In the three free practice sessions for the fourth round of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championships presented by Motul in the tropical sunshine at Hidden Valley Raceway, there were different riders that topped the three sessions.
For the third year in a row the Alpinestars Superbike class is on the card with the Repco Supercars Championship and the top-fuel dragsters at the betr Darwin Triple Crown, this weekend.
With the times so close from the opening minutes of the session it was a clear indication that the 2.8km long Hidden Valley circuit will again play host to some intense and brilliant battles over the three 16-lap races.
In conditions that were not quite as hot as last year, the race lap record was bettered in the opening session by championship leader Josh Waters on the McMartin Racing with K-Tech Suspension Ducati Panigale V4 R with an astounding time of 1:05.368. Just 0.180 of a second adrift from Waters was three-time Australian Champion, Glenn Allerton (Spectro Oils GT Racing BMW), with defending champion Mike Jones (Yamaha Racing Team) in third, the trio separated by only 0.295 of a second with the top seven covered by less than a second.
Josh Waters gave the new 2023 Ducati Panigale V4 R an excellent debut
The second session was drama packed as in the first five minutes the red flag was waved after Ted Collins (Livson Racing BMW) crashed spectacularly at the daunting Turn 10 with his bike slamming into the air fence.
It wasn’t the last time for the red flag as with five minutes left in the session, Troy Herfoss on the Penrite Honda had no sooner set the fastest time than he crashed on the exit of turn one as he attempted to improve his time, the mind games that make up a practice day. Due to the incident, it thwarted his rivals from improving their times with Waters second fastest, 0.122 of a second behind Herfoss with Mike Jones breaking into the top three the trio separated by just 0.126 seconds.
Troy Herfoss and Penrite Honda were fast all day, but it wasn’t without drama
When The Alpinestars Superbike class took to the track for the final session the track temperature was nudging 50 degrees celcius, some 17 degrees hotter than the morning session. With such high temperatures it was expected that times may have suffered but try telling that to the talented riders of Australian road racing as Mike Jones claimed the top spot from Waters who was again second with Glenn Allerton third to make it two sessions in the top three for Glenn and “Mad Mike” while Waters was in the top three in all sessions.
Herfoss rode his second bike in the final stanza, but still managed to claim fourth fastest and it was refreshing to see Arthur Sissis back on track after his forced absence at Queensland Raceway due to a broken wrist.
With the combined times of the three sessions it’s Jones who leads the way heading into qualifying tomorrow more from Waters and Herfoss . Next on the charts is Allerton in fourth, Cru Halliday in fifth. Halliday who has finished on the podium in all but the opening race of the year had his last session brought undone when he crashed at the final turn with a little over five minutes remaining.
Behind Halliday, Arthur Sissis and Unitech Racing sit in sixth position and rounding out the Top Ten on Day One is Bryan Staring on the MotoGo Yamaha from Broc Pearson (Desmo Sport Ducati) Anthony West (Addicted To Track Yamaha) with the ever-improving Max Stauffer continually improving his times.
Bryan Staring and MotoGo Yamaha R1 M look the part on track
Day two will consist of qualifying in the morning at 08:25am ACST where the outright fastest lap will no doubt be under threat to be lowered by any number of riders, before the first of the three races tomorrow afternoon at 12:40pm ACST.
Friday report by Mark Bracks, imagery by Endorphin Media.
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