Yamaha Motor Finance ASBK 2017 – Round 7 – Phillip Island
A fairly heavy shower had soaked the 4.45km Phillip Island circuit half an hour before the start of the first of two 12-lap Superbike races that would today decide who would be crowned YMI ASBK Superbike Champion for 2017.
By the time riders formed up on the media grid though the track was looking mainly dry, only a few damp patches at certain sections of the circuit, but there was only one tyre choice, slicks.
Singer Karen de Vere belted out an amazingly powerful Australian national anthem to signal it was time for those tyre warmers to come off and people to clear the grid as the men of Australian Superbike made their final mental preparations in what would be the second last battle in their season long war…
Josh Waters led the field through turn one for the first time while pole sitter Wayne Maxwell seemed to have got dusted up between turns one and two, losing a number of places in the process.
Waters was extremely quickly out of the blocks and was inching away from his pursuers. Meanwhile, Herfoss was tussling with Falzon as Maxwell recovered from those first turn issues to pass rider after rider as he marched his way through to third place and was then all over the back of Troy Herfoss. Meanwhile Waters had clear air and pulled away to the tune of 1.6-seconds in the opening lap.
Maxwell sneaked past Herfoss for second place, Herfoss momentarily took that position back but the Yamaha man again got in front and immediately started to pull away from Herfoss. Waters meanwhile now had more than two-seconds on his pursuers…
With nine laps to run defending champion Troy Herfoss was coming under increasing pressure from Falzon, while Glenn Allerton and Bryan Staring were also starting to look threatening.
Falzon put his JD Racing YZF-R1 up the inside of Herfoss at turn three and the pair continued to tussle around the back of the circuit. No love lost between that pair would be an understatement…
Herfoss then made some sort of mistake and had to sit the Fireblade up in a turn, this allowed Falzon an easy road through and Allerton also took the opportunity to slip past and relegate Herfoss to fifth place with nine laps to run.
The problems then only continued for Herfoss. His pace slipped back to 1m36s and all of a sudden Herfoss had not only Staring behind, his teammate perhaps acting as some sort of safeguard buffer as those that were further behind were now all over them.
Josh Hook, Cru Halliday and Robbie Bugden all looked to have an easy speed advantage over Herfoss, and with eight laps to run it looked like only a matter of time before the series leader would be shuffled all the way back to ninth.
Up front Waters continued to set the pace, unfettered by any close challengers on track but his pit board informing him of the threat posed by Maxwell. The #47 Yamaha looking solid, not fast enough to claw back that three-second advantage enjoyed by Waters, but close enough to be able to pounce should the Suzuki man make any mistake, or start suffering tyre issues late in the race.
There was also a battle for third place unfolding a further four-seconds behind Maxwell. The combatants in that tussle Daniel Falzon and Glenn Allerton, battling in close quarters all around the circuit.
Then as the rest of the field started their last lap Troy Herfoss entered pitlane! The series leader and defending champion will take no points from this race! That gives Josh Waters’ championship winning chances a massive boost!
Waters took the win by almost four-seconds over Maxwell while Allerton won that titanic battle with Falzon for the final step on the rostrum.
Well, Josh Waters is most certainly in the box seat to take out the 2017 Australian Superbike Championship now. Only a disaster can rob him of the title. Wayne Maxwell is 13-points behind but no matter what he does in the final bout this afternoon, it is now Josh Waters’ championship to lose…
It was all smiles at Team Suzuki but despite his storming come from behind second place Wayne Maxwell was far from happy. After the initial elation with his family, when it came time for podium interviews and photos Maxwell said, “If you come here and test you win, if you don’t this is what happens.”
That comment obviously reflecting on the fact that while he did ride here early last week, he did so on his own, with no team support by way of mechanics or technical assistance… While Team Suzuki, Team Honda and others tested complete with full technical support.
The issues for Herfoss’ retirement a recurrence of some leaking gasket problems that twice had affected his teammate Bryan Staring at earlier rounds. Staring having his own issues in that race also, a slow leak in his front Pirelli slick costing him speed.
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