Troy Herfoss is determined to make his Honda swansong a fairytale after unleashing a towering qualifying performance in round seven of the 2023 mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, presented by Motul.
The Queenslander turned up the wick on his Penrite Honda CBR1000RR-R in the second Alpinestars Superbike qualifying session at The Bend, and the spoils were spectacular: the first rider to go under the 1m50s bracket at the world-class 4.95km circuit.
Peerless across every measure, but with championship rival Josh Waters (McMartin Racing with K-Tech Ducati V4R) alongside him on the front row the celebrations will be short and sweet for Herfoss before he galvanises himself for tomorrow’s two 11-lap races.
Michelin Supersport is also delicately poised, with returning internationals Harrison Voight and Tom Toparis leading the qualifying charts ahead of the three riders vying for the championship: Olly Simpson, Cameron Dunker and Ty Lynch.
Two races also await the Supersport cohort tomorrow, while three of the other SBK classes – Yamaha Finance R3 Cup, Supersport 300 and bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup – are already in competition mode but remain ‘live’ rubbers.
Only one 2023 champion was crowned today: Keo Watson in the popular Sureflight Superbike Masters class.
Tickets are still available for Sunday’s racing at The Bend via www.asbk.com.au, but if you’re watching from home or in transit there are live streaming and TV options galore so you don’t have to miss a minute of the action.
Pole position was a just reward for Herfoss who had been consistently brisk in all four practice sessions. But even the wiliest of ASBK pundits probably wouldn’t have believed the extraordinary work he produced in qualifying with his amazing 1m49.889s lap.
Herfoss says it was one of the highlights of his career.
“I have never done a qualifying lap that good,” the ebullient 36-year-old said. “I was hoping I could do a 1:49 but I didn’t think it would actually happen. I know it was just qualifying but it’s the most fun I’ve had in one minute and 49 seconds in my life!
“It’s a pretty emotional weekend and I want to finish it off in the best possible way and work out what I want to do after that.”
Herfoss’ pole-sitting time was 0.409s ahead of Waters (1:50.298), followed by Cru Halliday (Yamaha Racing Team YZF-R1, 1:50.312), Max Stauffer (GTR Moto Stars YZF-R1, 1:50.550) and Mike Jones (Yamaha Racing Team YZF-R1, 1:50.688).
Glenn Allerton (GT Racing BMW M 1000 RR, 1:50.881) will complete row two tomorrow, with Bryan Staring (MotoGo YZF-R1, 1:51.265), South Australian Arthus Sissis (Unitech Racing YZF-R1, 1:51.274) and Anthony West (Addicted to Track YZF-R1, 1:51.325) on row three.
Race one will be held at 11:00am (ADCT) tomorrow, and race two at 2:45pm (ADCT). Will it be a third Superbike title for Herfoss, or number four for Waters?
Josh WatersMICHELIN SUPERSPORT
It’s the overriding Michelin Supersport question: will the riders making ASBK cameos – Voight and Toparis the two standouts – make tomorrow pleasure or pain for the championship aspirations of Dunker, Simpson and Lynch?
We’ll get a more definitive gauge in the opening nine-lap race tomorrow, where last year’s double winner Voight (Voight Construction Yamaha YZF-R6) will start from pole position after setting the new best lap around The Bend – 1:54.618. Toparis (Cube Racing Stop & Seal YZF-R6, 1:54.770) and Simpson (Simpson Crash YZF-R6, 1:54.825) are right on Voight’s hammer, so we’re unlikely to see a runaway winner – it’s going to be a tight affair.
Meanwhile, Dunker (GTR Moto Stars YZF-R6, 1:55.322), the championship leader, knows what final round pressure is all about, and he’ll start from grid position No. 4 alongside Lynch (AMR Sports YZF-R6, 1:55.571) and Harry Khouri (Addicted to Track YZF-R6, 1:57.851) – another Aussie expat back in town for the ASBK finale.
All 20 riders qualified.
SUPERSPORT 300 AND YAMAHA FINANCE R3 CUP
After a forced restart following an Abbie Cameron crash which brought out the red flag, the racing in the Supersport 300 opener was as tight as ever before boiling down to a three-way fight between Cameron Swain, Brodie Gawith and Marcos Hamod.
And that’s how they finished in a blanket finish, with Swain victorious by just 0.013s to move into the title lead by 9ts over Hamod.
The Yamaha Finance R3 Cup produced more Swain magic as he claimed the spoils from Gawith, while Hamod just held out Henry Snell and Jordan Simpson for third.
Swain also holds sway in R3 Cup by 9pts, with two races remaining in each class.
bLU cRU OCEANIA JUNIOR CUP
Polesitter Archie Schmidt won race one in the bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup after a nail-biting finish saw him execute a perfectly timed pass on Jake Paige on the last turn.
The pair, in a very unusual OJC scenario, cleared out from the main pack, with Rikky Henry finishing in a lonely third before the pack tightened up.
Schmidt also set a new lap record of 2:30.941 in a brilliant OJC outing. He now has a 9pt lead over Bodie Paige, who was fourth in race one.
SUREFLIGHT SUPERBIKE MASTERS
The Sureflight Superbike Masters grid was stacked with Aussie racing legends: three-time MotoGP winner Garry McCoy Yamaha TZ750), Isle of Man Classic TT winner David Johnson (Suzuki Katana) and dual World Superbike champion Troy Corser (Yamaha 0W01).
However, most of today’s plaudits went to Watson (Yamaha FZR1000), who was rewarded with champion-designate status after a brilliant season.
Johnson and Watson shared the wins on Saturday, with the former forced to start from pitlane in race two due to his late arrival on the grid from racetrack commentary duties! A first time for everything….
Watson and Ryan Taylor (Suzuki GSX-R1100) completed the podium in race one, and in race two McCoy was runner-up ahead of Taylor. McCoy had earlier fluffed the race one start on the big two-stroke before slicing his way back to fourth.
Meanwhile, Corser had braking gremlins in both races but managed to make the finish line in the second.