Troy Herfoss took his sixth win of the season in the opening Superbike race at Morgan Park this morning and on the form displayed in that encounter was looking a fairly safe bet to make it seven this afternoon.
Everyone is suffering from severe tyre degradation issues here but it was Herfoss that managed his rear Pirelli the best in the opening bout. Maxwell and Waters had started strongly but quickly lost that pace, Bayliss hung in much longer but in the final laps it was Herfoss that had the most rubber left to bring it home. All riders tweaked their set-up a little ahead of the second stanza, and if Bayliss could manage to preserve his rear tyre better then it looked as though he was the only rider with the outright speed here this weekend to really take the battle to Herfoss and the Honda Fireblade SP.
Troy Bayliss and Josh Waters got the best starts ahead of Wayne Maxwell and Troy Herfoss when the second bout got underway at 1400. At the end of the first lap it was Bayliss by two-tenths over Waters and Maxwell equidistant in third, with a few bike lengths over Herfoss.
Bayliss and Waters were side-by-side down the main straight next time around but the Ducati then showed its very strong legs to allow TB to hold sway into turn one just as that leading quartet really started to close up. Fastet man on that lap was Herfoss with a 1m13.510 to reel that group in, but on the next lap Bayliss dropped in a 1m13.149, then backed it up with a 1m13.083 on the next to pull a little distance on Waters. Maxwell had found some speed, a 1m13.098 on lap four quicker than he had managed in qualifying and putting him back in the game for this second stanza.
Race one winner Herfoss remained in fourth place, 1.1-seconds behind Bayliss, the Ducati man looking much smoother than earlier in the day.
On the next lap Herfoss turned up the wick, a 1m12.980 for a new fastest lap of the race and was looking for a way past Maxwell, who was making that YZF-R1M about 14-foot wide on corner entry. Herfoss had to find a way past as TB had just recorded a 1m13.068, followed by a 1m13.095, and was pulling away from a much improved Suzuki and Josh Waters, the GSXR1000 half-a-second behind the #21 Ducati.
Herfoss passed Maxwell for third place as the race broached half-distance, but he was now a full two-seconds behind Bayliss. TB had backed up that string of 1m13.0s with a 1m12.922 to set a new fastest lap of the race and start pulling away.
Did Herfoss have the sort of pace to reel that massive gap in…?
Yes he did! The next lap saw a stunning 1m12.645s new lap record from Herfoss to pull back eight-tenths on Bayliss in that one lap. The Penrite Honda quickly dispensed with Waters and left him in his wake as his sights switched to the svelte ducktail of that Ducati 1299 Final Edition up ahead of him.
Herfoss could just bide his time now. He clearly had a lot more speed in this second half of the race than anyone else out there, and he had six laps to pick Bayliss off at will.
TB did his best to keep the Honda behind but was always a matter of when, not if… Bayliss slowed the pace right down by almost two-seconds, that brought Waters back into the game.
Herfoss made his move with 4.5 laps to go and that was it, job done… He left them for dead…
Waters was then attacking Bayliss and the Ducati man ran wide with two laps to go, relinquishing that second position then Wayne Maxwell added further insult to push TB back to fourth place.
Herfoss went on to take the win over Waters by less than a second but that doesn’t tell the story of just how dominant his performance actually was. He had more left in reserve if needed, but just did what he needed to do.
Wayne Maxwell rounded out the podium which was very important for his points tally, keeping him in the game for the championship, albeit only just…
Herfoss may have won this battle convincingly, but there are still two rounds, four races, and 102-points up for grabs before this war is decided. The 31-year-old leaves Morgan Park with a 44.5-point buffer over Maxwell, while Bayliss is a further 18-points behind in third.
Daniel Falzon has failed to really fire since joining the YRT squad this year, but he has been a quiet achiever. The young South Australian has mainly kept his nose clean, and kept the bike upright to bank points in the races, despite rarely displaying podium pace. This smart but no doubt somewhat frustrating approach for the 24-year-old is bringing dividends, Falzon is only eight-points behind Bayliss.
Josh Waters’ championship defence got off to a great start at the Phillip Island season opener, but the Mildura based 31-year-old has had some struggles since round one. Their weekend here did not start well, but the team knuckled down and made somewhat of a breakthrough today between races to get back on the right track and importantly, Josh’s smile is back…
On today’s form though I think it is fair to say that the Penrite Honda squad have made the opposition look second rate, and in this company that is some sort of accomplishment. Herf’ and his crew can celebrate well tonight, they clearly had the wood on their competition and that fire was stoked via a great set-up and smart heads. Anything can happen from here, but it would be a brave man to bet against Herfoss adding another title to his resume…
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