Yamaha Motor Finance ASBK Championship 2016 – Round Five – Morgan Park

Superbike Race One Report by Trevor Hedge

Mainly blue skies greeted competitors this morning at Morgan Park, as the fifth round of the YMF Loan sponsored 2016 Australian Superbike Championship got underway in front of the picturesque bush backdrop that envelops the technical and physical circuit, nestled just outside the Darling Downs town of Warwick, two-hours south-west of Brisbane.

The circuit is very busy. Morgan Park boasts 12 turns across its 2.967km layout. It is also extremely bumpy, not gentle undulations of the type generally caused by V8 Supercars in the braking areas at other circuits, but high frequency ripples across a rough surface, even through turns outside of braking areas.

When cold, the circuit proves extremely abrasive on tyres, as some riders found in morning warm-up, but with a fine 20-degrees celsius ambient registering on the thermometer as the first of the two 19-lap Superbike bouts got underway a little bit behind schedule at 1238 this afternoon, cold tearing was never going to be a problem. Track temperature was hovering around 30-degrees.

Wayne Maxwell suffered a hefty tumble at turn ten on Saturday, destroying a Yamaha Racing Team YZF-R1, and damaging his shoulder. Maxwell was clearly feeling the effects of that fall this morning, a grimace spread across his face when I questioned him about his pain levels after morning warm up. The Championship leader was set for a tough day at the office.

Glenn Allerton, only five-points adrift of Maxwell heading into this round, is no fan of the Morgan Park layout, not only due to the surface, but also the questionable proximity of tyre walls at some points on the track. Complaints that most riders voiced to me at various times over the weeks leading up to this event, but Allerton perhaps the most vocal. The #14 Yamaha did not make the Superpole cut-off during qualifying, and started today’s bouts from row three.

Mike Jones, the rider with the most local circuit knowledge here at Morgan Park, had suffered an extremely frustrating weekend. Both Friday and Saturday saw the DesmoSport Ducati plagued by electric gremlins. Missing entire sessions due to various dramas, it was a miracle that Jones managed to qualify on the front row, that result coming from the one flying lap he managed in Superpole before the Ducati, again, coasted to a halt with problems. In this morning’s warm-up Jones again had issues, the Panigale running on after he closed the throttle, just what you want… The team hoping that is all the technical failures out of the way, and will be begging for a trouble free run for the rest of race day.

In contrast, Troy Herfoss’ weekend could hardly have gone smoother. The first man to ever record a 73-second lap at Morgan Park, the 28-year-old put in not just one of them, but three 73-second laps in the ten-minute Superpole session, the fastest of which a 73.826, on the fourth of his six laps.

Daniel Falzon had also had a relatively smooth start to his race weekend. The South Australian chose to sit out QP2, safe that he would make Superpole anyway due to showing good pace in Qp1. Falzon would start the races from the middle of the second row, flanked by Cru Halliday and Jamie Stauffer.

Allerton headed row three ahead of Brayden Elliott, Ryan Hampton and Brenton Hyde.

Yamaha Motor Finance ASBK Championship 2016 – Round Five – Morgan Park – Superbike Grid
ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park - Superpole Results
ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park – Superpole Results
ASBK 2016 – Morgan Park – Superbike Race One

Plenty of stars from yesterday had been floating around the pits across the course of the weekend; Garry McCoy, Troy Bayliss, Craig Connell, Jason Crump, Paul Feeney and Chris Vermeulen. But just before 1100 this morning Mick Doohan choppered into the circuit, as you do when you own an aviaton charter company catering to the rich and famous…

The crowd had also been steadily building over the course of the weekend. Plenty of trade stalls adding a bit of atmosphere for the motorcyclists that had enjoyed a ride out from Brisbane to catch some of the action in what is Australian Superbike’s only visit to the Sunshine State for season 2016.

With the 19-lap race distance in mind Herfoss had completed the warm-up lap on a used tyre, and then slotted in a fresher tyre on the grid, he was the only rider I witnessed do so.

ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park - Troy Herfoss leads Superbike Race One - Image by Keith Muir
ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park – Troy Herfoss leads Superbike Race One – Image by Keith Muir

When the lights went out the field got away cleanly, Herfoss the holeshot to lead the 14-rider field through the first turns and by the end of the opening lap the Crankt Protein Honda man had a 1.-2 second lead over Wayne Maxwell. While 15 riders had qualified, only 14 made the race start as again the Ducati struck problems, and Jones returned to the pits at the end of the warm-up lap, failing to make the start of the race.

ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park - Superbike Race One - Image by Keith Muir
ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park – Superbike Race One – Image by Keith Muir

Herfoss quickly increased his lead to 2.5-seconds over Maxwell, while Glenn Allerton moved up to third place ahead of Daniel Falzon and Jamie Stauffer and Cru Halliday. 4.2-seconds covered that top six as they started lap five.

Falzon put in a great lap six to close right up on the tail of Allerton, who in turn had closed on Maxwell, that trio had started to stretch away from Halliday and Stauffer.

ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park - Superbike Race One - Image by Keith Muir - Glenn Allerton, Daniel Falzon
ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park – Superbike Race One – Image by Keith Muir – Glenn Allerton, Daniel Falzon

As they approached half race distance Halliday went down a turn six, he managed to get back on the #65 Yamaha and resume the race in 12th position. He tried to continue but had to retire to pit-lane a lap later, his race done. Ryan Hampton joined him in the pits after also crashing at turn six.

ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park - Superbike Race One - Image by Keith Muir - Troy Herfoss
ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park – Superbike Race One – Image by Keith Muir – Troy Herfoss

Out the front Herfoss was just managing the gap to his pursuers from his pit board signals. As the race entered the second half of its 19-lap distance Herfoss led Maxwell by 4.7-seconds. Maxwell had managed to build up a small buffer over Falzon, who had squeezed past Allerton on the previous lap.

As the laps counted down it looked likely that Falzon might be able to mount a challenge on Maxwell for the second step on the rostrum but the JD Racing man seemed to settle for third place in the closing laps, Maxwell’s second place was safe. That third place result good enough for Falzon to move two places up the championship ladder, passing Cru Halliday and Ben Burke to move into fifth place in the championship.

Herfoss backed off on the final laps to cross the line 3.74-seconds ahead of Maxwell, who in turn had 3.2-seconds on Falzon. Herfoss moved five-points closer to series leader Wayne Maxwell with that victory, the gap now down to 12-points to Maxwell, and Herfoss is now only four-points adrift of Glenn Allerton.

ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park - Troy Herfoss wins Superbike Race One - Image by Keith Muir
ASBK 2016 -Morgan Park – Troy Herfoss wins Superbike Race One – Image by Keith Muir

The biggest blow from that opening bout obviously to the DesmoSport Ducati squad and Mike Jones. They will be despondent but determined to try and get on top of the Panigale’s gremlins so the local star can get out and show his speed to the home crowd this afternoon.

ASBK Morgan Park Race One Parc Ferme Interviews (Rough Cut)

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2016 Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Morgan Park Race One
  1. Troy Herfoss
  2. Wayne Maxwell 3.7
  3. Daniel Falzon 6.92
  4. Glenn Allerton 10.00
  5. Jamie Stauffer 12.53
  6. Brayden Elliott 16.68
  7. Sloan Frost 54.50
  8. Brenton Hyde 65.49
  9. Ryan Yanko 73.26
  10. Adam Senior +1 lap
  11. Luke Cooper +1 lap
  12. Peter Berry +1 lap
2016 Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship
ASBK Championship Standings after Round Five Race One
  1. Wayne Maxwell 196
  2. Glenn Allerton  188
  3. Troy Herfoss 184
  4. Mike Jones 137
  5. Daniel Falzon  121