Daniel Falzon takes first blood as ASBK 2017 gets underway at Phillip Island
Daniel Falzon blasted the Caterpillar backed YZF-R1 out of pole position at 0926 this morning with the Crankt Protein Honda pairing of Bryan Staring and Troy Herfoss hot on his heels.
Josh Waters quickly moved through to fourth position, and into turn four for the first time Troy Herfoss made his move past Falzon to take the race lead.Wayne Maxwell’s start to the season was disastrous, the YRT man going down on lap one and rejoining at the back of the field.
As they started lap two it was still Herfoss in the lead but Falzon was climbing all over his tail, Staring watching on in close company along with Glenn Allerton and Josh Waters in that mix, as Matt Walters tried to keep that top five within his striking distance.
Late on that second lap Staring made his move on Falzon to take second place, Falzon got a great run around turn 12 though to pull alongside the Honda duo, but then Allerton had an absolutely amazing slingshot from those three men to then gazump them all into turn one and take the race lead.
When that jumble exited Siberia it was Falzon with his nose in front. The young South Australiankept his pursuers at bay right around the remainder of that lap, and actually started to stretch away a little, as Allerton defended his second position from the Crankt Protein Honda pairing of Herfoss and Staring. Josh Waters was still there also and Matt Walters was in a strong sixth place, the leading Kawasaki.
Falzon maintained sway at the front after putting in a 1m33.920 and then backed that up with a 33.806. The men behind him though were gathering steam, Allerton and Staring both putting in identical 1m33.48s laps, while Herfoss was in fourth after recording a 33.89.
At half race distance it was still Falzon out front, with half-a-second over Allerton, Staring and Herfoss, nothing separated that trio.Josh Waters was in a relatively lonely fifth place on the new GSX-R1000R, an impressive debut for the new Suzuki in its first competitive outing anywhere in the world.The next lap, however, Josh was forced to back off, the new machine developing a problem and the two-time champ started to have to nurse the machine home, losing position after position, that incredibly promising debut turning to disappointment. The issue likely to have stem from him getting peppered with shrapnel when another rider ran off the circuit. The same issue also befell Matt Walters, who also sustained some radiator damage and then crashed on his own liquids.
With five laps to run it was still Falzon, but that trio behind him were never going to let the young South Australian take this one without a real fight.The next time across the stripe they had all started to close in on him, Allerton his closest combatant, with the Crankt Protein Honda men right there also. They were also starting to encounter lapped traffic….
On to the chute for the penultimate time Falzon had again managed to pull some ground on his pursuers, earning himself a little breathing space. The quartet closed up again though as they negotiated turn three, Falzon pinning the Caterpillar R1 through that fourth gear sweeper sideways in a beautiful display of bike control, his rear Pirelli hazing a blue hue through the Phillip Island air.
Allerton pounced out of Siberia for the final time, but Falzon held his nerve through turns three and four to regain the lead instantly. It was on for young and old now.
As the leading four negotiated turns 11 and 12 for the final time they neogtiated a gaggle of lapped riders. Falzon and Allerton weaved their way through either side of them, nothing in at the line. Falzon was nodding his head in victory, seemingly unaware just how close Allerton was, but he was right to nod, Computime awarding the win to Falzon by a slender one-hundredth of a second at the line.
Bryan Staring took the final step on the rostrum, the Honda man also scoring the fastest lap of the race, his 1m33.486 besting Allerton’s 33.487 by a single thousandth of a second.Defending champion Troy Herfoss fourth, 0.661 behind at the stripe.
Robbie Bugden fifth, the first Kawasaki home, 12.67-seconds behind the race winner. Cru Halliday sixth ahead of an impressive Mitch Levy.
Alex Phillis found his form in the race with an encouraging seventh place on the Aprilia, six-seconds clear of Ducati man Beau Beaton.
Kyle Buckley rounded out the top ten on his Superbike debut which is another exciting pointer of things to come from the BCperformance Kawasaki man.
Likewise fellow Superbike debutante Troy Guenther was the first BMW home in 11th place.
Chas Hern debuted the MV Agusta F4 RCwith a highly creditable 14th place, the Victorian never throwing a leg over the machine until first practice earlier this week.
Wayne Maxwell salvaged some pride by climbing his way back to 17th place after his early misfortune, no points however for that valiant effort.
With the race win and his point for pole position, Falzon now has the early lead in the 2017 YMF ASBK Championship, his margin six-points. There is a long way to go, but there has certainly been no better way for the youngster to start his season 2017. His family pit crew and friends clearly elated with that victory.
“It is a big moment for me, but it is really a big moment for us! Our privateer team, we put in so much effort in the off season. We are still learning new things every weekend, and our progression has been strong. To come out with a race win is unbelievable, these are the top riders in Australia and to be leading the championship by six points now, already. I can’t wait for race two, we’ve got a really strong package this year.
“In first practice I noticed the middle section of the circuit was my slowest point, so I went back and thought about it, some different lines I could take, and some different strategies I could try in the way I was riding the bike, and then come qualifying yesterday I found something new that really worked, got a lot of grip out of my tyres and I was able to make some time there which helps you a lot in finding some time around that back section of the circuit.”
It was an impressive season opener from Falzon, keeping a cool head while under pressure from his massively experienced rivals throughout that whole 11-lap race. Allerton, Staring and Herfoss all have championships under their belts at this level, it seems that in 2017, 22-year-old Falzon is very determined to join that exclusive club.
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