After two days of Australian Superbike testing at Phillip Island, it was 2015 Australian Superbike Champion, Mike Jones on the new Desmo Sport Ducati that topped the time sheets.
“For me it was an exceptional test, I am feeling really comfortable on the Ducati. I thought it might’ve taken a bit longer to get used to the different characteristics of the V-twin, but I am feeling very confident on the bike. Having Troy [Bayliss] there to talk to about a place where he had a lot of success adds something else to it. With a bit more fine tuning and a few more things to the bike I reckon we can do really well. We won’t know anything until the WorldSBK test but we feel that the Desmo Sport Ducati will be competitive.”
Jamie Stauffer was second quickest overall on the Team Honda Racing Fireblade SP. Although the Campbellfield based squad was left with plenty of work to do after Stauffer lost the rear of the machine on the entry to turn 12, the result a massive high-side late on the second day that saw Team Honda pack up early. The upside that Stauffer was uninjured in the crash, the same could not be said for the Fireblade. Season 2016 also marks the arrival of a new naming right sponsor for Team Honda with Crankt Protein joining the fray.
Having his first outing on a Kawasaki was Josh Hook, the Taree based 23-year-old was third fastest, splitting his ex-teammates as Troy Herfoss ended the day fourth quickest. Herfoss, like his teammate, had gone down the road during the test and also survived an altercation with a Cape Barren Goose.
The two-day test was organised by Honda Team Principal Paul Free and the hit-put saw 42 teams fronting up for what was a pre-season shake down ahead of the opening round of the Australian Superbike Championship.
As per recent years, the opening round of ASBK will run as a support act alongside the Superbike World Championship season opener at the iconic venue.
Hats off to “Freebee” for organising the test as it was very well received by all involved.(It is the fifth time he has organised such a day for Australia’s leading racers.
It was a professionally run set-up with Racesafe on hand, as well as live timing from Computime – although not all riders opted to carry transponders. One of which was Brayden Elliott with the 2015 Australian Supersport Champion breaking new ground on a GSX-R1000 with his move to Superbike once again overseen by tuner Phil Tainton and mentor Shawn Giles.
Such were the numbers, the first day was split into two groups, however, as the sessions were run so smoothly and lap times relatively similar, the second day of testing witnessed an open circuit with both classes sharing track time.
One “ring-in” that took part in the test was Bryan Staring onboard his mate Ben Henry’s ZX-10R Superbike, the Perth born 28-year-old ended the test fifth fastest. The test was a lot more successful – and less painful – than the corresponding time last year when he and Henry were involved in a massive crash exiting T12. Thankfully, Bryan stayed upright for two days and got plenty of good laps in.
WSS rider Glenn Scott was out on the second day, while class debutant Lachlan Epis was joined by Wild Cards, Alex Phillis (day two), Mitch Levy and Kane Burns.
Both days saw a number of red flags, with seven crashes as well as a few occasions when the infamous Cape Barren Geese were too close for comfort on the side of the track. Two other red flag incidents were instances where the messy remains of the birds had to be removed from the blood-stained bitumen.
As for riders and crashes, no serious injuries were reported although Lachlan Epis went to have a banged-up right wrist checked out while Daniel Falzon smacked his head hard in a high side exiting T4.
After the incident Daniel could not close his mouth properly with Racesafe venturing that it may be a nerve problem as a result of the impact. Falzon continued the test as Dunlop had a multitude of tyres unhand for evaluation.
“Even after the crash I was determined to get out there and try as many tyres as I could. There has been a marked improvement in the performance the tyre compared to the GP support races last year. We are more than happy with where we ended up, only a couple of tenths off the Hondas. There is going to be some extremely close racing.”
Interestingly, the day after the tests the news came that the official Yamaha team will contest the opening ASBK round.
Jamie Stauffer had bragging rights on day one with a time of 1:33.546 that stood as his fastest lap of the two days.
“We started the test with the bike exactly as it finished last year and we made some changes as the day unfolded. The first day was good but we went the wrong way today. At least we know which direction to head.”
Debutant in the Superbike World Championship this year, Josh Hook sampled a Kawasaki ZX-10R for the first time when his good mate Phil Lovett offered one of his machines. Engine-wise the bike is completely standard with little other mods carried out on the bike that Phil’s daughter Sophie punted around in Supertock guise.
“I cannot thank Phil enough for letting me ride his bike to try out a Kawasaki for the first time. I was surprised by the strength of the engine. It was great to get back out on a track as I haven’t ridden a Superbike for many months as i finished the season on the Moto2 machine. I haven’t been on a road racing bike since November. I am really looking forward to getting out on the Grellini Kawasaki here in a couple of weeks.”
“It was great to get out on the bikes again. Testing is testing and it can be a bit boring as there is nothing like racing around this place. We are not very far off, at all. I suppose the most exciting part was hitting that bloody bird. I was following Jamie through the Hayshed when he suddenly sat up and raised his hand to slow down. I swerved and just missed him when I saw what spooked him. There were two geese on the track and I had nowhere to go except into one. It hit my foot and just brushed my boot. It is the most birds I have seen around here. They seemed to be everywhere.”
It was two days of struggle for the Next Gen Motorsports team. Freshly outfitted with brand new Suzuki GSX-R1000 machines fitted with new Nitron suspension from the UK. The bikes had literally been just run in before letting ASBK #3 Ryan Hampton and fellow Kiwi, Sloan ”Snowflake” Frost out on the track.
Hampton was severely hindered by a dose of the flu, spending most of the opening day in the Racesafe truck before trying to put in some times on day two. He was heading in the right direction but a crash at T1 curtailed any further progress.
Such is Ryan’s commitment to the team – and that he is the first one to bin the team’s brand new Suzukis, that he shoved his body between bike and track with guru tuner, Shane Kinderis explaining.
“Ryan sure is a team player. His leathers helmet and gloves are rooted but there is not even a scratch on the fairings!” Hampton ground away part of the little pinky on his right hand in his efforts to minimise damage to the new Gixxer.
Frost was hampered by a handling issue on his new steed. The team changed forks, rear shock and a multitude of settings with no luck in curing the handling. After much head scratching and determining the problem has nothing to do with suspensions, the team is now focusing on an engine issue.
Michael Blair was impressive on his first run on a 1000cc machine at the Island and was ninth fastest behind the new team pairing of Ben Burke and Robbie Bugden on the BC Performance Kwakas. Blair couldn’t get the smile of his face saying how much fun the R1 is to ride around the Island.
After 12 months away it was a sight to see the ever-cheerful Bugden back in a race paddock.
“It has been good and bad but it is even better to be back. When Kelvin (Reilly) offered me a ride I jumped at the chance. I am looking forward to running at the front on a Kawasaki. We are all hoping for a good year.”
Burke has the ominous distinction of being another that has smacked a Cape Barren Goose and not come unstuck at hitting one of the monsters
Probably, the biggest surprise was in the Supersport category with teenager, Mark Chiodo on a Triumph 675, who celebrated his 18th birthday the day after the test reflecting on the fact that he ended the test topping the Supersport timesheets, ahead of Callum Spriggs, the Queenslander debuting the Cube Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R after taking out the Swann Australasian YRD Supersport Championship last year on a YZF-R6.
Alex Phillis (Aark Electics Honda) was third fastest, although he only took part in the second day of testing.
Overall, Chiodo was 17th fastest (out of the 35 with transponders) with many more experienced big bore and 600cc machines in his wake. The kid has come a long way in a little over 18 months of riding and has overcome a number of serious injuries.
“That was an awesome couple of days. It’s the first time I have ever been at the top of the timesheets and I am aiming that it wont be the last. The Triumph is just a blast to ride around here. It’s a great birthday present. Can’t wait to be back here.”
After a learning year in the 2015 Supersport title where he was part of the Caterpillar team with Daniel Falzon and Nic Liminton, the ‘C’-grader is now in a solo rider team. His efforts will no doubt be ably assisted in his pit box with father, John, of Monza Imports, drafting in the experienced duo of Geoff Winzer and Gary House to get the most out of the triple cylinder machine.
Second fastest Callum Spriggs, who in 2016 joins the Ben Henry-run Cube Racing Team alongside class debutant, Robbie Menzies with Spriggs stating he was very happy to be a part of a team with Troy Bayliss in their corner.
Aussie Superbikes will be on track on the opening day of the Yamaha Superbike World Championship event, Feb 26-28
Australian Superbike Test Session – Phillip Island – Feb 8/9 2016
Mike JONES (QLD) Ducati 1299 1:33.233
Jamie STAUFFER (NSW) Honda 1000 1:33.546
Josh HOOK 1:33.674
Troy HERFOSS (NSW) Honda 1000 1:33.919
Bryan STARING (WA) Kawasaki 1000 1:33.978
Daniel FALZON (SA) Yamaha 1000 1:34.093
Robby BUGDEN (QLD) Kawasaki 1000 1:34.168
Ben BURKE (NSW) Kawasaki 1000 1:34.505
Michael BLAIR (NSW) Yamaha 1000 1:34.767
Jed METCHER (VIC) Yamaha 1000 1:34.885
Matt WALTERS (NSW) Kawasaki 1000 1:35.130
John HUNT (SA) Kawasaki 1000 1:36.043
Sloan FROST (NZ) Suzuki 1000 1:36.184
Trent GIBSON (VIC) Yamaha 1000 1:36.578
Mathew HARDING (NSW) Kawasaki 1000 1:36.746
Mark CHIODO (VIC) Triumph 675 1:37.093
Ryan HAMPTON (NZ) Suzuki 1000 1:37.116
Callum SPRIGGS (QLD) Yamaha 600 1:37.326
Adam CHRISTIE (SA) Yamaha 1000 1:37.368
Alex PHILLIS (VIC) Honda 600 1:38.148
Kyle BUCKLEY (NSW) Kawasaki 600 1:38.426
James BOND 1:38.446
Ted COLLINS (VIC) Suzuki 600 1:38.785
Phil CZAJ (VIC) Aprilia 1000 1:38.838
Ryan TAYLOR (VIC) Yamaha 600 1:38.885
Phil LOVETT (NSW) Kawasaki 1000 1:38.959
Mitch LEVY (NSW) Yamaha 600 1:39.270
Evan BYLES (SA) Kawasaki 1000 1:39.566
Kane BURNS (NSW) Suzuki 600 1:40.027
Robbie MENZIES (QLD) Kawasaki 600 1:40.029
Lachlan EPIS (NSW) Kawasaki 600 1:40.169
Kym GROSSER Honda 1000 1:41.700
Ben WHITE (VIC) Yamaha 600 1:42.085
Ryan MASRI (NSW) Kawasaki 600 1:43.899
2016 ASBK series Calendar
·Round 1 Phillip Island GP Circuit, WSBK, Vic25-28 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, QLD5-7 August
·Round 6 Winton Motor Raceway, Vic 30 September – 2 October
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