2019 ASBK – Round Six – Phillip Island
Superbike Race One
Riders were greeted by a very windy Phillip Island circuit this morning and with pockets of precipitation in the general area, but none yet at the track itself, it certainly had many turning their minds to a possible wet set-up and/or a compromise somewhere between wet and dry if the track ended up damp.
Morning warm up was dry with temperatures heading towards 20-degrees celsius, but the wind chill made that feel a lot cooler than the indicated ambient temperature was registering. Herfoss topped morning warm-up with a 1m33.112 ahead of Wayne Maxwell and Daniel Falzon. The tail-wind down the main straight saw more riders than normal crack the 300 km/h barrier through the Computime speed trap. Herfoss was clocked at 303 km/h to finish the session equal fastest down the chute with Mike Jones and Matt Walters. Eight riders registered 300 km/h or more in the rapid fire five-minute warm-up session.
Mike Jones had taken pole on Saturday afternoon, his fourth in a row, and with it that vital single championship point to extend his series lead over Cru Halliday out to 12.5-points. With 101 points still up for grabs ahead of this morning’s race and less than 40-points separating the top six Jones does have the advantage, but that could disappear in an instant and the championship is still completely wide open.
Matt Walters had come to the fore on Saturday with his fastest ever lap of Phillip Island to qualify on the front row alongside Jones and Maxwell. The Cessnock Kawasaki privateer remarking that he has not felt this comfortable with a motorcycle for more than half-a-dozen years, his 1m32.545s lap good enough to place him third on the grid.
Daniel Falzon headed the second row ahead of Troy Herfoss and Cru Halliday while Josh Waters led row three alongside Glenn Allerton and Bryan Staring.
What had been a tail-wind in morning warm-up had switched to a more troublesome gusty mistral across the circuit that would cause riders trouble through both turn two and the Hayshed. Those conditions made it seem unlikely that the 1m31.881s lap record set by Jones on a Kawasaki back in February at the season opener would be troubled this morning. As they negotiated the warm-up lap that wind was becoming even more troublesome, switching direction rapidly and the gusting frequency increasing.
Mike Jones got a great run from pole position but Walters’s Kawasaki twisted up a little as the front rose which cost the Cessnock Kawasaki privateer on the run to turn one. Wayne Maxwell slipped past Mike Jones on the entry to turn one and dropped the hammer!
Matt Walters was fired up to regain some of that lost ground and stuck it sideways up the inside of Falzon to move back up to fourth place behind Troy Herfoss.
Maxwell untouchable on that opening circuit, a 1m38.606s more than a second faster than any of his competitors. Troy Herfoss squeezed past Mike Jones early on lap two and immediately pulled a couple of tenths on the series leader. Matt Walters then started to form a rear-guard action on Jones as Daniel Falzon came along for the party!
Maxwell was maintaing his one-second lead as they started lap three with Herfoss giving chase. As the race was wearing on more riders were starting to get closer to Jones and Walters, not only Falzon still in that picture but being joined by Cru Halliday and Josh Waters forming up on the rear of that group.
A mistake by Herfoss at Southern Loop proved costly, allowing Jones and the chasing horde to close right onto the tail of the Penrite Honda. Jones then used the speed of the Ducati to pass Herfoss on the run to turn one next time around, the Honda man using a wide exit on Southern Loop to try and drive as hard as possible and stay with Jones through turn three. Jones a little wide at four allowed Herfoss back through to second place but Jones got him back at Siberia, the tail of the Ducati then wiggling its way out of Siberia and perhaps already struggling for grip with eight laps still to run.
Despite backing his pace off a little on that previous circuit Wayne Maxwell now had a 2.2-second buffer over his pursuers. Clear but turbulent air allowing the #47 Suzuki to run his own race while his combatants tussled hard behind them and dusted each other up. Nothing separated that battle for second place as the race broached the halfway distance and it was Jones from Herfoss, Falzon, Halliday, Waters and Walters.
Late on that sixth lap Herfoss and Jones pulled some ground on the rest of that group, Herfoss all over the back of the Ducati throughout the back of the circuit and right in the slipstream down the chute, and still sniffing the fumes from that Termignoni through the exit of Southern Loop. Herfoss looking to have much more faith in his front tyre than Jones, particularly at Hayshed.
Herfoss up the inside of Jones at Southern Loop next time around, runs across the ripple strip on the inside of turn three and looking very aggressive indeed. I wrote in my Friday preview that Herfoss needs to somewhat throw caution to the wind a little now if he wants to maintain that #1 plate on the front of that Penrite Honda in 2020, and obviously Herf’ was of a same mind.
Herfoss so deep into turn one to keep the faster Ducati at bay but still gathers it up to maintain his advantage, the defending champion taking some very different lines in comparison to his rivals, working to the advantages of the Honda and finding speed in new places to keep his foes at bay.
A minor slip-up by Herfoss with two laps to go allowed Jones to sneak back past the Honda to claim second place and as they got the last lap board Josh Waters had closed to within touching distance of the tail of that Penrite Honda.
Jones maintains the advantage through Southern Loop, Herfoss all over the back of him at turn four, shadows him at Hayshed, up the inside at MG Hairpin forcing Jones to stand the Ducati up, Herfoss leading Jones through 11 but the Ducati winding up strong off the banking and right up the tail of the Honda as they tipped into turn 12. Herfoss though got great drive off that final turn and had his nose in front at the line to take that second place from Jones.
Wayne Maxwell of course the hero of the morning, but I must say that ride from Herfoss was very impressive. Full of aggression and no shortage of mongrel to keep his championship defence very much alive.
Josh Waters a strong finishing fourth palce ahead of Halliday and Falzon.
An eighth place result for Bryan Staring costly for his championship chances. Matt Walters the highest finishing Kawasaki in seventh.
Superbike Race One Results
- Wayne Maxwell – Suzuki
- Troy Herfoss – Honda +1.653s
- Mike Jones – Ducati +1.767s
- Josh Waters – Suzuki +1.837s
- Cru Halliday – Yamaha +2.138s
- Daniel Falzon – Yamaha +3.510s
- Matt Walters – Kawasaki +4.395s
- Bryan Staring – Kawasaki +14.214s
- Mark Chiodo – Honda +19.403s
- Glenn Allerton – BMW +22.890
- Jamie Stauffer – Ducati 22.987s
- Lachlan Epis – Kawasaki +34.670s
- Alex Phillis – Suzuki +38.999s
- Sloan Frost – Suzuki +45.445s
- Dean Hasler – BMW +59.492s
- Jones 236.5
- Halliday 222
- Maxwell 218
- Herfoss 216
- Staring 211.5
- Waters 198
- Walters 144.5
- Falzon 139
- Phillis 118
- Sissis 106.5