The temperature was in the low 20s at Winton Motor Raceway as the opening race of today’s three by 12-lap schedule of Superbike races got underway at 1040 this morning.
Yesterday’s pacesetter, and new lap record holder, Wayne Maxwell elected not to participate in morning warm up. After setting a pace yesterday that was an incredible half-a-second quicker than anyone else that was hardly surprising.
Maxwell has always been strong at Winton, but this was a place where, perhaps, the Team Honda Racing Fireblade SP machines, might, hold an advantage over the YRT YZF-R1 machines. Friday’s pace set by Wayne certainly blew that theory out of the water.
Troy Herfoss got a great start when the lights went out but it was polesitter Wayne Maxwell that had his nose in front as they tipped into turn one for the first time. They remained in that order throughout the first three-kilometre lap and as lap two got underway it had started to become clear that noody had yet found an answer to Maxwell’s speed.
The only question that remained unanswered was tyre wear. Would the Dunlop control tyre last the 12-lap distance on the Yamaha? And that same tyre also last for race two, and race three.
Maxwell is easy on his tyres, and very good on well worn tyres, and he is smart. He would only use as much of that rear tyre in this first bout as he would need to, mindful that he has two more races to make that rubber last through today.
As the race approached the halfway mark Herfoss looked to redouble his efforts. The aggression on corner entry clearly evident, the result was a new fastest lap of the race on lap four to bring the gap back down to 1.1-seconds out of Maxwell, then on the next lap Herfoss got that margin down to just under a second with another new fastest lap of the race. That pair had left Allerton and Halliday in their wake by now, the distance back to third placed Allerton was out to four-seconds with six laps to run.
Maxwell responded to the Herfoss challenge with six laps to go by setting a new fastest lap of the race, only by 6-thousandths of a second, but enough to ensure Herfoss could not get any closer.
That trend continued on the next lap as the gap grew to 1.6-seconds, then as they creossed the stripe to signal three laps still to run the gap was out ot 2-seconds.Eight-seconds further behind that pair Allerton had started to come under attack from Halliday, setting up a great battle for the final spot on the podium. The leading Kawasaki was Matt Walters in fifth place, just ahead of Mike Jones, that pair also going hammer and tong in their own battle over that fifth place.
At the last lap board Maxwell now had a five-second buffer, Herfoss giving up the chase and instead preserving his tyres for this afternoon.
Maxwell took a relatively easy win, the margin 5.4-seconds at the flag, but the more telling pointer to his dominance could be seen visually. Herfoss looked to have thrown everything at Maxwell in that race, his corner entry at some of the turns was on the limit, and then some, in contrast Maxwell looked to be doing it easy. This weekend could be a significant turning point in the championship, particularly if Maxwell’s teammates can find similar speed from their YRT machines and start finishing in front of Herfoss this afternoon, and tomorrow…
Glenn Allerton managed to hold off the advances of Halliday to claim the final step on the rostrum.
Likewise, Walters managed to hold off Jones to claim the mantle of top finishing Kawasaki with a strong fifth place finish. That pair only a couple of seconds off Halliday and Allerton at the flag, suggesting that they might get in that mix this afternoon.Jones had started from the rear of the grid as officials penalised Jones for, the alleged offence, of not presenting his protective wear for inspection by officials at the scrutineering area. Matt Walters celebrating his 23rd birthday today with the opening victory in the Pro-Am sub-class.
Jamie Stauffer a disappointing seventh place, and clearly not comfortable around here this morning.
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