ASBK: Superbike and Supersport title fights set for race day at Phillip Island finale
The time has come for the 2009 Australian Superbike Championship to be decided, with defending champion Glenn Allerton charging hard to hold off rookie Josh Waters and the in-form Wayne Maxwell.
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The talented rookie versus the seasoned champion isn’t something that’s been limited to the MotoGP world championship in 2009.
While Jorge Lorenzo did his best to ruffle the feathers of Valentino Rossi on the world stage in 2009, we have our own version raging right here in the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship – but with an additional twist.
After six rounds of the seven-round series reigning champion Glenn Allerton (Team Oleon Oils Motologic Honda) leads Superbike rookie Josh Waters (Team Joe Rocket Suzuki) by just 2pts, with Allerton’s hard-charging teammate Wayne Maxwell 6pts further adrift. With only 8pts separating the trio the arithmetic is simple – it will be winner take all this weekend.
“Everyone keeps talking about Glenn and Josh battling for the title, but there are more than two riders out there who can win the championship,” said Maxwell.
Allerton sits on 253pts, with Waters 251, Maxwell 244, three-time champion Shawn Giles (Team Joe Rocket Suzuki) 196 and reigning NZ Superbike champion Robbie Bugden (Team Joe Rocket Suzuki) 184.
So what’s happened so far in season 2009?
ROUND ONE: PHILLIP ISLAND, VICTORIA
Waters kicked off the season with the overall win at the 2009 Superbike World Championship round at Phillip Island (27 February-1 March).
The rookie mastered wet and treacherous conditions in the opening race to take a 6.855sec win over the more experienced Daniel Stauffer (Yamaha Racing Team), with Maxwell third.
“I was a bit worried when I headed out on the warm-up lap as the track was wet and the Superbike has so much power,” said Waters. “I opened the throttle and thought ‘oh oh’.
“It was a bit scary at first until I got used to it, but then I was scraping my knee around corners in the wet.”
In a thrilling race two on Sunday afternoon, Allerton took victory from Maxwell by 0.011sec, with TJRS teammates Waters and Giles separated by just 0.141sec in third and fourth.
Waters’ 43pt tally across the two races gave him a narrow 1pt lead in the championship over defending champion Allerton, with Maxwell third on 39pts.
ROUND TWO: SYMMONS PLAINS, TASMANIA
Round Two of the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship at Tasmania’s Symmons Plains Raceway was abandoned in tragic circumstances following a multi-bike incident in the opening Supersport race which claimed the life of Judd Greedy.
The popular 29-year-old rider died in the incident, which took place on the third lap of the opening Australian Supersport Championship race.
“That part of the track is quite challenging as you’re trying to get hard on the throttle for the run down the straight,” said Allerton, who had qualified in pole position for the later Superbike race.
“If you’re in a group of riders then you don’t get much time to react if there’s an incident in front of you.”
The bonus point for pole position moved Allerton into a tie for the championship lead with Waters (43pts apiece) as the riders headed to Queensland for what would now be a double-header round on May 29-31.
ROUND THREE (A): QUEENSLAND RACEWAY, QUEENSLAND
Part one of Queensland’s double-header round took place on the Saturday, with Allerton fortunate to survive a scary off-track excursion in the opening race at before powering his Team Motologic Honda CBR1000RR to back-to-back race wins in the two 16-lap races.
Allerton was about to mount a pass on Dan Stauffer on the fifth lap in the opening race when Stauffer lost control of his bike and crashed heavily when exiting Turn Four, with Allerton taking evasive action.
“I was way out on the grass and looking at last place, but fortunately for me the race was red-flagged because on Dan’s accident,” said the 28-year-old.
Allerton took the win in the two-part race by 4.670sec from pole-sitter Waters, who had his own problems when he speared off the track after missing his braking mark.
“It was my fault – I made a silly mistake,” said Waters. “I tried to out-brake Robbie (Bugden) at the end of the back straight – I should have known better than to try.”
The duo finished in the same order in race two, Allerton getting the better of his Suzuki rival by 2.14sec to open a 9pt lead in the championship after three rounds – 93pts to 84.
Third overall was Giles, the latter’s third and fourth placings moving the Suzuki rider to fourth in the championship behind Maxwell.
ROUND THREE (B): QUEENSLAND RACEWAY, QUEENSLAND
There was drama aplenty in part two of Queensland’s double-header on Sunday when a rain shower drifted across the Ipswich circuit, forcing race officials to delay the start and allow competitors to swap to wet-weather tyres.
But Allerton was caught out, his wet-weather bike succumbing to a flat battery as he tried to exit pitlane, thereby forcing the championship leader back on to his slick-equipped ‘dry’ bike.
Allerton’s charge to fifth place on a track that resembled an ice rink earned him the round win after he’d earlier won the day’s opening 16-lap race under a blue, sunny sky.
“As the laps wound down a few dry patches began to appear and I could up the pace,” said Allerton. “But by then it was too late to catch the leaders.”
Waters recorded two seconds to finish runner-up to Allerton, with Maxwell claiming a 0.299sec victory from Waters in race two. However, Maxwell’s eighth place in the opening heat due to gear selection problems dropped him out of overall round contention.
Allerton’s tally of three race wins across the weekend, plus his fighting fifth in the wet, earned him 91 points across the double-header round, while Waters’ four seconds and bonus championship point for Saturday’s pole position brought him 81 points.
But Waters wasn’t the only rider to start from pole position at Queensland Raceway. Sunday’s round saw the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R of Kevin Curtain start from pole in both races after the Novocastrian had snared the first-ever Superpole Shootout in an Australian Superbike Championship, conducted on Saturday afternoon to determine Sunday’s grid. The concept received widespread approval from competitors and race fans alike.
ROUND FOUR: EASTERN CREEK, NSW
A massive crowd turned for the fourth round of the series out at Sydney’s 3.93km Eastern Creek Raceway – the largest motorcycle crowd in 15 years according to circuit operator ARDC.
This time it would be Waters who would come out on top after a high-speed display of thrilling Superbike racing that at times had bikes three abreast entering Turn One at 285km/h.
Waters, who claimed the bonus championship point in Saturday’s Superpole Shootout, turned the tables on points leader Allerton by powering to a dominant 2.985sec victory in the second of the day’s two 13-lap races to claim the overall round win, and in doing so close the points gap to just seven points.
Allerton had earlier outsmarted Waters when he took a 0.150sec win in the opening race after muscling through on the last lap.
But Waters led every lap of race two as he gave his new 2009-model Suzuki GSX-R1000 a debut win in the series.
Waters fastest lap came on lap three as he broke clear of the pursuing pack, his 1:30.998 a new Superbike lap record for the 3.93km circuit and just 0.538sec outside the outright motorcycle record of 1:30.360, held by Spaniard Alex Criville on a Honda NSR500.
Second in race two after a fourth in race one was Maxwell, his tally of 37pts giving him third overall for the round.
Craig Coxhell (CJC Racing / Bisley Workwear CBR1000RR) took top honours in the Australian Motorcycle News Superbike Privateer Cup with maximum points (and sixth overall), a third outright against his distributor-backed opponents in the opening 13-lap race the icing on the cake.
Introduced at Eastern Creek was the Superstock Triple Challenge, with separate prize money via Perth Freight Lines, Procon and M9 Industries for Superstock 1000 riders contesting the Superbike races. Along with the AMCN Superbike Privateer Cup, the Superstock Triple Challenge ensured riders with less experience and smaller budgets could have their time in the limelight.
In the inaugural Triple Challenge Jordan Burgess (Motologic / Teterin CBR1000RR) was victorious over Chris Knox (CAGE Security Ducati 1198S) and Matthew Griffin (Griffo Racing YZF-R1).
ROUND FIVE: MALLALA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Maxwell applied the blowtorch to Allerton and Waters when he moved to within 19pts of the championship lead with a clean sweep of both Superbike races at the fifth round of the series on at Mallala (28-30 August).
The 27-year-old was in scintillating form, powering to a 0.291sec win over teammate Allerton in the opening 20-lap race and then backing up with a 2.477sec win in race two, again over teammate Allerton.
Allerton maintained his overall points lead in the seven-round series with his two second placings, but had no answer to the hard-charging Maxwell around the 2.6km circuit.
Waters was third in both races, but saw his opportunity of a victory in race two disappear when a gear-linkage bolt broke, leaving his Suzuki GSX-R1000 stuck in second gear.
Waters was able to hold on to third place in the race and second overall on the points table, courtesy of his Team Joe Rocket Suzuki teammates Bugden and Giles who both slowed on the final lap to avoid passing Waters’ stricken Suzuki.
Waters set a new Superbike lap record of 1:05.803 in the opening 20-lap race, but saw the points’ gap to Allerton open from 7pts to 13pts with two rounds to run.
Two sixths gave Coxhell sixth overall and top privateer honours, while Knox was top performer in the Superstock Triple Challenge.
“It’s been a great weekend, and with two rounds to run we’ve got a real good shot at the title now,” said 27-year-old Maxwell. “I’m looking forward to the next round at Phillip Island.”
ROUND SIX: PHILLIP ISLAND (MOTOGP), VICTORIA
Maxwell’s words at Mallala were indeed prophetic as he set up a thrilling final showdown with overall victory at Phillip Island’s penultimate ASBK round, run as a support class at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix (16-18 October).
But it wasn’t just Maxwell applying the heat to points’ leader Allerton, with a concertina at the top of the points table seeing Waters move to within 2pts of the championship lead after executing a thrilling last-gasp pass on Maxwell to take a 0.024sec victory in the second of the two races.
Maxwell got the better of Waters by 0.166sec in the opening race, setting a new national Superbike lap record of 1:32.316 in the process, but had the tables turned in race two.
“Turns 11 and 12 are my favourite corners on the circuit and I knew I had to get drive out of them to have a chance of pulling off the pass on Wayne,” said Waters.
Maxwell’s bonus point for pole position gave him the overall Round Six win.
Allerton finished third in each of the two championship races, setting up a thrilling winner-take-all finale this weekend with just nine points separating the three riders.
Gentlemen, bring it on…!
Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship Points (after 6 of 7 rounds)
1 Glenn Allerton (Honda CBR1000RR) 253pts; 2 Josh Waters (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 251; 3 Wayne Maxwell (Honda CBR1000RR) 244; 4 Shawn Giles (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 196; 5 Robert Bugden (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 184; 6 Jamie Stauffer (Yamaha YZF-R1) 163; 7 Craig Coxhell (Honda CBR1000RR) 163; 8 Dan Stauffer (Yamaha YZF-R1) 140; 9 Kevin Curtain (Kawasaki ZX-10R) 138; 10 Chris Trounson (Honda CBR1000RR) 104.
AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE CHAMMPIONSHIP
Roll of Honour
2008 Glenn Allerton Honda CBR1000RR
2007 Jamie Stauffer Yamaha YZF-R1
2006 Jamie Stauffer Yamaha YZF-R1SP
2005 Josh Brookes Honda CBR1000RR
2004 Adam Fergusson Honda CBR1000RR
2003 Craig Coxhell Suzuki GSX-R1000
2002 Shawn Giles Suzuki GSX-R1000
2001 Shawn Giles Suzuki GSX-R1000
2000 Shawn Giles Suzuki GSX-R1000
1999 Steve Martin Ducati 996RS
1998 Martin Craggill Kawasaki ZX-7RR
1997 Martin Craggill Kawasaki ZX-7RR
1996 Peter Goddard Suzuki GSX-R750
1995 Kirk McCarthy Honda RC45
1994 Anthony Gobert Honda RC45
1993 Troy Corser Honda RC30
1992 Mat Mladin Kawasaki ZXR750R
1991 Aaron Slight Kawasaki ZXR750R
1990 Malcolm Campbell Honda RC30
1989 Malcolm Campbell Honda RC30
1988 Rob Phillis Kawasaki GPX750R*
1987 Tony Armstrong Suzuki GSX-R750*
* Note: 1987 and 1988 Endurance Championship for Superbike-spec machines. Official Australian Superbike Championship commenced in 1989
The arithmetic is simple. Just one of two riders can win the 2009 Insure My Ride Australian Supersport Championship. Both have won Australian titles previously, and both are riding Yamaha Racing Team YZF-R6s.
Just 17pts separates current points’ leader Bryan Staring and reigning champion Jamie Stauffer as they enter the final showdown, with the odds in Staring’s favour of adding a national Supersport crown to his previous 125GP title.
It should come as no surprise that two blue Yamaha YZF-R6s are leading the charge in the 2009 championship as the Yamaha Racing Team has had a mortgage on the Supersport championship since Stauffer took the honours back in 2006.
Jason O’Halloran claimed the crown for YRT in 2007, with Stauffer recapturing the title in 2008.
This season it’s been Stauffer and teammate Bryan Staring flying the blue colours at the head of the field, the duo well clear of the chasing pack on the points table.
However, the gap isn’t quite as wide on the track as it is on the points chart, with Ben Attard (Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-6R), Shannon Johnson (ESG / Procon / Woodstock Bourbon Honda CBR600RR) and Troy Herfoss (Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R600) all sampling time at the front of the pack.
ROUND ONE: PHILLIP ISLAND, VICTORIA
A taste of what lay in ahead in the 2009 Insure My Ride Australian Supersport Championship came at Phillip Island’s opening round, run in conjunction with the Superbike World Championship round.
Judd Greedy (Biomagnetic Suzuki GSX-R600) won the opening race by a mere 0.054sec over Staring, with pole-sitter Stauffer just 0.615sec back in third. Then came Attard and Christian Casella (YRD Dynoverks YZF-R6).
Staring reversed the order in race two to take an even narrower 0.011sec win over Greedy, with Attard fourth and Team Joe Rocket Suzuki recruit Herfoss fifth, the latter competing in only his second road race meeting after winning the 2008 US Supermoto Championship.
Greedy and Staring departed the Island with 45pts apiece.
ROUND TWO: SYMMONS PLAINS, TASMANIA
Tragedy struck the closely-knit ASBK fraternity when a multi-bike incident on Sunday morning claimed the life of Greedy in the second event on the day’s program. The remainder of the day’s racing was abandoned.
Greedy, who had been knocking on the door of a full factory ride, was tied for the lead in the Insure My Ride Australian Supersport Championship with Staring. He was leading his final race at the time of the time tragic incident.
ROUND THREE: QUEENSLAND RACEWAY, QUEENSLAND
Stauffer and Staring were dominant throughout Queensland Raceway’s double-header, commencing with a one-two in qualifying and finishing with a one-two atop the podium.
The only variation was that on Saturday it was Stauffer on the top step of the podium, while for Sunday’s second part of the double header it was Staring’s turn.
The main challenge to the YRT pair looked like it would come from the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-6R of Attard, but a front-row start and some strong early laps in each race weren’t enough to trouble the boys in blue as each 16-lap race wound down.
The surprise performer was ASBK returnee Johnson, the 2002 Australian Supersport Champion securing a ride with Procon Racing on a Motologic-prepared CBR600RR just a few days out from the event.
Johnson secured third overall for Saturday’s round, backing up with another third overall on Sunday. But there was little he could do to stem the blue-rinse that was applied forcibly across the rest of the field.
Stauffer won Saturday’s opener by 0.486sec from Staring after a race-long arm-wrestle, with Attard the best of the rest and 9.677sec off the lead.
“The problem is that to keep with Jamie and Bryan at the moment we all have to ride so hard all the time that it’s easy to over-commit and make a mistake,” said Attard.
In the return match later in the day Staring reversed the order over his teammate by 1.525sec, but Stauffer claimed the overall silverware courtesy of his bonus point for pole position.
In Sunday’s two 16-lappers Staring grabbed the glory both times over his teammate, although it wasn’t a fair fight in the first outing as Stauffer’s YZF-R6 uncharacteristically went off song in the closing laps with a mystery misfire.
The defending champ was so far ahead of the rest of the field when the problem occurred he was able to held on to second place, getting home nearly three seconds ahead of Johnson.
In the final outing for the weekend Staring took a thrilling 0.027sec victory over Stauffer.
“Man o’ man though, that final race was hard,” said Staring. “I was doing everything I could to keep Jamie behind me.”
ROUND FOUR: EASTERN CREEK RACEWAY, NSW
He may not be having the best of seasons on the bigger of his two YZFs, but when it comes to the 600cc version of his Yamaha Racing Team machinery reigning Australian Supersport Champion Jamie Stauffer is still the man to beat.
And that’s the way it transpired at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway for round four of the series on 7-9 August, although the 30-year-old had to work hard for his round victory.
In fact Stauffer’s round victory came courtesy of the bonus point for pole position after Stauffer and YRT teammate Staring shared a win and second apiece in the two 12-lap races.
“I would have liked to have won that last one, as I need to close down the points’ gap,” said Stauffer. “I thought I had it, but he just got me on the run to the flag.”
“Just” is the operative word, as Staring’s winning margin was a mere 0.004sec over his teammate as he popped out of the slipstream to claim the win. In the opening 12-lapper earlier in the day Stauffer had emerged victorious by 0.139sec.
Stauffer left Eastern Creek trailing Staring by 18pts in the championship. Had he been able to take victory in the second race the gap would have been cut to just 8pts. That 0.004sec margin in race two could well prove costly come season’s end.
Johnson’s third in race one and fourth in race two secured third overall.
“We’re getting closer each meeting, and it’s good to give the factory boys some hurry up,” said Johnson.
“I’m probably off a few Xmas card lists after that race, but you’ve got to do what you can out there. We’re all friends off the track, but when the red light goes out that’s when the friendship ends.”
ROUND FIVE: MALLALA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Reigning champion Stauffer qualified on pole, took the round win, and claimed a new lap record at Mallala’s fifth round of the series.
Yet despite his best efforts, the YRT rider was only able to close the points’ gap to his teammate and championship leader Staring by one solitary point.
Staring entered Mallala with an 18pt lead in the series, and left the 2.6km circuit with a 17pt lead. It was damage minimisation at its best, and reflected the result from Eastern Creek three weeks earlier.
Staring took victory in the opening 18-lap race by 0.474sec over Stauffer, with Johnson 12 seconds back in a lonely third, and first privateer.
“I tried to keep my head in the closing laps, as I could hear Jamie right behind me,” said Staring. “I had a big smile on my face when I saw the chequered flag.”
Stauffer was in a class of his own in race two, powering to a 6.159sec win over Staring and claiming a new lap record of 1:07.424 in the process. Why the turnaround between race one and two?
“I got some arm-pump in the first race, so I went to see the Racesafe guys in the lunchbreak,” said Stauffer. “They did some work on my forearms, and it seemed to work.”
Behind the blue boys out front a two-man war was raging between Scott Charlton (Vern Graham Yamaha) and Johnson, the latter getting by on the final lap to come home 0.561sec ahead.
After five rounds gone and two remaining Staring now had 230pts beside his name, Stauffer 213 and Attard 157.
ROUND SIX: PHILLIP ISLAND (MOTOGP), VICTORIA
The points’ gap didn’t change at Phillip Island’s round six, run as a support class at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Staring and Stauffer took a win and a second apiece as they continued their arm wrestle for the 2009 title, the bonus point for pole going to Johnson as he gets the Honda ever closer to spoiling the Yamaha quinella at the head of the pack.
Stauffer grabbed the honours in a thrilling race one by a mere 0.016sec over Staring, with Johnson just 0.245sec back in third.
In race two it was Staring’s turn, his 0.018sec victory in the run to the line maintaining the 17pt buffer and putting the West Australian in the box seat to claim his first Australian Supersport Championship.
Such was the pace at the head of the pack that all three riders lapped in the 1:35s, all below the previous Supersport lap record, with Staring claiming the new record of 1:35.200 – an amazing 0.622sec below the old mark.
The equation is simple. If Stauffer is to defend his 2008 Supersport title he will need to win both races at Phillip Island this weekend and hope for the likes of Johnson or Attard or Herfoss to get between him and Staring.
Given what we witnessed at Phillip Island’s penultimate round, this weekend is sure to be compulsive viewing. May the best man win.
Insure My Ride Australian Supersport Championship
Points after 6 of 7 rounds
1 Bryan Staring (Yamaha YZF-R6) 275pts; 2 Jamie Stauffer (Yamaha YZF-R6) 258; 3 Ben Attard (Kawasaki ZX-6R) 189; 4 Shannon Johnson (Honda CBR600RR) 177; 5 Troy Herfoss (Suzuki GSX-R600) 155; 6 Scott Charlton (Yamaha YZF-R6) 155; 7 Christian Casella (Yamaha YZF-R6) 141; 8 Chris Quinn (Yamaha YZF-R6) 126; 9 Cameron Keevers (Yamaha YZF-R6) 123; 10 Jed Metcher (Yamaha YZF-R6) 114.