Josh Waters took the McMartin Racing Team Ducati V4R to another clean sweep of the two races at the first ever ASBK Round held under lights at the second round of the championship.
Qualifying was extremely close with the top three positions covered by .050, Josh securing a front row grid position for the two thirteen lap races. Such was the pace of Friday night’s qualifying session that the ten-year-old pole position record was obliterated by the top six riders in the field.
Race one got underway under natural sunlight late on Saturday afternoon in front of a solid crowd with Josh leading through turn one with Pole man Cru Halliday right on his tail. By the completion of lap one Josh’s lead was .355. Despite Josh setting a new lap record of 1:29.001 on lap two Halliday was still less than half a second behind, almost matching Josh and the McMartin Racing Team Ducati V4R’s record pace. Josh reeled off a string of seven laps in a row all under the previous lap record, but Halliday was matching his pace and on lap seven they set identical lap times. Halliday managed to claw back some time on lap nine before Josh responded on lap ten. As the duo hit the brakes for turn two on lap eleven a red flag stopped the race due to Mike Jones bike on fire on the outside of the corner. The race was declared with the McMartin Racing Team rider taking the win, his fourth race win of the 2023 championship.
Rain had been falling as the riders took to the track for race two, the first in ASBK history to be held under lights. The race, despite being declared dry had some damp patches so Josh’s plan was to play it smart over the first few laps. Sitting in fourth as the field got on the brakes at turn two for the first time behind Troy Herfoss, Arthur Sissis and Cru Halliday Josh exited turn three in second behind a clearly fired up Glenn Allerton who had surged through. A few riders ran wide and Josh was soon back to fourth as the field jockeyed for positions early. Herfoss was relegated on the first run down the straight as Josh moved into third 1.7 off the race lead. Herfoss retaliated at the back of the circuit on the next lap, and Josh responded immediately. The lead group had just closed up, six riders covered by .464, as rain started to fall and the race was red flagged.
After a quick change of settings on the Ducati V4R by Crew Chief Adrian Monti race two was restarted over eight laps on wet tyres. Josh again adopting the play it smart approach, happy to sit in the field behind Herfoss, Halliday and Allerton early on. Waters took the McMartin Racing Team Ducati into the lead on lap two before reeling off a string of laps that no one could match, quickly opening a five second advantage by the completion of lap four. The gap grew to 9.6 at the completion of lap seven before easing it off a fraction on the last lap to take the chequered flag with a 6.3 second advantage.
“We did a lot of work early in the weekend, even early this morning we were going through information to work out how we could make the bike better. Everyone in the team had input into making the bike better, it was a full team effort that allowed us to challenge in that first race, it was really close, even though it was red flagged I think I had the tools to take the win. Race two the conditions were pretty dodgy, I had to just play it smart and I told Craig that was my plan. I obviously had a good feeling after a couple of laps, and I was able to just keep chipping away. The whole team did an amazing job this weekend, I can’t thank them, or my own personal sponsors, enough for all the support.”
Craig McMartin – McMartin Racing Team Manager
“In both races Josh did an amazing job. In the first race he was just controlling it, Cru pushed him hard, in fact Josh said to me he was hoping that he would fade a little but he didn’t so Josh had to keep doing amazing lap times, it was just exceptional what both of them did in that race. Race two in the wet was just pure skill from Josh really. We have a setting we can go to that works pretty much anywhere in the wet, a great team effort gave him a good motorbike, but he had to ride it and he was just untouchable, as I said, just pure skill.”
Yamaha Racing Team
Cru Halliday built momentum as the weekend progressed at Sydney Motorsport Park, kicking off by ripping a 1.28.970 to snatch pole position just .049 ahead of teammate, Mike Jones, in P2.
Race one got underway on Saturday under cloudy skies and was stopped due to a major mechanical issue with Jones’ bike and the race was declared with Waters the winner, just ahead of Halliday.
Clouds again threatened the circuit as the field charged off for race two. Halliday moved his way into the lead on lap three only for the race to come to a halt moments later when rain fell. It was then declared a wet track and all riders returned to the pits and change to wet bike settings.
The race was restarted with a seven-lap sprint to the finish with constant drizzle in the air. Waters moved through the pack to take the lead and check out while Halliday was in a fight for the podium positions all the way to the end. He crossed the finish line in third place and his 2-3 results combined with his point from pole position giving him second for the round and he now sits fourth in the championship.
Cru Halliday – P2
“The weekend has gone really well for me, and the team has worked so hard to get this result. We were fast right from the start, put up a good fight in every session and to be honest, maybe the thing that makes me most happy was a third in the last race in the wet. I’m usually pretty ordinary in the wet but that was probably my best result ever in the rain and I felt safe doing it. We come to every race trying to win it and while we didn’t get the win, I leave here feeling as motivated and as confident as I have in a long time and really happy to be able to give YRT a good result. You saw in qualifying how fast our bikes were as both Mike and I were going faster around here then we ever have before so the work the guys are doing during the week is showing up. I wish round three was tomorrow as I want to keep getting better and keep building this wave of momentum.”
Mike Jones was able to shave a second of his lap times show his credentials on the fast and flowing SMSP circuit. Jones made it a YRT 1-2 on the grid after taking P2 in Superpole.
Jones didn’t get a great start in race one and a mechanical issue eventually forced him out of the race with just three laps to run, while running third.
He swapped to his spare bike for race two and was ready to rebound with a good result to finish the weekend but when the rain came, he played it safe and elected to gather points and not risk any further damage as far as bike or points go. He finished the race in 10th in what was a challenging weekend for the current champ.
Mike Jones – P16
“It certainly wasn’t the weekend myself or the team wanted,” Jones begins. “It started out great on Friday and we were on the pace early and clicking off laps that were super competitive, so I was confident I good turn that into a good result on race day. But things just didn’t go our way. The mechanical issue in race on is no one’s fault and a freak thing that happens in racing. And I just was very conservative in the wet of race two. But the team worked tirelessly all weekend and never stopped trying. We will regroup, come up with a plan moving forward and come out fired up for round three at Queensland Raceway.”
With a best time of 1:29.710 in qualifying, Troy Herfoss placed himself in P4 and on the second row for race day.
Herfoss got a solid start in race 1 but unfortunate mistake bumped him four positions backwards. Fighting hard to get back up front for podium contention, he moved into fourth, hunting down Mike Jones. With 10 laps completed, the race was declared by a red flag after Jones dramatically lost speed and his bike caught fire. With smoke billowing over the track, Herfoss finished in third.
In race 2, as Herfoss shot to the front with a blistering start, before the red flag came out yet again but called the race to restart. The team got their CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade ready for a wet race and it was another strong start for Herfoss as he rocketed to the front.
Slippery conditions and a wide run into turn six forced him to relinquish the lead. He battled hard and after an epic comeback through the field, made his way into second position where he finished the race, giving the team third overall for the weekend.
Troy Herfoss – P3
“Our first night race went really well. It was a big weekend, there’s a lot to talk about! The whole team worked well together, considering we were missing 2 of our regular guys – Charlie and Ian. Thanks to Dan who filled in for us, I started my time at Honda with him on the team, so it was cool to have him back working with us for a weekend. I’m of course really happy with the results, to get another podium and 2nd in race 2 was a highlight. We are looking to push on and bridge that gap to the front now. As far as the Championship goes, it’s great to be 2nd, really happy about that but we are wanting more so I’m looking forward to the next race and what’s to come.”
Deon Coote – Penrite Honda Racing Team Owner
“Overall, it was a good weekend and we had a fantastic finish in that second race, Troy recovered well after a small mistake, he had a strong finish in 2nd and it made a pretty exciting race to watch as he made his way back through the field. Super positive for the team and looking forward to seeing what we can do with our good pace heading into Queensland Raceway at the end of April.”
The debut weekend for GT racing was a huge success at Sydney Motorsport Park, with Glenn qualifying in sixth after missing the recent two-day test.
Race 1 saw Glenn get off to a great start, but with the settings of the bike still a work in progress rear grip hampered the result with Glenn finishing in P4. Race 2 in damp conditions saw Glenn battling for the podium position early In the race. The rear grip became the weak point once again and Glenn dropped back to P5, for fourth overall for the weekend.
“It’s a great way to debut the Gt Racing Team, and of course I want to win at my home race, but we missed the official test. So to get 4th for the round and lead laps, I am extremely happy with our result. 1.29.6 is a personal best for me in race 1 so we have a lot of positives to go forward with to Queensland, thanks for all the support from the guys on the team and our partners.”
Trevor Groeneveld – GT Racing Team Owner
“This weekend really has been intense with all of the challenges of turning up as a new team and doing battle with the very best riders and teams in the country. While there is a lot of room for improvement, we walk away from this weekend with a good haul of points, and lots of areas identified where we can improve on our performance.”
Racing under lights for the very first time on a shortened two-day schedule, Broc Pearson raced among the lead group of riders to finish the weekend seventh overall after 9-6 results, despite two red flags effecting both race one and race two on Saturday night at Sydney Motorsport Park.
“We had a few little issues on Friday, things that are quite unusual and just disrupted the rhythm that we needed to find throughout the practice sessions, but the guys really worked hard all day to give me a bike that worked for me when we got to qualifying. Being able to put in fast, consistent laps, my confidence grew pretty quickly, and I felt like we would be able to move forward in the races. I made a few small mistakes in race one, and was working my way forward when the race was red flagged or ninth, and in race two, the track was still a bit wet places but went with slicks and I actually really enjoyed pushing it a little in the conditions and I was a contender in the race, but then the rain bucketed down, and with wets on for the restart, I struggled a little for grip and hung in there for that 6th place. I just want to thank the team for everything this weekend. They are doing everything in their power to give me the tools I need to go fast, and although we didn’t hit our first milestone of a top 5, it feels like it might not be far away.”
Ben Henry – DesmoSport Ducati Team Co-Owner
“I’m really happy with the weekend. I liked the night racing and the two-day schedule, and we started to take some steps forward and see Broc racing with the leading group of riders. Race one, although on paper he’s ninth, he actually got to seventh when the red flag came out since Mike’s (Jones) bike was on fire, and results revert to the lap prior. In race two, he got a good start and put himself in that lead group before the rain came in and we had to restart with a 10-lap wet race. I’m really proud of Broc and the team. We had some issues during Friday’s practice sessions, but we overcame them together, reset mindsets and got down to work to bring better results on track and some much needed positives to our own program.”
Troy Bayliss – DesmoSport Ducati Team Co-Owner
“It was great to leave the track with a smile this weekend. Although 7th isn’t where we want to be, we’re moving in the right direction. The atmosphere in the box is great, Broc’s confidence is growing both with the team and on the bike, and the team is working well together. We’re an ambitious group of people in DesmoSport, so it’s tough to not be battling for a race win just yet, but it takes time, and I’m really proud of the team, and grateful to all our team partners, fans and supporters in general for really getting behind the direction we went this season by putting a young rider on.”
Round three of the ASBK is scheduled for April 28-30 at Queensland Raceway.
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