At first it looked like a quite innocuous front end lose during final qualifying as Mike Jones pushed to try and further his place up the grid on Saturday morning but later investigations found injuries that would ultimately rule Mike Jones out of the remainder of proceedings at Hidden Valley. Jones had qualified third but missed Saturday’s race as he was examined in hospital where he remains today ahead of hand surgery.
What led to Jones’ crash that damaged his hand was an earlier kerb-strike earlier that broke and dislocated toes in his foot. Mike Jones is not the only rider to have copped a significant whack to the foot on the kerbs here this weekend, we know that Troy Herfoss, Yanni Shaw and Lachlan Epis are all smarting from similar impacts that resulted in varying degrees of injury. Mark Chiodo crashed yesterday and had not been cleared by medical staff to take part today.
The loss of three significant points scoring opportunities is a cruel blow for both Jones and the DesmoSport Ducati squad with this effectively ruining any chances that Jones might have had to fight for the championship. It is also a blow to the series as in the rounds staged so far this year it has only been Jones that looked even close to getting on terms with the dominance of Wayne Maxwell and Troy Herfoss. Jones’s team-mate Oli Bayliss had already stepped up a gear this weekend and will now be the sole focus of the team for the remainder of their time in Darwin.
In the opening race of the weekend Oli Bayliss looked very strong early on before a mistake a few laps into the race cost him a lot of time and positions. He worked his way back through to almost claim a podium and will be pumped off the back of that ahead of this morning’s encounter.
At the front it was that pair we always expect to be battling for the win, Wayne Maxwell and Troy Herfoss. Maxwell had set the pace in every session and on qualifying form looked as though he would be almost impossible to beat. Herfoss didn’t read that script though and sat on that tail-pipes of the Boost Mobile Ducati for all but the last few corners of the race. Late on the final lap he slid the Penrite Honda under Maxwell on entry to a corner and then had the race line through the final couple of turns to take victory by the narrowest of margins.
Maxwell will be determined to not allow that to happen again but after Herfoss spent almost the entire 16 laps of race one studying the form of Maxwell and the Ducati nobody has a better understanding of the comparative strengths and weaknesses between the two bike-rider packages. I would imagine the intelligence gained from that reconnaissance mission would inform any changes the Penrite Honda might make to the Fireblade overnight. Similarly, Maxwell’s crew-chief in exile, Adrian Monti watching on from plague-town Melbourne and keeping in constant voice and data contact with the team throughout, would have studied the race footage and data overnight to try and tweak their package further for its long-run form.
Glenn Allerton had also been very strong early on but a clutch-slip issue on the new M 1000 RR ultimately blunted his challenge. The NextGen BMW squad will have sorted that overnight and they will be hoping to hang onto the back of Herf’ and the Wayne-Train throughout the entire 16-laps today. Lachlan Epis had accidentally put his M 1000 RR into Rain Mode and thus he was riding a very blunted instrument on Saturday and will feel like it is ripping his arms off today.
Daniel Falzon has been the strongest Yamaha runner so far this weekend but his challenge was cruelled at turn one on Saturday when he was punted from behind. Anthony West has managed to hone his race package further and is much closer to competitive pace this weekend.
The official Yamaha Racing Team are not having a great weekend but will be hopeful of turning around that form this morning.
Bryan Staring and BC Performance have already made significant progress this weekend and will be working hard to continue with that momentum as they get the new ZX-10RR up to speed. Staring finished fifth on Saturday but was a significant 12-seconds behind the top duo over the 16-lap race distance which indicates they still have significant gains that need to be made in order to be competitive. They are, however, the fastest Dunlop runners
Wayne Maxwell looked to get major wheelspin off the line and perhaps also suffered some clutch creep but still led the field around turn one ahead of Oli Bayliss and Troy Herfoss. Only a few corners later though Herfoss went down which saw the red flag brought out and the medical team sent to the scene.
The Penrite Honda looked to hit the air-fence first at Turn Four and took the fence with it which then led to a vastly reduced amount of air-fence protection from the wall by the time Troy made impact with the wall.
Early indications are that Troy’s femur is broken just below the ball. He has also suffered some shoulder injuries, but the extent of those is yet to be ascertained.
The issues of air-fences unable to be effectively secured to the ground raises its head yet again. It’s clear that they are not an adequate substitute for run-off areas. If you put posts in the ground to secure the air-fence then you are only putting another hard object that the rider may hit, thus the secure installation of them is always challenging. They essentially need to buried deep in the ground but when they are a temporary measure that is not really practicable.
We do know that on the start-line senior personnel in some teams had complained that officials were making them remove the tyre-warmers before track cleaning had been completed ahead of their race. Obviously that results in tyres losing temperature. Troy fell the first time he tilted to use the right side of the tyre.
Due to being a supporting act of the V8 Supercar program, Race Two was cancelled due to time constraints as it would be a lengthy undertaking to reinstall the air-fence to a satisfactory standard.
While of course we have the utmost concern and sympathy for Herfoss and Jones, the cancellation of that race certainly helps them in the championship as his competitors were then denied the extra opportunity to make gains against them. The cancellation reduces the disadvantage they were to be under in the championsip chase. Some might read those comments at heartless, but it’s just simple maths and facts and is what it is.
Sunday morning had been Darwin’s coldest of the year with the overnight temperature dropping to 18-degrees Celsius. Temperatures were much hotter when they formed up on the grid on Sunday afternoon for the third and final race of the weekend though with the track temp’ nudging towards 55-degrees and the ambient temperature 30-degrees.
Oli Bayliss scored the hole-shot and the teenager led the field through turn one from Wayne Maxwell and Glenn Allerton. Lachlan Epis was up to third, Arthur Sissis fifth and Daniel Falzon sixth before being demoted to seventh by Bryan Staring.
Oli maintained the lead throughout the opening lap but Maxwell went up the inside on lap two. Glenn Allerton was right with that duo and Oli was trying to find an opportunity to retaliate on Maxwell. Both that pair in the 65s on lap three, a 65.792 to Maxwell and 65.959 to Bayliss. They then backed those up with 65.8s to start to pull away from Glenn Allerton.
The red flag then came out after Matt Walters went down heavily at turn one. Corey Turner was also off the circuit after being collected by Matt but it was Walters that appeared to need some medical attention. Riders were then called back to the grid while moments later Walters managed to get up and walk away. The Cessnock Kawasaki rider had no brakes heading for turn one, after repeatedly pumping the lever he knew he had to just try and thread the needle between the riders in front of him and he did an amazing job not to centre-punch any of them. He took to the kerb at the last minute to try and evade Turner but could not avoid collecting the Queenslander, who was luckily unhurt. As for Walters he sustained a decent whack to his wrist and ankle but doesn’t think anything is broken.
The race was eventually re-started for a shortened eight-lap distance. This time around Maxwell got off the line well and held the line into turn one to maintain the race lead. Arthur Sissis again ridiculously awesome off the line to shoot up to third place ahead of Glenn Allerton, Bryan Staring and Daniel Falzon. The clutch control and reactions of Sissis must be other-worldly, years of high-level speedway competition has honed those reactions to perfection.
Oli Bayliss was not letting Maxwell get away. A 65.625 bettering Maxwell’s 65.795 to stick right with the veteran. Maxwell responded with a 65.683 but could still not shake Bayliss. The DesmoSport Ducati looked quicker down the main straight but Maxwell had the wood on Bayliss under brakes.
A couple of seconds further back Glenn Allerton had moved into third place and stretched away from the rest of the field. Daniel Falzon was fourth with four-laps to run ahead of Bryan Staring, Aiden Wagner, Lachlan Epis and Anthony West.
Both Maxwell and Bayliss then went under the race lap record set by Troy Herfoss yesterday, but it was Bayliss the quicker of the pair, 65.445 to Maxwell’s 65.513, but still it was Maxwell with his nose in front on track.
Two laps to run and Oli Bayliss took the lead into turn one, Maxwell gave him plenty of room and did not even attempt to come back at him, one eye firmly focussed on the championship no doubt. Bayliss maintained the lead throughout that penultimate lap and maintained that advantage into turn one for the final time.
Maxwell closed up on him in the latter half of that final lap but did not look ready to take any risks. He got on the gas hard a few corners before the end but a big slide put paid to any chance he had of getting on terms with Bayliss through the final corner. The victory belongs to Oli Bayliss and it was a hard-fought and well-deserved one at that. Oli Bayliss is also the round victor by a point over Maxwell.
Has his performance in Darwin announced the emergence of Oli Bayliss amongst our own local group of Superbike ‘aliens’? He was strong all weekend and won that race fair and square, and even set a new race lap record in the process.
Oli knows Morgan Park very well and if he can carry this form through to that Queensland venue, which will host the next round of the series on the weekend of August 22, he will be able to lock in his place amongst the best competitors still racing here in Australia. But at 17, he is 20 years younger than most of them….
Darwin was certainly one hell of a rollercoaster for the DesmoSport Ducati squad but despite Mike’s pain and disappointment I am sure he will be celebrating with the Gold Coast based squad this evening.
Glenn Allerton crossed the stripe seven-seconds behind that duo to claim his spot on the podium ahead of Bryan Staring and Daniel Falzon. A very encouraging result for NextGen BMW with the new M 1000 RR they only put together at the track this week.
ASBK Superbike Race Three Results
BMW S RR
BMW S RR
ASBK next reconvenes at Morgan Park on the weekend of August 22. That means Troy Herfoss and Mike Jones have two-months to try and recover from the injuries they sustained this weekend in Darwin.
Maxwell will take a 26-point lead over Herfoss to Morgan Park and Glenn Allerton has significantly strengthened his hold on third place in the championship.
Despite not having a race package that has proved competitive this year Cru Halliday continues to keep his nose clean to rack up points through consistency. Considering their lack of speed it is amazing that he has managed to get the YRT machine to fourth in the championship standings.
With that victory Oli Bayliss moves up to fifth in the championship chase, equal on points with Bryan Staring, 45-points behind series leader Maxwell.
“Everything just felt really good this weekend to be honest. We tested really well, and I felt within myself that I could race at the front at Hidden Valley. The Panigale V4 R is such a fun bike to ride, and everyone in the team is working so well together to keep letting me ride it faster and faster. As soon as we got on track on Friday I knew we were in a good position and if it wasn’t for running wide in race one, I think I could have been battling for a win there too. Dad gave me some advice on the start line about my race plan, I got off the line a lot better which really helped with track position and I managed my race, picked my strong points and I’m so happy to finally get a win on a superbike! A huge thank you to Benny, Mum, Dad, Byron and the whole DesmoSport Ducati team, and also a quick shout-out to Mike (Jones) and especially Troy Herfoss after a pretty big crash. I hope you both heal up fast.”
“Oli did an incredible job this weekend and I couldn’t be prouder. Today I think he showed everyone a little of what he’s capable of on the Panigale V4 R. He rode smart, was patient, chose his opportunities and made them most of them not just in the race he won, but every time he was on track. It’s been a tough few weeks for me but to see Oli take the win… It was emotional for sure. The weekend obviously wasn’t so kind to Mike, he was ready this weekend to take it to the front, so to end up in hospital without even starting a race is tough, but he’ll bounce back for sure.”
There are still more than 200-points up for grabs this season, if the plague remains subsided enough for us to run the full calendar.
ASBK Championship Points
2021 ASBK Championship Calendar (Updated)
Round 1 Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, VIC February 18-21 Cancelled
Round 2 Winton Motor Raceway, Benalla, VIC March 12-14
Round 3 Wakefield Park Raceway, Goulburn, NSW April 16-18
Round 4 Hidden Valley Raceway, NT – Supercars 2+4 (Superbikes only) June 18-20
Round 5 Morgan Park Raceway, QLD August 20-22
Round 6 The Bend Motorsport Park, Tailem Bend, SA September 23-26
Round 7 Wakefield Park Raceway, Goulburn, NSW October 15 – 17 *
Round 8 Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, VIC November 5-7 *
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