Yamaha 1-2-3 on the grid for Swann Australasian FX Superbike season opener
By Trevor Hedge
After topping free practice throughout the day, Camden’s Cru Halliday confirmed the pace of the new Yamaha YZF-R1M with a 1m30.829 on the second of his three laps in the quick-fire 15-minute Swann Australasian FX Superbike Championship qualifying session today at Sydney Motorsports Park.
There were some doubts at how quick Team Yamaha could get the all new YZF-R1M performing with such little testing before the season, but Halliday and new teammates Wayne Maxwell and Glenn Allerton quickly dispelled that uncertainty today at Eastern Creek. Team Yamaha quickly coming to grips with their new mount and their riders delivering a dominant 1-2-3 performance that must be striking some fear into the previously dominant Team Honda camp.
Halliday was the pacesetter with his 1m30.829, almost half-a-second quicker than defending champion Wayne Maxwell and fellow teammate Glenn Allerton.
The even scarier thing is that on the second split Halliday looked on track to perhaps go even quicker, thus we quizzed the 26-year-old on how his lap had unfolded.
Cru Halliday – “You know, I probably did lose some time on that last part of the lap. I knew I had gone through sector two super hot, I said to myself going up between turns nine and ten, ‘don’t stuff this last part up’, and when you start thinking about the time that much you do end up making some mistakes.
“I took that last turn a little wider than expecte but I wanted to get good drive onto the straight, but I ended up having to short-shift to keep the bike stable, so I probably did lose a little.
“I actually don’t think 29s are out of the question if everything comes together perfectly.”
And how does tyre longevity look to be shaping up looking towards the 15-lap, 67.5km, race distance?
“Pretty good actually, we learned a lot. On our first run it didn’t really pan out for us and I lost grip quite quickly, but the team then adjusted the rear suspension and got it working much better. I am not too worried about the end of the race, tyre choice and how we are going to use the tyres throughout the race will be the main key for tomorrow though for sure.“
Troy Herfoss was the top qualifying Honda and will start tomorrow’s 15-lap race from the outside of the front row while Aiden Wagner, standing in for the injured Jamie Stauffer, celebrated his first ever Superbike qualifying session by putting the Team Honda Fireblade SP on the leading edge of the second row of the grid, only 0.156s behind Herfoss but still a full second behind Halliday’s pole position time.
Alongside Wagner on the second row will be Sean Condon and fellow Kawasak rider Mike Jones with Beau Beaton rounding out the top eight after putting in a 1m32.418 on the Ducati Panigale.
Matthew Walters qualified ninth ahead of new Honda rider Linden Magee, the Brisbane rider rounding out the top ten ahead of Kawaski ZX-10R riders Ben Henry, Ben Burke and Evan Byles
In the Supersport category Callum Spriggs topped proceedings with a 1m34.169 earning him pole position ahead of Michael Blair, Troy Guenther and Brad Swallow.
Paul Byrne dominated Formula Oz qualifying with a 1m33.5 on his LTR Honda Fireblade almost a full-second quicker than second placed Phil Lovett.
Angus Reekie topped the combined Pro Twins / Nakedbike class on the KTM 1290 Superduke R with a 1m34.658 nosing him ahead of Beau Beaton who i the Pro Twins class this weekend is not on the Ducati Panigale, but on the thundering 1600cc Vincent special produced by the Horner brothers in their Victorian workshop.
Luke Burgess topped Ninja 300 Qualifying with a clear 7-tenths of a second advantage over Mitchell Pirotta. Ben White and Mitch Kavney round out the front row.
Michael Witchard was the best of the Formula Xtreme C & D graded riders with a 1.37.205 earning the ACT rider pole position ahead of fellow Kawasaki riders Rancell Desker and Glenn Birchall.
Wakefield Park is the venue for round five on the last weekend in September before the series heads further south to Winton on October 23-25, the weekend following the Australian MotoGP round at Phillip Island. Allowing those riders competing in the Phillip Island Championship as support categories to both the WSBK and MotoGP weekends to move immediately to Winton before the majority of those competitors have to wind their way back further north to home.
The 2015 series finale will be staged at Sydney Motorsports Park on the first weekend in December. And adding a further twist to the series finale is that racing will be conducted until 8pm on the Friday and Saturday evenings. The shape of the final round’s full schedule is still taking shape, but it is looking likely that the final will be a two-day event run as day-night meetings across the Friday and Saturday only. The finale will also witness three long races rather than two short races.
The 2015 series finale will be staged at Sydney Motorsports Park on the first weekend in December. Adding a further twist to the series finale is that racing will be conducted up until 8pm on the Friday and Saturday evenings. The shape of the final round’s full schedule is still taking shape, but it is looking likely that the final will be a two-day event run as day-night meetings across the Friday and Saturday only. The finale will also witness another first for the FX-ASC series that being three long races for the premier Superbike class rather than two long races that will happen at the other two SMP rounds.
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