Round 1 of the Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) returns to Phillip Island for the first round of the season, featuring as part of the FIM World Superbike Championship (WSBK) weekend. With the big-name teams and riders all in attendance, the opportunity exists for our Australian riders to put in a good performance in front of the world’s best.
The all-important first practice sessions for the national Kawasaki Superbike, Supersport and YMI Supersport 300 classes set the tone for the weekend, before Qualifying tomorrow.
Troy Bayliss (Ducati Panigale FE) pounced in the last two minutes of the Kawasaki Superbike session to snatch the fastest time of the day with a 1:32. 478 away from privateer Aiden Wagner ( Yamaha YZF-R1, 1:32.873) in what was a session that offered up a few surprises, none more so surprising than defending champion Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda Racing, Honda CBR RR SP, 1:34.491) finishing tenth, more than two seconds off the pace. Although its early on in proceedings it’s clear Herfoss’ title defence wouldn’t be a walk in the park.
Reflecting on the positive start to the season, Bayliss had this to say, “Feeling quietly confident that everything’s headed in the right direction. I felt a little bit rusty when I first jumped on the bike but didn’t take too long to get going.”
Privateer Wagner launched an impressive attack in the middle part of the session, toppling Wayne Maxwell (Team Suzuki ECSTAR, Suzuki GSX-R EL R) who finished the day third fastest with a 1:33.098.
“I knew I had to get back on the Superbike and prove a point” said Wagner.
“I know quite a few of the other teams went out on the sticky tyre… where we stayed with just the race tyre. So to do those lap times on what we did, we’re pretty happy.
“Our small team, I think we’re putting together a pretty good package.”
Next was Maxwell’s Suzuki ECSTAR teammate Josh Waters on a 1:33.131, and behind him was Cru Halliday (1:33.360) on the Yamaha Racing Team Yamaha, in his return to the Superbike class after winning the Supersport championship last year.
Fastest Overall Top 10 Results:
1 Troy BAYLISS (Ducati Panigale FE) 1:32.478
2 Aiden WAGNER (Yamaha YZF-R1) 1:32.873
3 Wayne MAXWELL (Team Suzuki ECSTAR, Suzuki GSX-R EL R) 1:33.098
4 Josh WATERS (Team Suzuki ECSTAR, Suzuki GSX-R EL R) 1:33.131
5 Cru HALLIDAY (Yamaha Racing Team, Yamaha YZF-R1) 1:33.360
6 Daniel FALZON (Yamaha Racing Team, Yamaha YZF-R1) 1:33.587
7 Michael JONES (Kawasaki Bcperformance, Kawasaki ZX10R) 1:33.982
8 Bryan STARING (Kawasaki Bcperformance, Kawasaki ZX10RR) 1:33.986
9 Glenn ALLERTON (NextGen Motorsports, BMW S RR) 1:34.137
10 Troy HERFOSS (Penrite Honda Racing, Honda CBR RR SP) 1:34.491
Nic Liminton (Yamaha Motor Australia) topped the timesheets for the Supersport class with an impressive performance in his return to the ASBK. The South Australian experienced an extended absence last year thanks to a cancer scare but despite the lack of track time set the fastest time of the session with a 1:37.411.
“Bike time has actually been really low compared to the other riders from all the difficulties from last year, just trying to get back into the groove now” said Liminton.
“Really positive session on the new bike, it’s only the second time we’ve ever ridden it. We’re a bit down on top speed… but we know we’re fast round the turns and it’s been a great start.”
Callum Spriggs (Allsite Concrete Cutting Yamaha YZF-R6) laid down some impressive times early in the session, but when the chequered flag came out he could only claim second spot, clocking a 1:37.844.
Third was Aidan Hayes, (Hayes Johnston Pty Ltd Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:37.921) before the only man not riding a Yamaha in the top five, Reid Battye (Suzuki Ecstar Australia, 1:38.362).
Notably absent was World Supersport wildcard Tom Toparis, forced out of the session with gear selection issues.
Fastest Overall Top 10 Results:
1 Nicholas LIMINTON (Yamaha Motor Aust. Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:37.411
2 Callum SPRIGGS (Allsite Concrete Cutting Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:37.844
3 Aidan HAYES (Hayes Johnston Pty. Ltd. Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:37.921
4 Reid BATTYE (Suzuki Ecstar Australia, Suzuki GSX-R) 1:38.362
5 Ty LYNCH (Australian Outdoor Living, Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:38.659
6 Oli BAYLISS (Cube Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:38.727
7 Broc PEARSON (Yamaha YZF-R6) 1: 38.945
8 Sam LAMBERT (Mv Agusta Paramatta, MV Agusta F3) 1:39.262
9 Jack PASSFIELD (Stay Upright Rider Training Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:40.043
10 Luke MITCHELL (Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:40.593
YMI Supersport 300
An exciting YMI Supersport 300 session saw Max Stauffer looking the goods aboard the Yamaha R3, setting a time of 1:49.526, almost a second faster than anyone else, to blitz the field.
His time meant he was the only rider to crack the 1:50 barrier, with second placed Senna Agius (Kawasaki EX 400) setting the pace early in the session but then leading the best of the rest behind Stauffer with a 1:50.659.
Locky Taylor (YRD, Yamaha R3) posted a respectable 1:51.103 to end up third, regularly swapping positions with Agius and New South Welshman Harry Khouri (Excite Motorsports Yamaha R3, 1:51.129) to fill out the top four. Rock Oil-KTM 390-mounted Seth Crump (1:51.217) was a tenth behind Khouri to finish fifth.
Times overall were more than a second off the pace for most of the field compared with the ASBK Official Test 2 weeks ago, suggesting that the competition could be a lot closer than what today’s times suggest.
1 Max STAUFFER (Yamaha, Yamaha R3 321) 1:49.526
2 Senna AGIUS (Kawasaki EX 400) 1:50.659
3 Locky TAYLOR (YRD, Yamaha R3 321) 1:51.103
4 Harry KHOURI (Excite M-sports, Yamaha R3 321) 1:51.129
5 Seth CRUMP (Rockoil, KTM RC 390) 1:51.217
6 Dylan WHITESIDE (Mark Lamont Kawasaki EX 300) 1:51.337
7 Yannis SHAW (WRP Bridgestone Kawasaki EX 400) 1:51.629
8 John LYTRAS (Caboolture Yamaha YamahaR3 321) 1: 51.705
9 Ben BAKER (YamahaR3 321) 1:52.046
10 Peter Nerlich (TCN Racing Kawasaki EX 400) 1:52.376
The first round of the Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship continues until Sunday (February 24) at Phillip Island, as part of the FIM World Superbike Championship weekend. For information and tickets, head to www.asbk.com.au.
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