2020 mi-bike ASBK
Round One – Phillip Island
With Craig Carroll & TH
Kawasaki has completely dominated the Supersport 300 category of late with the Ninja 400, especially since the green machines were given additional revs and suspension package options in the middle of last year. In 2020 though a huge contingent of Yamaha faithfuls are keen to put bLU cRU back on top!
Angus Grenfell leads a pack in FP – Image Rob Mott
With the OJC category included on the WorldSBK event schedule, track time was limited for the SS300 class. A single Free Practice session and single Qualifying session. This posed a huge challenge for riders who had not managed to make the official test back in January.
Archie McDonald – Image Rob Mott
Further to that there were many surprises, disappointments and drama over what proved to be an epic weekend of racing.
OJC competitor Cameron Swain enviously checking out the bigger R3 of John Lytras
After the dust had settled on the racetrack, a machine was found to have a modified ECU that permitted it to pull slightly more revs than the technical regulations allow, but also more crucially had the fuel and timing maps modified.
There was also much conjecture and a meeting called on Sunday over what many deemed to be quite dangerous swerving manoeuvres on the main straight while in close company with other riders in the earlier races…
Quite an exciting and controversial start to the year for the Supersport 300 class then….
Supersport 300 Qualifying
Qualifying resulted in Harry Khouri (NSW – Addicted to Track) scoring Pole for Kawasaki with a considerable lead of .671 over P2 Jacob Hatch (NSW – Motocity), with P3 Benny Baker (NSW – WNR) .822 finishing off the front row.
Harry Khouri – TBG Image
In P4 was the fast femme Laura Brown (NSW) 1.013, P5 Angus Grenfell (VIC) 1.022, P6 Luke Jhonston (VIC) 1.291, P7 Zylas Bunting (NSW) 1.428, P8 Brandon Demmery (NSW) 1.434, P9 Olly Simpson (SA) 1.472 and Peter Nerlich (Vic) 1.516 rounded out the top ten.
Yanni Shaw – Image Rob Mott
Among the surprises were John Lytras (QLD – Caboolture Yamaha) qualifying down in P12, 1.747-seconds behind the pole-sitter. Lytras had spent half of the session in pit-lane fixing a broken gear selector. P16 Yanni Shaw (NSW – WRP Bridgestone) 2.152s down was unable to put a lap together due to traffic and Tom Edwards WSBK SSP300 team-mate P20 Filippo Rovelli (ITA – Parkingo) was 2.514s off pole pace as it was his first time at Phillip Island.
Caleb Gilmore in free practice – Image by Rob Mott
Supersport 300 Race One
Harry Khouri bolted from pole and led a relatively tight field of riders into turn one. Laura Brown (The Bare Bird), Benny Baker (WNR) and Luke Jhonston (Proworx) were among those riders taking early shots at the race leader.
Supersport 300 Race One – Image by Rob Mott
At the end of lap one it was Harry Khouri leading from Brown and Grenfell. That trio had a few bike lengths on the following pack of nine riders. That second pack included Lytras who had already made his way forward from the fourth row of the grid.
Supersport 300 Race One – Image by Rob Mott
As the race progressed it looked as though Khouri and Brown were going to pull an escape act from a chasing quartet comprised of Jhonston, Baker, Grenfell and Lytras. Simpson. Hatch and McDonald were starting to lose touch with that group.
Harry Khouri leading Laura Brown – Supersport 300 Race One – Image by Rob Mott
On lap four a Kawasaki double attack of Khouri and Jhonston gapped the rest of the front group by half-a-second. By lap five though the band was back together; a group of seven riders within three-tenths of leader Luke Jhonston.
Supersport 300 Race One – Image Rob Mott
That number was reduced when Olly Simpson went down at turn four and Grenfell also lost touch after getting baulked by the falling Simpson.
Harry Khouri – Image Rob Mott
Lap six to eight witnessed a tight fight between Khouri (who had led every lap across the line with the exception of lap five), Jhonston, Baker, Brown and Lytras.
Laura Brown – Image Rob Mott
The gap back to the second group had widened and was now a five horse race until on the last lap Laura Brown lost the rear at Lukey Heights and put her R3 down in front of John Lytras who then tagged her rear wheel and ran off into the grass towards the tyre wall, and had to self-eject from his saddle to avoid a more drastic impact.
Luke Jhonston congratulates Ben Baker in Parc Ferme – Image by Rob Mott
From there, the last few turns was all Harry Khouri. The Addicted to Track rider led by 2-3 bike lengths in the final stages and went on to win the race by 0.341 of a second over Benny Baker, the WNR rider pipping Luke Jhonston out of second place on the line.
Khouri took the win by 0.341 of a second over Benny Baker, the WNR rider pipping Luke Jhonston out of second place on the line – Image by Rob Mott
The second group of five riders crossed the line led by Power who took P4 ahead of Oughtred, Demmery, McDonald, Hatch and Grenfell while Bunting rounded out the top ten.
Fastest Lap was 1:47.182 (record) by Luke JHONSTON (VIC)
Supersport 300 Race Two
The second bout got off to a similar start as the first encounter with Khouri again getting the holeshot from pole. Benny Baker was right on the tail of Khouri into turn one before the fire went out on his bike and he coasted to a stop.
Laura Brown had to take some drastic evasive action to avoid Baker and somehow a huge gaggle of riders made it out the other side of the turn without any major incident. Upon being returned to pits it was discovered that Baker’s bike had some sort of leak in the fuel system and the tank was bone dry…
Meanwhile Khouri had bolted and the next time he was in any sort of contact with the field wasn’t until the podium presentation!
At the end of the opening lap Khouri had a 1.193-second lead over the following pack of nine riders, something unheard of in Supersport 300!
Leading those trying to chase down the smiling assassin was Laura Brown followed by Grenfell (VIC), Simpson (SA), Hatch (NSW), McDonald (NSW), Jhonston (VIC), Demmery (NSW), Lytras (QLD) and WSBK import Rovelli (ITA).
Khouri extended his lead out to over two-seconds on the second lap and Olly Simpson had moved forward to lead the baying horde trying to chase down Khouri.
Italian exchange student Filippo Rovelli was also right in midst of that 11-rider pack. Jhonston and Lytras moved to the front of that pack on the next lap while Rovelli unfortunately had to retire with a mechanical issue and that pack of 11 was now down to six…
Khouri continued to extend his lead by a second a lap during the latter half of the eight-lap race distance as the chasing pack dusted each other up at every turn, which had then allowed more riders to catch that group and grow it in number once again. Brandon Demmery went down at turn two on lap seven.
Luke Power was pushed back in the results due to a jump-start penalty – Image Rob Mott
From the last lap board the battle for second hotted up even further. Luke Jhonston had his nose best placed at the line to claim P2 ahead of Luke Power and Laura Brown. However, Luke Power got a ten-second jump-start penalty which then promoted Brown on to the podium.
Fastest Lap was 1:48.260 by Filippo ROVELLI (ITA)
Supersport 300 Race Three
Could a Yamaha rider step up and put a stop to the Kawasaki winning streak…?
YRD rider Benny Baker (NSW – WNR) took the hole-shot off the line with a magnificent start from P3 on the grid but Khouri simply swept through on the back of the bigger Kawasaki’s torque to take the lead by turn one. Olly Simpson (SA – Simpson Crash) then went down for the second time of the round at turn four.
Harry Khouri breaking away – Image Rob Mott
Although the first lap was much tighter than the second race, Khouri had a commanding lead of .258 at the finish line and was set to stretch his legs again. Laura Brown (NSW The Bare Bird), Baker, Jhonston, leading a group of seven riders desperately trying to catch the leader.
By the end of lap 2 Khouri had stretched the lead out to 1.249 seconds and had no problem pushing his own wind at the front of the race. Once again the same riders commanded the first pack of chasers; Brown, Baker, Jhonston and Grenfell.
Supersport 300 Race Three action – Image Rob Mott
Lap 3 Khouri led by 2.684 seconds over Baker, Brown, Jhonston and Lytras. Grenfell and Bunting crashed out of the race at turn ten.
By Lap 4 Khouri’s lead had stretched out to 4.407 seconds back to Baker, McDonald, Jhonston, Brown and Lytras.
The front pack of riders continued to chop and change positions with no more incidents throughout the race as Khouri extended his lead out on his own.
Luke Jhonston engaged in battle – Image by Rob Mott
At the end of the eight-lap sprint race Harry Khouri was victorious once again to clean sweep the round.
There was a huge 8.588-second gap back to Archie McDonald (GTR Motostars) in P2 while Luke Jhonston (VIC – Proworx) rounded out the podium ahead of Luke Power and Filippo Rovelli.
Supersport 300 Controversy
After the event the Proworx Racing entry of Luke Jhonston was disqualified due to breaches of technical regulations found during post-race inspections. The Kawaski was discovered to have non-stock parameters entered into the fuel and ignition maps on the ECU. On the machine in question the rev limit was also set to 9700; 50 rpm higher than permitted in the technical regulations.
Thus Jhonston was disqualified and subsequently removed from the results after the breaches were discovered in the post race technical inspections.
In a later press release on their Facebook page, which has since been removed, Proworx distanced themselves from the breach of regulations, stating the bike in question was under the ownership of another individual, and that they were only responsible for the suspension and geometry of the machine, and at the same time removing the rider from their association.
A total of 12 Supersport 300 machines were inspected but only the machine of Jhonston was found to be non-compliant. Other machines inspected included those of Demmery, Grenfell, Khouri, Bunting, Power, McDonald, Baker, Nerlich, Hatch, Rovelli and Lytras.
During the first two races instances of dangerous riding were also observed which related to aggressive swerving on the straights, which prohibited riders from performing passes and added significant risk to competitors. 26 instances of dangerous riding were noted and an investigation remains ongoing.
A compulsory rider meeting was called before the third race to discuss new rules and penalties for such riding tactics. Rider swerving was prohibited and penalties announced; they included disqualification from the race, back of the grid penalties and/or $1,000 fines.
Luke Jhonston was missing from the post race podium after being disqualified due to machine non compliance – Harry Khouri and Archie McDonald were all smiles on the podium and happy with their performances – Image Rob Mott
Harry Khouri dominated the Supersport 300 opener at Phillip Island – Image by Rob Mott
Harry Khouri (Kawasaki) the dominant round one victor with a clean sweep and perfect haul of 76-points. Now he is off to fight the Germans in the IDM Championship for 2020 so this could be the only round we see the smiling assassin in ASBK this year. His rivals are probably hoping that turns out to be the case!
Harry Khouri is headed for Europe, something his rivals are probably thankful for! – Image by Rob Mott
Second for the round was consistent point scorer Archie McDonald (Yamaha) with 49-points, while rounding out the overall podium was Luke Power (Kawasaki) on 44-points.
Archie McDonald was very pleased with his efforts on the weekend – Image Rob Mott
Supersport 300 Race Results / Standings