Round Four – Morgan Park
Images by TBG and Rob Mott
Under a new qualifying format for ASBK this season the Saturday morning session is dubbed ‘Timed Practice’, and it is the times from this session that decided the nine riders that automatically qualify for the Q2 session. The riders from tenth back in the Timed Practice session having to fight it out in a Q1 session, scheduled for 1440 this afternoon, with the top three in that session then being promoted into Q2, making for a final 12-rider tussle over the first four rows of the grid that is set to take place at 1510.
One rider absent from the field today was Glenn Scott. His weekend had started with promise but a crash at turn three in the final session yesterday has left the Kawasaki rider with a dislocated hip and multiple fractures in his back. He is undergoing MRI scans in Brisbane today to assess the level of damage that has been sustained.
Scott had gone under the air-fence that is placed in front of a dangerous wall near the overpass at turn three, his ZX-10RR then followed him in. On social media this morning Scott was highly critical of Morgan Park Raceway.
“These are the risks we take riding these unsafe circuits. Our passion to ride is so great when we roll into a circuit like Morgan Park you can see it is not fit for a national level of racing but we ignore the dangerous sections and go anyway. ASBK and MA need to step up and change this! If that wall wasn’t so close on the outside of turn 3 I’d be throwing a new set of fairing on my bike, dusting my leathers off and heading out for qualifying today..”
Troy Herfoss was also clearly unhappy on Friday at Morgan Park, but for very different reasons. Herfoss had been frustrated by the way his Penrite Honda was riding the bumps at this tricky 3-kilometre 12-turn circuit. We reported yesterday that the squad woud be working through the night to cure those ills, and it was immediately apparent that they had found a better direction when Herfoss went straight out in the 30-minute timed practice sessions this morning and dropped in a time almost half-a-second quicker than he managed at any point on Friday. Unfortunately though he did not better that time in the remaining 25-minutes, and following 12 laps, he put in during the session and ended up sixth overall this morning.
Wayne Maxwell topped the Timed Practice session this morning after also topping the time-sheets on Friday. A 1m13.283s this morning a marginal step forward from the 1m13.334s he recorded yesterday.
Cru Halliday underlined his consistency also by going second quickest on Saturday morning, a 1m13.339s also a marginal improvement on his Friday best of 1m13.515s lap.
Other riders to quickly and more drastically improve their pace this morning were BCperformance Kawasaki’s Bryan Staring and NextGen BMW stand-in rider Aaron Morris.
Morris bettered his Friday time by more than a second in what is an amazing performance from the Sydneysider. Morris dropped in a brilliant 1m13.46s scorcher on the fifth of his seven laps to end the session third quickest.
Mikes Jones had a tumble early on after clocking in a 1m13.56s lap and then immediately trying to better it, but instead went down at turn six. Jones was quickly back on track and put in a total of 17 laps during the session but did not improve on that early time. Still, it was good enough for fourth quickest today.
Bryan Staring, the only leading rider on Dunlop rubber, completely dominated the previous round at The Bend and in doing so propelled himself into the series lead off the back of a 75-point haul in what was a triple-header weekend. Staring put in 18-laps this morning with his quickest a 1m13.591s on his fifth time around.
Josh Waters was seventh quickest ahead of Daniel Falzon, the South Australian the final rider to dip into the 1m13s this morning but only putting in four laps on the YRT machine. Instead Falzon choosing to conserve his front tyre for the qualifying session instead of burning up rubber that he then has to use in Timed Practice. That approach certainly has some merit as a top nine in this session is all that is required to automatically qualify straight through to the afternoon Q2 session.
Matt Walters the final man to make that cut-off while Mark Chiodo and Alex Phillis just missed the cut.
Tyre wear was critical here at Morgan Park last year, as it generally is at every circuit that ASBK visits, and no doubt it will be the same again tomorrow when the 2 x 16-lap races get underway.
Herfoss put in a masterful performance here last year to come from behind in both races after the team gave him a set-up that allowed him to conserve his tyres and then walk away from his pursuers in the closing stages of each race. A set-up that will help the tyres make the race distance will be the holy grail every team is chasing here today at Morgan Park.
Pirelli had no answer for Dunlop at The Bend, in what was a big turn up for the books as in recent years the Italian rubber has largely dominated ASBK, where ever we went. Which brand will win the tyre war this weekend…? To throw another wildcard in to that question both Dunlop and Pirelli have a new spec’ rear here this weekend… The Pirelli in question sacrifices a small amount of ultimate edge grip in return for an increase in longevity, while the Dunlop option for this weekend is softer than what they dominated with at The Bend but Dunlop are still confident that it will last the 16-lap distance without a problem.
ASBK Morgan Park Saturday Timed Practice