Supersport front runners Cru Halliday and Tom Toparis did not bother taking to the track in the Saturday morning QP1 session, choosing instead to keep their powder dry, and tyres fresh, for the QP2 session.
It was a close run game between the two with Halliday ending up on top, his 1m23.384 good enough for pole position.
Toparis suffered three decent tumbles here during the recent ASBK test session but the Goulburn youngster shook off those demons to qualifying second thanks to a 1m23.471 on the six of his eight laps. However, another massive tumble at the end of QP2 left the Cube Kawasaki rider a little shaken. He is expected to race tomorrow as is suffering no major ailments but he did not make the qualifying podium after the session.
Rounding out the front row is Nic Liminton in what is an impressive return to racing for the young South Australian after a cancer scare earlier this year put him on the sidelines.
Damon Rees heads the second row on the Car Cox Honda ahead of Broc Pearson while Max Croker made it four different brands in the top six by qualifying sixth on his Mat Mladin Racing GSX-R600. The Suzuki rider was on a flying lap to improve himself up the order late in the session but fell at the penultimate corner.
The first of two 13-lap bouts for the Kawasaki sponsored Supersport category is scheduled to get underway at 1010 on Sunday morning, the second slated for 1310.
I just typed that directly in here on the run so might need proofing and times checking.
Cru HALLIDAY (NSW) 1:23.384
Tom TOPARIS (NSW) 1:23.471
Nic LIMINTON (SA) 1:23.734
Damon REES (NZ) 1:23.951
Broc PEARSON (QLD) 1:24.239
Max CROKER (NSW) 1:24.393
Zac JOHNSON (VIC) 1:24.493
Giuseppe SCARCELLA (NSW) 1:24.872
Ryan TAYLOR (VIC) 1:25.188
Scott NICHOLSON (VIC) 1:25.193
Kawasaki Supersport Race One
Max Croker got a great run off the line as the Kawasaki sponsored Supersport field headed to turn one for the first time on Sunday while Cru Halliday and Tom Toparis both ran on at turn one before rejoining the field down in around 15th place. Toparis got in too hot and Halliday was forced to pick the Yamaha up and run off in order to take evasive action.
With 13 laps to run that pair were guaranteed to work their way through the field as the race wore on but their race was certainly not going to progress as they had imagined! Up front it was Max Croker ahead of Damon Rees and Nic Liminton and on lap three the New Zealander took his turn at the front but not for long, the Suzuki man came back at him a few corners later.
Nic Liminton was still right there with that leading duo and Broc Pearson joined that party on lap five to make it a four-way contest. Nic Liminton made a massive lunge up the inside of Rees for second place, the Yamaha sideways in to the penultimate turn but in way too deep and was immediately forced to relent the position back to the Kiwi as a result.
Those tussles had allowed Max Croker to break away with clean air, the young dirt track star took full advantage of it too, his buffer had gone from virtually nothing out to a full three-seconds. Around this halfway point of the race Zac Johnson, Ryan Taylor and Lachlan Epis all slid out of the race in separate incidents.
Cru Halliday underlined his pace by not only hunting the leading group down, but then picking them off one by one with apparent ease. With four laps tp go Croker had four-seconds on the charging Halliday, thus the YRT man had to find a second a lap on the Mat Mladin Racing Suzuki in order to claim victory.
Halliday did claw back almost a second on Croker on that next lap but at the last lap board Croker’s buffer was still just over two-seconds, the youngster had responded to Halliday’s challenge and increased his pace also to stave off that challenge. The battle for the final step on the rostrum though was still on in earnest, the protagonists, Nic Liminton and Damon Rees.
It was Liminton that got that third place for his third podium of the season. Broc Pearson was a promising fifth and showed some great speed at some stages of the race while Tom Toparis managed to make his way back up to sixth flag at the chequered flag.
That second place result extended Halliday’s championship lead over Toparis out to 47-points. The YRT rider needs to score only a few more points in today’s second bout in order to wrap up the Supersport Championship with a round still to go.
Supersport Race 1 Results
Max CROKER 18:17.761
Cru HALLIDAY +2.047
Nic LIMINTON (SA) +5.974
Damon REES (NZ) +6.567
Broc PEARSON +9.176
Tom TOPARIS +16.357
Scott NICHOLSON +20.232
Giuseppe SCARCELLA +20.622
Jack PASSFIELD +33.035
Ty LYNCH +33.173
Kawasaki Supersport Race Two
The second and final Supersport bout got underway at 1321 and this time around everyone made it through turn one successfully. Halliday was in front but Toparis slipped past him at turn three to declare his challenge. The title on the line at Winton this afternoon and Halliday in line to perhaps even lift the Supersport Championship here today if he can take victory over Toparis.
Halliday got back past Toparis on the next lap while race one victor Max Croker was in close concert with that duo as the triumvirate started to break away from their pursuers, the best of which were Nic Liminton and Damon Rees.
By lap five Halliday had a few bike lengths over Toparis and was starting to look fairly safe out front. Toparis though was starting to have to fend off the advances of Croker.
Toparis then upped his efforts further to break away from Croker and inch towards Halliday, he made a massive lunge from way back with the Cube Kawasaki on the stops sideways and almost took both himself and Halliday out of the race! The Goulburn youngster though was able to alter his trajectory to avoid Halliday and somehow managed to gather it up without running off the track, he lost more than a second in that thrust though and allowed Halliday more breathing space once again.
The leading duo had left Croker behind them and the Suzuki man was starting to come under attack from Nic Liminton and Damon Rees with three laps to run. A move by Rees on Liminton though saw the Kiwi end up on his head and out of the race with a couple of laps still to run, the altercation also cost Liminton a little bit of ground which resulted in Croker’s buffer to grow once again.
As they started the final lap Halliday had 1.5-seconds on Toparis, Cru now had three kilometres between him and the 2018 ASBK Supersport Championship victory….
Halliday does it, the race win and the #1 plate to the YRT man. After being demoted from the Superbike ranks this is a good feather in his cap and his consistency this year, that saw almost perfect results the entire season, can strengthen his bid to get back in the Superbike ranks for ASBK 2019.
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