also marked his first ever year in national road racing period. He was under the watchful eye of former superbike racer Ben Henry and had former Goulburn resident Troy Herfoss in his corner steering him along. Toparis’s year got underway with a 10th at his home round at Wakefield Park, and he followed this up with a fourth at the Sydney Motorsport Park round. His breakthrough podium came over in the west in June when he scored a 2-3-2 result to pick up second place. And the following round at Morgan Park he snared pole position and three solid race wins to take out his maiden round victory, giving him a mathematical chance of winning the title. He backed up his Morgan Park victory with another round win at Winton Motor Raceway and just missed out on the championship by 14 points.
As well as possessing superb pure riding skills, Toparis’s behaviour off the track is huge credit to both him and his parents Richard and Vanessa. ‘Tommy’ is simply one of the nicest kids on the block and a breath of fresh air to the sport. In terms of dealing with the media, you could be forgiven for thinking you were talking to a 35-year-old factory rider rather than a teenager. Toparis tells it how it is and keeps the sponsors very happy, which is a big part of the whole game. Next year he will step up to the Supersport class, again racing for Cube Racing team. After what we saw at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in October, he could be a dark horse for a top five overall championship finish in 2017!
– Russell Colvin