This final round of the ASBK Superbike category was always going to be the most interesting, primarily due to the inclusion of Swann Australasian Superbike Championship leaders Team Honda Racing.
In the Terry O’Neill managed Swann Series there are very limited modifications allowed to the Superbike machines. It could be said that it is a true production category, more than a Superbike class, but it must be said that the format has been working, with the vast majority of Australia’s riding talent this year competing in the Swann Australasian Superbike Series.
Under the much more liberal rules allowed in ASBK, the Team Honda Fireblades boast more compression, boosting both power, torque, and throttle response. They can also run the HRC ECU unit, which allows them to experiment with traction control, something they do not have access to in Swann Series trim. In ASBK Team Honda are also free to run their favoured Pirelli tyres, instead of the control Dunlop enforced at Swann rounds.
Recently crowned ASBK Champion Mike Jones regularly runs against Team Honda in the Swann Series so knows what he is up against. However, a severe influenza type infection has Jones looking very much the worse for wear. The Cube Racing rider sat out Q2 in favour of receiving some treatment from Racesafe, instead saving himself for the 10-minute Superpole session.
South Australian Daniel Falzon is the only regular ASBK runner to have got anywhere near Jones in season 2015. The Yamaha pilot has yet to measure himself in the deeper talent pool of the Swann Series, thus this weekend would be his litmus test. Falzon the only Dunlop runner near the top of the field, so not strictly on an even footing with Team Honda and Jones this weekend, but with his first full season in the Superbike category under his belt, it is still a useful measure of his, and the JD Racing squads, potential speed.
In the final 20-minute qualifying session it was a Team Honda 1-2, headed by Troy Herfoss on a 1m33.299 ahead of teammate Jamie Stauffer on 1m33.742. Stauffer had topped proceedings on day one, but Herfoss clearly found something late today which improved his confidence in the Fireblade SP around Phillip Island.
With Jones sitting out the session it was Ryan Hampton who was third quickest while Falzon failed to improve on his Q1 time from earlier in the day. That Q1 time for the Yamaha rider though still good enough to be third overall on combined time, ahead of Hampton. The JD Racing squad using the Q2 session as more of a race simulation run, rather than looking to put in a quick single lap.
After a short break Superbike riders regrouped for a ten-minute Superpole session. No qualifying tyres were used by the Pirelli runners, to the best of our knowledge, instead most riders just using a new race-specification rear slick for the short session.
Troy Herfoss was one of the last out of pit-lane and only put in two laps, but the second of those was his first ever 1-min-32 around the 4455m Phillip Island circuit. A 1m32.852 good enough for pole position, and more than half-a-second clear of teammate Jamie Stauffer.
Mike Jones only just missed out on pipping Jamie Stauffer for second. A 1m33.521 good enough to put the ZX-10R on the front row.
Daniel Falzon did have the benefit of a super sticky qualifying tyre from Dunlop for the Superpole session. The 21-year-old did not improve greatly from the Q tyre, understandably so with so little experience on such rubber. Falzon’s 1m34.415 sees him head the second row, four-tenths clear of Ryan Hampton, while Linden Magee rounds out that second row.
Adam Senior heads row three alongside Phil Czaj, but that pair almost five-seconds slower than pole-sitter Herfoss. In fact Brayden Elliott’s Supersport pole time was also better than the third row Superbike competitors.
Troy Herfoss – Honda – 1m32.852
Jamie Stauffer – Honda – 1m33.513
Mike Jones – Kawasaki – 1m33.521
Daniel Falzon – Yamaha – 1m34.415
Ryan Hampton – BMW – 1m34.839
Linden Magee – Honda – 1m34.928
Adam Senior – Suzuki – 1m37.455
Phil Czaj – Aprilia – 1m38.171
Kane Burns, the only man with a slim chance of stopping Brayden Elliott from clinching the 2015 ASBK Supersport Championship, has suffered some significant setbacks at Phillip Island today.
The JG Gardiner Homes supported GSX-R600 suffered an engine failure in the opening qualifying session, and then Burns also experienced some problems on the spare bike during the final qualifying session. The end result saw Burns qualifying 13th in the 16-rider field.
Championship leader Brayden Elliott, also Suzuki GSX-R600 mounted, took pole by 1.3-second over Chas Hern.
Matt Barton (CB Racing) and Drew Sells (Race Centre) have claimed opening race wins in the Honda Moto 3 / 125GP and Production classes at the fifth round of the 2015 Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul Pirelli on Saturday.
It was a tale of two totally different races, with Barton going from strength-to-strength throughout the day to easily win race one of the Honda Moto 3 / 125GP class, while the Production class delivered one of the more enthralling races seen in some time.
Honda Moto 3 / 125GP
Barton blitzed the opening qualifying session of the day with a 1:43.343, finishing over two seconds ahead of series leader Brian Houghton (Latters Conshift) who registered a 1:45.561.
Tom Bramich (Ron Angel Classic Racing), Ted Collins (Arai Helmets) and Lachlan Kavney (Honda) rounded out the top five.
The story was much the same in the second session, with the same five riders occupying the top positions, although Kavney’s effort in taking out the third fastest time in Q2 was enough to see him start in fourth on the grid.
From the beginning, it was Barton who stamped his authority on the 10-lap race and never let go of the advantage.
By the end of the second lap, Barton had already opened up a 2.8 second lead and was in complete control.
Kavney managed to work himself up into second position in the early part of the race and was then engaged in an entertaining duel with Houghton from then on in.
Houghton (17:40.135) reclaimed second position on lap seven, and managed to hold out Kavney (17:40.173) in the final dash to the line, but they were still a long way behind Barton who circuited the Island in 17:34.496.
Collins (17:46.881) and Bramich (17:47.348) finished in fourth and fifth respectively.
In the Production class Drew Sells (Race Centre) continued his good form from Friday’s Practice sessions – recording the fastest time of the morning with a 1:55.492.
Zackary Johnson (RTR by Moto Obsesssion) was the next fastest rider with a time of 1:56.846, while Production Class series leader Justin Hall (The Boltbarn, 1:56.976) finished the session in third place.
Hall’s closest rival in the overall standings Michelle Marais (Jaguar Steel Fabrications) left herself with some work to do as she ended the session in sixth.
The second qualifying session saw Hall take out the fastest time (1:55.949) to elevate himself into second on the grid behind Sells, while Robbie Menzies recovered from being disqualified in Q1 for machine examination irregularity to land himself in third for the start race 1.
What transpired over the following eight laps was an exhilarating brand of racing that saw all of the top four riders have chances at different stages to snatch the race.
Making things even more exciting was a race restart, after riders were called back to the starting line after a lap and a half of racing due to issues with the starting lights.
Upon resumption, Hall assumed an early lead, but he had Sells and Menzies for company as the trio crossed the line to finish lap one three-abreast.
From there, the lead changed on numerous occasions, with lap records for the class being broken seemingly on every lap.
Coming into the final lap, all four of Sells, Menzies, Johnson and Hall were within striking distance, but it came right down to the line with Sells taking out the win from Johnson by four one-thousandths of a second.
Extraordinarily, the top three riders (Sells, Johnson and Menzies) were separated by just eight one-thousandths of a second, while Hall (fourth) broke the lap record (1:54.159) for the class on the final lap.
Production Class Top 10
1.Drew SELLS (Race Centre)– 15:30.737
2.Zackary JOHNSON (RTR by Moto Obsesssion) – 15:30.741
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