The opening round of the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) proved to be a busy one for the Yamaha Racing Team (YRT) with their riders contesting several events over the weekend as well as dealing with the inclement weather that always defines an event at Phillip Island.Despite Wayne Maxwell and Daniel Falzon contesting the WSBK round, ran in conjunction with the ASBK opening, there was no doubt their focus was on the domestic championship and getting off to a sound start was the team goal. Cru Halliday was there to fly the flag in the Supersport 600cc as Phillip Island marks the return of YRT in the Supersport category.
Halliday finished the best of the trio with a second overall on the day on the back of 2-2-2 results in the three races contested. Halliday proved to be competitive and consistent all weekend and got the start to the series he was looking for and can now build his championship momentum as the series continues.
“I haven’t had a lot of seat time back on the 600cc so it was a positive start and one that has me well placed,” Halliday explains. “There is a lot I can take from the weekend and there are several things I can improve on, but, I’m happy to come away on the podium. Things will only get better from here as myself and the team benefit from what we learned here at Phillip Island.”
The opening race of the Superbike championship proved to be one of the more eventful of recent times. With a huge grid of bikes, plenty of fired up riders out to impress plus a less than predictable weather forecast, the only thing predictable, was that anything could happen. And it did!
The weather conditions led to Wayne Maxwell coming off his Yamaha YFZ- R1M when he entered the high speed first turn on slick tyres, unaware the surface of that section of the track was wet due to rain.
That was only blemish over the weekend for Maxwell, who rebounded well to take victory in race two and then another podium position, taking third, in the final leg after running wide in a turn while in contention for the race win. His DNF-1-3 results landed him in sixth for the round but confident he has the bike, the skills and the fitness to again challenge for the 2018 ASBK championship.
“Starting the championship with a DNF isn’t ideal but conditions in the first race had us all scrambling,” Maxwell begins. “The back section of the track was still somewhat dry but coming off the straight and into turn one, it was obvious it had rained but it was too late to do anything by the time we got there and the speeds we were going. Unfortunately, I went down.
“The other two races were good and exactly what I needed. I’m sixth in points but only 17 from the lead and with the level of competition in this years’ championship, anything can happen, as Phillip Island just proved,” Maxwell ends.
New recruit, Daniel Falzon finished the season opener in fifth place in a very consistent start to his championship hopes. Falzon claimed 5-6-5 finishes but proved to be competitive as ever and right amongst the lead group in every race contested.
Still fine-tuning his change over the to the YRT squad, Falzon is happy to get the first event with the new team under his belt and is now looking forward to sinking his teeth into another championship tilt.
“For me a safe and positive start to the year and good to just get the season underway. It was also important to get a better understanding of the team and how everyone works in race conditions and I feel that despite the hectic weekend, we are in a good place and have a solid platform to build from,” Falzon stated.
With riders contesting WSBK, ASBK and the Supersport Category over a huge three day event, Team Manager, John Redding’s mind is still spinning as he tries to collect his thoughts about the 2018 season opener.
“From the outset, I need and want to thank everyone in the Yamaha Racing Team who took on an enormous workload up to the first round as well as over the weekend. It was a huge commitment by everyone in the team and our sponsors and I thank them for it,” Redding starts.
“From an ASBK point of view, we are off to a good start with both riders and bikes extremely competitive. The first race was chaos with the weather, and the restart, but that’s how it is here at Phillip Island.
“Unfortunately Wayne’s fall in the first race was tough to swallow as he had set himself a goal of being consistent and in contention every time he hit the track but this one wasn’t his fault as several other riders did the same thing but it was pleasing to see him bounce back strongly.
“Daniel raced with plenty of common-sense and has himself well-placed after round one. He understands the length of the championship and how every race matters so it was a positive start for him.
“For Cru, he will only improve after today. He obviously wants to win but given the short preparations both he and the team had leading up to this round, he did well and with some extra testing and track time prior to round two, I’m sure he will be better again,” Redding ends.
But there is little rest for the YRT crew as they now return to home base in Brisbane and shifting focus to round two of the championship at Wakefield Park on March 16-18.
Round One Results
1st Bryan Staring – 60points
2nd Josh Waters – 59points
3rd Troy Herfoss – 59points
4th Troy Bayliss – 51points
5th Daniel Falzon – 47points (YRT / YZF- R1M)
6th Wayne Maxwell – 43 points (YRT/ YZF- R1M)
7th Michael Blair – 41 points
8th Matt Walters – 37points
9th Aaron Morris – 37points
10th Alex Phillis- 31 points
1st Tom Toparis- 75points
2nd Cru Halliday – 60 points (YRT/ YZF- R6)
3rd Broc Pearson – 50points
4th Damon Rees – 44points
5th Zachary Johnson- 42points