Challenging Wayne Maxwell over the weekend at the opening round of the 2020 mi-bike Australian Superbike Championship was Cru Halliday, the YRT man claiming a consistent second step on the podium across all three races at Phillip Island on the new 2020 YZF-R1.
Here’s what Cru Halliday had to say when MCNews.com.au caught up with him immediately following the final ASBK Superbike race at Phillip Island.
Cru Halliday Interview
Trevor Hedge: Cru you’ve been really really strong all weekend, you’ve hardly put a wheel wrong really, it’s been an impressive performance. You must be pretty happy with yourself.
Cru Halliday: “Yea, thanks Trevor, we’ve got these 2020s after the test, I didn’t test too good here actually, but I never really test good here at Phillip Island. We were on the 2019 models when we tested here, and I hadn’t ridden for so long before then, so that had me a little bit worried. But then we tested the 2020s at Wakefield, and you know what, it’s like a new breath of fresh air.
“I gel with it really good, and we came here and straight away were on the money. It’s good because I really did struggle here in previous times, and now it looks like I’ve got my head around that. I tried to chase down Wayne, and he just rode home, he really didn’t put a foot wrong, every time he made a tiny little mistake I almost fell into that same trap, repeating his mistakes. Hats off to the team, the new 2020 R1 M is unbelievable and Kev Marshall has done a fantastic job of preparing them for this round.”
Trev: Take us through the actual improvements, what are a couple of things that really stand out, making your job easier?
Halliday: “Now it’s got an actual direct throttle sensor in the bike, there’s no more cables in the throttle, it’s all done by fly-by-wire. At first I was a bit worried about it, but once you learn to get used to it, I really love it. I was a bit nervous when they told me there would be no more cables, so there wouldn’t be that cable feel and I thought it would be too sensitive, but it’s not. It’s really nimble and nice to keep the throttle on.
“What I did notice was the mid-range in this new bike, it’s strong. I used to really struggle – not exiting a corner – but that next little part after the initial jump and this thing just grabs and goes. It’s fixed everything that was the bike last year’s weakness. They haven’t recreated the bike, just improved exactly what they needed to improve. So I’m stoked about it, and we’re just going to keep improving as the year goes on.”
Trev: From pre-season testing pace, you said you didn’t test that well. Coming into this I thought Wayne might run away from everyone, but it didn’t quite unfold that way. You were not far off at all.
Halliday: “I race a lot better than I test, I think sometimes I take a little too long at testing, and it doesn’t feel like the atmosphere, where on race weekend I’m pumped and ready to kill. I’m definitely a better racer than I am tester. In saying that I’ve been fast on practice days before, and then struggled in races, but I’m sorta glad I put this score together, its a good way to start the year in second place already, only sixteen points Wayne put on us, that’s good for me coming out of Phillip Island.”
Trev: Have you ridden the new bike at Wakefield?
Halliday: “Yep we had a test almost immediately after the first official test here, just at a ride day, just to get on it and try and see what it’s like, and see if they were ready for this round. They were. I was basically straight onto race times, I gel with that track too, it’s not far from my house, only 150 km or an hour and a half, and I’ve had really good results there before. I reckon we’re going to get even better results on this bike, this year.”
Trev: The tyre war has hotted up a bit this year. Yamaha switched from Dunlop to Pirelli a couple of years ago, which was a bit of a controversial move, with Yamaha’s in-house tyre being Dunlop throughout Australia…. but Pirelli still had the answers here this weekend, by the looks of it. Do you think that might change at other circuits?
Halliday: “To be honest I think Pirelli are going to be the tyre to be on at most rounds, as we saw last year at Tailem Bend it sort of wasn’t, but after Tailem Bend in 2019 I think Pirelli got their eyes opened a little bit and put together a good tyre for this year. I haven’t personally been there on the new tyre yet this year, but I’ve heard good things about it.
“You’ve got Herfoss on the Michelins, and I’ve heard good things about the Michelins from him personally, but you know, you never know, all riders say they go fast, but knowing him he probably did. By the looks of it, Josh was all over me at the first part of that race with the Dunlop, that’s a strange thing, because I thought the Dunlops weren’t as strong here, but Josh has proven that to be a bit of a different story. So it’s gonna be pretty full on. I’m just glad that Wayne is on the same tyre as me, so it’s easier to tell whats going on. It’s gonna be interesting. I can’t really say, but I know what we’ve got and I reckon we can get the job done this year.”
Trev: Do you think Wayne was foxing a little bit at any times, when he was controlling the pace, do you think he had more up his sleeve?
Halliday: “To be honest he said on the podium that he rode 100 per cent, and if Wayne, out of all people, say he was riding at 100 per cent, then he was riding at 100 per cent.”
Trev: You had the best seat in the house to view it from…
Halliday: “It’s hard, I’ve heard him say a lot of times before, ‘Its hard to control the race.’ And it is hard. I’m not going to lie, he was quicker than me this weekend, but it was good I could run with him, and apply pressure to him, but I was at my limit and I think he was at his limit. To be making mistakes like that, you have to be pushing. That’s the problem with pushing like that, one small mistake, it can all be over like Race 2 yesterday. I’m stoked though and hopefully I can show the other boys now I’ve got my head screwed on I can be a contender, instead of just a fast guy.”
ASBK next heads to Wakefield Park later this month, the Goulburn circuit playing host to Round Two of the series over the March 27-29 weekend.
2020 mi-bike Australian Superbike Championship Points
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