Race one victor Cru Halliday again took little time to the put the new Yamaha YZF-R6 at the head of the Supersport field while Tom Toparis and Max Croker gave chase when the second of today’s two 14-lap Supersport races got underway at Darwin’s Hidden Valley this afternoon.
Halliday eventually broke away but Croker was this time not going to give Toparis an easy time of it. The Mladin Motorsports Suzuki rider squeezing past Toparis at half race distance and the pair started swapping positions quite regularly. Their duel then stepped up yet another notch in the closing laps.
Toparis did everything he could to get the better of Croker on the final lap but the Suzuki man had the wood on Toparis in this one, Croker getting the chequered flag two-tenths ahead of Toparis, but three-seconds behind dominator, Cru Halliday.
The laurels therefore deservedly go to Halliday, he dominated the weekend in fine style and rarely put a wheel wrong.
Max Croker though and his Mat Mladin Motorsports crew though will be stoked with this weekend as it can be seen as somewhat of a breakthrough for the 20-year old ex speedway and long track junior champ. He was certainly having a go, rubbing his elbows and losing a knee-slider.
Damon Rees will go back to New Zealand reasonably satisfied with his results while Zac Johnson will also be encouraged by his good results here this weekend.
Tom Toparis will not be happy to have been bested by Croker this afternoon but the Goulburn youngster is still very much in the championship hunt, he still only trails Halliday by 25-points and there is a lot of races still to be won in season 2018.
Troy Bayliss managed to hold off a charging Troy Herfoss to take victory in the opening Superbike bout and Bryan Staring was in the mix too.
It had been a brilliant race and had onlookers salivating in the anticipation for more of the same ahead of this 18 lapper.
One man missing from the grid ahead of this race two though was Jamie Stauffer who suffered an ankle injury after high-siding on the exit of turn one in the morning bout.
Troy Bayliss led the field through turn one ahead of Bryan Staring while Herfoss again had a slow launch but managed to regain some positions into turn one and was up to fourth place behind a fast starting Josh Waters.
Herfoss dispensed with Waters and quickly closed on to the tail of Staring’s ZX-10R. While those two tussled Bayliss started to pull away.
Herfoss got the better of Staring into turn one the next time around and immediately started to pull away from the Western Australian. The gap between Herfoss and Bayliss was eight-tenths of a second and there was still 15 laps to go.
Troy Bayliss and Troy Herfoss then both put in 1m05s, the faster time though to Herfoss by a fraction, a new 1m05.904s race lap record.
Bayliss must have a small error a couple of laps later that cost him a few tenths, all of a sudden Herfoss was right on his tail.The Honda pulled out of the slipstream of the Ducati but the Fireblade can’t compete with 1.3-litres of highly tuned Ducati at the top end, it was only going to be outright bravery into turn one that would allow Herfoss to challenge there, and with a championship on the line Herfoss was not about to take those sort of risks.
The pace of the race then started to slow a little, perhaps a deliberate attempt by Bayliss to try and control the pace of the race. That was allowing Staring to have a sniff at getting back in the game too.
The Honda looked so much more agile than the Ducati around the back section of the circuit, Herfoss seemingly cruising to stick with Bayliss around those tighter turns. Bayliss though was, crucially, quick at the final corner and very quick onto the main straight, thus if he was to have his nose in front on the last lap, it would take a very aggressive move from Herfoss to get the better of the Ducati before any run to the line.
As they approached the stripe with five laps to go Bayliss even took an opportunity to look around at Herfoss, clearly some game play going on. Later that lap Bayliss then struggled to stop the Ducati and ran wide at a slower turn, allowing Herfoss to safely pass for the lead. Bayliss came right back at him but Herfoss again squeezed past, and then the Penrite Honda man put the hammer down..
Bayliss was not giving up but now Herfoss had clear air TB was really going to have throw caution to the wind if he was to continue to challenge. Bayliss looked to be having trouble getting the Ducati stopped and turned, perhaps the front grip going away from him in these latter stages of the race. (Later we were to find out that the Ducati was starting to select false neutrals). Those problems then culminated in Bayliss running off the track, and losing not only the tail of Herfoss, but also losing second place to Bryan Staring.
Now Herfoss was on his own, four-seconds ahead of Bryan Staring. Meanwhile Bayliss was now losing more positions, Bayliss overhauled by Wayne Maxwell, Glenn Allerton then Josh Waters and then Daniel Falzon shuffling TB back to seventh position to add insult to injury.
Troy Herfoss then backed it right off on the last lap and cruised to the chequered flag. Bryan Staring took second place, 1.14-seconds behind, but the gap only that small due to Troy’s slackened last lap pace.
Wayne Maxwell has not been in the hunt here for a win, but he has worked hard to try and do what he can to minimise the damage to his championship aspirations, and position himself to take advantage of anyone else’s mistakes. Always the most wily of competitors, Maxwell ended up with a somewhat unexpected podium and a good swag of points. No doubt he leaves here bitterly disappointed at the lack of pace from the YRT bikes at the Darwin venue, but encouraged that he is still second in the championship standings, and only 29.5-points from Herfoss.
Herfoss though, a great performance all weekend. Smart and calculated. It even went his way that when he did fluff the start in race one, it was red flagged and allowed him another chance to get it right. The Penrite Honda squad nailed the set-up, and Herf’ did the business, those boys will celebrate tonight, and deservedly so.
Bryan Staring so close, but so far… A little frustrated by not quite having the pace to match Bayliss and Herfoss but it’s clear that the new rear Dunlop has him most definitely in the game. A better set-up for the ZX-10R will have him battling again for race wins.
Daniel Falzon, like Maxwell, did what he could to stay on the bike and bag good points. A mature performance but the young South Australian will also be disappointed at their lack of outright pace this weekend at a track that he has proven very fast at in the past.
Glenn Allerton back in the game, not far away but definitely some encouraging steps forward for the NextGen BMW squad and their three-time champion.
Josh Waters will perhaps be the most frustrated of all. After taking a double victory here last year this weekend was a massive struggle for the Mildura based reigning champion. Ecstar Suzuki will want to go testing between here and the Morgan Park round that will host round five in the middle of August.
Mark Chiodo’s most encouraging performance to date on the Superbike. The Victorian teenager did a good job this weekend and now it will be up to him to try and stay at this level of competitiveness for the remainder of the season. Chiodo has clearly out-performed other riders that, like him, have stepped up to Superbike this year from the Supersport ranks.
Arthur Sissis again the master of the clutch from the race starts, he could charge lessons for the rest of the Superbike racers in starting! Those long years of top level speedway competition obviously honing his reflexes to perfection. A little more race pace will see Sissis start to break into the top six.
Alex Phillis showed pace at times this weekend and was rewarded with a top ten finish in this afternoon’s finale bout to hold down his impressive current eighth place ranking in the Superbike Championship points standings.
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