ASBK 2019 Official Test Day One
Words by Mark Bracks
Images by Rob Mott
ASBK season 2019 kicked off today as competitors blew out the cobwebs and got down to business on the first of a tw-day test being staged across this weekend, February 2-3, at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit.
Early indications are that this year will again be another step up. With live TV and live streaming to the world, ASBK has been getting stronger and the line-ups throughout the classes, as well as the introduction of the Oceania Rookies Cup for the juniors, sees the championship is in the healthiest state it has been in for quite some time.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of who was fastest and who did what, lets take a look at how the Superbike field will shape up as there has been many rider movements in the off season, as well as a few newcomers, with a few returning for another dip in the premier class.
For those that came in late, lets have a look at how the major protagonists will face off in the battle for championship glory in what is anticipated to be a stellar and intensely contested year of road racing.
The ones with the targets on their back are defending champions Penrite Honda, after Troy Herfoss claimed the number #1 plate in 2018 for the second time in three years.
In 2018 the Penrite squad was primarily a one-rider outfit, although ex-Moto3 pilot and speedway rider, Arthur Sissis was under the Penrite pit tent from Morgan Park onwards. However for this year the team has expanded to a two-rider outfit from the get go, with Mark Chiodo joining the team after a rookie Superbike year with Team Ecstar Suzuki alongside Josh Waters.
“We were down here on Wednesday for a ride day but it was really too busy to do anything too much, but at the end of the day we got done what we wanted to do and that was run the bike in with a new engine, make sure that things were working. We ticked that box and now we are here for the official ASBK test today and went really well. Compared to this time last year we are light years ahead. I was fast and consistent and we are on the race tyre. The results from today are no reflection of where everyone is at. I am sixth fastest today but I am pretty confident that in reality we are a lot further up the order than that when it comes to race pace so we’ll see how things pan out. I was 8th here last year and I won the first race of the year, so I think everyone gets a bit carried away.”
With a larger team comes more staff, and the vastly experienced Stewart Winton has been appointed as Mark’s crew chief, with Tiger Clay also in the young Victorians corner once again. Chiodo impressed last year and went oh-so-close to claiming the “Rookie of the Year” title.
With Chiodo’s departure from Suzuki late last year it appeared that Ecstar Suzuki might only field on rider for season 2019, with the rumours suggesting that whoever finished the better in the championship between Josh Waters and Wayne Maxwell, would get the ride.
However after a fair bit of negotiation, and the can being kicked for a bit more coin by the concerned parties, the Team Ecstar Suzuki unit will remain a two-rider team with Maxwell joining Waters in what makes for a most competitive pairing of team mates. While they are good mates, on the track there is fierce competition and this is certainly going to be one aspect of ASBK 2019 that will be enthralling to witness as the seven round series unfolds.
Maxwell’s is currently hampered by a shoulder injury suffered in a cycling crash in Adelaide. His broken collarbone only operated on nine days ago, but he will be strong enough by the season opener.
“The day was good. We had a day here before Christmas where I ran the bike for 10 laps like Josh had the bike at the last round with his particular tyres. Then we tried the new tyre. Everything felt different for Josh and I the but then I had no real idea as I didn’t want to have an opinion on something I didn’t know about. We’ve come back here for the first official day on the bike and started where we left off, then went around in circles trying stuff. It’s been good for me because I have no previous expectation of how good the bike was or what the bike is supposed to be. I am getting to know the GSX-R again and its getting better at every roll out. The rear tyre is definitely… the middle is higher so I guess it has got less contact patch in the middle, and the edges are the same so it falls away different. The front tyre is bigger overall, so it changes the bike quite a lot. It’s a matter of getting a direction on paper, what it says compared to what the rider feels. Try one direction, if it doesn’t work come back in the other direction, and then find somewhere in the middle.”
Waters returns to race with his favourite numeral, #21, after Troy Bayliss – who used his old WSBK number in his return to domestic racing, — offered it back to Josh late last year after the championship had been decided at the penultimate round at Winton (Vic)
Bayliss will revert to the very first number he used in Australian road racing, the number 32 gracing the front of this Ducati, a number also made famous by another Aussie legend Robbie Phillis.
Bayliss had a stellar return to domestic racing last year aboard the Desmo Sport Ducati machine, winning a couple of races and was more often than not on the podium during the year as he finished third overall behind Herfoss and runner-up, Wayne Maxwell.
Troy Bayliss will ride the same v-twin Panigale R 1299 Final Edition in the opening rounds of the series before the team beds down the new V4R in to competitive race trim.
“We’ll race these ones until the other one is faster than these ones. First up we have to get fairings, pipes and a few other bits and pieces. What is sitting in the back of truck (V4 R) is a road bike. It’s like having the keys to something you can’t use. We could sort of half do it but we could shoot ourselves in the foot. We haven’t got enough things if something goes wrong, and then if that happens you are riding between two different motorcycles and we know these old girls are pretty good. Everything is going very well. We are happy with the start. We hit the ground running and feel fit and healthy. Today was pretty hot and slimy so I’m happy with how we are doing, considering its pretty greasy and windy out there. Always after lunch its slower, so I am pretty happy with where we are going.”
With the departure of Maxwell from the Yamaha Racing Team, the way was made clear for Australian Supersport Champion Cru Halliday to return to the Superbike class alongside Daniel Falzon, the South Australia returning for his second year at YRT.
The Next Gen Motorsport squad will again run three-times Australian Superbike Champion Glenn Allerton, and hopefully his year they Sydneysider can remain injury free after his last two seasons have been plagued by broken bones.
Allerton will be aboard the old faithful BMWS1000RR until the HP4 arrives, which may be at the second round but more than likely the third round at Tailem Bend in April. The major change for the Next Gen Team in 2019 is the switch to Dunlop tyres.
In the BCPerformance Kawasaki outfit Bryan Staring returns for a second year with the team and will be joined by Lachlan Epis, who replaces Kyle Buckley.The team will continue its association with Dunlop for 2019.
There is plenty of movement in the privateer ranks too, with a few more joining the fray to add to what is already a healthy field of entries.
Stepping up from the Supersport category, where he finished third overall behind Halliday and Tom Toparis, will be Max Crocker on the Mat Mladin Racing GSX-R1000R.
Making his debut in the Superbike ranks of ASBK will be Queenslander Aiden Wagner in a one-man privateer outfit. In the last few years Wagner has had his fair share of injury woes but now that he is back to full fitness he will be one to keep an eye on.
Technically, it is not his first foray into racing a Superbike as he had a ride on the Team Honda machine in the Formula Xtreme Australasian Superbike Championship at Eastern Creek a few years ago, where he made a stunning debut to top all comers before heading overseas in what proved to be a costly mistake.
Alex Phillis will be on a fully-supported satellite Team Suzuki Ecstar machine. 2018 Rookie of the Year, Arthur Sissis will also be Suzuki mounted, along with multiple New Zealand Superbike Champion Sloan Frost who returns for a full season.
Others in the fray include Ted Collins who returns to the Next Gen Motorsports BMW Team beside Allerton, and will no doubt be more competitive after his rookie season last year.
And that’s not forgetting lads who will be knocking on a Top Ten spot at every outing, the likes of Kawasaki-mounted Glenn Scott giving it a crack again, while Matt Walters can also score top results when in form.
So, what happened on Day One of Superbike testing for season 2019?
There were four sessions each for the Superbike Supersport, Supersport 300 and the Oceania Rookies Cup for the young pups .
In the Superbike category there were 25 riders on track, made up of eight Suzukis, five Yamahas, four Kawasakis, three BMW, two each of Honda and Ducati and a sole Aprilia RSV4.
Bragging rights as the chequered flag came out for the big boys went to Wayne Maxwell , with Bayliss in second and Staring third followed by Waters and Wagner. Herfoss was in sixth with Falzon, Halliday, Allerton, and Chiodo rounding out the top ten, just over a second separating them. The top 18 covered by just three-seconds.
Another rider in attendance was Mike Jones, who still has not finalised plans for this year as he hope to secure a ride overseas, but there is also a real possibility of the Queenslander competing in the series that he won back in 2015.
Maxwell was the only rider to do a sub 1:33 during the day with a time of 1:32.913 in the final moments of the last session, but there is more to the story than lap times. While admitting that he was still feeling some effects of the shoulder injury, he also had put in a soft tyre for the end of the final session. In the previous session on more regular tyres, his fastest time was over a full second slower.
Herfoss was fastest in the opening session from Waters and Maxwell but Bayliss was atop for the next two sessions. TB was also well in the hunt for overall honours before being pipped by Maxwell by less than a tenth-of-a-second.
The consistency of Balyiss was impressive. In sessions 2, 3 and 4 the differences in his fastest laps was less than a tenth. Making that fact all the more remarkable was the ride in air and track temperatures across those sessions, and how the condition of the track dropped off later in the day, along with an increasing headwind.
But this test will prove to be two days of finding set-ups for each particular team as Pirelli and Dunlop have both brought in new spec tyres, every rider that was questioned came back with similar thoughts.
The new Pirelli tyres are now larger with more contact patch with an extra 5mm added to the surface width of both the front and rear tyres. These new characteristics change the steering into and the rive out of corners, and all riders were still trying to find the balance between steering and drivability.
Dave Fuller – Pirelli
“We have larger tyres for this season, a 125/70 front compared to a 120 and the rear is 265 up from 260mm (that is the surface measurement across the total arc of the rear tyre, thus your conventional off the rack sizing can’t really be comapred). Being a new tyre the smart operators are getting onto it now to try and work out a set-up for the new rubber. Some are flatter and some are higher in the rear, sometimes putting a bit more spring in the back, but pretty flat layout seems to be favourite at the moment as they have to be careful not to get too much wheelspin. Smart guys are chipping away and getting onto it. I think for the very hot conditions, and we had the classic here last week so it’s pretty greasy, I think the guys are doing a commendable job. Wayne did a 32.9 and that’s still pretty damn fast. There are no super sticky ones, Wayne just used a sticky one. These are the homologated tyres for the season so it is pretty important for us to have a good test and see everyone reasonably happy. Some guys are on the fence still trying to work out the previous grip over these new tyres. We will still have the SCX’s front and rear – the slightly smaller size – available from last year so there are options for them.”
|Kawasaki Superbike Times|
- Wayne Maxwell – Suzuki 1m32.913
- Troy Bayliss – Ducati 1299 1m33.011
- Bryan Staring – Kawasaki 1m33.181
- Josh Waters – Suzuki 1m33.334
- Aiden Wagner – Yamaha 1m33.452
- Troy Herfoss – Honda 1m33.500
- Daniel Falzon – Yamaha 1m33.541
- Cru Halliday – Yamaha 1m33.565
- Glenn Allerton – BMW 1m33.614
- Mark Chiodo – Honda 1m33.934
- Mike Jones – Honda 1m34.356
- Ted Collins – BMW 1m34.494
- Alex Phillis – Suzuki 1m34.863
- Arthur Sissis – Suzuki 1m35.067
- Glenn Scott – Kawasaki 1m35.128
- Max Croker – Suzuki 1m35.188
- Lachlan Epis – Kawasaki 1m35.272
- Sloan Frost – Suzuki 1m35.339
- Ryan Yanko – Ducati 1m36.468
- Patrick Li – Yamaha 1m37.891
- Phil Czaj – Aprilia 1m38.134
- Heath Griffin – Suzuki 1m39.166
- Scott Tuddenham – Suzuki 1m39.467
- Will Davidson – Yamaha 1m40.123
- Murray Clark – BMW 1m40.598
|Supersport 600 Times|
- Tom Toparis – Yamaha 1m36.149
- Nic Liminton – Yamaha 1m37.329
- Broc Pearson – Yamaha 1m37.588
- Oli Bayliss – Yamaha 1m37.840
- Reid Battye – Suzuki 1m38.264
- Sam Lambert – MV Agusta 1m38.807
- Aidan Hayes – Yamaha 1m39.030
- Ty Lynch – Yamaha 1m39.426
- Jack Passfield – Yamaha 1m39.657
- Chris Quinn – Yamaha 1m39.872
- Luke Mitchell – Yamaha 1m40.020
- Scott Nicholson – Suzuki 1m40.592
- Luke Sanders – Yamaha 1m40.723
- Rhys Belling – Yamaha 1m40.969
- Dallas Skeer – Suzuki 1m41.012
|YMI Supersport 300 / YMF R3 Cup Times|
- Tom Bramich – Kawasaki 1m48.804
- Locky Taylor – Yamaha 1m49.429
- Seth Crump – KTM 1m49.768
- Callum O’Brien – Kawasaki 1m49.939
- Zac Levy – Yamaha 1m50.109
- Luke Power – Yamaha 1m50.423
- Max Stauffer – Yamaha 1m50.537
- Ben Baker – Kawasaki 1m50.823
- Senna Agius – Kawasaki 1m50.875
- Harry Khouri – Yamaha 1m51.306
- Zylas Bunting – Yamaha 1m52.439
- Peter Nerlich – Kawasaki 1m51.441
- Bronson Pickett – Yamaha 1m53.167
- Kyle O’Connell – Yamaha 1m53.378
- Tayla Relph – Kawasaki 1m53.409
|bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup Times|
- Lucas Quinn 2m15.669
- Angus Grenfell 2m16.253
- Carter Thompson 2m16.303
- Cormac Buchanan 2m16.493
- Reece Oughtred 2m16.560
- Tom Drane 2m16.654
- Jamie Port 2m16.802
- Jacob Hatch 2m17.116
- Glenn Nelson 2m17.382
- Hunter Diplock 2m17.680
- Max Gibbons 2m17.720
- Cros Francis 2m17.726
- Marianos Nikolis 2m17.751
- Zak Pettendy 2m18.255
- Jai Russo 2m18.414