The pleasant morning had evolved into quite a sultry afternoon at Queensland Raceway by the time Superbike competitors rolled out of the pits for the second practice session. The track temperature was nudging towards 45-degrees while the ambient was around 25-degrees, but felt a lot warmer.
The conditions a bit of a worry for Ducati competitors due to the hot running nature of the V4 R. The McMartin Racing Ducati had already recorded concerning coolant and oil temperatures in the morning session, and at one stage a coolant hose blew off the bike.
McMartin Racing Crew Chief Adrian Monti told us that they had previously asked the controlling body for the implementation of many of the Superstock rules raced under in Europe, that include the fitment of race kit radiators, but had not been granted that permission. The stop-go nature of the Willowbank lay-out doesn’t help with the bike most of the time under either full power or full brakes, and of course with the forks under full compression during the braking phases there is less room for clean air-flow through to the radiator.
Even with race-kit radiators the World Superbike spec Ducati V4 R machines are critical when it comes to temperature control, with crew members busily blowing air over all surfaces of the bike any time the machines are at a standstill. Hopefully this doesn’t become a safety concern for Ducati riders such as Josh Waters or Broc Pearson, or indeed riders of other machines being caught out and going down at some point this weekend due to fluid on track.
Troy Herfoss was quick out of the blocks to set the early pace in the earlier FP1 session but was ultimately bested by Cru Halliday who recorded four laps that were all quicker than any other rider’s single laps in FP1, the best of which was a 67.952.
Mike Jones dominated here last year with a 67.67 in qualifying and recorded a 67.8 and 67.9 in the races. This morning though the best the defending champ put down was a 68.681, almost a second slower than what he did here in 2022. He put that purely down to him and nothing to do with his YRT steed, joking with me ‘throttle hand not working’. He gave that hand a bit of a tune up in the lunch break as first lap out in FP2 Mike put in a 68.081, more than half-a-second quicker than he managed this morning. He then backed that up with a 68.206 in traffic, followed by a 68.452 while chasing the Penrite Honda of Troy Herfoss around the 3.126 kilometre lay-out. Herfoss then returned to the pits while Jones continued to reel off laps.
With 15-minutes remaining in the session Herfoss headed back out and improved to 68.138 before then putting in the fastest time of the day, a 67.919, followed by a string of low 68s.
At the halfway stage of the session FP1 pace-setter Cru Halliday had only completed a few laps and was yet to put in a quick one. He got up to speed on his ninth lap of the session when there was just under five-minutes to run, a 68.334.
Josh Waters improved to 68.323 with a few minutes left in the session to split the two YRT men, but Herfoss was still on top. And that was where the Penrite Honda man remained, despite sitting out the final five-minutes of the session.
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