Luke Mitchell took his maiden race and round win at Morgan Park ASBK over the weekend
Luke Mitchell has raced his JNL Racing Yamaha machine to an overall victory, at Round 5 of the 2016 Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul Pirelli at Morgan Park Raceway in Queensland.
The Motul Supersport class were treated to a full house of spectators when racing commenced in the sunshine, and with JNL Racing Yamaha’s Mitchell and Banham WA Racing’s Sam Clarke proving yesterday that they were the men to beat, the action on track did not disappoint.
When bikes left the grid for race one, Mitchell’s start from pole position after qualifying fastest served him well, moving in to the early race lead as bikes headed in to turn one, but just over Mitchell’s right shoulder Clarke’s Kawasaki was hot on his tail, and by the time the field headed in to lap two, Clarke was the new race leader.
With Clarke out in front, the next fight on track was between Graffiti Alley Racing’s Troy Guenther and Cube Racing’s Callum Spriggs, who were going head to head for third position, and by lap five Spriggs had made the pass, slotting up into third position behind Mitchell.
By lap six, the front three riders began to bunch up, Clarke, Mitchell, and Spriggs all keeping tons of spectators on the edge of their seats.
With five laps remaining, the running order saw Clarke continuing to lead from Mitchell, while Guenther returned to third position due to Spriggs suffering a crash in turn ten forcing him to DNF.
Unfortunately for Guenther, third place was only a position he occupied for a short time, with Coopers Pale Ale Yamaha’s Chris Quinn taking advantage of a late charge, and moving up into third place with only a few laps remaining.
But it was on the final lap that all of the action played out. With only a short time to get the job done, Mitchell made one final attempt for the race lead, one which paid off. And as riders came on to the straight for the final time, it was Mitchell who crossed the line as the Motul Supersport race one winner, followed by Clarke in second, and Quinn in third.
Graffiti Alley Racing’s Guenther concluded race one in fourth position, followed by World Supersport Kawasaki rider Lachlan Epis who completed the top five.
Ted Collins, Mark Chiodo, Robbie Menzies, Nic Liminton and Ben Blyth completed the remaining top ten standings.
With vital championship points up for grabs, when the Motul Supersport competitors lined up again for race two, spectators watched on, hoping that they would see Mitchell and Clarke go head to head once again.
And when bikes screamed off the line for the final time, fans were in for a treat with Mitchell and Clarke close to neck and neck as the pair approached the first turn.
But after only one lap, race two was red flagged, with Quinn going down in turn one, forcing the final race of the day to be restarted.
With the race reduced to 14 laps, when bikes took off once again, it was a mad dash to turn one, but this time it was Guenther who picked up the race lead, followed by Epis, Mitchell and Clarke.
After only two laps, Mitchell began to make his move to the front – his first victim being Epis, who he passed in the back section of the circuit to move up in to second position.
In what was somewhat of a shock to spectators, championship points leader Clarke remained back in fourth position at the five lap mark, a whole 2.6 seconds behind race leader Guenther.
By the halfway mark in the final Motul Supersport race of the day Guenther continued to look comfortable out in front with the race lead, followed by Epis who had fought back to reclaim second, and Mitchell in third. Clarke remained in fourth position ahead of Ted Collins in fifth.
As race two reached its closing stages, Clarke found some late form, managing to get by race one winner Mitchell and move into third position. But Clarke was not finished, only a couple of laps later the Kawasaki rider also made the pass on Epis for second and began to eye off Guenther’s rear wheel.
However, time was not on Clarke’s side, and when the chequered flag flew for the final time today it was Guenther who crossed the line with the race two victory. Despite a slow start, Clarke fought back to wrap up race two in second, followed by Epis who crossed the line in third.
Race one winner Mitchell wrapped up the last Motul Supersport race in fourth position followed by Ted Collins in fifth.
With the points from two races combined it was JNL Racing’s Luke Mitchell whose 1,4 results saw him awarded with the Round 5 victory, while Guenther’s consistency saw him take second position on the Motul Supersport podium. Third place today was collected by Banhams WA Racing’s Clarke who continues to lead the championship into the final round by eight points.
Luke Mitchell – JNL Racing Yamaha – Motul Supersport Round 5 Winnner
“I am feeling pretty good to be able to take home the round win here today,” Mitchell said. “It is a good boost for me. First pole, first win and first overall in the ASBK series, so it’s been a weekend of firsts that’s for sure.
“The second race wasn’t what we were hoping for, but we got through it. I hate making excuses but that was the worst pain I have ever ridden in, especially those last five laps. It’s good to take the overall win here. Moving on to Winton we are third in the championship now, so I am really happy with that and will just keep working forward from here,” he concluded.
“I’m very happy to be able to have won a race here at home,” said an excited Guenther after race two. “I can’t thank my team enough. They have made the bike work so well on the Pirelli tyres. On top of that I have to say a big thanks to all my friends and family who have come out this weekend to support me.”
“We had a really good weekend and benefited a lot from the test a couple of weeks ago,” Menzies reflected. “I’ve improved every time on the track since then with my times and we managed to get good starts in the races and consistent results as well. I struggled a little bit with arm-pump and I would like to be up higher in qualifying, but we are happy, first year on the 600.”
“It was a disappointing weekend for my home round,” Spriggs expressed. “I was hoping to get some wins or at least a podium to claw back some points in the championship. I was going good in the first race and tried to make a move on Luke [Mitchell], then tried to make up time again at turn 10 and lost the front. After that we got the bike going, but in the rush of it all fixing the damage between races, we accidentally had to wrong tyre pressure and it was too dangerous to keep going. So I came in and adjusted that, then off I went. It really gives me a lot of motivation to try and finish with a win at Winton.”
ASBK 2016 – Round Five – Morgan Park – 600cc Supersport
Luke Mitchell – 43
Troy Guenther – 42
Sam Clarke – 40
Lachlan Epis – 34
Ted Collins – 31
Robbie Menzies – 28
Mark Chiodo – 28
Ben Blyth – 24
Nic Liminton – 23
Anthony Quinn– 22
ASBK Australian Supersport Championship standings – After Round Five – Morgan Park
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