Reigning Superbike Champion, Mike Jones, kicked off his 2023 championship defence with a second place finish at the opening round of the Mi-bike Insurance Australian Superbike Championship.Ran in conjunction with the first round of the World Superbike Championships, Jones and teammate, Cru Halliday entered the weekend confident of a good showing and eager to get their championship aspirations off to a good start.
To view the YRT bLU cRU round review: https://youtu.be/G2-mXYtob9c
The weekend started well for both riders, with Halliday qualifying in P2 and just in front of Jones in P3 with both riders setting personal best lap times around the fast and flowing Phillip Island circuit. But all that counts for little when the lights go out on the three points paying championship races ran over the weekend.
Jones proved ultra-consistent in typical Phillip Island conditions that saw races stopped and restarted due to rain and geese. Race one was split in two when rain started falling in certain areas of the track. He was in second place when rain halted proceedings and then on the restart, could only manage a fourth-place finish.
Race two got under way and again Jones moved into second place, only for the red flag to come out when geese wandered onto the track. The field was re-gridded and back out to complete the remaining nine laps. Jones continued putting in good laps and finished third. While race three was almost a carbon copy of race two, with Jones in second in the early going before being hunted down by his teammate and crossed the finish line in an eventually third place.
His 4-3-3 results gave him second for the day and a solid start to his title defence.
“Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with how things went on the weekend. I was able to do my fastest lap around here and I also think one of the races was the fastest I have done over racer distance here as well, so I feel I left it all out on the track.
“The stoppages in the first two races made things a little hectic. Any momentum that you had going was stopped and you had to refocus again and keep your mind in the game. There were crashes, rain, animals on the track but the team did a great job and we secured a good result.
“Thanks to the Yamaha Racing Team for the hard work in the off season as both Cru and I showed good speed. I’m glad the season is underway and the first round is done. I’m well placed, the team is working hard and we will continue to strive to do our best as the season progresses,” Jones offers.
It was a case of two out of three ain’t bad for Cru Halliday. After showing electric pace in qualifying, Halliday was out to take his R1M to the top but only two laps into race one, Cru got baulked by a rider in front and had to take immediate evasive action. He speared off the track and nearly 200 kilometres per hour, across the grass, through the gravel trap before leaping from his bike moments before it collided with the wall. It was an ugly incident that he was fortunate to walk away from.
Nursing a sore foot and some dodgy looking toes, Halliday returned the next day for races two and three. He put the pain of yesterdays incident behind him and charged to second place in both races two and three in a gritty and determined effort. His DNF-2-2 were good enough for fifth overall and he left the Phillip Island circuit confident of a successful season ahead.
“On paper, fifth doesn’t look great but I’m confident that my speed, my behind and our team is in a great position moving forward. My starts let me down a little and I know I have said it before, but I needed to get them sorted, but my on-track speed was good, I was able to make quick passes and get my way through the field well.
“My crash in the first race was pretty scary but after seeing it, I understand what happened and its no-one’s fault. I had to avoid two riders and ended up on the dirty side of the track at a speed that was way to fast for making the corner. So, I speared off the track, dragged by foot on the ground to help slow me down as well as much back brake as possible. I couldn’t grab the front or I would have went down. My feet and toes are sore, but I will be ok and ready to go for the next round.
“Next round is at my home track at SMSP so I’m excited for that one as I will have plenty of friends and family there and we were on the pace at the recent test,” Cru said.
March 25 and 26 will see ASBK action make history with the first day/ night event at Sydney Motorsport Park.
1st Josh Waters- 76
2nd Mike Jones – 53 (Yamaha Racing Team)
3rd Troy Herfoss – 53
4th Glenn Allerton – 50
5th Cru Halliday – 40 (Yamaha Racing Team)
6th Arthur Sisiss – 40 (Yamaha)
7th Ted Collins – 40
8th Bryan Staring – 38 (Yamaha)
9th Matt Walters – 34
10th Broc Pearson - 33