Swann Superbike Championship 2016 – Round Two – Mallala
The Mallala Motorsports Park circuit remained quite slippery on Sunday morning despite being completely dry. Friday’s heavy downpours washed plenty of dirt on to the circuit, and thus grip levels were down, and lap-times far from indicative of the potential pace of the front runners.
Superbike Race One
When the lights went out Ben Burke got the advantage into turn one from BCperformance / SA Kawasaki teammate Robbie Bugden while Michael Blair was also off to a good start. Due to a muddy DNF in Saturday’s final Superbike encounter Matt Walters had to come from the back of the grid and by lap two was starting to challenge Blair for third position. Walters made short work of Blair as the Yamaha rider is struggling with a shoulder injury.
At the front Bugden got the better of Burke and started to eke a small advantage out on his teammate. Burke continued to shadow Bugden though and seemed to pull the ground back every time Bugden looked as though he might break away.
Back in the pack Beau Beaton was trying to recover from a distastrous Saturday which saw both his Ducati machined plagued with electrical problems. The Panigale R retired from duty today in favour of a 1299cc machine. The lack of reliable track time however has dulled Beaton’s potential here this weekend and thus he was involved in a battle for seventh position tussling with Matt Harding, Brad Swallow and William Strugnell.
Eventually Beaton lost ground on that group as they marched forward towards Liam Wilkinson and Paul Byrne, making their battle for seventh, now a four-way battle for fifth.
Matt Walters did he best to close down Bugden and Burke but ran out of laps and had to settle for the third.A lapped rider on approach to the esses for the final time gave Burke an opportunity to lunge past Bugden, he needed no second invitation and, unlike yesterday, this time around he made it stick to get one over his more experienced teammate. Bugden visibly frustrated as he crossed the line a tenth of a second behind his teammate.
Michael Blair was a lonely fourth place well ahead of Liam Wilkinson who managed to win that battle for fifth place after pulling away from Byrne, Swallow and Harding in the final laps.
Superbike Race Two
The second ten-lap bout got underway at 1245 which also had to be satellite launch time for Matt Harding when he launched himself out of the seat at turn three. It was a huge crash but the Kawasaki rider walked away, a bit sore and sorry for himself, but it was a lucky escape from what was a frightening crash.
Up front it was Ben Burke being shadowed by Robbie Bugden. Those tables turned on lap four when Bugden took his turn at the front. That order remained the same until the final turn when Burke mugged Bugden at the final turn, slotting his ZX-10R beneath his teammate and Bugden had to stand it up a little and let Burke through.
Matt Walters rounded out the podium once again, but has not found the speed here this weekend to challenge Burke and Bugden.
Michael Blair was again a fairly lonely fourth place ahead of Brad Swallow, Paul Byrne and top finishing local Liam Wilkinson.
Superbike Race Three
The sky hard darkened with thickening clouds ahead of the third and final 10-lap Superbike bout at 1600 but luckily things remained dry.
Ben Burke led the field through the first few corners but Robbie Bugden quickly moved in to the race lead late on lap two as once again his BCperformance / SA Kawasaki teammate Ben Burke played shadow.
It appeared as though Bugden might break away, and Walters started hounding Burke over that second place but Burke managed to break away from Walters as the race broached the half-way point of the race.
Burke then upped his game further to close right up on to the tail of Bugden, before making a pass on the penultimate lap. It appeared as though Bugden might have allowed Burke through to perhaps line him up for a pass through the final esses but if that was the plan it didn’t work. Bugden did his darnest to get Burke through the final esses and the teammates went through the esses almost side by side but Burke had the line onto the finish straight to make it three from three wins.
Burke’s perfect day promoted him to the lead of the Swann Insurance Australasian Superbike Championship by three points over previous series leader Matt Walters. Ben Burke is third in the series ahead of Michael Blair, the Yamaha man fighting a serious shoulder injury all weekend but staying upright to collect a good swag of points to be in a strong fourth place for the round and fourth in the series standings.
Next stop Queensland Raceway on the weekend of July 10.
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