While the weather had been glorious on the opening day of practice at Symmons Plains and the weather pleasant enough on Saturday, the winds from Antarctica were blowing across the 2.41km Northern Tasmanian circuit when competitors arrived this morning for the fourth battle in the 2015 YMF Loan ASBK Championship war.
Mike Jones had topped the Superbike timesheets all weekend while Daniel Falzon tried to claw back that gap to his title rival.
The JD Racing YZF-R1 bit Falzon hard for the first time during morning qualifying yesterday. A violent highside slapped Falzon into the Tassie tarmac hard and left the team with a long night ahead of them trying to get two machines ready in order to cover all bases heading towards today’s two 17-lap bouts.
With third placed qualifier Ryan Hampton more than a second slower than pole sitter Mike Jones, and Falzon carrying an injury to his throttle/brake hand, it looked as though Jones was going to be uncompletely untroubled in continuing the perfect win record that the Cube Racing rider had amassed across the previous two rounds of the series.
An ambient temperature of 10-degrees and a track temperature of only 12-degrees, cold tearing and grip issues were forefront in the minds of the Pirelli and Dunlop representatives as they prepped their charges for battle.
Daniel Falzon took the lead as the opening race got underway and held sway up front throughout the opening lap. Mike Jones looked to be in no hurry to make his challenge and waited until entering turn one to start lap three of the 17-lap distance.The first flying lap saw both Jones and Falzon record identical 55.445-second lap times, but as soon as Jones got past he went almost a second quicker and started pulling away. A 56.4 followed by a 54.4 for Jones, but Falzon was not giving in without a fight, lowering his times down towards mid-54s to keep Jones in sight.
On lap five Jones put in a 54.21 to push his buffer over Falzon out to 1.5-seconds. With ten laps to run that gap was out to 2.5-seconds.
Then Jones started to slow!A few drops of rain had appeared on the visor of his LS2 helmet. Falzon pulled back half-a-second on Jones that lap, then the gap was down back to only a second after the following lap. Jones drifting back to 56s, he was negotiating a little traffic but also being extra cautious, despite the rain being limited to only a few drops.
Then Falzon got caught up in traffic and actually ran in to the back of Phil Czaj, costing him time and nearly putting him down the road, the gap sprang back out to 2.8-seconds.It soon became apparent that these slower riders that the leaders were lapping, were on course to more than likely get lapped more than once, before the 17-lap distance expired. Leading riders complained after the race of a lack of blue flags on display to riders being lapped.
Ben Henry had been tussling with Ryan Hampton over third place in the opening laps but as the race wore on the Brisbane based Western Australian started reeling in Daniel Falzon. The South Australian having a bad run through the traffic and also perhaps suffering the effects of that massive highside he suffered in qualifying.Once Henry had a sniff of that second place he started putting in 54-second laps for the first time this weekend, the hunt was on.
Falzon just managed to hold off that charge from Henry to hold on to that second place but crossed the line almost 8-seconds behind race winner Mike Jones.
Ryan Hampton finished fourth while local rider Brett Simmonds fell on the final lap in an excruciating blow that robbed him of a fifth place finish.
YMF Loan ASBK Superbike Race One Results
Daniel Falzon 7.6-secs
Ben Henry 8.0 secs
Ryan Hampton 10.6 secs
Brad Wootton 27.6 secs
Quentin Blazeley 28.15 secs
Kurt Sushames 42.01 secs
Adam Senior 51.51 secs
Ashley Fleming + 1 lap
Tony Keogh + 1 lap
Nathan Spiteri + 1 lap
Phil Czaj + 1 lap
Marcus Burns + 2 laps
YMF Loan ASBK Superbike Race Two
No sooner had the afternoon bout got underway than it was stopped by a red flag incident at turn two with local riders Marcus Burns and Victorian Phil Czaj down.Czaj was already carrying significant shoulder injuries from a crash at the Suzuka 8 Hour. Riders returned to the grid and teams busied themselves fitting tyre warmers back on their respective charges.
At the restart it was Mike Jones that actually bested Falzon off the line for once and quickly started to sprint away from his pursuers. By the end of the first flying lap Jones had 1.25-seconds on Falzon who was being hounded by New Zealand’s Ryan Hampton and Ben Henry was in that game too.
Up front Mike Jones was lapping a full-second quicker than the triumvirate battling over second place, that tussel unfolding more than five-seconds behind the race leader after only six laps. But that battle was quite entertaining with Hampton getting the better of Falzon as they negotiated lapped traffic at half race distance, Ben Henry was right in that picture also and in firm contention for that podium position.
Disaster then struck Falzon for the second time this weekend, the Caterpillar backed rider went down again at turn three which brought out the red flag, the good news was that the South Australian was up and seemingly not seriously injured. Ben Henry had missed a gear and Falzon brushed the back of him and went down.
The real bad news for Falzon was that Mike Jones was on track to extend his championship lead out to 60 points, and with only 51 points left up for grabs, if Jones could stay safe in the restart the 2015 ASBK Championship title would be his with a round to spare.
Mike Jones completely dominated. The Queenslander’s 54.181 fastest lap, more than a second quicker than any other rider in either the first half of the race, or the re-started second part of the journey. His most dominant performance of the year and a deserving 2015 ASBK Champion crowned here today in Tasmania. The first Australian Superbike Championship crown for Kawasaki since Marty Craggill took the title in 1998 onboard a ZX-7RR.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.