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ASBK contender Josh Waters recently penned this Revolving Racer column for AMCN.

ASBK contender Josh Waters recently set aside some time to pen this Revolving Racer column for AMCN.

I know I need to be smarter this year to take home the title.

My injury at Suzuka last year really threw me a curveball. There was a lot of ligament damage and the doctors wanted to fuse my wrist for 12 weeks. The penultimate round at Phillip Island was 11 weeks away and I really needed to know if I could ride before that.

Josh Waters

His own toughest critic, Josh Waters is constantly striving to improve, despite winning the ASBK Superbike title three times

Two weeks out and my fingers still weren’t operating properly. It was my 10th year racing the Suzuka 8 Hours, but I was feeling like I shouldn’t have raced there at all. Overall, I felt really stressed with thoughts I had let everyone down by racing at an event that I loved. It was one of the most difficult times of my racing career.

Still, I felt like I had a shot at winning the ASBK title, but the reality sunk in when Troy Herfoss made that amazing qualifying lap at The Bend. I knew it was going to be a tough one to win – but through it all the McMartin Racing team totally supported me.

Craig McMartin is one of those people who realises the risks associated with racing. My wrist will never be the same and there still is pain in my shoulder, but I can do everything I need to on the bike and it feels like I’m improving each week.

Waters believes Troy Herfoss (right) outsmarted him to win last year’s title at The Bend finale

Coming into this year, I just know I need to be smarter. It’s situations like Morgan Park last year when I was sitting in third and had a gap – I should have just held my position instead of pushing hard and running off the track. Then there was the run-off in Darwin. They are all things that had an effect on my confidence.

Also in Darwin we had the whole protest and counter protest situation with Honda. At the time I was thinking about the way that was being perceived and what people were saying when I should have just focused on getting the best result on track and letting other people think whatever they wanted to think. In that respect I feel like I can always keep improving and learning from those experiences.

This season I feel like we have another great opportunity. I believe Harry Voight is our next grand prix hopeful, a special talent that we will be cheering for on a Sunday night in the next few years.

Josh Waters

Waters and Herfoss took last year’s title fight down to the wire in the final round of ASBK

We were literally thrown in at the deep end at Sydney Motorsport Park. I had a few wild moments in the wet race, but maybe that is where experience comes into it. I think the amount of dirt-track riding I did when I was growing up also makes a big difference. The circuit was so slippery that night, I do feel like I was a bit fortunate – still really nervous and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the race.

I don’t get overly confident in those situations even though I’ve had good results in the wet in the past. We did a good job on the Friday where we had a plan to improve the bike and the team worked to the plan – which meant by the time qualifying came around I was able to put in my best lap and get pole.

That’s not to say I wasn’t feeling a bit of stress in the opening sessions at SMSP. As a competitor, I still feel that pressure in every session even though I know we are working to a plan. At the end of practice I was third and the top-10 were very close. It’s a matter of trusting the team and chipping away to make incremental improvements.

Josh Waters

I feel like we are well prepared for the upcoming round at Queensland Raceway. As a team we haven’t had great results there, but after two days of testing I think we have worked out a good plan. When we arrived in Queensland last season I hadn’t lost a race so I’m not getting ahead of myself. I know I need to be smarter this year to take home the title.