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Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Josh Waters got the better of a thrilling two-man war with Team Motologic Honda rider Glenn Allerton by just 0.002sec in today’s final qualifying session for this weekend’s third round of the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship at Queensland Raceway.
Waters and Allerton entered this weekend’s round of the series tied on points for the championship lead, but Waters’ last-gasp run for pole position earned him a bonus championship point to move him ahead of his arch rival.
The 22-year-old Suzuki rider, in his debut Superbike season, topped the timesheet for most of today’s 60 minutes of official qualifying, but was displaced with just five minutes remaining when Allerton, the reigning Australian Superbike Champion, recorded a lap of 1:09.289.
Waters then returned to the track for one last attempt at pole position and after a near-crash that had Waters out of the saddle of his Suzuki GSX-R1000 he crossed the line to better Allerton’s time by just 0.002sec.
“I didn’t know if I could do it, but I said to my team manager to put a new tyre in and I’d give it a shot,” said Waters.
“I nearly got off it when the bike flicked sideways at Turn Four, but somehow I held on and we got there. I still can’t believe I put it all together on that one lap.”
It was a thrilling battle between the pair, with Allerton philosophical that he’d been pipped at the post.
“I really thought I had pole, so I thought I’d save my tyres for tomorrow’s races,” said the 28-year-old. “I went back out again with a couple of minutes remaining when Josh put in his fast lap, but by then it was too late.”
Allerton’s Team Motologic Honda teammate Wayne Maxwell and Kawasaki Racing Team rider Kevin Curtain round out the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s opening two races in this weekend’s double-header round of the championship, with two further races to be held on Sunday.
Yamaha Racing Team rider Dan Stauffer heads row two of the grid on his Yamaha YZF-R1 with three-times Australian Superbike Champion and circuit lap record holder Shawn Giles alongside on his Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Just 0.813sec covers the top nine riders in what is proving to be one of the most competitive seasons in the 22-year history of the championship, with four different brands of motorcycle occupying the top five grid positions after today’s qualifying.
In a first for the Australian Superbike Championship the top eight riders from today’s qualifying session will face off in a one-lap Superpole Shootout on Saturday afternoon to decide the front two rows of the grid for Sunday’s two Superbike races.