Australian Superbike 2008 – Round Seven – Eastern Creek (NSW) – Preview

This weekend’s final round of the 2008 Australian Superbike Championship at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway circuit shapes as the most tension-packed in the championship’s 20-year history, with four riders capable of claiming the coveted crown.

Teknic Honda rider Glenn Allerton holds a narrow five-point lead over defending champion Jamie Stauffer in the seven-round series, with Stauffer’s Yamaha Racing teammate – and elder brother – Daniel and Allerton’s teammate Jason O’Halloran, also in the mix for championship glory.

The quartet head into the meeting in top form. Twenty-seven-year-old Allerton was victorious at the recent non-championship Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix meeting at Phillip Island, while 28-year-old Jamie Stauffer had Allerton’s measure at the previous round of the series at Tasmania’s Symmons Plains Raceway.

Daniel too is in career-best form, winning both races at Tasmania’s penultimate round of the series, while O’Halloran finished a close second to his teammate at Phillip Island two weeks ago – and ahead of the Yamaha duo.

“Jamie’s always strong at Sydney’s Eastern Creek,” said Allerton. “But we tested here a few weeks ago, and things went really well.”

“All of the top riders were within two or three tenths of each other at that time, but we have really got the CBR1000RR working well and I believe we have the overall package needed to win the title. I’m feeling really confident after the Island.”
Jamie Stauffer too is confident as he shoots for a record-equalling third consecutive Australian Superbike Championship.

“There’s just five points in the championship, so it will be game on at Eastern Creek,” said Stauffer. Bring it on.”

The weekend’s two 13-lap Superbike races are literally a winner-take-all showdown, with the bonus championship point awarded to the fastest qualifier likely to play a major role in determining the 2008 champion.

Stauffer has the cards in his favour at the 3.93km Sydney circuit, holding both the Superbike (1:31.057) and Supersport (1:32.654) lap records at Eastern Creek. Stauffer’s Superbike lap record is just 0.697sec outside Spaniard Alex Criville’s outright 500cc Grand Prix record of 1:30.360.

Will Stauffer have more than Allerton to worry about this weekend? The answer is yes, according to his team manager.

“There are no team orders between Jamie and Dan,” said Yamaha Racing Team crew chief Kev Marshall at the previous round of the series. “The championship will be decided on the track at the final round.”

The arithmetic possibilities are mouth-watering – and endless. If Daniel wins both races and Allerton and Jamie Stauffer place third or worse in each race, then Dan will close his 14pt deficit and the title will be his. O’Halloran is 36pts off the championship lead, and will need a slice of luck to go his way if he is to bridge the gap – but there are any number of Superbike riders able to do just that.

With factory-backed riders Craig Coxhell and Robbie Bugden from Team Joe Rocket Suzuki, Shannon Johnson and Scott Charlton from Kawasaki Racing Team and MV Agusta pilot Kevin Curtain also in the mix for race victory, the championship outcome is far from straight forward.

This year’s series has provided some of the closest racing in the 20-year history of the Australian Superbike Championship. Lap records have been broken at every circuit the series has visited, with the Superbikes lapping quicker than the V8 Supercars at tracks the two categories share.

As they head to their final showdown for 2008 Allerton leads the championship on 230pts to Jamie Stauffer 225, Daniel Stauffer 216 and O’Halloran 188.

However, Jamie Stauffer will have more than just the Superbike championship on his mind at Eastern Creek, as he will be aiming for his second Australian Supersport Championship. With one round remaining, Stauffer leads the Supersport championship on 264pts from Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Josh Waters 237 and Teknic Honda rider Wayne Maxwell 201.

A full support program at Eastern Creek Raceway will feature races for Supersport, 125cc Grand Prix, Superstock 600, Formula Xtreme, Nakedbike, Pro Twin, Yamaha FZ6 Cup and Sidecar. Practice for all categories takes place on Friday, qualifying and support races on Saturday, with racing Sunday.

2008 Championship Points

SUPERBIKE (after 6 of 7 rounds)
1 Glenn Allerton Honda CBR1000RR 230
2 Jamie Stauffer Yamaha YZF-R1 225
3 Dan Stauffer Yamaha YZF-R1 216
4 Jason O’Halloran Honda CBR1000RR 188
5 Craig Coxhell Suzuki GSX-R1000 160
6 Robbie Bugden Suzuki GSX-R1000 138
7 Kevin Curtain MV Agusta 312R 133
8 Chris Trounson Honda CBR1000RR 131
9 Zac Davies Yamaha YZF-R1 130
10 Jon Cartwright Yamaha YZF-R1 114

AMCN SUPERBIKE PRIVATEER CUP (after 6 of 7 rounds)
1 Chris Trounson Honda CBR1000RR 238
2 Zac Davies Yamaha YZF-R1 236
3 Jon Cartwright Yamaha YZF-R1 194
4 Mark Higgins Yamaha YZF-R1 186
5 Michael Blunden Suzuki GSX-R1000 129

SUPERSPORT (after 6 of 7 rounds)
1 Jamie Stauffer Yamaha YZF-R6 264
2 Joshua Waters Suzuki GSX-R600 237
3 Wayne Maxwell Honda CBR600RR 201
4 Ben Attard Yamaha YZF-R6 185
5 Judd Greedy Suzuki GSX-R600 179
6 Jeremy Crowe Yamaha YZF-R6 165
7 Grant Hay Yamaha YZF-R6 151
8 Mitchell Carr Suzuki GSX-R600 128
9 Chris Casella Yamaha YZF-R6 118
10 Chris Quinn Yamaha YZF-R6 115

1 Judd Greedy Suzuki GSX-R600 252
2 Ben Attard Yamaha YZF-R6 249
3 Grant Hay Yamaha YZF-R6 201
4 Mitchell Carr Suzuki GSX-R600 170
5 Chris Quinn Yamaha YZF-R6 164