I think it is fair to say that the opening bout of ASBK 2018 on Saturday (Link), had left hardened fans mouth agape, new fans rambling like mad men/women, and some very important people in the paddock working out they could get more involved in the Australian Superbike Championship…
Thus, expectations were set for another cracker come Sunday morning when a full grid of ASBK Superbike competitors lined up to start their second 12-lap bout of season 2018 in front of a strong WorldSBK crowd at 1137.
I think it is fair to say that a reasonable percentage of the crowd here had been lured in by the promise of ASBK action, and perhaps even prioritised it over the WorldSBK races. It can be like that at WorldSBK, the MotoGP crowd is different, hardened race fans turn up to both of course, but WorldSBK is perhaps a little bit less of the Facebook selfie crowd, WorldSBK racegoers are more likely to take pictures of the racers and their bikes, than themselves…
Tellingly, the campground had also booked out for the first time, and had organisers investigating ways to extend the campground further for future events.
One man that did not figure at all in the opening race of 2018 was Wayne Maxwell. The man that is generally fast and consistent everywhere, and sometimes unbeatable here at Phillip Island, had gone down early in the race yesterday, made the re-start after rolling the dice and gambling on wets, but it was no dice for the #47 yesterday. It doesn’t take much to fire up Wayne, but no points from the season opener would have certainly seen him seething and out to make amends.
Likewise Glenn Allerton had failed to score any points, only bruises from the opening 12-lapper, a massive highside at turn four sent him into orbit before slapping him down hard on the tarmac. He was on the grid today, but was well beaten up, it would be somewhat of a victory for the three-time champion to just score some points in this second stanza.
While the crowd was certainly revved up for action, you can imagine the feelings going inside those helmets lined up on the grid, the thoughts of their teams, and their families..
The track was dry, the wind was strong…
And away we go!
Josh Waters again fires off the line ahead of Daniel Falzon, Troy Bayliss, Wayne Maxwell and Troy Herfoss rounding out the early top five.
Josh Waters went a little sideways and way too deep in turn four, Falzon followed him in but it was Waters that somehow recovered to retain the lead as Bayliss, Maxwell and Herfoss gave chase. A brilliant recovery from Waters, and somehow he actually built half-a-dozen bike lengths over his pursuers down the main straight as they started lap two.
Again, Waters a little wide out of turn four, perhaps that strong wind causing some problems at this point of the circuit.
Troy Bayliss got a little loose out of turn 12 as they headed down the main straight which allowed Maxwell to get a little better drive and pass the Ducati man down the straight, TB tried to get him back at turn one but Maxwell held on. Herfoss then attacked Bayliss also, but would have to bide his time.
After clearing Bayliss, Wayne Maxwell put his head down and immediately started reeling in Josh Waters. The Suzuki man had just over a full-second on Maxwell, but the Yamaha started inching closer and closer at every turn.
A little further behind, Bayliss and Herfoss were fighting hard, it looked likely that Herfoss might eventually get the upper hand, that was until he made a mistake in turn four and ran very wide, losing around two-seconds in the process, along with a place to Daniel Falzon.
Mike Jones then went down, not the best way to celebrate his birthday, two crashes in two races. Corey Turner and Mark Chiodo had also fell before half race distance, but Chiodo had managed to rejoin.
Wayne Maxwell then capitalised on another mistake at turn four by Waters, perhaps the Suzuki set up a little lazier than normal today, making it hard work for Waters to get around the very tight turn four, our just the wind pushing him in way too deep. Maxwell the new race leader with seven laps to run, Waters was trying to stay on terms with Maxwell, and this pair had now really stretched away from their pursuers.
The closest of which was Troy Bayliss, who had Daniel Falzon, Troy Herfoss and Bryan Staring looking to challenge the #21 Ducati for that final step on the rostrum. All three of those men made their move as the race broached halfway distance, Staring now led that four-rider pack, the Kawasaki man the only one of the front runners on Dunlops. Staring led them down the main straight next time around, Falzon took that fourth position at turn one however, and Herfoss was now sniffing ZX-10R exhaust fumes and looking for a way past the Western Australian.
Falzon actually built a small buffer over his fellow combatants through the back of the circuit, and turns 11 and 12, but Bryan Staring managed to get close enough for a bit of a tow and swept back past the youngest of that quartet to move back up to third position.
At the front, Waters was still trying to keep Maxwell within striking distance of a last lap move, but Maxwell looked to have the speed to keep the Suzuki man at bay, a gap of now around half-a-second remaining fairly consistent between the two front runners.
Troy Herfoss stole fourth place off Falzon on the next lap, Staring led the quartet around the back of the circuit, Herfoss was right in the slipstream of the Kawasaki out of turn 12, but even the slipstream was not enough for the Honda to overhaul the prodigious top-end horsepower of the ZX-10R down the main straight, Staring maintaining his advantage down the chute and through turn one. Bayliss was still right there, struggling for grip, but biding his time also perhaps.
Last lap…. Bayliss takes Falzon for fifth place. Staring still leading the group of four but they were now starting to encounter lapped traffic at various points of the circuit..
Up front the backmarkers were causing race leader Wayne Maxwell a few problems though, and allowed Waters to inch a little close, but the YRT man navigated his way through successfully and took the win.
Four-seconds later that epic tussle over fourth place went down the chute and it was Bryan Staring’s ZX-10R that had its nose fairing far enough ahead to claim third place ahead of Herfoss and Bayliss. Falzon crossed the line in fifth place a further half-a-second behind.
Michael Blair took sixth place, 16-seconds behind the leader, with Matt Walters a few bike lengths further behind while a battered and bruised Glenn Allerton gritted his teeth to a ninth place finish, earning a 12-point reward for his efforts.
Aaron Morris rounded out the top ten on his hastily put together Maxima Yamaha YZF-R1 as he seeks more backing to try and complete the entire season. He has certainly made a strong enough start to the season to warrant some more support, with 26-points scored across the opening two bouts of ASBK 2018.
Another rider with little Phillip Island set-up time under his belt, and some pretty troublesome practice sessions was Alex Phillis. The son of colourful Superbike legend Robbie, Alex came home 11th in this one and so far has carded 24-points from the weekend.
Ted Collins kept his nose clean as he learns the NextGen BMW Superbike more in what will be his first full season on 1000cc machinery, a 12th place finish in this field, and bagging points in both races, a good start to his 2018 campaign.
ASBK Race Two Podium Quotes
Wayne Maxwell – P1
“More luck thant good judgement in getting past those backmarkers I think. Earlier in the race when Josh was in front I would make a little bit on him at various points, but he was so strong through turn 11 that he would always pull away from me a little again through there but eventually we got past and managed to stretch away just enough to keep him at bay. Have had two massive crashes over 200kmk/h this weekend, two totally wrecked bikes, but somehow the team managed to build me a new bike, we hadn’t even got to run it up properly before this race, yet they somehow managed to give me a bike capable of this result.”
Josh Waters – P2
“It was good to do some more laps today, as the weather has made it really tough for us this weekend, as our main rivals have been here for five days now, so we were put on the back foot a bit, but we have made a great start to the season. As for turn four, you brake at the normal spot and the wind just pushes you in too far, and makes it very hard to pull the bike up.”
Bryan Staring – P3
“I started 13th in that race so to come from there was awesome. I had so much horsepower down the straight, I couldn’t have done it any other way, so thankful to have that Kawasaki horsepower on my side as it made all the difference here today.”
On the points thus far this weekend it is Troy Herfoss that holds a two-point advantage over Josh Waters. Bayliss is now third on 36-points then it is Staring on 35 and Falzon in fifth on 31-points.
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