After starting every race of the 2023 mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul (ASBK) race from the front row, Defending ASBK champion, Mike Jones on his Yamaha Racing Team YZF-R1 M went one better, as he continued his recent resurgence in the Alpinestars Superbike category to claim his first pole position of the year and the vital championship point that accompanies the feat to start at the front of the field for tomorrow’s two, 16-lap races.
It was neck and neck throughout the two qualifying sessions with Q1 deciding the top 12 that moved through to the second stanza to define the top four rows of the grid.
Arguably, Jones has done more laps around the Morgan Park layout than most of the field combined and he put his local circuit knowledge to good use as he led the morning’s fourth practice session and backed it up to do the same in both qualifying sessions.
After the first 20-minute qualifying session Jones led Herfoss with Cru Halliday on the way back to the top in third. The session was halted after a few minutes when Glenn Allerton’s BMW had a mechanical problem and there was a chance that some fluid had leaked on the track surface. The session was soon resumed although the leading four riders of Jones, Herfoss, Halliday and Pearson remained in the garage for the remainder of the session.
Bryan Staring (MotoGo Yamaha) pumped his way up to fifth fastest from Anthony West with Josh Waters doing what he had to do to remain in the top 12. He completed only three laps in the session to be seventh from Arthur Sissis (Unitech Racing Yamaha) and Allerton provisionally ninth on the second of his GT Racing BMWs with Ted Colling (Livson Racing BMW) rounding out the top ten.
Bryan Staring aboard the MotoGo Yamaha
It was a lot more frantic in the main qualifying session, but no one could unseat Jones at the top of the sheet as on his fifth lap he created his slice of history by beating Herfoss’ practice time to lay claim to the fastest official lap time and go so very close to breaking into the elusive 1 minute 11-second mark, missing the feat by a minuscule 0.079 of a second.
Troy Herfoss performed a similar feat on his seventh lap to be just 0.156 behind with Broc Pearson continuing his impressive weekend to claim his first front-row start with DesmoSport Ducati to be third on the grid.
Broc Pearson will start from the front row for the first time in the Alpinestars Superbike class
Championship leader Josh Waters was fourth fastest who also eclipsed Wayne Maxwell’s qualifying time from last year by 0.041 of a second to be starting from the outside of the second row behind Jones. It will be interesting to see if Waters can get the start to scythe his way in the mad dash to turn two. Beside Waters will be Jones’ team-mate Cru Halliday with Glenn Allerton rounding out the front two rows.
Anthony West has really found his zone in his third outing with the Addicted To Track team to be right in the mix in the seventh spot from Bryan Staring and South Australian Arthur Sissis who sits on the inside of the third row. Sissis is renowned for his dynamic speedway style launches off the line and has the perfect line to upset all in front of him to lead the opening charge.
The front row for Sunday. From left to right: Troy Herfoss, Mike Jones, Broc Pearson.
The first two rows of the grid are separated by 0.676 of a second, but on the form of the past two days it appears that it may well again turn into the ‘Troy and Mike Show’, but try telling that to their rivals.
The huge Saturday crowd was entertained with some very fast precision riding and tomorrow’s two, 16-lap races are going to prove dynamite as anyone of the leading six could climb the top step and the spectator fences will be jammed back to witness Australia vest strut their stuff in the Southern Downs of Queensland.
Saturday report by Mark Bracks, imagery by Endorphin Media and Russell Colvin.
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