Teenage motorcycle racing star Tom Toparis has left no stone unturned in his preparation for the opening round of the 2019 Supersport World Championship at Phillip Island’s Yamaha Finance round from February 22-24.
After a “warm-up” wildcard in the 2018 Phillip Island WorldSSP round when he finished in 15th position, the 18-year-old from Goulburn (NSW) believes he now has all the key elements in place to “give it a red-hot go” in 2019.
“I didn’t really have a major goal ahead of the 2018 event,” Toparis, who’s the current Aussie supersport No.2, said. “In 2019, armed with my new Yamaha, I am certainly aiming at scoring at least a point, or even points, and I want to get my lap times down into the 1:34 bracket.”
Toparis has switched from Kawasaki to Yamaha machinery in 2019 and, as well as the YZF-R6 he’ll be riding in the Aussie title, a bespoke machine is being prepared for his one-off ride in the 18-lap WorldSSP race on February 24.
“I’ll be racing with the Landbridge Transport team, and they are the same outfit that ran Aiden Wagner and Mitch Levy in WorldSSP,” Toparis said, who’s an apprentice builder.
“Sam Costanzo is putting together the R6, and I’m confident that with the work we’re putting in with the suspension, engine and data logging, we won’t be at too much of a disadvantage compared to the internationals.
“We’ve also got a great data technician, Adrian Monti, joining us so that’s going to be a great help. That all said, I also want some familiarity with the WorldSSP machine: I don’t want it to feel much different to my local bike, which I am already very comfortable on.”
Toparis will ride his WorldSSP Yamaha at the official two-day test at Phillip Island on February 18-19. There he’ll be joined by the championship top brass such as 2018 Phillip Island winner Lucas Mahias, Jules Cluzel, Randy Krummenacher, Federico Caricasulo and Raffaele de Rosa, as well as new faces such as Hector Barbera and Isaac Vinales.
“I really love the thrill and challenge of world championship competition,” continued Toparis, who also has Moto3 wildcards to his name. “It helps me to become more race-hardened, and Phillip Island is also one of my best circuits – so why not try and take advantage of that.”
Like fellow Goulburn native Troy Herfoss in WorldSBK, Toparis will be the only Aussie competing in WorldSSP – and he’ll also start his 2019 domestic supersport campaign at Phillip Island as well.
With 13 races across the race weekend including the Australian supports, the schedule launches a new and expanded WorldSBK formula: two 22-lap races at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, and a 10-lap no-holds-barred sprint at midday on Sunday. World Supersport races Sunday in an 18-lap showdown, with Australian Superbike, Supersport and Production 300 completing the bill with races across Saturday and Sunday.