First practice for this weekend’s ASBK season opener at Phillip Island, staged in conjunction with the opening round of the World Superbike Championship, got underway under cloudy skies at Phillip Island just before 1400 this afternoon.
Three ASBK riders have taken the opportunity to also enter the WorldSBK events this weekend, thus had two extra days of practice at the beginning of this week (Link).
This has caused some conjecture amongst competitors, with many of a view that these riders have entered the WorldSBK events simply to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals in the ASBK races.
To get around the rule that prevents ASBK riders from riding at a race venue in the seven days preceding a championship event, the machines have to be modified from their ASBK specification in order to take part in the WorldSBK events.
It is fair to say that YRT, the factory Yamaha Team, has been the subject of most of the hearsay, and they have only changed the fuel tank on their machines in order to make the longer WorldSBK race distances.
Penrite Honda have also entered Troy Herfoss but seem a little more determined with a lot more tweaks than the YRT machines. Along with the larger fuel cell they have added Race Kit Camshafts, gearbox changes and a swingarm linkage, all of which Herfoss has said made the bike easier to get speed out of. Thus it is fair to say that Herfoss’s machine is a little more competitive against the WorldSBK competition than the YRT bikes, and the testing on Monday and Tuesday, where Herfoss ended up quicker than both YRT riders Maxwell and Falzon, seems to suggest that is the case. A 1m32.297 for Herfoss bested the 1m32.651 of Maxwell and the 1m32.828 of Falzon, but all three were well off Jonathan Rea’s 1m30.598 benchmark set on the same day.
On ASBK spec’ bikes during the official domestic test here late in January (Link), it had been Glenn Allerton on top with a 1m32.728 aboard the NextGen BMW ahead of BCperformance Kawasaki’s Bryan Staring on 1m32.761, while defending ASBK Champion Josh Waters was third quickest and the final man in the 1m32s.
Mike Jones had been fourth on a ZX-10R Kawasaki and has also entered the ASBK races this weekend before he heads to Spain to contest the Spanish Superstock 1000 Championship on a Kawasaki (Link).
Fifth and sixth at the January Test were the YRT machines of Maxwell and Falzon ahead of Michael Blair and Troy Herfoss. The Honda man had been held back with some electrical gremlins and issues.
Today though was another day, as the opening 30-minute Free Practice session played out at Phillip Island it certainly looks as though Josh Waters might be the man to beat this weekend. However, with changing weather conditions forecast over the duration of the weekend, anything could happen, and probably will….
When the 30-minute session wound up at 1422 this afternoon it was Waters on top with a 1m32.798, the best of many fast laps the Mildura racer put in during the session, and fractionally quicker than he managed here in January.
Troy Bayliss was second quickest this afternoon, making some big strides forward in comparison to the testing time he had here in January (Link).
Most of the field, however, did not improve on the times they set here back in January. Perhaps testing new developments, or purely fine tuning their machines for race distance.
ASBK 2018 – Round One – Thursday Free Practice Times
Josh Waters – Suzuki 1m32.798
Troy Bayliss – Ducati 1m33.410
Daniel Falzon – Yamaha 1m33.657
Troy Herfoss – Honda 1m33.662
Wayne Maxwell – Yamaha 1m33.665
Glenn Allerton – BMW 1m33.876
Mike Jones – Kawasaki 1m34.005
Michael Blair – Yamaha 1m34.177
Bryan Staring – Kawasaki 1m34.344
Matt Walters – Kawasaki 1m34.471
Aaron Morris – Yamaha 1m35.285
Mark Chiodo – Suzuki 1m35.525
Alex Phillis – Suzuki 1m35.823
Callum Spriggs – Kawasaki 1m35.885
Corey Turner – Suzuki 1m35.964
Ted Collins – BMW 1m36.037
Mitch Levy – Yamaha 1m36.631
William Strugnell – Kawasaki 1m36.871
Mitch Rees – Honda 1m36.937
Arthur Sissis – Suzuki 1m37.217
Mason Coote – Kawasaki 1m37.544
David Barker – Kawasaki 1m37.596
Adam Christie – Suzuki 1m37.779
Lucas Vitale – Kawasaki 1m37.844
Kyle Buckley – Kawasaki 1m37.933
Scott McGregor – Yamaha 1m38.012
Matt Tooley – Yamaha 1m38.071
Matt Harding – Kawasaki 1m38.078
Brendan McIntyre – Suzuki 1m38.137
Con Kokkoris – Ducati 1m38.291
Brad Swallow – Kawasaki 1m38.354
Joel Rhodes – Yamaha 1m38.865
Patrick Li – Yamaha 1m38.942
Adam Senior – Yamaha 1m38.961
Trent Gibson – 1m38.968
Heath Griffin – Ducati 1m40.545
Phil Czaj – Aprilia 1m40.927
Nathan Spiteri – Suzuki 1m40.954
Ashley Manuel – Kawasaki 1m40.959
Tassy Limanis – BMW 1m41.479
Justin Vella – Kawasaki 1m41.757
Hamish McMurray – Kawasaki 1m41.816
Brian Kozan – BMW 1m42.149
Rowen Smith – Kawasaki 1m43.043
Aaiden Coote – Kawasaki 1m43.733
Ned Fualkhead – Honda 1m44.027
Jake Drew – Yamaha 1m44.152
Tracey Davies – Ducati 1m45.964
Australian Superbike competitors will next be on track Friday more for their second and final 30-minute Free Practice ahead of their one 20-minute qualifying session scheduled for 1340 Friday afternoon.
Tom Toparis (Cube Racing, Kawasaki ZX6R) was fastest for Thursday’s Australian Supersport practice session on his Kawasaki machine. Young Toparis will be pulling double duty this weekend, as he will also be competing as a wildcard in the WorldSSP class this weekend. Toparis lapping ‘The Island’ with a 1:37.515.
Toparis saying after the session; “Of course it’s good to be quickest again. It’s also great to get back into it after my crash the other day. We are just sorting out the difference from the WorldSSP bike to my ASBK Supersport 600, so it’s interesting to see. I think we are looking good heading into tomorrow and hopefully we can work it all out. We ended up fastest, so I am feeling really good going into tomorrow.”
Up next was Yamaha Factory rider, Cru Halliday (Yamaha Racing Team, Yamaha YZF-R6) who rode the brand new YZF-R6 with great skill, posting a 1:37.536 to just miss out on the top position.
Giuseppe Scarcella (BCPerformance Junior Team, Kawasaki ZX6R) enjoyed his debut for the BCpeformance Junior Team. Scarcella once again joins ASBK, after a stint in WorldSSP last year. The Kawasaki rider managed a 1:38.615.
The top five was completed by Brendan Clarke (Champions Ride Days Race Team, Kawasaki ZX-6R) and Nic Liminton (Yamaha YZF-R6).
Fans can catch the Australian Supersport class at 8:20 AM for Free Practice Two, Qualifying will take place at 14:05 in the afternoon.
It’s a new era for the Australian Supersport 300 class with Australia’s best road racing talent rising through the ranks, and 2018 looks like it will be no exception to the rule. This year the ‘Up To’ and ‘Over’ classes are no more, with all models battling it as one unified class.
Despite a red flag coming out during the session that halted preceding’s, Oli Bayliss (Cube Racing, Kawasaki Ninja 300) kept a cool head and posted a 1:49.931 to come out fastest.
Tom Bramich (Nolan Helmets, Yamaha YZF-R3) was on top for the majority of the session, but Bayliss managed to set a late lap to shoot to the top of the timesheets. Bramich setting a 1:50.390.
Coming up in third position was young gun, Locky Taylor (LTR Racing, Yamaha YZF-R3) with his time of 1:51.261.
Harry Khouri (Acid Racing, Yamaha R3 321) and Jarred Brook (KTM Australia, KTM RC 390) completed the top five.
Action resumes for the Australian Supersport 300 at 8:40AM tomorrow morning for the second practice with Qualifying at 13:20PM.
Australian Supersport 300 Top Ten Provisional Times
1. Oliver BAYLISS (Cube Racing, Kawasaki Ninja 300) 1:49.931
2. Tom BRAMICH (Nolan Helmets, Yamaha R3 321) 1:50.390
3. Locky TAYLOR (LTR Racing, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:51.261
4. Harry KHOURI (Acid Racing, Yamaha R3 321) 1:51.286
5. Jarred BROOK (KTM Australia, KTM RC 390) 1:51.456
6. Zac LEVY (Puma RV’s Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:52.633
7. Ben BRAMICH (GOWMoto, KTM RC 390) 1:52.731
8. Luke POWER (Angel Wings, Kawasaki Ninja 300) 1:52.841
9. Seth CRUMP (Rock Oil, KTM RC 390) 1:52.928
10. Hunter FORD (Ford Brothers Racing, Yamaha R3 321) 1:53.052
YMF R3 Cup
Over in the YMF R3 Cup which joins the Australian WorldSBK Round as a support category this year, former Australian Moto3 Champion, Bramich was fastest managing to set a blistering 1:51.571.
Bramich saying; “For sure the bike is going well, we are using the same settings as we did at Phillip Island for the test the other week and we are building on our pace and hopefully tomorrow we can go faster. We still have a further Australian Supersport 300 practice session to come before qualifying.”
In second was rising star Locky Taylor, lodging a time of 1:51.601. Third was the son of former Australian Superbike Champion Jamie Stauffer, Max. Stauffer showing plenty of promise and adapting well to his YZF-R3 machine with a 1:52.116.
2017 podium placer Laura Brown (WNR, Yamaha YZF-R3) set the fourth fastest time, followed by Harry Khouri (Acid Racing, Yamaha YZF-R3) to round out the top five.
The YMF R3 Cup action will resume at 8:00AM, with Qualifying concluding tomorrow’s action at 16:25.
YMF R3 Cup Top Ten Provisional Times
Tom BRAMICH (Nolan Helmets, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:51.571
2. Locky TAYLOR (LTR Racing, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:51.601
3. Max STAUFFER (Chris Watson M-cycles, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:52.116
4. Laura BROWN (WNR, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:52.667
5. Harry KHOURI (Acid Racing, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:52.873
6. Zac LEVY (Puma RV’S, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:53.930
7. Travis HALL (Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:54.104
8. Troy RYAN (Taree Motorcycles, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:54.335
9. Hunter FORD (Ford Brothers Racing, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:54.464
10. Callum O’BRIEN (BANHAMS WA, Yamaha YZF-R3) 1:54.567
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