Title contenders in the Viking Group Australian Superbike Championship met with mixed fortunes at Queensland Raceway for the opening day of the fifth round.
Rain and blustery conditions made for a difficult pairing of practice sessions at the 3.12km circuit, and the day’s quickest time, set by Demolition Plus GAS Honda’s Wayne Maxwell was close to 10 seconds shy of the standing lap record of Suzuki veteran Shawn Giles.
A 1:19.418 lap late in the piece saw Maxwell seal his spot at the top of the merged 30-minute practice sessions, but not before a drama earlier in the day.
The 27-year-old overstepped the limit of adhesion in the practice one, crashing his CBR1000RR but walking away unhurt.
“This morning I went out and things felt pretty good. We’d made some changes in the rain since last time we rode in Darwin when it was wet and felt like we were on track,” said Maxwell.
“That came undone pretty quickly, I pushed a little too hard and crashed. We spent the afternoon working on those changes and ended up fastest so it’s a good start to the weekend.
“Tomorrow we’ve got some work to do with tyres, we’ll have to balance out a good grid spot with a bike that handles well during the races on Sunday. Last round was a nightmare and we feel like we can overcome that.”
Ducati Motologic rider Jamie Stauffer again showed promising form early on, finishing second fastest and less than three-tenths shy of Maxwell.
Stauffer will be out to reverse the result of his previous visit to the Sunshine State where, despite being fastest on Friday, he was unable to score a single point.
Valvoline Superbike Team rider Glenn Allerton needed just one session to bring himself up to speed, sitting out the day’s opening practice before pushing his way to third on the timesheets at the end of the day with a 1:20.846 lap. Allerton also crashed in the afternoon session.
A promising performance by Cougar Bourbon Honda Racing’s Bryan Staring came unstuck in the complex between turns four and five. The championship leader was fortunate to be able to walk away from a crash and retain fourth fastest for the day.
The complexion of the championship changed today when Team Suzuki’s Josh Waters withdrew from the weekend, still suffering the effects of a crash during his recent time in the United States.
Waters, the first rider since Mat Mladin in 1992 to win the Superbike title in his rookie year, had been hopeful of recovery and was disappointed to be confined to the sidelines.
“I want to compete but I want to do it safely; I spent some time with the guys at RACESAFE and the decision was made to sit it out,” said Waters. “They were pleased with my progress but advised that I was probably a week away from being ready.
“I trust them completely and look forward to getting back to racing as soon as I can. Suzuki have been nothing but supportive during this time and I can’t thank them enough.”
Top contenders in the Insure My Ride Australian Supersport championship also elected to wait out the weather on pit wall.
Team Suzuki’s Troy Herfoss and Waters Racing’s Brodie Waters watched on as Queensland Honda pilot and wet-track pioneer Dylan Mavin laid down a 1:22.884 lap, two-tenths clear of Yamaha riders Ben Burke and Rick Olson.
The Yamaha Racing Team’s return to the Supersport ranks was difficult to gauge given the conditions, with Kevin Curtain only setting a single sighting lap before pulling into the pits.
Caution was the order of the day for a number of classes, with riders unwilling to risk everything for little reward.
Championship leader Cru Halliday claimed a convincing pole position to kick off a double-header round for Cougar Bourbon Superstock 1000 C&D riders.
Queenslanders swept the top five positions in Motul 125cc Grand Prix/Dunlop 250cc Mono qualifying, led by Lincoln Gilding.
Suzuki Superstock 600 qualifying honours went to Yamaha R6 pilot Jesse Austin who headed home two more blue bikes ridden by Ryan Dymond and Mike Jones.
Qualifying continues tomorrow for the Viking Australian Superbike and Insure My Ride Australian Supersport Championships, with the top 8 times in the 1000cc class advancing to do battle in the Motul Superpole.
SUPERBIKE TOP 10:
1. Wayne MAXWELL (VIC) / Demolition Plus GAS Honda 1:19.418
2. Jamie STAUFFER (NSW) / Ducati Motologic 1:19.476
3. Glenn ALLERTON (NSW) / Valvoline Superbike Team 1:20.846
4. Bryan STARING (QLD/WA) / Cougar Bourbon Honda Racing 1:21.987
5. Daniel STAUFFER (QLD) / The Natural Aprilia Racing Team 1:23.497
6. Beau BEATON (NSW) / North Coast V-Twins / Agip Racing 1:24.233
7. Craig COXHELL (VIC) / CJC Racing 1:24.809
8. Shannon JOHNSON (VIC) / KTM Superbike Team 1:25.637
9. Chris TROUNSON (VIC) / KTM Superbike Team 1:27.837
10. Jordan BURGESS (NSW) / Ducati Motologic 1:27.972
SUPERSPORT TOP 10:
1. Dylan MAVIN (QLD) / Mavin Industries / Jetset Alice 1:22.884
2. Ben BURKE (NSW) 1:23.014
3. Rick OLSON (VIC) / Yamaha Racing 1:23.771
4. Jesse AUSTIN (NSW) / Mick Cole M-cycles / Central Coast 1:24.937
5. Christan CASELLA (VIC) / Aark Electrics / Peter Stevens M-cycles / Triumph 1:26.121
6. Cohen ARTHUR (QLD) / Fergusson Motorcycle Express 1:27.077
7. Ryan TAYLOR (VIC) / Pakenham Yamaha 1:27.169
8. Des DARBY (QLD) / Aark Electrics / Peter Stevens M-cycles / Triumph 1:28.166
9. Pat MEDCALF (VIC) / Yamaha Racing Team 1:28.307
10. Mitchell CARR (NSW) / Carr Bros Motorsport / Team Taylor Racing 1:29.426