The following is an edited version of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul commentator Mark Bracks‘ season summary written for the event program ahead of the final round of 2021. We’ve added some words and the video summaries from the final round at The Bend
Nearly seven months elapsed between full rounds of the mi-bike Insurance Australian Superbike Championships, presented by Motul. With the Championships all run and won, here’s a recap…
While there may have been a drought of championship road racing, the limited racing has been jam-packed with action and drama, and what’s been witnessed has almost made up for lack of more events. Almost…
After a false start to the season, when the proposed first round at Phillip Island was cancelled at the last moment, the season kicked into gear at Winton Raceway (Vic), in March.
On social media, the cheers of appreciation and excitement of being allowed back at racetracks were loud around the land.
We couldn’t wait to get back to a track.
Fine weather welcomed the competitors with strong entries across the classes but all eyes were on the front of the ASBK field.
At season’s beginning, many wondered whether defending champion Wayne Maxwell (Boost Mobile with K-Tech Ducati V4R) could go back-to-back, as with the prospect of a full season, there were many aiming to prove a point. And not only at the front of the field, either.
Early feeling was that Maxwell’s great mate, and fiercest rival, Troy Herfoss on the Penrite Honda, would step up to claim a third title and continue the “Troy and Wayne Show” this year, but there’s many other established names who could join in for the season; Three times champions, Glenn Allerton (Maxina Racing Oils BMW) and Josh Waters (Kawasaki BC Performance ZX10RR), two times ASBK champ Mike Jones (DesmoSport Ducati V4R) and Cru Halliday (Yamaha Factory Racing R1) were all ready to get into it.
The two-time, Australian Superbike Champion, Herfoss made the perfect opening statement as he claimed pole, with a fastest ever lap of the Winton Circuit. Second fastest was Maxwell, with Jones rounding out the front row.
The meeting also saw another name added to the entry list with the debut of Oli Bayliss in the premier category as team mate to Mike Jones. The teenager qualified seventh behind a very impressive, and improving Lachlan Epis (Maxina Racing Oils BMW) in fourth, followed by Halliday and Arthur Sissis (Donna Hoeymakers R1) separating the teenagers.
From the opening lap it was evident that the season may indeed shape as another familiar, but gripping instalment of the “Troy and Wayne Show” as the pair quickly distanced themselves from Jones and the rest to become embroiled in a race that will go down as one of the very best seen at Winton. As the race wore on the overtaking became more common, the lead changing multiple times a lap, every lap.
The opening ASBK race of the year was a brilliant display of determined yet forceful and respectful racing in one of the most enthralling head-to-head duels we’ve witnessed between the pair – and there has been a few.
The pace was frantic and this was reflected in their lap times as Herfoss smashed the race lap record by nearly a second, and even eclipsed his own fastest ever qualifying lap from the previous day.
It all came down to the last corner of the last lap.
Maxwell had just regained the lead with a bold move into the second last corner and led into the final turn, “Herf” had a lunge but lost the front on entry and found himself off track, giving Maxwell first blood in the title chase with Jones second, from Halliday in third.
Glenn Allerton (Maxima Racing Oils BMW) found himself starting down in 12th after a qualifying crash. The three time champ showed his mettle by working his way through the pack to finish a valiant fourth. Meanwhile, Herfoss remounted to salvage some points in 11th spot.
Race two offered a complete contrast to the opening stanza as Herfoss bolted at the start and gapped the entire field to lead by nearly six seconds before slowing on the final lap to take the win with Maxwell second, and Jones third, while rookie Bayliss gave a glimpse of what was to come when he finished fourth, closing in on his team mate.
Next stop, Wakefield Park in April, with a bit of spice added to the mix with the return of Anthony West to the ASBK ranks on the MotoGO Yamaha R1.
The leading pair of Maxwell and Herfoss continued in their usual entertaining and exhilarating manner with another magnificent display of racing skill, the pair again splitting the wins, the combined gap between the duo after the two races was just 0.244 sec reflecting just how close they continue to compete!
Jones finished third in both races to maintain his consistency from Halliday, Allerton and Bryan Staring (Kawasaki BC Performance) finishing in that order in both legs.
Maxwell won the round with the extra championship point for Pole Position He claimed a new fastest ever qualifying lap and – just like Herfoss achieved at Winton – bettered that time the next day with a new race lap record and the fastest ever lap of Wakefield in another hectic edge of your seat duel between the pair.
Soon after round two, the season staggered briefly with the event at The Bend Motorsport Park (SA) postponed due to the ongoing situation.
Thankfully, the Alpinestars Superbike class reconvened at Hidden Valley in Darwin alongside the V8 Supercars to put on a spectacular show for the large crowd and massive TV audience.
The Troy and Wayne Show looked set to continue in the tropics of the Top End as lap records continued to be set. Maxwell grabbed pole from fast learner Bayliss and along with team-mate “Mad Mike” Jones, they created a piece of history with a Ducati lock-out of the front row, the trio all under the qualifying lap record set by Oli’s Dad, Troy in 2018.
After they early success, Mad Mike’s weekend was over shortly after, due to a couple of injuries. He broke several bones in his right foot after hitting a ripple strip at T3 during practice and then in another incident crashed, sustaining a hand injury which ultimately forced the Queenslander to withdraw.
The opening leg was a cracker with Maxwell and Herfoss continuing their stoush for honours with Bayliss and Allerton— on a brand-new BMW— making it a four-way scrap in the opening laps, before #1 and #17 broke away.
Maxwell led every lap — with the critical exception of the last one — with Herfoss taking out the drag to the line, winning by just 0.06 sec, and claiming yet another lap record. Glenn Allerton was home in third and Bayliss scoried another fourth place, something he wasn’t overly happy with after such a strong qualifying performance.
The season changed dramatically in the next race.
Early on the opening lap, Herfoss crashed heavily at Turn 3, sustaining multiple injuries with the RaceSafe medical team immediately on the scene. With the air fence also requiring extensive repairs, combined with attending to Troy, the chance of a restart was abandoned.
The absence of Herfoss certainly took the shine off the round — and of course the season as a whole — but thankfully, Troy is on the road to full recovery and has will be at The Bend this weekend and has also announced his intention to continue with the Penrith Honda Team in 2022.
The final race in Darwin was where Oli Bayliss came of age in Superbike racing.
The third race was unfortunately interrupted with a red flag while, Maxwell, Bayliss and Allerton, were wheel to wheel with half a second covering the trio when proceedings were halted.
In the restart, Bayliss and Maxwell soon gapped the field that was led by Allerton in third.
The master led the apprentice and kept him at bay for many laps but with a few laps to run, the 17-year-old apprentice displayed some magic to grab the lead on the final lap to break through for his first victory. Another box ticked so early in what is shaping as an very, very promising road racing career.
In 2021, a year of “it is what it is”, records have been broken and history has been created.
The finale at The Bend promised much, and delivered in spades.
The local duo of Sissis and Falzon were out of the gate fast on the Friday with a combination of seat time, local circuit knowledge and outright pace.
Wayne Maxwell was third in the early session, just chipping away as he does. Guest star Jack Miller was busy working out what was what on his brand-new Ducati Panigale V4R and was seventh.
Troy Herfoss was back from his extensive injury recovery, but admitted he was still short of run and wasn’t sure how he would go. But second in the championship with plenty to play for, the Penrite Honda was ready to see what he could manage.
By the end of Practice Two, Jack Miller showed why he is regarded as one of the most talented riders in the world when he placed his Caterpillar-sponsored black Ducati into P1 and sounded a warning that while he had come to play, he’d also come to race.
By the time we got to the end of Practice Three, some sort of “normal” order was restored when Wayne Maxwell placed his Ducati into the top spot with the other ASBK regulars Sissis, Falzon, Bayliss, Allerton and Halliday all went faster than before, leaving Jack Miller in seventh with plenty to do.
But practice is practice, and when Saturday dawned, the litre bikes hit the circuit for the only Timed Practice sessions and the big guns came out to show what they were really capable of. Maxwell in P1, .3 under the lap record. Miller P2 and also under the lap record and for good measure, Oli Bayliss under the lap record in P3 for an all-Ducati top three. It was ominous. Championship contenders Allerton (7th) and Herfoss (13th) were left wondering and realising there was plenty to do.
The two qualifying sessions were close fought and tense. While there wasn’t a huge shuffle in the order at the end, getting to that point was quite the journey, with riders knocking each other down the leaderboard as the minutes counted down.
So the grid was set. Maxwell as leader, Miller as spoiler and Falzon and Sissis third and fourth to keep the locals happy. Everything was set.
For the championship, Allerton (7th) and Herfoss (8th) offered a tantalizing prospect. While Maxwell now had one hand on the title, the second and third spots were very much alive.
The first race was everything. Miller with the awful start, Maxwell trying to check out, Allerton up a few spots, a red flag, Miller was punted by an errant Wagner and… then we had a red flag on lap seven, followed by a restart that actually felt more like a new race on a new day. Maxwell was all business and was now the Champion, Allerton was just .9 behind the Boost Mobile Ducati at the line, Halliday was transformed into a faster and cleaner rider after the restart and Herfoss was struggling but valiant in seventh.
While the final race would not change anything for the title race, there was still a lot to race for. Herfoss would not make it to the grid after assessing how he felt in race one so Allerton just needed to stay aboard to end the season second and third was also up for grabs.
After a lap one series of misunderstandings that resulted in a red flag, ASBK Champion-elect Maxwell was frustrated and said as much on the grid on camera.
At the restart, Daniel Falson was absent and injured while Jack Miller proved that an Australian Superbike is harder to get going from the line than a MotoGP bike after again stuttering away from the line. Bayliss launched like a rocket into turn one and P1.
Bayliss was struggling to take on the leadership role and ran wide a couple of times, letting the wise owls of the field in Maxwell and Allerton through.
Miller was now well fired up and again showed his prodigious talent, passing at every opportunity and riding as loose and fast as he can. The leading trio of Maxwell, Allerton and Bayliss opened a small gap and Jack immediately sought to shut it down. A bit of dicing between the leaders saw the gap shrink and the factory MotoGP rider in Miller out-braked Oli Bayliss into turn one to slot into third.
The support classes of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul have only completed just the two rounds, but this has tightened the points situation as we head into this finale.
While Maxwell had secured the title in Race One, he was very, very keen to show to all that the shortened season, delays and lack of testing were mere distractions and that he was indeed the form rider of the year. Head down, bum up and time to check out of the race, the hotel, South Australia and 2021. Allerton was valiant and never gave up. But Maxwell was inevitable. All weekend he had done the things he and they team needed to do. Faster in every session, crafting his way to pole and two wins. A perfect score for a perfect weekend.
At the line it was Maxwell to Allerton some 3.8 seconds back and a further 2 seconds back to Jack Miller.
For the Championship, it was Maxwell, Allerton and thanks to a fourth place in race two, Cru Halliday was now third in the championship- a reasonable return after a tough year with little seat time.
While Jack Miller’s valiant efforts did not result in a fairytale rise all the way to first place, seeing the Caterpillar Ducati work past some of the nation’s best and then set sail for the leading duo of Maxwell and Allerton was worth the price of admission alone.
It was perfect all round.
Of course, he laid down two crowd pleasing burnouts, thanked everyone, did a shoey, promised to do it all again if the stars align and was last seen yelling “yeah the boys” before heading back to his garage. Everyone would have been rendered speechless were they not saying “thanks Jack” at every opportunity.
It was quite the weekend in Alpinestars Superbike. One for the ages.
Alpinestars Superbike, Final Standings
1 1 Wayne MAXWELL 183
2 14 Glenn ALLERTON 140
3 65 Cru HALLIDAY 123
4 17 Troy HERFOSS 120
5 32 Oli BAYLISS 103
Motorsports TV Supersport
With absence of 2020 champion Tom Toparis through injury and last year’s runner up, Oli Bayliss racing a Superbike, the Supersport category for 2021 hasd more contenders step up to the challenge.
Another son-of-a-gun in Max Stauffer (MotoStars R6), Broc Pearson (Yamaha R6) and Tom Edwards, (BikeBiz Yam R6) who finished third, fourth and fifth respectively in the 2020 season, shaped as the key protagonists for major honours.
At Winton, the title chase kicked off in a similar fashion to the premier class, as Edwards and Pearson split the wins and runner up spots, but Edwards claimed the round win for that crucial extra point for pole position.
Ever-improving, Scott Nicholson (Traction Control Yam R6) finished third in leg one with Stauffer rounding out the podium in race two.
Not too far adrift were a few more teenagers with bright prospects in Dallas Skeer (Penrite Oils Suzuki), Luke Power (ProWorx ZX6) and John Lytras (Caboolture Yamaha R6) getting closer to the front on each outing.
A few weeks later at Wakefield Park, the top three from Wakefield engaged in close quarter dueling again but Lytras was out of the running early, destroying his bike on Friday morning. With a battered body and not enough spares to continue, the Queenslander was out for the weekend.
Multiple broken lap records in the middleweight class mirrored the trend of most of the ASBK categories with Pearson and Stauffer grabbing a piece in lowering lap times.
The first leg was reflagged after seven laps. Pearson was leading from Stauffer and Edwards with young Max cracking a sub-59 second lap for a new race lap record.
Stauffer led the restart for a few laps from Edwards and Pearson but in the last couple of laps Broc managed to grind his way through to claim another win from Edwards with Max being shuffled back to third from Jack Passfield (Stay Upright R6), Skeer, and
Leg two and Stauffer really hit his straps in the Motorsport TV Supersport Championship, stalking Pearson, as Edwards valiantly tried to keep in touch.
In his efforts to stay in front, Pearson lowered his own lap record yet again but it was not enough to stop Stauffer, who muscled his way into the lead with three laps to go to hang on for his first win of the year, and tighten up the points at the top of the table in the process.
At the finale, Tom Edwards looked to jump up to the lead in the Championship and was clear he felt ready and that the bike was near perfect. Overhauling Pearson for the title suddenly looked likely. In race one Edwards did the only thing he could do by taking the win. Max Stauffer obliged and took second and points away from Pearson.
For Broc Pearson this situation saw the one hand he had on the Championship prised away. Edwards was buoyant, confident and hinting he had more in reserve on the podium of race one and everything pointed to him overhauling Pearson for the Championship.
Cometh the hour, so cometh a gangly Queenslander in the form of Broc Pearson who admitted his race two victory- and 2021 Motorsports TV Supersport Championship- was due mostly to heart than pure engineering of the bike. Edwards did not go quietly nor concede the race win and therefore the title win to Pearson, racing him to the line and still looking like a possible champion even as the chequered flag greeted Pearson. Edwards was gracious and effusive in his praise, noting that while they were still young blokes, they’ve spent most of their racing careers against each other and that their battles were always clean, but fierce.
It was a terrific end to a shortened season, with some graduating to the Alpinestars Superbike class and some Dunlop Supersport 300 riders stepping up to the 600cc machines in 2022.
Motorsports TV Supersport, Final Standings
17 Broc PEARSON 135
2 26 Tom EDWARDS 129
3 127 Max STAUFFER 116
4 39 Scott NICHOLSON 91
5 86 Dallas SKEER 90
Dunlop Supersport 300
While the lack of racing in the last couple of years has resulted in some up-and-comers going somewhat unnoticed, once back on track the action was aplenty and the talent unmistakable.
In the opening round, a graduate of the Oceania Junior Cup, Carter Thompson was the fastest in qualifying and took the three wins, but there were some memorable exchanges with Ben Baker. Behind this leading duo, there were there usual pockets of action all the way through the field.
In the absence of Cater Thompson, Tom Drane and Marianos Nikolis at Wakefield due to their involvement in the opening round of the Asia Talent Cup in Qatar, there was room for someone to stamp their authority and that was someone was Ben Baker.
On that autumn April weekend, he took a stranglehold on this class as well as the R3 Cup with some stand out performances taking a lazy six wins from six starts — and a lap record just in case anyone was unsure if this could be classed as a “dominant performance”.
Baker’s superb efforts took nothing away from the opposition as there is plenty of riding talent in the two similar classes but Baker was the class act of the two junior 300cc classes that weekend.
At The Bend, Baker was on the podium in Race One, last in Race Two and fifth in Race Three to thoroughly confuse all adn sundry, but he got two salamis from a good friend and that was apparently as good as winning the title.
Dunlop Supersport 300, Final Standings
1 72 Ben BAKER 171
2 121 Reece OUGHTRED 143
3 22 Zac JOHNSON 134
4 3 Cameron DUNKER 127
5 69 Archie McDONALD 119
Yamaha R3 Cup
As in the SSP300 class Carter Thompson was the kid to beat as he took two of the three races with Baker taking the win in the second race.
But at the final round, a costly crash paired with Baker on the podium in every race saw Baker take home the title and complete the SS300 R3 Cup double.
Yamaha R3 Cup, Final Standings
1 72 Ben BAKER 192
2 39 Glenn NELSON132
3 3 Cameron DUNKER 127
4 69 Archie McDONALD 125
5 11 Brandon DEMMERY 114
Oceania Junior Cup
The Oceania Junior Cup (OJC) continues to be a breeding ground for younger riders to carry on the tradition of early junior competitions and is a great foundation class to advance through the ranks.
The opening race of the year was red flagged after Hayden Nelson crashed and could take no further part in the weekend, thus another dynamo of the class, Cameron Swain from Queensland, grabbed the opportunity a clean sweep of the class from Nate O’Neill and Harrison Watts in third.
At Wakefield Park, Swain continued his winning ways claiming the first two victories, but he had to battle for them as the racing on the little R15s was extremely intense and Wakefield is a great little track for honing race craft.
Nelson had made a full recovery from his off-track excursion at Winton and managed to claim a win in the final race to run interference on Swain’s perfect score, after a third and a second in the preceding races.
Swain held on for the round victory from Nelson with Levi Russo third overall.
In the finale, Swain kept his eyes on the title and did just as much as was needed to take home the Series title and did so comfortably.
Oceania Junior Cup, Final Standings
1 26 Cameron SWAIN 208
2 68 Ryan LARKIN 152
3 72 Levi RUSSO 137
4 14 Harrison WATTS 121
5 65 Nate O’NEILL 121