— Phillip Island 8 Hour / 2011 Australian Endurance Championship
— By Trevor Hedge

After a mainly fine but windy Friday and Saturday at Phillip Island clouds loomed large on the horizon at the end of the straight, as the riders prepared for the Le Mans start of the 2011 Phillip Island 8 Hour.Podium_300x250p

Glen Scott had major trouble on the start, getting away last while pole sitter Josh Waters sprinted away fastest from Cube Racing’s Bryan Staring and the GSX-R600 ridden by Brodie Waters. Bryan Staring ran in too hot at turn four and lost a number of places as he slithered his way back out of the grass, but recovered quickly to work his way back through the field and into second place.

Waters got straight down to high 1m34s and after two laps the Team Suzuki tyro had built a strong eight-second lead over Cube Racing’s Ben Henry.

Then – to add further excitement to the mix – the rain came down!

It was more than drizzle and for a moment appeared as though it might set in, but turned out to be a fleeting rain shower and all riders remained out. Lap times did slow, however, with Waters slipping back in the 1m40s bracket as everyone exercised extra caution in the mixed conditions.

Nine minutes into the race the international Japan Planning entry ridden by Osamu Arai was the first machine down for the day. A crash at turn 12 left the #83 machine with damage to the bars, exhaust and cosmetics, giving the pit crew plenty of work to do. Officials were jumping up and down more excitedly than the Japan Planning squad however as the bike had crossed the track in a very risky position and headed the wrong way at one point in order for them to make it back to pit-lane…

Another one with plenty of work to do was Glenn Scott in order to regain the huge amount of ground suffered through their fateful start. The ZX-6R refused to fire, then fired and stalled then finally fired again, allowing Scott to eventually get away. With 15 minutes gone, the WNR Kawasaki was in fifth place outright, almost 30-seconds behind the Team Suzuki GSX-R600 running in third place outright and leading Supersport machine. With 25 minutes down Scott returned to the pits for a little more drama to strike the WNR Kawasaki machine with the bike sticking in gear in the pits. Scott came in after having a huge rear-end slide at Lukey Heights, unsure if it was a tyre problem, a rain shower in that particular part of the track or some oil on the circuit. With a number of other riders also experiencing major drama at the point of the circuit it seemed clear that it was a rain or oil issue. Team Cessnock’s Dustin Goldsmith went down trying to avoid another rider that crashed but both re-joined the race.

Plenty of action in the opening 30 minutes of the 8-Hour. After their premature pit stop WNR Kawasaki had slipped back to 22nd place. It had all been smooth sailing for outright leader Josh Waters but Bryan Staring had also been a quiet achiever getting into the 1m35s at times as he battled to keep the PTR Suzuki in sight. With half an hour down the gap between first and second was 10-seconds.

Cube Racing’s Bryan Staring came into the pits after 22 laps, the first of the top three to pit. Nick Waters the next man out on the GSX-R1000.

Next in was the race leader Josh Waters handing the outright race lead to brother Brodie on the PTR prepared GSX-R600. Troy Herfoss was the next man out on the GSX-R1000, getting edgy as they waited for the very slow control fuel-rig to fill the tank of the Suzuki. It was like watching paint dry for onlookers, let alone an amped up Superbike pilot desperately wanting to get back on track. In charge of the fuel jug for Team Suzuki was none other than three-time Australian Superbike Champion Shawn Giles. Due to the slow rate of filling that job a laborious test of patience rather than excitement. This is something we mentioned in our coverage of the 6-Hour last year as a blight on the event but remained unchanged for this inaugural 8-Hour event. Cost the major factor in sticking with the relatively inexpensive fuel jugs rather than going to a more professional rig that would fill the tanks in less than a quarter of the time.

With 45-minutes down the Team Suzuki GSX-R 600 was still yet to pit and thus had a lap on the GSX-R1000 now piloted by Troy Herfoss. Brodie came in after 28-laps for a new rear Dunlop rear on the GSX-R600 and handed the lead back over to Herfoss on the GSX-R1000. Mitchell Carr the next rider on the Team Suzuki GSX-R600 and after waiting for the fuel to go in he re-joined the race in third place. The Cube Racing squad had emerged the winners from the first stop, their 12-second deficit before the pit-stop trimmed to just five-seconds as they all got back up to speed.

Troy Herfoss got down to 36s in the windy conditions to slowly stretch their lead back out to 12-seconds as the first hour clicked over. The Team Suzuki GSX-R600 was 90-seconds down on the race leader and third outright ahead of the Bridgestone Endurance first ridden by Trent Gibson, before the Victorian handed over to Jay Layman for the second stint. The GSX-R1000 mounted Bridgestone team the first Superstock 1000 machine, fourth outright, well ahead of the Wet4U ZX-6R in fifth place and the first Superstock 600 category machine in the rankings.

The Ken Wootton tribute entry dubbed ‘Krusty Wobblers’ was out of the race with a crash at Lukey Heights resulting in a bent frame. Back in the race was the Japan Planning entry, after their early off-track excursions their GSX-R was back up and running, albeit 20-laps down on the leaders.

1 Hour Rankings
1. Team Suzuki SBK
2. Cube Racing SBK – 15.5secs
3. Team Suzuki SS – 1 lap
4. Bridgestone Endurance STK1 – 2 laps
5. Wet4U Racing STK6 – 2 laps
6. FNQ Lager STK1 – 2 laps
7. California Superbike School STK6 – 3 laps
8. La Vida Loca BEARS – 3 laps
9. RoeBros Dan Racing STK1 – 3 laps
10. Dirty Bits Racing SS – 3 laps

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As the second hour got underway the clouds were still looming overhead and the wind somewhat unpredictable but the track was completely dry, but still very slippery according to the riders; the pace had slowed as a result with the Team Suzuki GSX-R1000 slowing to 1m37s, still quick enough to have extended their lead over Cube Racing to 28-seconds, 20 minutes into the second hour of the competition.

Cube Racing then entered the pits for Ben Henry to take the controls from Nick Waters. The following lap saw the Team Suzuki GSX-R1000 come in for a rear tyre and fuel with Robbie Bugden jumping into the hot-seat for his first stint. That meant with 48 laps down and 1hr-25mins into the race the Team Suzuki GSX-R600 was back in the outright lead 31-seconds ahead of their big-bore team-mates.

Again, it seemed as though Cube Racing won the pit-stop war with their 28-second deficit to the Team Suzuki Superbike reduced to 21-seconds when the riders were back up and running at full speed on track.

Bugden was determined to extend that lead back out though and got straight down to 1m35s and within 15 minutes had extended their lead back out to more than 30-seconds. That gap then all of a sudden blew out by another 60-seconds after Ben Henry had a small crash after his fuel cap flipped open.

The Team Suzuki GSX-R600 finally came in for their second pit stop and re-joined the race two laps down. Suddenly the fairly close affair had strung out into a much clearer ranking order.

Ben Henry came in for Cube Racing’s third pit-stop just before the two-hour mark while Team Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 lasted a couple of laps more before coming in for Josh Waters to take over the reins. Jumping back into the hot seat for Cube Racing was Bryan Staring, a big task ahead of Staring as Henry’s problems had put them back to third place behind the Team Suzuki GSX-R600.

2 Hour 10 mins Rankings (after third round of pit-stops)
1. Team Suzuki SBK
2. Team Suzuki SS – 1min-10secs
3. Cube Racing SBK – 1min-20secs
4. Bridgestone Endurance STK1 – 3 laps
5. California Superbike School STK6 – 3 laps
6. Wet4U Racing STK6 – 3 laps
7. FNQ Lager Racing STK1 – 4 laps
8. La Vida Loca BEARS – 4 laps
9. Czaj Racing SBK – 4 laps
10. Mick Muldoon Kawasaki – STK1 – 5 laps

It took until lap 78 for Bryan Staring to get back past Ben Attard on the Team Suzuki GSX-R600 and put the Cube Racing squad back up to second place. But with Josh Waters back on board the Team Suzuki GSX-R1000 and running 1m35s and 1m36s lap times it only took until lap 87 for Cube Racing to slip a full lap behind Team Suzuki.

The first stop-go penalty of the event went to Mitronics Print Solutions with William Shanahan kept in pit-lane for a 30-second penalty for passing under a yellow flag. After being notified of the offence in writing, the team has three laps to bring their rider in for a penalty and instead of the usual 10-second penalty in sprint events a full 30-second stop-go penalty is applied in endurance events, both here and abroad.

Ben Attard entered pit-lane on lap 89 to hand the Team Suzuki GSX-R600 back to Brodie Waters.

The FNQ Lager Yamaha YZF-R1 limped into pit-lane looking very, very second hand after limping back for repairs following a crash on their 83rd lap.

The Yamaha YZF-R6 of Team 399 Tradie Websites was refusing to fire in the pits.

Nick Waters took over Cube Racing duties from Bryan Staring on lap 92, putting them two laps down on Team Suzuki. The leaders then came in for their stop on lap 96 with Troy Herfoss back hopping aboard for his second stint on the Team Suzuki GSX-R1000.

After 2hrs-53mins Team Suzuki cracked out their 100th lap with Herfoss seemingly finding the conditions more to his liking in this stint, with the 2010 Aussie Supersport Champion occasionally dipping into the 1min-35s to maintain their full lap advantage over Cube Racing and their own GSX-R600 mounted teammates.

3 Hour Rankings
1. Team Suzuki SBK
2. Cube Racing SBK – 1 lap
3. Team Suzuki SS – 1 lap
4. Bridgestone Endurance STK1 – 5 laps
5. Wet4U Racing STK6 – 7 laps
6. RoeBros Dan Racing STK1 – 9 laps
7. Czaj Racing SBK – 9 laps
8. Dirty Bits Racing SS – 9 laps
9. Mick Muldoon Kawasaki – 10 laps
10. WNR Kawasaki – 10 laps

Cube Racing came in for a pit stop on lap 113 for fuel and new rubber with Ben Henry taking over from Nicholas Waters. The Team Suzuki GSX-R1000 again staying out for a longer stint than the Cube Racing GSX-R1000 with Bugden jumping on the Team Suzuki bike on lap 120. Their 600cc teammates came in on lap 119 and re-joined the race two laps down on the GSX-R1000. Cube Racing were a further two laps down and two laps clear of the fourth placed Bridgestone Endurance Superstock 1000 machine after that round of stops.

Team Akermanis Race Workshop were notified of a stop-go penalty for refuelling their machine without full protective clothing after 3hrs-50mins and lying in 13th place ahead of Team Cessnock.

At the halfway mark Team Suzuki had a stranglehold on the 8 Hour with their Superbike entry leading outright two-laps ahead of their Supersport siblings, who in turn have two-laps on Cube Racing.

4 Hour Rankings
1. Team Suzuki SBK
2. Team Suzuki SS – 2 laps
3. Cube Racing SBK – 4 laps
4. Bridgestone Endurance STK1 – 9 laps
5. WNR Kawasaki SS – 12 laps
6. Wet4U Racing STK6 – 13 laps
7. Dirty Bits Racing SS – 13 laps
8. RoeBros Dan Racing STK1 – 14 laps
9. Mick Muldoon Kawasaki STK1 – 15 laps
10. Mitronics Print BEARS – 16 laps

Shortly after the Phillip Island 8 Hour entered its fifth hour the Team Suzuki Superbike came in for new rubber and a fresh tank of fuel after their 144th lap of the 4.4km Phillip Island circuit.

The only Metzeler team in the event, Team Cheese International, returned to the pits with ongoing throttle problems. The team changed an airflow sensor and a couple of other things trying to get the Honda sorted but with the probable cause diagnosed as a problem with the crank angle sensor it seemed as though they would just have to battle on as best they could in order to try and finish the event.

A gearbox failure on the Quadriant Developments Ducati 848 put the well-presented team of Adrian Pierpont, Dave Butler and Richard Liminton out of the event after 127 laps and running in 19th place.

On lap 159 Cube Racing came in for Nick Waters to take the controls. Shortly after Nick left the pits Josh Waters entered the pits from the race lead with a seven lap advantage over Cube Racing and three laps ahead of the Team Suzuki GSX-R600. A problem with the fuel container saw Shawn Giles run back into the pitbox to grab a back-up unit as the PTR mechanics syringed some extra oil in the GSX-R1000 with the bikes expected to burn a litre or two throughout the duration of the race. Josh Waters exited pit-lane still with a two-lap advantage over their GSX-R600 teammates and six laps ahead of Cube Racing.

With three brothers on three different bikes, running on the top three positions, one would reckon no matter what it was looking as though there is guaranteed joy in the Waters household tonight!

Five Hour Rankings
1. Team Suzuki SBK
2. Team Suzuki SS – 2 laps
3. Cube Racing SBK – 6 laps
4. Bridgestone Endurance STK1 – 9 laps
5. WNR Kawasaki SS – 11 laps
6. Wet4U Racing STK6 – 13 laps
7. Team Cessnock STK1 – 15 laps
8. Dirty Bits Racing SS – 16 laps
9. Mitronics Print BEARS – 18 laps
10. RoeBros Dan Racing STK1 – 18 laps

A lengthy pit stop after 167 laps for the WNR Kawasaki squad as they fixed up a few little pieces of damage from that very early off which saw a few things rattle loose which the boys patched up with some cable ties to try and hold the show together for the remaining 2hrs 45mins.

The Team Suzuki GSX-R600 stopped on lap 181 for Brodie Waters to start his next stint three laps down on their GSX-R1000 mounted teammates, and three laps ahead of the Cube Racing Superbike.

The Californian Superbike School entry Suzuki GSX-R600 came in for a stop and rider change 22 laps down on the leaders. Problems with the shifter causing them drama and allowing them to only use half the gearbox, third-fourth-fifth cogs the ratios available.

Cube Racing stopped on lap 182 for new tyres front and rear and Ben Henry took the helm from Nick Waters, re-joining the race eight laps down on the race leaders and four laps behind the Team Suzuki GSX-R600.

Only moments later the race leaders came in for a new rear tyre and refuel after completing 191 laps.

The FNQ Lager team had a pit stop on lap 171 after losing all air pressure in the front tyre.

As the sixth hour approached circumstances had the three Waters brothers all on track at the same time and running 1-2-3 outright.

Six Hour Rankings
1. Team Suzuki SBK
2. Team Suzuki SS – 3 laps
3. Cube Racing SBK – 7 laps
4. Bridgestone Endurance STK1 – 12 laps
5. WNR Kawasaki SS – 14 laps
6. Team Cessnock STK1 – 17 laps
7. Wet4U Racing STK6 – 18 laps
8. Dirty Bits Racing SS – 20 laps
9. RoeBros Dan Racing STK1 – 21 laps
10. Mick Muldoon Kawasaki STK1 – 21 laps

Cube Racing came in after 205 laps for rubber and fuel while Bryan Staring jumped into the void left by Ben Henry.

As Cube Racing left pitlane the Team Suzuki GSX-R600 pitted for fuel, a rear tyre and a minor oil top-up while Mitchell Carr took the reins from Brodie Waters.

Joining him in pitlane as the fuel was still running in the GSX-R600 was the race leading GSX-R1000. When everyone got back on track the Team Suzuki Superbike held a three-lap advantage over their GSX-R600 sibling with Cube Racing a further four laps down in third place with a five-lap buffer over Bridgestone Endurance. Suzuki 1-2-3-4 with 1hr 45 mins to run.

WNR Kawasaki came in after 217 laps and with 1hr-20mins left in the race. New Pirellis front and rear and Jed Metcher jumping in the hot seat for the second last stint but some delays with the tyre change cost the Kawasaki boys a little time and with only a lap on Team Cessnock their fifth place outright under threat. They got away in reasonable time but Metcher had a moment leaving pitlane and slowed to a complete crawl and virtually stopped below the tower before getting underway again.

Cube Racing came in from third place after 228 laps, eight laps down on the race leader and re-joined the race a further lap down on the leaders, and five laps down on the Team Suzuki GSX-R600.

Shortly afterwards the Whitneys 2 Wheel Workshop GSX-R1000 ridden by Corey Snowsill came in for new tyres and a rider change. In 15th place and 28 laps behind the leader their mission was to bring the machine home.

Seven Hour Rankings
1. Team Suzuki SBK
2. Team Suzuki SS – 3 laps
3. Cube Racing SBK – 8 laps
4. Bridgestone Endurance STK1 – 14 laps
5. WNR Kawasaki SS – 15 laps
6. Team Cessnock STK1 – 18 laps
7. Wet4U Racing STK6 – 21 laps
8. RoeBros Dan Racing STK1 – 23 laps
9. California Superbike School STK6 – 23 laps
10. Dirty Bits Racing SS – 23 laps

The first of the top five to come in for their final stop was the WNR Kawasaki from fifth place, 17 laps down on the outright leader and 12 laps down on the Supersport class leader, Team Suzuki in second place outright. Glenn Scott onboard for the final run to the flag for WNR Kawasaki with 32 minutes remaining.

Next in was Nick Waters out of third place with Ben Henry taking the reins for the final run home for Cube Racing. Nine laps down on the race leaders and four laps down on the second placed Team Suzuki GSX-R600. Henry exited pit lane with 28 minutes to run complete with new rubber for the final stint.

Ben Attard was next in from second place on the GSX-R600 with Brodie Waters jumping aboard for the final stint. As Brodie exited pitlane with 26 minutes to run Troy Herfoss entered the pits for the final stop for the race leading Team Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Josh Waters taking the reins for the final 25 minute run home.

The final stages of the race were without incident and Team Suzuki romped home to a dominant 1-2 outright and the Superbike (Josh Waters / Troy Herfoss / Robbie Bugden) and Supersport (Brodie Waters / Mitchell Carr / Ben Attard) class wins.

Josh Waters also set the fastest lap of the race (1:34.805) to make it a clean sweep of accolades for the winning machine.

My teammates were fantastic and we worked really well together,” Waters explained. “Everybody put in 100 percent and it was a great way to wrap up the 2011 season. It was good fun working with the other riders and I was lucky that I had teammates on my side who are fast and consistent.

“My experience in the Suzuka 8 Hours this year in Japan with Yoshimura Suzuki played a big part in my preparation for the race and I really enjoy endurance racing. It was definitely an advantage for me and I’m proud to win along with Team Suzuki.”

Brother, Brodie was equally as pleased with second outright and the Supersport class win.

“We had a great weekend and I felt comfortable working alongside both Mitch and Ben on the team,” Brodie Waters commented. “We pushed hard at the start and then settled into a rhythm, which is important in endurance racing. It is a great reward to win the Supersport class for Suzuki and go 1-2 Outright.”

Team Suzuki manager Phil Tainton said it was a great performance by the entire team in what was a hard-fought race. He congratulated both the riders and pit crew for maintaining focus and sealing Suzuki the national endurance title for the season.

“We had extra crew in the team over the weekend, as well as some new riders, but everything gelled so well,” Tainton said. “We were really happy with the whole team, because in endurance racing it’s more of a team sport than at the regular sprint races.

“Josh is certainly back to his best after his accident last year and was again exceptionally impressive, plus both Troy and Robbie were flawless all weekend as well. Brodie again was riding the best I’ve seen him ride, and both Ben and Mitch worked well alongside him with limited time on our bike.

“It was a great finish to a great year, so we are thankful for the Dunlop Tyres and also Motul Oil for keeping the engine running, as well as of course the riders and crew for making it all happen. It was a great weekend for Team Suzuki.”

Cube Racing (Ben Henry / Bryan Staring / Nick Waters) claimed third place outright and second in the Superbike category nine laps behind the race winners. A monumental effort from the privateers who had numerous machinery problems during qualifying but managed to bring their GSX-R1000 home in one piece to claim the final step on the outright podium and second in the Superbike category.

The Suzuki mounted Bridgestone Endurance squad (Trent Gibson / Greg Epis / Jay Layman) completed their race long domination of the Superstock 1000 category and claimed fourth outright, four laps ahead of Team Cessnock’s (Phil Lovett / Simon Galloway / Dustin Goldsmith) Kawasaki ZX-10R. That battle might have been a lot closer if not for Goldsmith getting caught up in an incident very early in the race that saw him go down along with another rider at Lukey Heights.

Coming home four laps behind Team Cessnock taking seventh outright and the Superstock 600 category win was Wet4U Racing (Paul Grant-Mitchell / Colin Lewis / Murray Clark / Mick Thomas) on a Kawasaki ZX-6R they picked up for $3000 from the crashed bike write-off auctions. Following them home for eighth outright and second in class was the California Superbike School (Kris Parnell / Luke Martin / Josh Galster / Adam Raffe) GSX-R600.

Former AFL great Jason Akermanis’ Honda-backed team was one of the 22 finishers, making good on his road racing debut to finish in 16th spot, and third in the Superstock 600 class, despite being troubled by a warped disc in the last 90 minutes.

The other class winners were WET4U Racing (Paul Grant-Mitchell/Colin Lewis/Murray Clark/Michael Thomas, ZX-6R) in Superstock 600 and Miltronics Corporation (Steve Cutting/Dean Holmes/Phillip Gray, Triumph Daytona 675) in Bears.

This inaugural Phillip Island 8 Hour was an uphill battle for Phillip Island management, the promoter of the event. A very busy end of season in Australian Superbike saw most competitors worn out through October and November and without the funds and motivation to front up for an 8 Hour endurance event.

This will not be a problem in 2012 with the ASBK season finishing much earlier and a full 12 months for Phillip Island to prepare and promote the event. The 2012 Phillip Island 8 Hour will run on the weekend of December 2 with the track resurfacing starting the day after the event. The track will then be out of action until the 2013 Island Classic in late January. Phillip Island are in this event for the long haul and are committed to trying to secure the Phillip Island 8 Hour a place on the World Endurance Calendar.

8 Hour Final Results
1. Team Suzuki SBK – 279 laps (Suzuki)
2. Team Suzuki SS – 274 laps (Suzuki)
3. Cube Racing SBK – 270 laps (Suzuki)
4. Bridgestone Endurance STK1 – 264 laps (Suzuki)
5. WNR Kawasaki SS – 262 laps (Kawasaki)
6. Team Cessnock STK1 – 260 laps (Kawasaki)
7. Wet4U Racing STK6 – 255 laps (Kawasaki)
8. California Superbike School STK6 – 254 laps (Suzuki)
9. Mick Muldoon Kawasaki STK1 – 252 laps (Kawasaki)
10. Dirty Bits Racing SS – 252 laps (Kawasaki)
11. Roe Bros and Dan Racing STK1 – 252 laps (Yamaha)
12. Mitronics Print Solutions BEARS – 251 laps (Triumph)

—  Full Results (6mb PDF)

—  Pictorials – Gallery A – Gallery B – Gallery C – Gallery D – Gallery E – Gallery F – Gallery G

—  Results – Endurance Qualifying – Full Support Results & Final Points

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