The two Michelin Supersport races were confirmation as to why this year’s championship is one of the closest-fought titles for some years. There have been many shining lights exposed this season as riders graduate from the lower classes to join their more experienced Supersport rivals.
The most prominent is 15-year-old, Cameron Dunker who now sits second in the championship just a few points shy of leader Olly Simpson.
The surprise of the weekend is another 300cc graduate, Hayden Nelson from Taree, New South Wales. He is a typical racer; in the pits he is quiet and almost withdrawn but once the helmet goes on and he dons his suit of armor he transforms into a tenacious, talented, and extremely determined character. Nelson surprised many except himself when he claimed his first pole position of his fledgling Supersport career to be in the box seat.
Off the line, it was Olly Simpson who powered his way from the third row to lead the opening meters before Ty Lynch, Dunker, Tom Bramich and Nelson muscled their way through.
Ty Lynch led early in Michelin Supersport Race One
Lynch took up the running but on the fifth lap tossed it away at turn six to hand the lead to Dunker but Ty remounted in the last spot in an attempt to salvage points as he knew his second place in the championship was done. He was the third rider to crash after Glenn Nelson and Scott Nicholson’s confronting weekend continued as the race became one of attrition.
As the battle at the front raged between Dunker, H Nelson, Bramich, defending champion John Lytras and Simpson, Nelson was shuffled back to sixth before his charge to the front began, as Bramich crashed out in his efforts to make an impact.
Hayden Nelson showed incredible speed and tactics to be right in the mix
He took the lead on the 10th lap with the leading five less than a second apart but with a lap and a half to run Nelson crashed on oil at turn ten. The bike was demolished as it slammed into the wall as Nelson cartwheeled into the kitty litter, the crash bringing out the red flag.
Dunker took his third win of the season from Simpson with Lytras in third.
As expected, the second race produced more of the same but unfortunately for young Hayden, his bike could not be repaired in time, and had to sit out the race. As for Lynch, he dislocated his shoulder but in typical rider form had it popped back in. Not even a flesh wound! It must’ve fired him up as he grinned through the pain to lead Dunker and Simpson off the line as Bramich, Lytras and ever-improving JJ Nahlous joined the party.
The places were changing constantly in a thoroughly entertaining spectacle as any one of the five were in with a chance of victory. It was polarising as they quintet swapped positions but with a few laps to go it had come down to a battle between, Dunker, Simpson, Lynch and Lytras.
Cameron Dunker led early but was shuffled back and missed out on a podium
As they crossed the line after the 14 laps it was Simpson who claimed another win by 0.024 of a second from Lytras with a battered Lynch in third and Dunker off the podium for the first time since Sydney, the four less than a second apart.
The two Sunday Supersport 300 races continued the fine tradition of no-holds-barred racing but there was no denying the rapidly rising star that is Cameron Swain. He won the three races (and pole position) in great style demonstrating an innate knack of race craft and riding maturity far beyond his 14 years, but for that matter, that applies to most of the field.
Cameron Swain showed strong pace and maturity all weekend
The first race on Sunday morning was a bit of an anomaly as it quickly turned into a duel of two between Swain and the extremely rapid Brodie Gawith as after just one lap, they had opened a gap of over a second on the field.
In that bunch was Marcus Hamod, Henry Snell, and series leader Brandon Demmery, who as usual were all over each other.
Swain led Gawith across the line at the end of every lap but that gives no indication of what was happening in between as the pair swapped positions any number of times on any lap. Gawith broke the lap record in the opening heat on Saturday afternoon and repeated the feat on the fifth lap, halfway through the race but no sooner had he accomplished that task than he crashed out in a repeat performance of the exact same feat the day before! There’s no doubt that he does not want to do that again anytime soon!
Swain went on to have a comfortable win of over five seconds (the largest wining gap of all races all weekend) but behind him, the battle raged for the minor podium spots between Hamod, Snell, Demmery and another improving teenager, Jai Russo. Hamod claimed second from Snell in another photo finish with Demmery fourth a similar margin ahead of Russo.
Race three and normal transmission was resumed with the top five as there were nanoseconds apart for the entire 10 laps. Teammates Gawith and Snell hammered Swain at every opportunity, but Swain was always leading as they crossed the line. On the final lap, Snell refrained from his usual dive bomb tactic at turn 10 so as not to lead coming onto the straight aiming to take advantage of the slipstream but Swain sensed what was happening and entered the final chicane slightly faster than usual and managed to hold f Snell by just 0.030 of a second with Hamod third and Gawith managing to stay upright to cross the line in fourth all less than a second apart.
The leading pack could not be split all weekend
For championship leader Demmery, it was not the weekend he was hoping for as he failed to finish on the podium in any race his best results a pair of fourth places and to add a bit of salt to the wound, he very uncharacteristically crashed out of the race on the second lap while battling with the leading bunch to put a huge ding in his points lead to see his lead shrink by over 20 points to be now just two points from Swain.
Hamod now sits in third, nine points adrift, while for Gawith the lap record was cold comfort for the number of points, he jettisoned with the two crashes to slide to sixth overall. Highest placed Kawasaki over the three races was another rapid learner in Josh Newman, who happens to be Glenn Allerton’s nephew with a sixth and two seventh places.
Yamaha Finance R3 Cup
The three races featured three different winners and two lap records with the three chapters of the weekend having a total winning margin of an astonishing 0.033 of a second!
The first leg saw Hamod smash Brodie Gawith’s 11-month-old record by 0.642 of a second as at the finish he crossed the line with Swain locked together, the gap on the timing screen listed as 0.000! It took timekeepers some minutes to decide the winner as they trawled through the finish line camera footage with Hamod finally getting the nod by 0.010 seconds.
Marcus Hamod took out the first race of the weekend after recording the closest winning margin in class
Sunday’s two races were just as entertaining as the leading quintet continued to swap paint, positions, and bang elbows for every one of the 16 laps, over the two races. With the nature of the racing, it is extremely difficult to give an adequate lap-by-lap description, without becoming confusing as the places at the front changed constantly from corner to corner, let alone lap by lap.
For Hamod, the race was in stark contrast to the day before as he crashed at the daunting turn three on the opening lap to tumble into the dirt, while the rest of the pack carried on.
Swain led across the line at every lap with the quartet of Swain, Gawith, Snell and Demmery never more than half a second apart that involved so many breathtaking passes throughout the eight laps.
Into the final couple of laps and the battle gained intensity as Demmery claimed a new lap record eclipsing Hamod’s time from the day before by a tiny 0.043 of a second. Gawith and his teammate Snell were not working together but were trying to hassle Swain into a mistake. That was asking a lot as Swain is one cool cookie under pressure, however in the final mad dash to the line Gawith claimed the win from Swain by 0.011 with Snell third and Demmery fourth as they gapped the rest of the field by nearly eight seconds.
Cameron Swain and Brodie Gawith go elbow-to-elbow across the line
The third leg was the final race of the weekend and the lads aimed to not leave anything out there with so long before the combatants regroup for Phillip Island in three months.
As in the previous race, Swain aimed to lead across the line at the end of every lap but scanning the result sheet disguises the intensity of what these lads were throwing at each other in between and words don’t do justice to the talent and tenacity of these riders who except for Demmery are all teenagers.
As the sun set on the day and the laps counted down, it again all came down to the final mad scramble to the line out of the final chicane. Snell took a page out of his teammate’s notebook and was right on the rear heel of Swain as they exited the final corner, gaining millimetres as the slipstream effect came to the fore. With just metres to go, Snell pulled out of the draft and nudged ahead of Swain to take the win with the biggest margin of the three races – 0.012 seconds – as Hamod made up for the disappointment of the earlier race to be 0.052 seconds away in third with Gawith on his rear wheel.
Henry Snell claimed the last victory of the weekend
As for Demmery, he was feeling the effects of his earlier get-off and was someway off the pace battling with Russo for fifth and sixth with Russo gaining the ascendency over him in the final run to the line. When speaking to Demmery post-race, it was uncovered that he was riding his spare bike in the final race, and as it was not tuned to the same setup as his number one machine, he struggled to match his pace from earlier in the day.
Snell’s win and his two third places gave him the round win from Swain who finished second in all three heats with Gawith third overall and just two points separating them over the weekend.
The R3 Cup has seen Swain move into the points lead after Demmery’s 48-point haul from his 5-4-6 placing over the weekend to be now 10 points adrift of Swain with Gawith third in the chase seven points away and Snell fourth just four points shy of his teammate. Hamod paid the price for his indiscretion to slip to fifth overall.
As for young Swain, his future is looking brighter as before the series reconvenes at Phillip Island in late October, he has been invited to contest the world final of the Yamaha R3 Cup and will be heading to Europe to contest the races at Magny-Cours and Portimão alongside the World Superbike Championship.
Sunday report by Mark Bracks, imagery by Endorphin Media.
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