In the middle of the night on Friday, multiple teams and riders were awoken by loud and persistent rainfall falling on the Southern Downs Region.
Like a bloke opening a Father’s Day present only to find socks yet again, the reaction was the same “this is NOT what I wanted”.
The Bureau of Meteorology hadn’t exactly promised it would not rain Friday but there was a feeling early on Friday morning that it would be brief and not heavy. When it was the exact opposite, plans went out the window.
When Lachlan Epis suited up for the final practice session of the day – one of just four riders ventured out into – he noted that Morgan Park was a track that was slow to dry out, so some damp practice might come in handy for Saturday.
And he was almost right.
The early session for Dunlop Supersport 300 and Michelin Supersport were “wet but drying out” but the times were notably slower. The riders in the Superport 600 category were out in low numbers early, but as a drier (please note: not actually dry!) line appeared, so too did the riders appear.
There had been some controversy towards the end of Friday when a number of Superbike teams pushed for the Saturday morning session to be split into a 20 minute free practice and a 20 minute qualifying session. Needing a unanimous agreement to present to ASBK Management, they fell short and as a result the originally scheduled timed practice session started on time for the full 40 minutes.
Once the sessions started – and by started we mean “no one went out when the session started” – the sun worked its magic on the track, the riders finally and near-reluctantly made their way out on the 3.0km circuit, with Herfoss and Epis out first.
Ant West was pleasingly at or near the top early, showing that he still likes it damp underfoot. Then 2021 Champion Wayne Maxwell put the Ducati Panigale V4R on to the top posting a 1:14.086 before pitting while Championship leader Mike Jones and Yamaha teammate Cru Halliday were content to sit and watch, letting the time tick down.
They let it tick and tick. With just 12 minutes to go the blue R1s departed and wasted no time bumping riders to outside the top nine and therefore into Qualifying One.
Late in the session, Broc Pearson showed that he will be well involved on the DesmoSport Ducati, placing it into P2 behind Maxwell- and with a 1:14.2, pretty much lapping at his fastest ever Supersport pace. This morning’s damp-but-also-dry-but-also-green conditions did not favour anything faster.
But the minutes wound down and the cream- as it is want to do- rose to the top.
At the end of timed free practice, it was Maxwell from Jones and Herfoss in third. Pearson’s earlier time saw him fourth. Staring (5th), Halliday (6th), Sissi (7th), Allerton (8th) and Metcher (9th) rounded out those who would progress straight to Qualifying Two, with all other riders set to go to Qualifying One.
Qualifying Two for Michelin Supersport got underway with Ty Lynch setting the pace early. A 1:17.187 on his second lap was a statement, with not many riders even in the 1:18s that early in the session. With his head down and the early momentum on his side, Lynch went about improving lap-by-lap, getting down to the low 1:16s after a few laps.
But while Lynch was improving on-track, John Lytras was waiting…
After eight minutes in the pits, Lytras took to the track, and after a couple of cool as-you-like warm-up 1:16s, he took control of the session. 1:15.981 became the time to beat, and it was evident that only Lynch was on-pace to have a shot.
In the end, Lytras proved too strong on the day, taking pole with a 1:15.534, with Lynch sitting close behind with a 1:15.840. Tom Bramich rounds out the front row for tomorrow’s two races in third with a 1:17.094.
Dunlop Supersport 300 Race One
A sizeable group of nine riders managed to get out to a ten second gap and there they diced for the remainder.
Pole sitter Aksu set off with Nahlous, Waters and Nelson Glenn and Hayden the protagonists in the ten-lap show and they took turns to lead a close, but clean group.
Morgan Park lends itself to close racing, but also doesn’t really offer anyone in this class the opportunity to creep away. Late in the race, despite every effort, there was just no rider able to stamp themselves on the race, but it was Taiyo Aksu who- having taken the lead multiple times, was able to be in front when it counted.
While Championship leader Cameron Dunker was down in sixth, his points situation was not overly damaged with second in the Championship James Jacobs not racing, third in the Championship Glenn Nelson fifth and fourth in the Championship Henry Snell crashing out.
Fifth in the championship Taiyo Akso took the 25 points for the win plus the single point bonus for pole, but starting the weekend with a 61 point deficit to Dunker… it’s going to be quite a task.
Alpinestars Qualifying One
Ordinarily, heading out in Q1 isn’t ideal. It means you missed the top nine in timed practice.
This time, things were different – and weirder. Matt Walters, Broc Pearson and Lachlan Epis all had their TP times disallowed after tyre violations.
And while it may have felt like a penalty, the opportunity to complete additional laps in the dry might have been of benefit.
At the end of the session, it was Pearson, Epis and Stauffer going through to the main qualifying session with additional dry running laps under their belts.
Alpinestars Qualifying Two
The early running saw the top two from Q1 – Pearson and Epis, straight to the top. Wayne Maxwell – as is his usual want- went out and posted a time early to encourage people to throw caution to the wind and there he would stay for much of the session.
As always, the excitement came late in the session as the Yamaha team duo of Jones and Halliday pressed their claims for pole- but coming up slightly short in second and third respectively.
Herfoss was all green in two sectors for pole but fell away. Epis from nowhere jumped up to fourth and the Ducati teammates Staring and Pearson were 6th and 7th.
With seconds to go, the riders set out for their final flying lap, but it was all done. Maxwell took pole by a healthy 0.414 and broke the qualifying record for good measure.
He was followed by the blue two of Jones and Halliday then Epis, Herfoss, Staring, Pearson, Sissis, Metcher and Allerton rounding out the top ten.
Maxwell takes the extra point and gives himself every opportunity to take the full points on offer. At this point of the championship, that’s all he can do.
bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup Race One
Result subject to video review and penalties.
Not something fans of any racing like to see- especially when it comes to junior racing.
But the reality is when one rider jumps, others tend to go with them and for the OJC, it’s a learning process and even when their coach Gary McCoy has drummed it into them, there’s no teacher quite like experience.
Three jump starts aside, the riders settled into a race rhythm that saw six riders slowly work their way up the road. Watts, Thompson, Paige, Russo, Rende and Hamod worked together and – as befits OJC- against each other. Hamod and Rende would face ten second penalties for their jumped start, so while they were seemingly fighting for the lead, the end of the race would see them relegated outside the top four.
Yamaha Finance R3 Cup Race One
An eventful first lap saw Jonathan Nahlous and Jack Favelle both end their races at turn-10, while Glenn Nelson took an early lead from pole sitter Cameron Dunker.
Cameron Swain was the biggest loser off the start, dropping from fourth to eighth and with a lot of work to do after lap one.
The leading pack of eight, led by Glenn Nelson, found their collective rhythm, and while the front three and the back three of the leading pack would jostle for position repeatedly throughout the race, Dunker and Hayden Nelson remained calm and consistent in their fourth and fifth places throughout.
By lap four, it was apparent that we had a battle on our hands, as Taiyo Aksu made a move on Glenn Nelson for the lead. Not to be outdone, Liam Waters took the spot back from Glenn Nelson after losing it on the start.
Coming to the finish, a tight battle between Waters and Aksu made for a great spectacle. The two exchanged positions on lap six, and then again on seven, before the final push for the finish line on lap eight – and the result could not have been closer, Aksu coming out on top by 0.005, requiring a video review to confirm the result.
Dunker managed some redemption after the poor start, taking the final podium position from Glenn Nelson on the last lap.
Tomorrow sees all the racing all day and with the forecast remaining at no rain, there’s a lot to look forward to…
End of day one press conference
Live Broadcast Information:
SBS, Stan Sport and Sky Sport NZ
- Sunday 7 August 1pm-4pm
- Sunday 7 August
- 9:55AM – 12:40PM
- 4PM – 4:30PM
Check the Event Program and your local guides for exact times.
Tickets still available here!