Barbagallo Raceway welcomed the full gamut of Australian Superbike categories to the seven-turn 2.41km circuit situated 45-minutes north of the Perth CBD today for the first time in almost a decade.
While Wanneroo Raceway, as it used to be known before Perth car dealer Alf Barbagallo bought the naming rights to the WA Sporting Car Club managed circuit some years ago, may have only seven turns, it is still great fun to ride and immensely challenging.
I would also, quite confidently, state that it has the biggest elevation changes of any Australian racetrack currently used for motorcycle race events.
The ‘Basin’ or ‘Bowl’, depending on your preference for the naming of turn six, is massively cambered with a huge drop in, and a big, long uphill climb out that never seems to end.Once upright riders are hard on the gas before standing on the back brake as they crest the brow of a hill at over 230km/h.
The final turn is generally the scene of the most crashes at this circuit. In fact in 2004, Josh Brookes was airlifted from the circuit with a severely broken pelvis and spent six weeks in a Perth hospital. The following year, local rider Ben Henry also went into the sand so hard that the grit was pushed right up back behind his eyeballs, requiring his eyeballs actually having to be pulled out of their sockets in hospital so doctors could flush the sand out from behind his eyes…
Plenty of people also run off at turn one, and when you run off anywhere at Wanneroo you generally don’t make it back onto the circuit. The sand traps are deep and sandy in the way that only Western Australia can provide. They don’t call Western Australians ‘Sandgropers’ for nothing!
While the Superbike category joined the V8 Supercars here five years ago, it is almost a decade since the full brace of categories contested an event at Wanneroo, thus a large percentage of the field are experiencing the challenges of Barbagallo Raceway for the first time.
One rider not enjoying the opening day at Wanneroo was Daniel Falzon. The South Australian went out in the morning session on old tyres to see which way the track went, technical problems with the new YZF-R1 saw the Supersport Champion sit out FP2, losing very valuable track time in the progress.Falzon went out on the spare bike in the late afternoon FP3 session and managed to put in a creditable 57.539 to end day one as the fourth quickest in the 19-rider Superbike field. Falzon’s afternoon charge was also halted early though with further problems with the Caterpillar sponsored machine. It might be a late night for brother Jon and the JD Racing squad trying to troubleshoot the annoying gremlins that plagued them today.
Another rider never to see the Wanneroo circuit before was finding much more success. Mike Jones, who dominated the second round of ASBK 2015 at Morgan Park last month, ended the day quickest after getting the better of his Cube Racing team boss, Ben Henry, who cut his teeth at Wanneroo before moving to Brisbane, where he shares a residence with FIM Superstock 1000 rider, and fellow Western Australian, Bryan Staring.
Mike Jones put in a 56.708, a great result for his first day at the circuit, but he has a long way to go if he is going to scare the 55.534 qualifying record here set by Shannon Johnson on a Yamaha YZF-R1 a decade ago.
Ben Henry was second quickest to make it a Cube Racing Kawasaki 1-2 ahead of local rider Anthony McFadden (BMW) and South Australian Daniel Falzon.
Wanneroo born brothers Ben and Cameron Stronach finshed the day fifth and sixth with the strong local entry list being further underlined by positions five-through-ten all filled by Western Australian riders.
Adding an international flavour to the event is Christchurch 26-year-old Ryan Hampton. The Kiwi receiving some support from Motorcycling New Zealand to make the long trip across the ditch, and the Nullarbor, to finish the session 11th quickest ahead of Victorian based Aprilia rider Phil Czaj.
ASBK 2015 Wanneroo Friday Superbike Practice Combines Times
Mike Jones 56.708
Ben Henry 56.976
Anthony McFadden 57.532
Daniel Falzon 57.539
Ben Stronach 57.571
Cam Stronach 57.587
Adam Chambers 57.867
Ashley Fleming 57.914
Adam Senior 58.111
Ralph Mammoliti 58.213
Ryan Hampton 58.342
Phil Czaj 59.9995
Topping the Supersport category was the man with the most qualified pit crew in ASBK.In the Tumut youngsters corner this year is master tuner Phil Tainton and three-time Australian Superbike Champion Shawn Giles.
Brayden Elliott’s 58.277 good enough to top the Supersport charts but local Kawasaki rider Livio Zamperi was only a tenth off Elliott and looks set to put a cat amongst the pigeons. Likewise Aaiden Coote, a Perth boy that relocated to Melbourne for better racing opportunities, was third quickest alongside fellow sandgroper Thyron Van Vuuren.
Notes on Support classes below provided by ASBK staff
Hayden Spinks clocked the best time in the opening session of all classes on the day with a 1:10.987 ahead of one of the overall class favourites in Drew Sells (Race Centre).
Justin Hall (North Coast RR) posted a 1:13.142, Lara Marais (SP Racing) managed a 1:13.392 and Lachlan Keogh (JB Racing) recorded a 1:13.822 to round out the top-five times.
The second session saw round 2 winner Michelle Marais (SP Racing) back in action, and she didn’t disappoint posting the fastest time of 1:10.209 for the session.
Sells, Spinks, Hall and Lara Marais rounded out the top five – with all riders (other than Spinks) improving on their times from the opening session.
In the third and final practice session Michelle Marais produced had the goods, posting the first sub 1:10.00 time for the class with a 1:09.487.
Spinks and Sells also came in under the 1:10.00-mark to pst the second and third fastest times of the session, with Hall and Keogh claiming fourth and fifth fastest times respectively.
Honda Moto 3 / 125GP
The opening practice session for the class saw three local WA riders top the time sheets with Scott Pettit (Fastline GP Racing), David Mason (Fastline GP Racing), and Colin Boujos finishing top-three.
Petit clocked the fastest time of the session with a 1:05.488 with Manson the only other rider to post a sub 1:06.00 time.
Victorians Ted Collins (Magnum Welders) and Matt Barton (ETS Racefuels) rounded out the top-five.
The second session saw significantly faster times, with the top seven riders posting faster lap times than the fastest lap in the opening session.
In session two it was Queenslander Brian Houghton (K1 Racing) showing how it’s done, with a quick 1:03.379 ahead of Petit, Tom Bramich (Ron Angel Classic Racing), Barton and Collins.
The final session once again saw quicker lap times set, and it was Barton who signaled his intention for the weekend with a number of sub 1:04.00 times throughout.
His fastest lap of 1:03.324 was the quickest of the day, while Locky Taylor (Tas Earthmoving WA), Houghton and Collins all came inside the 1:04.00-mark.
Round three will provide spectators with plenty to see and do – outside of the racing.
Off the track there will be trade and club displays to check out, as well as a kids Come & Try area which is free for children to have a go riding mini bikes in a safe and controlled environment.
Stunt rider Lukey Luke will be out in force to show off his latest tricks on the bike, and pillion rides will be taking place for a number of lucky competition winners (see our Facebook page for your chance to win a ride!).
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