FX ASC QLD Saturday Report
A beautiful sunny Queenland morning greeted competitors as they arrived at the 3.12km Willowbank layout for the fourth round of the Swann Insurance Australasian Superbike Championship. The Saturday of each round of competition is dubbed the Australian FX Superbike Championship, while Sunday’s main game uses the Australasian FX prefix to the title. Confusing a little I know…
Yamaha Racing Team’s Cru Halliday set the pace in the one and only qualifying session on Friday with a 68.68, ahead of his YZF-R1 mounted teammate Glenn Allerton, Cube Racing Kawasaki’s Mike Jones and the third of the YRT triumvirate, Wayne Maxwell, rounding out the front row. Three-tenths of a second covering that closely matched quartet.
Team Honda Racing’s Jamie Stauffer had qualified fourth ahead of KMF Finance rider Matt Walters. BcPerformance Kawasaki’s Ben Burke, and Bikebiz Ipone pilot Sean Condon rounded out that second row, all that top eight within a second of Halliday’s pole time.
Championship leader Troy Herfoss had only managed to qualify ninth, after trying something different in set-up that didn’t quite work out. Matt Harding rounded out the all ‘A’ graded top ten.
Superbike Race One
Cru Halliday fired the YRT YZF-R1M off the line, but the early race leader was Matt Walters, before being overhauled by Glenn Allerton. Late on the opening lap Halliday moved past Walters to take second place, while Jamie Stauffer recovered from a poor start to move up to a strong fourth.
Halliday set a new lap record on lap two, and then broke that again on lap three, lowering the benchmark to 1m08.8. That mark a couple of seconds slower than what we have seen the higher specification ASBK bikes record, on stickier tyres than the consistent control Dunlops used in the 2015 FX Series.
Halliday was then all over the back of Allerton and readying to challenge for the lead. The leading duo had left the others in their wake, the closest pairing was the Walters v Stauffer, that battle still waging over the final spot on the podium.
Wayne Maxwell took a couple of laps to build up a full head of steam but then showed his hand by lowering the lap record once again on lap five to pull away from sixth placed Mike Jones, who was coming under attack from Troy Herfoss.
Halliday then nudged the benchmark a tad lower again, a 68.83 on lap six but still had not headed Allerton at the front of this 16-lap race. Maxwell was continuing his march forward and was now starting to close in on that battle for third place.
QLD Raceway has always presented plenty of good passing opportunities under brakes, thus making for good racing, this year’s top riders are so evenly matched an opportunity never presented itself to actually make a positive pass over the next few laps. Jamie Stauffer was trying his hardest to sneak past Walters, while Halliday was all over Allerton at every turn but could not find a way through.
As the riders got the last lap board still no passes had been made, and that was certainly not for lack of trying. Clearly if positions were going to change on the final lap then any sense of manners was going to have to go out the window. No such moves were made and Allerton held off Halliday by a wheel at the line, the gap 0.027 of a second.
Matt Walters held off a very determined Jamie Stauffer to claim the final spot on the rostrum. Further back Troy Herfoss sneaked past Mike Jones on the final lap to claim sixth place.
That result closed the points chase up a little further, Maxwell now trailing Herfoss by seven-points, 160 to 153.
Superbike Race Two
Matt Walters got a great run off the line but once again it was Glenn Allerton quickly to the front but this time around Cru Halliday had got a shocker and was all the way down in eighth place.
Jamie Stauffer and Troy Herfoss got much better starts than the morning bouts and were running third and fourth ahead of Wayne Maxwell as Halliday moved up to sixth after setting the fastest time on lap two.
Jamie Stauffer was making determined efforts to get past Walters but the Kawasaki man had plenty of mumbo and was managing to hold off Stauffer’s advances.
Halliday again the fastest man on lap three and moved past Maxwell for fifth, then half a lap later slipped past Herfoss to take fourth. Meanwhile up front Glenn Allerton had started to eke out an advantage over Walters, with 12 laps to run the gap 7-tenths of a second, and Halliday had took third place off Herfoss, who had got the better of Stauffer. Halliday went a little deep trying to take second off Walters which allowed Herfoss to steal that third place back from the Yamaha man, pushing him back to fourth. Only a few corners later Halliday dispensed with both Walters and Herfoss, then set about chasing down Allerton. Game on.
Herfoss went with Halliday however. The pair started reeling in Allerton and with nine laps to go only a second covered the leading trio. And at half race distance Herfoss underlined his aggression with a new fastest lap of the race, a 69.02 to the Team Honda man.
Two laps later only half-a-second covered that leading trio. Halliday upping the pace further, down to a 68.95 on lap 10. Halliday carrying plenty of Rossi leg-swag in Queensland this weekend.
With two to run the leading trio were virtually nose to tail. Glenn Allerton a demon on the brakes thus preventing Halliday from making a move, into the final turn however Halliday went a little too deep, allowing Herfoss through for second place. Allerton set his fastest lap of the race on that final and 16th lap of the race. Glenn won’t need headlights on the car tonight, his smile will be that wide it will be lighting the way ahead.
Herfoss’s second place pushing his points tally up to 182 points and Allerton’s double promoted him into equal second place with Wayne Maxwell, the YRT pair 171 points a piece. Halliday fourth on 168.
Importantly, Allerton’s wins also gave him pole position for Sunday’s main game, the Swann Insurance Australasian Superbike Championship.
As mentioned previously, Queensland Raceway has always presented plenty of opportunities for passing. But in the 16 years I have been attending, virtually every national level domestic Superbike race staged in Australia over that period, I have never seen such an evenly matched field of sometimes five, and at some tracks as many as eight, top flight Superbike riders fighting at the top level so closely for position. These boys are leaving nothing in reserve, and the racing is unbelievably tight, close and extremely exciting. Say what you like about the politics of Australian road racing, this season I have witnessed the best Superbike racing staged in this country this century. And it’s a credit to the guys out there doing the business that we can enjoy such brilliant racing.