News 18 Jul 2023

Last laps pivotal for Jones against ASBK leader Herfoss

Defending champion just misses a victory with 2-2 Morgan Park score.

Image: Foremost Media.

Morgan Park produced two nail-biting Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) races between Mike Jones and Troy Herfoss, with the defending champion just missing out on victory in what proved once again to be pivotal last laps at round five.

After finishing Friday’s practice second quickest, Jones lit up the timing screens to qualify fastest on Saturday with a record time of 1m12.079s.

In race one Jones and Herfoss traded blows throughout the bout, with the decisive move coming at turn six when the Penrite Honda rider squeezed up the inside on the last lap. Jones wasn’t able to respond after that move and took the chequered flag 0.796s from victory.

The second encounter saw Jones pushed back off the start, having to fight his way past the likes of Broc Pearson (DesmoSport Ducati) and Glenn Allerton (GT Racing) to reach P2. He then quickly closed the buffer to Herfoss with a new race lap record of 1m.12.251s.

The pair swapped the lead throughout the remaining laps with Jones entering the final stages at the head of the field, before a moment at turn nine caused him to run wide and relinquish the P1 to the number 17.

“It was a good weekend, obviously trying to match the pace of Troy there, he was quickest on Friday,” Jones explained to CycleOnline. “The Yamaha Racing Racing Team and I, we came up with a really good setup for Saturday, qualifying we had a really good pace and I was confident for the race.

“Once we got into the races, especially the first race, Troy and I were obviously out the front there and as the race went on when ended up with quite a bit of a gap over the other guys. It really just came down to that last lap, with Troy’s move it didn’t give me a chance to get back on him. So that was a tough one, a tough result with second place in that one because I felt like we had the win that race.

“Moving onto the second race, that was tough right from the first turn because Troy and I were racing to the first corner, and he had the inside line, so I ended up really wide and a bunch of guys went up the inside so it put me a long way back.

“The pace was so fast to close that gap back down to Troy, and again I feel like we were both on the limit with the tyre in those last few laps. I led that last lap, and obviously, it altered my approach to the defence for that last lap, but in the end, it led to an error that made me go wide on track and gave Troy the win.

“Full credit to those guys, it was tough racing and we will go back home and see if we can come back out at Phillip Island and score a better result.”

Jones landed second overall at round five but can hold his head high with a new qualifying and race lap record. The final lap at turn nine in race two was somewhat reminiscent of his battle with Wayne Maxwell at the Warwick circuit last year, on that occasion Maxwell dived up the inside into the high-speed corner and Jones had a moment towards the exit in an attempt to counter.

“I had forgotten all about the races with Wayne last year, but yeah it was just a learning curve from the first race with Troy, that there needs to be zero room on the entry into the turns otherwise he is going to go past and take you wide,” Jones added.

“I tried to cover those lines, but obviously just during practice and stuff you are running what is your fast line, but you never really practice your defensive line. For me, it was sort of the first time running that line and it ended up catching me out. Fortunately though stayed on the bike and was able to finish the race.”