Mike Jones smashes Wanneroo ASBK Superpole

By Trevor Hedge

Mike Jones
Mike Jones
QP2

Times in first qualifying early this afternoon at Wanneroo Raceway were slower for a number of the front runners than they managed to achieve during free practice on Friday. An oil-down this morning and heavy overnight rain had left the circuit a little slippery, the track was dry but was expected to get quicker this afternoon in the 20-minute QP2 session.

Perth motorcycle enthusiasts generally make the trek up to Wanneroo when ASBK visits but this weekend there is also two more major events happening in the sandgroper state. The massive Manjimup 15,000 event, steeped in history Manji is a must-do event for many WA motorcyclists. In fact some industry people and enthusiasts here at Wanneroo today, are heading to Manjimup tomorrow. There is also a large enduro event happening this weekend. Certainly not the best planning in regards to calendars, but hopefully plenty of people still stream through the gates tomorrow.

As always, local press coverage has been the highest we ever see anywhere in this country, and advertising has been taken out across local radio networks etc. The promotion has been good, in the constraints of the obvious limited budget available. 

One thing guaranteed is that the on track action should be sensational, particularly if Mike Jones, Daniel Falzon, Cru Halliday, Ben Burke and Troy Herfoss can find a little extra race speed to upset what instead might turn out to be a Glen Allerton and Wayne Maxwell show for top honours, leaving the rest to battle for the final spot on the rostrum. (That sentence written before Superpole, obviously, but left in for relevance). 

Glenn Allerton broke the outright motorcycle lap record this afternoon in QP2, finally knocking off the more than decade old lap record set by Shannon Johnson on a Yamaha YZF-R, that scorcher a 55.35.

Glenn Allerton
Glenn Allerton

The track had been resurfaced in 2004, but is still in pretty good shape now compared to other short circuits on the Australian calendar.

But it took until today for that 2005 qualifying time to be bettered, Allerton was the man to do it with a 55.341 on the 10th of his 13 laps in Q2.

Allerton told me after the session that the lap didn’t even fell that quick, and was done on the harder of the two soft compound Dunlops available to them this weekend, he also mentioned that he doesn’t think that, for him, there is any more time to be found in the softer option, as he prefers the stability under brakes of the race tyre.

Mike Jones was actually quicker than Wayne Maxwell in QP2, but Maxwell still held provisional second on the grid thanks to a quicker time in QP1.

Wayne Maxwell
Wayne Maxwell

Daniel Falzon did not take part in QP2, happy to rely on his excellent QP1 time to guarantee him a spot in the  six-rider Superpole shootout. Jones pushed Falzon back to fourth in QP2 but the South Australian was instead saving his tyres and happy to wait out the session in pit-lane, happy to try and take the spot back in Superpole.

Daniel Falzon
Daniel Falzon

Cru Halliday put in almost identical times across the two sessions, which left him fifth overall while Troy Herfoss’ 55.929 from QP1 was good enough for him to make the Superpole cut.

Troy Herfoss
Troy Herfoss

Ben Burke had been in the 55s on Friday but failed to get under the 56-second marker today, the Kawasaki rider fell at turn six in the final qualifying session when aiming to improve his time further. 

Brayden Elliott made progress in QP2 to improve to eighth place, while Matt Walters failed to improve on his QP1 time and slipped to ninth on the grid.

Local hotshot Ben Stronach was the fastest qualifying local, his 56.694 good enough to push Jamie Stauffer outside the top ten. The #27 Honda suffered some sort of minor technical issue in QP2 that the team will have to chase down before tomorrow’s two 20-lap races.

Superpole
Mike Jones - Image by Keith Muir
Mike Jones – Image by Keith Muir

Superpole would still decide the top six, and that 10-minute session got underway at 1605 this afternoon beneath cloudy Wanneroo skies.

Few were prepared for how that final six would be shaken up in this session. First wow moment went to Troy Herfoss with a 55.455 on Crankt Protein Honda.

Only moments later a few more urgent words of exasperation were uttered when Mike Jones lowered the mark to 55.029.  Pirelli obviously supplying a good tyre (Jones and Herfoss on Pirelli), for this afternoon’s short session, but would it be capable of doing 20-laps at race pace tomorrow? It’s pointless asking them, as they wouldn’t tell us anyway, and understandably so.

Wayne Maxwell then pushed Herfoss back to third place as the session broached the halfway mark, but was still more than a tenth off Jones’ marker. Allerton then pushed Herfoss off the front row with a 55.405, not quite as quick as the #14 Yamaha had managed in regulation qualifying.

Daniel Falzon ended the session fifth quickest ahead of Cru Halliday, who rounds out the second row. There will be battles for honour between those two riders tomorrow, the factory backed rider up against the privateer, who is obviously knocking on the door for a factory ride in 2017.

So three riders have gone under the outright lap record this afternoon, but that new name written in bold in the record books is the moniker of Mike Jones.

After plenty of teething problems early in the weekend, the DesmoSport Ducati squad will be on a high this evening ahead of tomorrow’s race action, and deservedly so.

Team Manager Ben Henry had stretchmarks around to his earlobes after that Superpole session, which after the worried expressions and furrowed brow earlier in the weekend, and the huge disappointments the team suffered at Wakefield Park, was very nice to see.

Mike Jones congratulated by Ben Henry after smashing the Wanneroo lap record on his way to pole position at Barbagallo Raceway this afternoon - Image by Steve Thibou
Mike Jones congratulated by Ben Henry after smashing the Wanneroo lap record on his way to pole position at Barbagallo Raceway this afternoon – Image by Steve Thibou

“I’m absolutely ecstatic today with the DesmoSport Ducati team to take the Pirelli Superpole,” Jones beamed. “We’ve been working really hard together as a team and the set-up of the bike is coming along really well here – it’s incredible to ride.

 

“Together with that combination and the Pirelli tyres, we’ve been able to set the fastest-ever lap of Barbagallo Raceway. I’m very happy about that and the laptime was surprising… I wasn’t expecting a flat 55, under the record!”

Troy Bayliss was also overjoyed at the success of today after scaring more than a few people witless during two-up sessions earlier this afternoon. Including MX Nationals promoter Kevin Williams.

Troy Bayliss gives MX Nationals Promoter Kevin Williams a fast paced lift around Wanneroo Raceway
Troy Bayliss gives MX Nationals Promoter Kevin Williams a fast paced lift around Wanneroo Raceway
Yamaha Motor Finance ASBK 2016 – Round Four – Wanneroo Raceway – Final Qualifying / Superpole
  1. Mike Jones 55,029
  2. Wayne Maxwell 55.159
  3. Glenn Allerton 55.405
  4. Troy Herfoss 55.455
  5. Daniel Falzon 55.631
  6. Cru Halliday 55.649
  7. Ben Burke 56.119
  8. Brayden Elliott 56.449
  9. Matt Walters 56.472
  10. Ben Stronach 56.694
  11. Jamie Stauffer 56.853
  12. Adam Senior 56.991
  13. Sloan Frost 57.169
  14. Ryan Hampton 57.209
Mike Jones congratulated by Pirelli representative Dave Fuller after smashing the Wanneroo lap record on his way to pole position at Barbagallo Raceway this afternoon - Image by Keith Muir
Mike Jones congratulated by Pirelli representative Dave Fuller after smashing the Wanneroo lap record on his way to pole position at Barbagallo Raceway this afternoon – Image by Keith Muir
Yamaha Motor Finance ASBK 2016 - Round Four - Wanneroo Raceway - Final Qualifying / Superpole
Yamaha Motor Finance ASBK 2016 – Round Four – Wanneroo Raceway – Final Qualifying / Superpole
Support Series Reports by Motorcycling Australia
Motul Supersport

The talented field of Motul Supersport competitors went head to head this morning for their first qualifying session at Barbagallo, and with the track dishing out damp surface conditions in the first session, it was anyone’s guess as to who would snatch up the quickest times.

Despite local rider Sam Clarke holding the top spot in Qualifying 1 for the majority of the 25-minute session, a late charge from Yamaha’s Luke Mitchell meant that he took the fastest time with a 58.030 lap. With Mitchell quickest, Clarke was forced to settle for second in the opening qualifying session (58.416), while Race Centre’s Ben Blyth wrapped up the session in third (58.653).

Rounding out the first qualifying session in fourth place was Cube Racing’s Callum Spriggs (58.939), while Daniel Wilson completed the top five positions. Ted Collins, Robbie Menzies, and Matt Price all collected qualifying times inside the top ten.

When Supersport bikes hit the track for a second time at Barbagallo Raceway today, track conditions had vastly improved, and despite cool temperatures, rider’s times had dropped from this morning’s session.

Once again it was local Clarke and JNL’s Racing’s Mitchell who went head to head in Qualifying 2, and with a Pirelli Superpole award on offer, the pair pushed their bikes and bodies to the limits.

Despite the session being periodically red flagged due to a crash involving Wilson, the rider was up walking, and then it was straight back in to qualifying.

From there it was Clarke who shot to the top of the time sheets with a 57.422, bettering his Qualifying 1 time from this morning, followed by Mitchell who put down a 57.975, and championship leader Guenther who held down the third qualifying spot (57.944) with three minutes in the session remaining.

But no one was able to catch the lightening fast WA boy Clarke – his knowledge of the circuit serving him well, snatching up the Pirelli Superpole award with his 57.422 lap time and will now start on Pole when racing kicks off for Supersport competitors tomorrow.

Following closely behind Clarke was Mitchell who wrapped up Q2 in second (57.975), while Guenther qualified third (57.994). Race Centre’s Nic Liminton rode his Yamaha to P4 in the second session, while Spriggs wrapped up the day in fifth and will start from the second row of the grid tomorrow morning.

Demmery and Leonard impress while Club Challenge and Sidecars get to racing at Barbagallo Raceway

Barbagallo Raceway roared to life on Saturday, with competitors across four classes hitting the track for the first race of the weekend, at Round 4 of the Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul Pirelli in Western Australia.

There was plenty of action on track from the Production, Honda Moto3/125 GP, Club Challenge C&D Grade, and Sidecar classes today with riders getting down to business for the first lot of races at Barbagallo Raceway.

Production

After a successful practice at Barbagallo yesterday, the Over 300cc and Up to 300cc Production classes were forced to contend with patchy track conditions throughout qualifying this morning, but after two sessions it was YRD’s Callum Alderson who secured Pole position with an impressive 1:06.526 lap time, from Race Centre’s Drew Sells (1:07.279), while Brandon Demmery’s 1:07.402 saw him qualify in third. Sam Condon, Tom Toparis and Reid Battye all recorded times inside the top ten this morning.

When Production riders took to the grid this afternoon for their first race of the weekend, all eyes were on pole position holder Alderson who had showcased his lightening fast speed on track. And when the 31 bikes screamed in to the first turn, it was the Alderson’s YRD Yamaha who led the way.

After three laps of the ten lap journey, Alderson continued to maintain his lead however it wasn’t without pressure – the likes of Demmery and Battye hot on his tail, making for exciting racing for spectators at the Barbagallo circuit.

By the halfway mark in race one, Alderson was continuing to feel the daring speed of Demmery on his rear tyre, and it was approaching the start straight going in to lap six that Alderson succumbed to Demmery’s pressure, putting his Yamaha down, unable to re-join the race.

From there, Demmery inherited the lead with Battye, Sells and Toparis in tow. However, it was an early end to the day for DB Racing’s Battye too, who went down in the basin in the closing stages of the race, also unable to re-join his competitors.

And when race one concluded, it was Demmery who collected the first victory in Over 300cc Production category, from Sells who took second place and the victory in the Up to 300cc category. Kawasaki mounted Toparis wrapped up race one in an impressive third place, while Sam Condon, and Justin Hall completed the top five finishing positions. Paul Young, Aidan Hayes and Jake Hancock all finished inside the top ten in Production race one.

Honda Moto 3/125 GP

In the first qualifying session for the Honda Moto 3/125 GP competitors, track conditions remained damp after rain fell during the night, but with the breeze drying the circuit out, riders took a guess with tyre choice and did their best to put down their fastest times.

Quickest in Qualifying 1 was Graffiti Alley Racing’s Brian Houghton (1:05.723), while privateer Ben Leonard was 2.532 seconds off the pace in second (1:08.255).

Despite a minor crash in Qualifying 2, when times were combined Houghton once again snatched up pole with a 1:02.622, while Leonard was consistent again qualifying second (1:03.147). David Doughty, plus regulars Locky Taylor and Taylor Relph all qualified within the top five after two sessions on track.

When racing kicked off late this afternoon for the Honda Moto3/125GP class, Houghton was a notable absentee from the grid, forced to sit out of race one due to bike issues – so when bikes launched down the straight, it was second fastest qualifier Leonard, who shot off in to the race lead, while despite lacking some pace this morning, youngster Locky Taylor slotted in to second position behind him.

From there, Leonard was in no way backing off, and by lap five had stretched out his lead on Taylor, while Relph and Doughty followed closely behind in third and fourth positions.

The excitement then came from the battle for second, with Taylor and Relph going toe to toe, keeping the crowd guessing as to who had the determination to hold off the other. But it was Relph who managed to make the pass on Taylor in closing stages of the race, snatching up second place and pushing 14-year-old Taylor back to third position.

So when riders received the last lap board in race one, Leonard was well and truly in the box seat to take the race one victory, and when the chequered flag flew it was Leonard who took the first Moto 3/125 GP win for the weekend, while Relph wrapped up race one in second, followed by Taylor who finished third.

Scott Pettit was the fourth rider to cross the line, and was the first 125 competitor, followed by Doughty (125) who completed the top five positions in race one.

Club Challenge C&D Grades

After a brief practice this morning, both the Club Challenge C&D grade riders hit the track for their first and only qualifying session this afternoon, and it was BPR Racing’s Scott McCue who was fastest and the only rider to qualify with a sub minute lap time (59.693). Max James-Beatsonbell snatched up second position on the grid with a 1:00.019 time, while third fastest was Ash Jennings (1:00.538).

When race one kicked off for the Club Challenge C&D class competitors, an impressive 31 riders took to the grid for the first race of the day, and it was Suzuki GSXR 1000 rider Ash Jennings who launched in to the early race lead, fighting off the likes of McCue and BPR Racing’s Anton Jones who were both going head to head around the fast braking circuit.

After only two laps, Jennings and McCue broke away from the stacked group, but it was a disappointing early finish for Jennings who crashed at turn six – unable to re-join the race.

From there McCue was able to collect an unchallenged victory from James-Beatsonbell and Jones in the 1000cc category, while Eddie Kirrane secured the 600cc victory from Velocity Race Team’s Nick Favazzo and Pascal De Roche.

Sidecar Challenge

Sidecars had their first chance to hit the track for qualifying in Western Australia ahead of race one today, and it was duo Murray Stronach and Steve Marshall who would start on Pole at Barbagallo with a 1:04.387 qualifying time, while Jero Joyce and Corey Blackman were second quickest 1:04.66, from Graeme Evans and Jarred Scott (1:05.522).

In the first Sidecar race this afternoon, Suzuki’s Stronach and Marshall were simply unstoppable, and after six laps took an unchallenged victory from Joyce and and Blackman who crossed the line in second. Evans and Scott wrapped up race one for the Sidecar Challenge in third place, followed by duo Gary Cushnahan and Paul Matthews who steered their Watson Honda machine to fourth place.

With race one for selected ASBK competitors done and dusted, competitors and teams will now prepare for more racing at Round 4 of the 2016 Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul Pirelli at Barbagallo Raceway tomorrow. 

2016 ASBK calendar
  • Round 1 Phillip Island GP Circuit, WSBK, Vic 25-28 February
  • Round 2 Wakefield Park Raceway, NSW 25-27 March
  • Round 3 Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW 16-17 April
  • Round 4 Barbagallo Raceway, WA 3-5 June
  • Round 5 Morgan Park Raceway, QLD 6-7 August
  • Round 6 Winton Motor Raceway, Vic 30 September – 2 October