Wayne Maxwell topped the opening day of the official ASBK pre-season test with a 1m33.252 but he, Josh Waters and Mike Jones bettered that marker today even before the final 30-minute practice session got underway at 1550.
Waters held sway on the combined timesheets ahead of that final session with a 1m33.075. Mike Jones was second quickest on 1m33.158 with Wayne Maxwell third after putting in a 1m33.160 in today’s lunchtime session.
Daniel Falzon, Michael Blair, Bryan Staring, Glenn Allerton, Matt Walters and Troy Herfoss had also dipped under the 1m34s mark ahead of the final practice session. Matt Walters packed up and headed home before the final session, happy with his best of 1m33.754.
Troy Herfoss had experienced a frustrating day. Electrical problems encountered yesterday, and more problems today prevented the 2016 ASBK Champion from completing a lap in today’s third session. Herfoss bounced back in the final session though with his first flying lap, a 1m33.745, his best of the two-day test. Unfortunately he failed to improve further during the session.
Phillip Island is Herfoss’s bogey track, thus with two rounds of the Championship here again in 2018, it is perhaps the venue where he needs the most seat time. Still, it is best that any potential problems can be shaken out here, rather than when the championship starts proper. The Honda effort is now under the team ownership of ex-racer Deon Coote, but otherwise little has changed since Paul Free shut the doors of Motologic, with crew chief Shaun Clarke making the move across to head the new Penrite Honda squad.
Yamaha Racing Team have experienced some changes ahead of this season. Daniel Falzon has joined the team along with his trusted tech Liam Wilkinson, while long-time mechanic Warren Monson has returned to the Suzuki fold, meaning that Maxwell will this year work much more closely with Kev Marshall and other members of the team.
A few electronics gurus from Yamaha Japan were present at the test and have shown the YRT crew a few areas of software that the Australian crew had never before manipulated. This has opened up some more areas for them to further fine tune their machines from track to track.
Yamaha have been pipped at the ASBK post many times in recent years, just missing out on the Australasian FX Superbike Championship when it was the premier series in Australia in 2015, and also being beaten to the rejuvenated ASBK Title by Honda in 2016, and then Suzuki in 2017. In fact, Yamaha have not conquered the Australian Superbike Championship since Jamie Stauffer took back-to-back titles for them in 2006-2007.
Wayne Maxwell had topped day one but had to settle for fifth overall behind Mike Jones when day two wound up.
Daniel Falzon ended his first official YRT outing sixth quickest. The South Australian adapting to the Kev Marshall prepared engine that has a lot more punch off the turns than his JD Racing YZF-R1 from last year.
Bryan Staring has moved from Honda to BCperformance Kawasaki for 2018 and had been slowly building his pace in every session. From 1m36s in the opening session on Tuesday down to 1m34.6s in that day’s final session. The Western Australian then lopped another second off that time in today’s third session before then dropping in a scorching 1m32.671 in today’s final session to gazump the entire field.
Josh Waters had lowered his marker to 1m32.923s in today’s final session and then headed out of pit-lane on fresh rubber with three-minutes remaining to try and claim outright honours from the #67 Kawasaki. Waters could not quite manage it, and instead was actually pushed further down the order…
Glenn Allerton had also been making steady progress on the NextGen BMW. A 1m33.075 late in the final session which he then bettered again on his final lap with a 1m32.728 to knock Staring off the top of the charts in the dying seconds of the session.
Troy Bayliss rounded out the top ten after working through some gremlins on the DesmoSport Ducati. The best for #21 a 1m33.950 in the final session. The three-time World Superbike Champion was under no illusion that coming back to the ASBK paddock at 48-years-old was going to be a walk in the park. Clearly there is still a lot more to come from TB, and he will get much closer to the front runners as the season progresses and the team learns how to get the best from the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition.
Mark Chiodo made steady progress throughout the two days to go from 1m37.5 in the first session down to an impressive 1m34.018 in the final half-hour session. He improved in every single session and benefitted today from a little tutelage from Troy Corser.
Another rider to step up from the Supersport ranks is Ted Collins. Like Chiodo, he has an ex-Superbike Champion in his corner to learn from. While team leader Allerton had set the outright pace with that 1m32.728, Collins ended the two days with a best of 1m35.152 for 14th quickest. To be 2.5-seconds off the three-time Australian Superbike Champion is nothing to be sneezed at, especially at such a daunting circuit.
Jamie Stauffer was 12th quickest after a last minute call up to ride a Craig McMartin prepared Ducati. Stauffer and that squad will sit down and nut out whether they will make a tilt at the 2018 ASBK Championship in coming days after dissecting their progress here this week.
BMW Australia’s Nigel Harvey was ecstatic that their increased presence in ASBK this year is already paying dividends.
Nigel Harvey – BMW Motorrad
“We are really excited to be increasing our involvement in the ASBK to a two bike program in 2018. This allows us to develop younger riders like Ted Collins, alongside experienced campaigners like Glenn Allerton. Glenn’s return to the Next Gen Team has been a natural fit with improvement seen in every session over the two-day test.
“The ASBK series has gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years and with such a stacked field of high profile riders the level at the front is very high. Our increased involvement in local racing will also include some special displays at selected rounds for the fans.
“To leave the first official ASBK test in P1 is a fantastic result and we clearly know we have a winning package in the S 1000 RR. Bring on Round One!”
While BMW claiming the top spot on the timesheets is a great headline, in reality there was nothing in it across the top three riders today. A tenth of a second covered Allerton, Staring and Waters at the end of proceedings, clearly things are going to be tight this year…
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