Cube Racing teenagers Tom Toparis and Oli Bayliss put up a strong fight in Phillip Island’s final round of the 2018 Australian Superbike Championship season, vying for class victories in Supersport and Supersport 300 respectively.
Toparis qualified second in Supersport with a 1m36.156s and went on to lead the opening 10-lap race, however was taken out of contention entering turn four on lap seven. He bounced back later that afternoon to dominate race two, winning by 3.720s.
Ninth overall was the end result for 18-year-old Toparis at Phillip Island due to his DNF in the first encounter, however he had already clinched second in the championship with a round to spare and ends the year as national Supersport number two.
“It was a weird weekend for me, it took some time to get up to speed so qualifying was quite tough,” Toparis said. “Race one was good, but I made a few mistakes and got caught up with Max [Croker] and then it was unfortunate to get taken out because I really wanted to win the overall at the last round.
“But anyway, race two was good and it was shaping up to be a good race until Cru [Halliday] crashed out. I just stayed consistent and went on to win, which was really positive to finish the season that way. It’s definitely been a tough year, but we learned a lot and I’m happy to finish second in points. A big thanks to the Cube Racing team.”
Bayliss qualified in second as his 1m48.422s was beneath the existing Supersport 300 circuit best lap, then registered 6-DNF-2 results in a mixed weekend. Caught up in other riders’ incidents during the first two races, he bounced back in the third outing to miss out on the win by only 0.057s.
Those results earned 15-year-old Bayliss eighth overall for the weekend and secured him fourth in the final championship standings. The experience gained will be important as he gets set to return for another year in Supersport 300 next season.
“This was a weekend to forget for me,” Bayliss admitted. “Qualifying second was good and I did the time pretty much by myself without a tow. I was up the front in race one the whole time until I was taken out onto the grass on the last lap and finished sixth.
“In the second race someone crashed in front of me and I went down too, but what can you do? In the third race I thought I had it timed perfectly in the run to the line, but got pipped. It was a good and bad year for me, but we made the most of it and I learned a lot again, so already keen to race again next year!”
Cube Racing team owner Ben Henry was once again impressed with both Toparis and Bayliss following Phillip Island, satisfied that each of them capped off the season in a positive fashion. It’s been a big year for the Queensland-based team with both riders featuring in the spotlight throughout all seven rounds.
“Tommy didn’t have a bad weekend in the end,” Henry stated. “He didn’t have the speed to match Cru in qualifying, but as far as the races went he was very competitive. To win the last race was awesome, so you can’t get much better than that and well done to him.
“Oli was good again. That class is so hit and miss, because you can either win, end up fifth or even on the floor. But he rode really well and, again, had a photo finish in that last race but finished second – it was awesome anyway. He’s learned a lot this year and we’ve really enjoyed watching him make progress.”
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Image credit: Russell Colvin