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Troy Herfoss – Champion at the double | SPORT

With two superbike crowns in two years, Troy Herfoss has earned the title of Australia’s best. He talks to us about the long hard road he took to get there

It must be an amazing feeling to be the number one rider in Australia two years in a row.

It really is. Some may say arguably there was some doubt as to who was the better rider in the first winning year, but we have had two good years. I am really happy with that and proud to be part of the Honda team.

How does it compare to your other titles, especially the AMA Super Moto Championship?

It’s very comparable. The Super Moto title was massive for me – to be the AMA Champion, the best rider in America. It was hard to work my way into a good team and then to win against the American guys was great. Winning the Australian Superbike Championship with all my friends here watching and seeing the amount of work that went into it was also great. It’s hard to say what has the most prestige for me but there are a lot of big names that have tried to get their name on that ASBK trophy so it’s good to tick that box and have that.

Troy’s Supermoto AMA title ranks as one of his great achievements – and proved  an ideal stepping stone from dirt to road racing

Troy’s Supermoto AMA title ranks as one of his great achievements – and proved an ideal stepping stone from dirt to road racing

In 2014 there was an amazing amount of talent with you at Honda – the eventual winner, Wayne Maxwell, as well as Josh Hook and Jamie Stauffer. How did it feel to be part of
that team?

I was so rusty. Looking back, I was so silly to think I could be competitive with those guys. I jumped into the team and I had Josh Hook who was quick as hell, Jamie who was fast everywhere, and Wayne in the form of his life having just won a title with Suzuki. I was thinking ‘I want to be a part of this team next year and I have to beat the three best guys in the championship to get that spot!’ It was really daunting, but it was also a good way to prove to myself that I could handle the pressure of racing.

I started the year really cautiously, but once we got the ball rolling and hit the middle of the year I could see I had a chance and I realised that I needed to start winning. In Queensland I jagged a win on the Saturday and there were a few times I separated myself from the other Honda guys and ran with Glenn [Allerton]. After that, in Winton I won my
first race and then crashed. At that point I thought ‘Okay, I am fast and I can win. I need to set myself up and win as much as I can so I can get myself a ride in 2015.’

In regard to the team rivalry, it was such a weird thing. You would think that we would all be snapping at each other and not talking, but honestly we got along so well. All four of us won races that year. When we went out on track all four of us always thought we had a genuine chance of winning but there was never a clash. I didn’t hear any of the guys arguing and I never had any arguments either. It was a good year and we all rode hard and finished with a smile on our faces. We all had success and put in 100 per cent and the best guy won that year and we can’t argue with that. It was a fun year.

In 2015 Wayne went to Yamaha and you became the number one rider at Honda. You won the FX and then the ASC by a single point. You went into the last round level with Wayne. The rivalry and the pressure must have been intense.

It was. Wayne and I have known each other for a long time and are both very competitive people. Just trying to deal with the pressure, him going to Yamaha and them having a new bike. I thought Wayne was going to be my teammate and then in the eleventh hour he went to Yamaha. That motivated me and made me hungry. It motivated the whole team and we thought ‘We have a bike that’s a bit long in the tooth, the all new Yamaha is out, but let’s try to beat it in its first year and show them all who is the best team.’

That year was really difficult because I had a dominant first round and we separated ourselves from those guys with a bit of a points gap, so the whole year I was the one they were chasing. That’s what made me really appreciate that championship so much, because every time I went on track guys were chasing me. Wayne got it back to a draw going into the last round and dominated at Winton. We were close but I knew we were a long way off that weekend. We went into Eastern Creek neck and neck and you couldn’t really say who was the better rider. In the last race of the season I had to finish a certain points position behind Wayne and my tyre fell apart halfway through the race and I started going backwards. I passed Glenn late in the race which ended up getting me the championship. I was hoping Wayne wouldn’t pass Jamie and heading towards the finish line I was hoping I wouldn’t see a Yamaha flash past me. It was so stressful!


Qualifying made the difference in 2015 and then again in 2016. You really delivered a body blow to Wayne with your qualifying performance. What do you put that down to?

I was never that great at qualifying until the last year. If you look at Wayne, he is really good at getting a lap out in Superpole. That was my weak area so it has been something I’ve focused on, getting up to speed quickly and getting a lap down. In 2016 my qualifying won me the championship. Wayne didn’t lose the championship in the race crashing – he was forced to race over and above to catch me because of my qualifying and he crashed. That’s not choking or losing the championship.

You came into 2016 and everyone was getting excited about another shootout. What were
you hoping for?

I thought we could win it but I knew we had to make the most of the good days because the bad days could be really bad. We started off mediocre at Phillip Island and then at Wakefield I ran off track in Race 2 and didn’t take the double win which I thought I really needed. At Eastern Creek we got our butts kicked bad. I made a few mistakes there though so I left knowing we could have done better. We went to Perth and got our butts kicked again! I honestly thought that I had ridden every lap and qualifying as good as I could possibly do and I could not do any better, and we still got beaten by eight seconds in each race! After that I said to Paul [Free] and Shaun [Clarke] that we needed to improve our package. We went to Morgan Park with new rubber from Pirelli and it turned out we didn’t really need it because we had so much advantage over the other guys anyway. That’s what put us back into the championship. It’s amazing what a double win can do.

The battle between you and Wayne over the past few years has been like a couple of boxers pounding each other. How did that feel for you on a personal level?

We both have that fighter mentality. The way we race the bikes we ride and fight hard. We will pass at any opportunity. Wayne will pass me in places where no one else will and I am the same. We have trust in each other’s riding ability and we both know that we are aggressive on the track and that’s how we like the fight. It is like a heavyweight fight because there is not much jabbing going on. Wayne will lay a blow on me and kick my butt and then I’ll do the same thing to him. It’s a great fun rivalry and it makes me push harder and brings the best out in me. I am sure it’s the same for Wayne as well. It makes you want to go racing.


And yet you are still good mates off the track?

Yes. We have had some major arguments, like at Winton two years ago. I was furious with him and probably hounded him to the point where he wanted to knock me out, but we argue sometimes and then we cool down. There hasn’t been a race since we have been riding with each other where we haven’t talked to each other on the phone a week, two weeks or a month later and just talked about stuff in general. So we are mates but we do really want to beat each other. That’s what makes the rivalry so strong.

In 2017 you have Bryan Staring as a teammate. It just doesn’t get any easier, does it?

I see him as a very competitive guy and similar to me mentally. It’s great having him back in the championship and that should help us beat everyone else. We just need to work out how to beat each other.


European adventure

In 2011 you were third in your rookie year in Superbike but then you went overseas to the IDM. What happened there?

In 2011 I got on a Superbike and was on the podium all year round and I thought ‘I am going overseas and I am going to take on World Superbike’. The IDM was going to be the first step towards that. I may have been a little ahead of myself. I was competitive straight away but lost my ride because I had no money behind me. Once the teams realised I had no money I didn’t have much hope. I got a little angry at how things worked out because up to that stage of my career I had gotten through on my results. I had no options for 2013 so I thought ‘Bugger it, I’m going home’. So I came back, got a job and didn’t touch a bike for almost 18 months. Now I look back at that time and think ‘What was wrong with me?’

Troy Bayliss sent me a text asking if I wanted to be part of the Troy Bayliss Classic and I ended up doing really well. Afterwards I told Paul Free and Glyn Griffiths at Honda that I wanted to road race and if they could offer any support that would be great. We started to organise a bike to race FX and then Hooky got hurt and they put me straight into the team for the one round. I had a good result, and Paul and I got along well, so for that year I funded my entry fee and tyres and Paul looked after my bike.

IDM Lausitz 20.-22.04.2012

Late bloomer

You started road racing quite late, in 2009. Was there any reason for that?

The reason is money. When I was 15 my dad and I were looking at a magazine and we saw a thing called Super Moto which was road and dirt. I had never seen it before. My dad said ‘Why don’t we get some Super Moto wheels and that way we can get some experience on the road and if we crash it won’t cost us much money’. He had a Husaberg 650, and I just tagged along and watched him ride. When I was 16 he let me ride his bike and that’s when I started Super Moto. One thing led to another and I got myself into a team with Paul Feeney at Husqvarna and it just snowballed. I was a young guy doing well on a Super Moto bike and before I knew it I was on a plane to America.

That’s when the competitive edge in me took over and I thought ‘Alright, I am here now and I want to win this’.

In 2008 I went to the final round of ASBK at Eastern Creek and I literally walked up to every team in the paddock, introduced myself, and told them I was going to go road racing whether I had help or not. I had no money so I needed some support and I got lucky because Phil Tainton and Perry Morison from Suzuki gave me a test ride on their bike. Phil gave me a start so he must have seen some potential. The rest is history and I have been racing roadbikes since 2009. It’s not a long career considering I am 29, but I started at 22 so in my mind I am still a young racer. I actually have less experience than Mike Jones and Josh Hook, they are just younger than me.

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