Yamaha Racing Teams', Cru Halliday, raced to a second place finish at round two of the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK), held under lights for the very first time at Sydney Motorsport Park.In what was one of the most exciting and enthralling ASBK rounds, YRT riders Cru Halliday and Mike Jones hit the track with determination in the practice and qualifying sessions and posted some of the fastest laps the circuit has seen on an Australian Superbike with firstly the 1.30 barrier being smashed, then Halliday dipped into the 1.28 lap times, in a jaw dropping show of pace on the Yamaha R1M.
To view the YRT bLU cRU highlights of SMSP round: https://youtu.be/Q11h1uB7VAo
Halliday built momentum as the weekend progressed, started by posting the fastest lap in FP1, followed by the fastest lap in FP2 and FP3 but all that mattered little as the final Superpole session was when the all important grid positions were to be locked in and Halliday didn’t disappoint. With moments to go in the session and a 1.29 flat as the benchmark, Halliday ripped a 1.28.970 to snatch pole position just .049 ahead of teammate, Mike Jones, in P2.
Race one got underway on Saturday afternoon under cloudy skies and a dry track. Josh Waters wrestled his way to the lead in the first turn with Halliday in pursuit. For the next seven laps, the pair cleared out from the chasing pack, with Jones in a lonely third place. The gap between Waters and Halliday sat around the one second mark but with a few laps to run, Halliday began to close in on the Ducati. Just as he bought his R1M to the rear tyre of Waters, the race was stopped due to a major mechanical issue with Jones’ bike and the race was declared with Waters the winner, just ahead of Halliday.
The second and final race of the round got underway in the cover of night with the SMSP light up and looking sensational. Clouds again threaten the circuit as the field charged off for the start of race two. Halliday moved his way into the lead on lap three only for the race to come to a halt moments later when rain fell. It was then declared a wet track and all riders returned to the pits and change to wet bike settings.
The race was restarted with a seven-lap sprint to the finish with constant drizzle in the air. Waters moved through the pack to take the lead and check out while Halliday was in a fight for the podium positions all the way to the end. He crossed the finish line in third place and his 2-3 results combined with his point from pole position giving him second for the round and he now sits fourth in the championship.
“The weekend has gone really well for me, and the team has worked so hard to get this result. We were fast right from the start, put up a good fight in every session and to be honest, maybe the thing that makes me most happy was a third in the last race in the wet. I’m usually pretty ordinary in the wet but that was probably my best result ever in the rain and I felt safe doing it.
“We come to every race trying to win it and while we didn’t get the win, I leave here feeling as motivated and as confident as I have in a long time and really happy to be able to give YRT a good result. You saw in qualifying how fast our bikes were as both Mike and I were going faster around here then we ever have before so the work the guys are doing during the week is showing up.
“I wish round three was tomorrow as I want to keep getting better and keep building this wave of momentum,” Halliday ends.
Mike Jones also showed he stepped up his game and was ready to make some noise at round two when he started peeling off some impressive lap times during the practice sessions. From the ASBK test held just six weeks ago, Jones was able to shave a second of his lap times show his credentials on the fast and flowing SMSP circuit. Jones made it a YRT 1-2 on the grid after taking P2 in Superpole.
Jones didn’t get a great start in race one and dropped back several positions in the opening half a lap as the riders fought for racing room. He then settled into his groove and began to move his way forward, picking riders off before moving into third and getting clear of the chasing pack. With the front two riders gone and a comfortable gap over the fourth place rider, Jones looked to be satisfied to maintain his position when a mechanical issue forced him from the race with just three laps to run.
He swapped to his spare bike for race two and was ready to rebound with a good result to finish the weekend but when the rain came, he played it safe and elected to gather points and not risk any further damage as far as bike or points go. He finished the race in 10th in what was a challenging weekend for the current champ.
“It certainly wasn’t the weekend myself or the team wanted,” Jones begins. “It started out great on Friday and we were on the pace early and clicking off laps that were super competitive, so I was confident I good turn that into a good result on race day.
“But things just didn’t go our way. The mechanical issue in race on is no one’s fault and a freak thing that happens in racing. And I just was very conservative in the wet of race two.
“But the team worked tirelessly all weekend and never stopped trying. We will regroup, come up with a plan moving forward and come out fired up for round three at Queensland Raceway,” Jones said.
Round three of the champion moves to Queensland Raceway on April 29-30.
1st Josh Waters – 50
2nd Cru Halliday – 39 (Yamaha Racing Team)
3rd Troy Herfoss – 38
4th Glenn Allerton – 33
5th Arthur Sissis – 32
6th Bryan Staring – 28
7th Broc Pearson – 27
8th Ted Collins- 27
9th Max Stauffer – 27
10th Paris Hardwick – 19
ASBK Championship Standings
1st Josh Waters – 126
2nd Troy Herfoss – 91
3rd Glenn Allerton – 83
4th Cru Halliday – 79 (Yamaha)
5th Arthur Sissis – 72 (Yamaha)
6th Ted Collins – 68
7th Bryan Staring – 66 (Yamaha)
8th Mike Jones – 64 (Yamaha)
9th Broc Pearson – 61
10th Matt Walters - 46