Round Three – The Bend
Saturday Report One
Daniel Falzon showed his one-lap pace that set the Friday benchmark was no one-lap wonder when he went marginally quicker this morning in warm-up, a 1m52.648. Clearly the YRT rider is now more comfortable with his YZF-R1M, and is enjoying The Bend circuit, along with the home support from the local South Australian crowd.
Under a new qualifying format for ASBK this season the Friday afternoon session is dubbed ‘Timed Practice’, and it is the times from this session that decided the nine riders that automatically qualified for the Q2 session just before midday on Saturday. The riders from tenth back in the Timed Practice session having to fight it out in a Q1 session, with the top three then being promoted into Q2, making for a final 12-rider tussle over the first four rows of the grid.
Prior to the Superbikes heading out for their qualifying sessions, the massive YMI Supersport 300 field took to the track to battle for their grid positions ahead of their opening stanza which is scheduled to take place over seven-laps at 1510 this afternoon.
Olly Simpson again topped proceedings amongst the 300 Supersport competitors but the big surprise was the pace of Brandon Demmery, slotting himself up to second place and very nearly stealing pole from Simpson late in the session.
Hunter Ford rounds out the front row after pushing Senna Agius down to the second row.
Seth Crump had clearly woke up with a new spring in his throttle tube this morning as he found a massive amount of time compared to yesterday, the KTM rider qualifying fifth while Locky Taylor also went much quicker today and rounds out the second row.
The Supersport 600 grid will not be decided until later this afternoon though, with their Q2 session scheduled for 1435 this afternoon. Tom Toparis is on provisional pole from his stunning lap yesterday afternoon, a 1m55.964, almost a full-second quicker than second placed Broc Pearson.
It was again somewhat of a tyre preservation session when Superbike qualifying got underway, with most riders just going out for one quick lap, then spending the remaining of the 15-minute session in the pits.
Arthur Sissis put in a 1m53.789 early on which proved good enough to secure his place in the Q2 session while Matt Walters left things a little bit later to book his slot through to Q2, as did Alex Phillis.
Ted Collins though then rejoined the track and managed to knock Phillis out of third spot and steal back his promotion through to the Q2 session.
Mike Jones was very quick out of the blocks to lay down a 1m52.665 early benchmark in Q2, he backed that straight up with a 1m52.392. Halfway through the 15-minute session the only other rider in the 1m52s was Wayne Maxwell, on a 1m52.958.
Mark Chiodo then went third quickest, a 1m53.014 a big improvement for the young Victorian.
Daniel Falzon then got wound up with five minutes remaining and lit up the timing screens straight away, -0.172s at first split and he doubled that gap through all the remaining splits to record the first ever 1m51s lap of The Bend International Circuit, a stunning 1m51.592s. His competitors had four-minutes to come up with an answer to the South Australian’s speed.
His team-mate was the first to try and return serve, Cru Halliday dropping in a 1m52.243 before then further improving his marker down to 1m51.953.
With two-minutes remaining Wayne Maxwell was on a hot one, under at the first split, and at the third split but the final turns just lost him a fraction and he just missed out on besting Falzon, a 1m51.675s, though declaring his speed ahead of the three 10-lap races.
Maxwell was going quicker again on the next lap, under at the first two splits but again lost time on Falzon through the final sequence of curves and Falzon’s pole looked safe…
Mike Jones though then went out again and was a full half-a-second in front at the third split, he carried that speed to the line to set a new outright benchmark of 1m51.220!
Thus Falzon watched on from the pit-lane as he was demoted to second, while Wayne Maxwell rounds out the front row.
Cru Halliday was the only other rider in the 1m51s and heads row two ahead of Josh Waters and Bryan Staring.
Mark Chiodo heads the third row on the back of an impressive performance today to qualify in front of Glenn Allerton and Troy Herfoss. The defending champion to start from ninth on the grid.
Matt Walters rounded out the top ten ahead of Arthur Sissis and Ted Collins.
For reference, the race lap record set on a green track here last April was a 1m52.939 recorded by Herfoss, but the pole record and circuit best lap last year went to Wayne Maxwell with a 1m52.175. Thus Jones’ new benchmark is almost a full-second quicker than what we saw here last year.
The opening 10-lap ASBK Superbike race is scheduled to take place at 1540 this afternoon, with the remaining two races in this triple-header round slated for 1020 and 1505 on Sunday.
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