The ASBK riders have been sweating it out at Hidden Valley Raceway, with the opening practice sessions ahead of ASBK Round 4 taking place on Thursday afternoon in 34-degrees ambient temperatures, combined with 75 per cent humidity of the type only experienced in the top end.
Thursday saw competitors shake down their machines and start to get in the zone while some familarised themselves with their new machines, or adapting to changes to their machines since the previous round at Winton (Link). The open practice session on Thursday was not officially timed.
Crankt Protein Honda’s new Fireblade SP2 machines will make their competitive debut in the Northern Territory this weekend.
Daniel Falzon currently leads the ASBK series after a stellar start to the year for the South Australian, we caught up with him after free practice on Thursday afternoon.
“Honestly I felt a lot better out there than I expected, from laps eight or nine we were right up there with the paces of the lap record, and we made little improvements, and came in for a fresh tyre as well, I’m really happy with our times. I think we’ll be competitive, and the other boys are fast as well. I just think the track itself is in really good condition and we’ll all be below the lap record come race day.”
Wayne [Maxwell], you got pole here a few years ago here, on the Suzuki, how’s the Yamaha around here today?
“The Yamaha straight out of the box is really good, I was surprised with the lap time, it’s hard to compare back to 2013 to now as the track has been resurfaced and there’s new tyres, and a lot of things are different. So I’m just trying to feel comfortable and ignore the lap time. At the end of the day the track will dictate that and the conditions. Just trying to get a little bit better front feeling over the back of the track. Everything is pretty standard for me, turning up at a track, and working on front end feeling and brake stability to get it stopped on the straight, that’ll hopefully put us in a good position to lead into the next few days. There’s one clear cut choice for tyres, normally in the hotter conditions you go with the softer options, so it won’t be like Winton, where it was about who tested the tyres. It’ll be a clear cut decision here, hard front and soft rear.
Troy [Herfoss] Good day out there on the bike today? You’ve only really turned a very few laps on the bike previously at Winton so did you make good progress today?
“Today was the first day really putting my head down and getting a good feel for it and we’re really happy. The bike does everything in the ball park straight away, there’s nothing that worries us about it, it’s just a matter of a little fine tuning, we’re pretty lucky really. The extra sessions today really helped, and we can go into tomorrow with a bit more of a normal weekend. There’s always a lot of stuff to think about before that first session so we were a bit worried about it. Just being a new bike really. Good to get it out of the way. I mean the bike has traction control, so the more lean angle I’m carrying the more traction I’ve got, so I’m going to have to adjust what I’m doing to get the most out of the bike. It’s all a lot of fun really, because you can feel it working, and it definitely feels like on the edge of the tyre there’s a lot more room for error. So whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing we don’t really know. It’s all fun and games at the moment. I know traction control was a big help over in Europe, hopefully now we can save the tyre a bit more in the early stages, and also the bike has good power, so I don’t have to be so impatient at the start of the race. So might be able to show a bit more patience so to speak and not be so aggressive. We’ll wait and see!”
Robbie [Bugden], you’ve been strong this season in ASBK, the Kawasaki should go well at this circuit?
“It was really good, you know only two 25 minute sessions so we really just tried to relearn the track and spin a few laps. We tried a few littler different things. The main stuff really starts tomorrow, but good to be back out there and good to be back in Darwin, and good to be back on the BC Performance Kawasaki ZX-10R. Without a doubt its probably the type of circuit that will suit the Kawa, so we’ll have to keep our head down and work hard, and hopefully get it up the front there come Sunday.”
“For the first day with basically no testing on this motorbike, we’ve had such a good first day here. Basically all positive information, the bike seems really adjustable, between sessions we’ve improved a lot, and are basically just working our way around the electronic system and how it needs to be manipulated. We’ve got good grip, the bike steers well, stops, turns. So I’m pretty happy for the moment, yea we’ve got a few key areas we need to improve, but basically for the first two sessions of this bike I think it’s a pretty good start. Probably it’ll be about how we can apply the power we’ve got, we’re really happy with the engine performance and horsepower of the bike. It was key that the team got this bike prepared for this circuit, being a 1.1km front straight, and I think we’re going to be in the game.”
“It was all good today, you don’t really know where you’re at as there’s no official timing, but it was good for me, and the fastest I’ve ever been here. I definitely hope to make things better tomorrow. I’d like to try and help the bike with the turning, like everyone I put new tyres on, I didn’t go so much quicker, so I’m disappointed, but that really stood out, and I’ve never been that fast before.”
Troy [Guenther], you’re back on the BMW, you made a bit of a mess on one of the bikes here testing the other week, physically are you OK for this weekend?
“I think the first session I was a little tender, but getting back out there the second time, I’m feeling better and better. The good thing about the pain when I’m out on the bike is it’s more of a constant thing, it’s not getting worse. As regards to race distance come Sunday I reckon I’ll be fine. It’s hard to tell from the test where we’ll be, as the track has been resurfaced, and we’ve done some pretty good times relative to previous years. But look, I think if we can get everything sorted we have a good chance of being up towards the pointy end, and more-so than where we have been yet.”
Glenn [Allerton], how are you feeling with your return from injury?
“I’m still a little bit sore, but just happy to be back riding the bike. I’m just got to try and feel my way back into feeling comfortable. There’s a whole bunch of things that are different about our bike at the moment, compared to how it was when I last was riding, like the tyres, and different fork internals, and I’ve actually got a new bike, so it’s just getting used to the feeling. It was good to be back on the bike again, and just trying to do the best I can, obviously not 100 per cent, but I’ll still give it a good go tomorrow.
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