Riders were greeted by a crisp morning at Sydney Motorsports Park as practice got underway for the third round of the 2015 Swann Australasian FX Superbike Championship around the 3.93km Grand Prix circuit layout.
While the skies were clear and blue, unfortunately the track was damp this morning due to a little overnight drizzle combined with a very heavy morning dew.
The second practice session saw times lower markedly. Any onlooker would say the track looked clean and dry, but there were still enough damp patches on the track for riders to take a little caution when negotiating the 12-turn traditional Eastern Creek layout.
Team Yamaha riders dominated practice at the season opener here at SMP, but struggled with tyre longevity on race day. Something that is still an issue with the very new YZF-R1M, as development time with the bike is still at such a premium. As is the lack of any aftermarket or race kit parts for the machines, at the opening two rounds none of the Yamaha riders even had access to race style rear-sets let alone any other go fast bits. Not that there is all that much allowed in the very strict more Superstock rule regimen enforced across the Superbike category in the FX-ASC series, but the Yamaha riders are up against a very finely honed package in the Team Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP.
The times set in this morning’s FP2 session are only a negligible indication towards a form guide towards this weekend’s races. Later this afternoon there will be a single 20-minute qualifying session. The results from which will decide the grid for the two 14-lap AFX-SBK races on Saturday, while the combined points score from the Saturday races will decide the grid for Sunday’s two Swann Insurance Australasian FX Superbike Championship 14-lappers.
The race distances are one lap shorter than they were at the opening round to allow a little more time in the schedule, as being so close to the shortest day of the year organisers are very conscious of the possibility of running out of daylight and having to cut races from the program.
For what it’s worth, and topping the timesheets in any session is always worthwhile, Wayne Maxwell proved quickest in FP2 this morning as the reigning champion spent his time across two bikes, one with standard fork internals, and another machine for Wayne to test new gas-charged forks for the first time on the YZF-R1M. (Halliday topped the later FP3 session but this report primarily focuses on FP2 but includes results from FP3 further down the page.)
Wayne Maxwell 1m31.764 (Yamaha) – “In FP1 we rode both bikes, one had gas cartridges in the forks which we had been meaning to test for a long time but just hadn’t had a chance, so we are just working through it and see which ones I feel more comfortable with. FP2 we just revisited the same things as FP1 really because of the damp track earlier this morning, so now we have to make a decision with which way to go.”
Have you made much inroads in regards to tyre longevity?
Wayne Maxwell – “It’s hard to know really, we suffered a little from tyre wear at Mallala but it is a different sort of circuit, you can make up a lot of time under brakes there in comparison to here at SMP, so I would say at this stage it is still somewhat of a little bit of an unknown. Be interesting to see how we go when it comes time to go racing.”
Second on the charts in FP2 after putting in a fast time just as the session was coming to a close was Bikebiz Kawasaki rider Sean Condon.
Sean Condon 1m31.799 (Kawasaki) – “The bike wasn’t too far off but just came in towards the end and made a small change, went out there and felt comfortable so thought I would up the ante and go for a good time and it seemed to work. I am pretty happy with the bike so from here on it’s just up to me to twist the throttle a bit harder.”
Jamie Stauffer 1m32.008 (Honda) – “My pelvis isn’t giving me any dramas but this morning in the patchy conditions I wasn’t going to take any risks and try it out by highsiding it into the deck, just that little bit in the back of your mind saying don’t throw it down the road. If it was a race it would be different, but in that first session I wasn’t going to take any risks. In the second session the track was a lot better and I pushed it a bit further. It’s great to be back on the bike I am loving it. The boys have these bikes so well dialled in it is just a matter of very fine tuning for us when ever we go to a track now, the bikes are good straight out of the truck where ever we go. I didn’t get many laps in out there, and when I was out there I was by myself, just came in for a couple of tiny changes but you don’t get much time to try new things in these short sessions. I felt good out there, will make another few tweaks to both ends for this afternoon and see how we go, trying to get the turning a little better and maybe change the gearing. I didn’t ride here at the first round so just working my way through it.”
Cru Halliday 1m32.069 (Yamaha) – “We had a pretty good set-up here for round one but we can’t really go off that with everything still being so new. We are trying to find a set-up that works well and also looks after the tyres. In the first session we had the bike doing something well, and some other things not so well, so we made some changes and it has pretty much reversed that order, so this afternoon it will be trying to find a happy medium between the two. We are going to put a little bit of rear ride height in the bike and try to get it around the corners a little better, and hopefully that might find us a little more grip too. The new rearsets are helping a lot, I am running them fairly low, but they certainly offer a lot better purchase for the boots when I am climbing all over the bike so that’s handy advantage, we are still moving them around a little to find the best position but with limited sessions it is all rush-rush.”
Glenn Allerton 1m32.073 (Yamaha) – “We started off here with a setting that we came up with during a test at Phillip Island recently, but it was a bit slippery out there this morning in the damp conditions. Just working on modifying that set-up for Eastern Creek, as you brake a bit harder here than you do at Phillip Island. The bike is working really well though, I am happy with the shock setting we have come up with and the rear grip we now have on acceleration is much improved, and we seem to have got a lot of our tyre wear issue sorted out so I am pretty happy with how it is at the moment, we’re just working through some fine tuning for some edge grip as corner entry is difficult at the moment with how cold the surface is.”
Troy Herfoss 1m32.483 (Honda) – “Woke up this morning and the sun was out, so I didn’t even think about a wet track. I went out with new gloves, new disc rotors, new brake pads and new boots, so I felt a bit stiff but then got out there and went, it’s wet! It was a bit of a waste of a session really but it was good to go out and break in the near gear anyway I guess. In the second session I went out on an old tyre, just to see what it was like, the track has not got a lot of grip at the moment and I didn’t feel awesome in that session but we will just have to wait for the track to come to us which it will this afternoon and then get out there and bang some good times in for qualifying.”
Mike Jones went out in FP2 but failed to record a time due to some technical problems with the Cube Racing Kawasaki. Luckily Jones had chosen to cross-enter into the Formula Oz category to effectively double his practice time due to a lack of recent testing. Jones put in a 1m31.759 in that latter Formula Oz session which would have been good enough to put him on top in the Superbike session, but it must be noted that the track was in much better shape for the Formula Oz session than in the earlier Superbike session.
Addendum – Superbike FP3 just finished with Cru Halliday topping the charts on a 1m31.491 ahead of Glenn Allerton (31.54), Maxwell (31.68), Stauffer (31.72), Condon (31.77), Jones (32.15), Burke (32.37), Walters (32.44), Beaton (33.69), Harding (34.78). Troy Herfoss failed to record a time in FP3 after going down at turn three early on in the session but we believe the series leader suffered no injuries in the fall.
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