Cru Halliday sets the morning pace at Sydney Motorsports Park
By Trevor Hedge

Cru Halliday set the pace under perfect blue skies at Sydney Motorsport Park this morning. The 26-year-old was the only rider to dip into the 1m31s bracket in FP2 with a 1m31.803 confirming the early pace of the all-new Yamaha YZF-R1M. Clearly there will be more to come as development progresses with the new bike.  Cru at the moment is making a few small changes to help him keep the front more planted while on the gas. Halliday also set the fastest trap speed with the Computime beams clocking him at 284km/h.

Cru Halliday – “We made a few changes to the bike during the session, just need to see what we can get out of it, we are already doing decent times this morning, it wouldn’t suprise me if we get down towards a 1m30.0 during the course of the weekend as we make more progress. Saying that, I just need to stay on the bike, keep the team happy and the Yamaha right up there.” – It’s early days yet so you are not going to have much of an understanding as to tyre longevity, nearly 70km each race over the weekend, so I would imagine this would be what you start working on next?

Cru Halliday -“They’ve just made the decision to combine the next two practice sessions into a 20-minute session so we can rattle off as many laps as we can and see how the tyre wear goes and see if we are heading in the right direction.”

Cru Halliday
Cru Halliday

Troy Herfoss set a 1m32.029 on lap four of his seven laps during FP2, 0.226 behind Halliday and 10km/h slower down the chute. We questioned the 28-year-old about how grip levels were during the morning sessions.

First up this morning it felt like there was a lot of grip, plus we have a new tyre that Dunlop has brought to the race, that felt really good. We went out on a secondhand one of those and did two sessions on it just to see what sort of tyre life we are going to get and it seems to be holding up pretty well. We were towards the front in both sessions on that used rubber and we will do some more laps on that in the next session before we throw a new one and try and go quick towards the end of the day.” – I imagine the grip will go away a little perhaps this afternoon as things warm up?

Troy Herfoss – “I think it will go away a little bit, hopefully in the morning when it comes to racing we have a bit up our sleeve pace wise. It is one thing you have to get your head around qualifying late in the afternoon, as you might be qualifying for pole position but going more than half-a second a lap slower than what you have been doing earlier in the day, you think you should be going faster but you can only do what you can do. I don’t know with this tyre, perhaps we will have more grip in the warmer conditions, the Dunlop boys tell us this new tyre will hold up to the temperatures better than the previous rubber and I guess we will see what pace we can set this afternoon.”

Troy Herfoss
Troy Herfoss

Wayne Maxwell rounded out the top three with a 1m32.290 on the second of his five laps.

Wayne Maxwell – “I got about 11 laps in across the two morning sessions, a little bit of a struggle, we made a change after the first one and just trying to find the right direction with the new Yamaha YZF-R1M, but we know the bike is good, Cru is going well and Glenn is going well too. We will just chip away as it’s early days yet and it’s a long season ahead of us.”

Wayne Maxwell
Wayne Maxwell

Aiden Wagner is extremely impressive in his first outing on a Superbike. That’s right, this weekend is not only his first ride on the Team Honda Fireblade, but also his first ever hit out on a properly sorted Superbike. The only litre class machines Wagner has ridden before have been a few laps here and there on trackday bikes belongong to friends. A 1m32.469, less than 7-tenths off Halliday, set on the fourth of his seven laps a pointer to his potential.

Aiden Wagner – “The first session out I tried to keep it calm, and just learn the bike, I really wanted to just go fast straight away but just did a few slow laps to get used to the bike then in the second session have a bit of a dip. We are making some changes now and I know we can go a fair bit quicker yet and I hope I can be competitive over the race weekend and mix it up with the big boys, I’m looking forward to it.” – And how you are finding turn one on the Superbike, arriving there with a whole lot more speed than the Supersport machine…?

Aiden Wagner – “I think that is the corner that is giving me the most grief, trying to learn just how fast I can go into there, as I am coming in a fair bit quicker than I was on the 600. But I am getting better into there each lap so by the time racing comes around we should be right.” – I saw Jamie out there, he studying what you are doing and giving you a few tips?

Aiden Wagner – “Yes Jamie is cruising around and looking at what I am doing out on track and giving me some feedback to help me improve which is great.”

Aiden Wagner in a race crouch to check sag on the Team Honda Fireblade SP
Aiden Wagner in a race crouch to check sag on the Team Honda Fireblade SP

Glenn Allerton was fifth quickest with a 1m32.610 but the local rider only put in four laps, suggesting that he was in and out of the pits using the session to chase a basic set-up starting point on the new YZF-R1M. Remember, these boys have had virtually no time on these bikes prior to today so it is still very early days and right now the times are only pointing to the potential of the bike, it will take time to realise that full potential.

Glenn Allerton – “Everything is new and different and at the moment, it is just about trying to get comfortable, moving the bike around a bit, but trying not to change too much at once so just spending some time adapting to it, obviously it is a totally different bike and I have to try and change the way I ride to suit it, it’s early days yet and we will get there for sure.”

Glenn Allerton
Glenn Allerton

Beau Beaton punted the Ducati Panigale to a 1m32.634 while Matt Walters was the fastest of the Kawasaki riders with a 1m32.745 putting him just ahead of Mike Jones (1m32.955) and Sean Condon (1m33.22).

Linden Magee rounded out the top ten on his Honda debut ahead of Ben Henry and Ben Burke while Adelaide veteran Evan Byles rounded out the 13-rider field. The numbers may not be great this year, as the C&D grade competitors have been split into their own Formula Xtreme C&D Championship this year, run separately from the top flight Superbike competition.

And it certainly is a class Superbike field, every rider an A grader and the top eight already running 1-min-32s or better at this early stage of the weekend.  Track temperatures are perhaps quite favourable at the moment though and it will be interesting to see how things go when temperatures rise this afternoon.

Another point of note heading into the 15-lap races, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, will be tyre life. While early indications are that the Yamaha men already have the pace to overcome the Honda riders ,will their set-up at this early stage of proceedings allow them to look after their tyres over a 15-lap, 67.5km, race distance? Time will tell….

Swann Australasian FX Superbike Championship – Round One – Sydney Motorsport Park – FP2 Times

  1. Cru Halliday – Yamaha – 1m31.803
  2. Troy Herfoss – Honda – 1m32.029
  3. Wayne Maxwell – Yamaha – 1m32.290
  4. Aiden Wagner – Honda – 1m32.469
  5. Glenn Allerton – Yamaha – 1m32.610
  6. Beau Beaton – Ducati – 1m32.634
  7. Matthew Walters – Kawasaki – 1m32.745
  8. Mike Jones – Kawasaki – 1m32.955
  9. Sean Condon – Kawasaki – 1m33.220
  10. Linden Magee – Honda – 1m33.623
  11. Ben Henry – Kawasaki – 1m33.890
  12. Ben Burke – Kawasaki – 1m35.200
  13. Evan Byles – Kawasaki – 1m40.393