The 2019 Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) got down to business today with Qualifying for Round 1 taking place at Phillip Island this weekend (February 21-24) as part of the FIM World Superbike Championship (WSBK).
After months of development and testing, it was finally time to unleash these finely-honed racing machines and see who would be first to stake their claim as the fastest riders in each class of the ASBK. This morning saw the Kawasaki Superbike, Supersport, and YMI Supersport 300 hit the track in anger for the first qualifying session of the year.
Thanks to a full field of riders qualifying, and the challenge of finding a clear track, the Kawasaki Superbike class was split into two groups.
Privateer Aiden Wagner (Yamaha YZF-R1) came straight out of the blocks in the first two minutes of the 10-minute session to lay down a blistering pole time of 1:32.191, well under lap record pace. His next lap saw him run the bike off the road at MG but ultimately that didn’t matter, with none of the other riders able to match Wagner’s benchmark..
“We knew we had some pace there, the team’s put together a really really good R1 for me to ride” said Wagner. “We’re just getting stronger and stronger and the bike’s improving step by step.”
“Pole position and a point in the championship, we’re absolutely rapt.”
Second was Yamaha Racing Team’s Cru Halliday (Yamaha YZF-R1), in his first qualifying session back in the Superbike class after winning the Supersport championship last year. He managed an impressive 1:32.552 to trump his teammate Daniel Falzon (Yamaha Racing Team Yamaha YZF-R1, 1:32.572), completing the Yamaha front row.
“I was a bit surprised with the time we did, it was half a second quicker than I’ve ever gone around here before.” Halliday said.
“I did qualify second, but that’s not saying where I could end up tomorrow. Once we get onto the race tyre and off the qualifying tyre I think that’s going to be a different story.”
Josh Waters managed fourth on the Team Suzuki ECSTAR Australia machine with a 1:32.624.
Troy Bayliss (Desmosport Ducati Panigale FE) couldn’t match his good performance yesterday after he had a fall in this morning’s practice session and ended up with a slight hand injury. Despite the setback he rounded out the top five with a 1:32.759.
Fastest Overall Top 10 Results:
1 Aiden WAGNER (Yamaha YZF-R1) 1:32.191
2 Cru HALLIDAY (Yamaha Racing Team, Yamaha YZF-R1) 1:32.552
3 Daniel FALZON (Yamaha Racing Team, Yamaha YZF-R1) 1:32.572
4 Josh WATERS (Team Suzuki ECSTAR, Suzuki GSX-R EL R) 1:32.624
5 Troy BAYLISS (Ducati Panigale FE) 1:32.759
6 Wayne MAXWELL (Team Suzuki ECSTAR, Suzuki GSX-R EL R) 1:32.768
7 Michael JONES (Kawasaki BCperformance, Kawasaki ZX10R) 1:32.806
8 Troy HERFOSS (Penrite Honda Racing, Honda CBR RR SP) 1:33.035
9 Glenn ALLERTON (NextGen Motorsports, BMW S RR) 1:33.051
10 Bryan STARING (Kawasaki BCperformance, Kawasaki ZX10RR) 1:33.260
Nic Liminton (Yamaha Motor Aust. Yamaha YZF-R6) had the pace for the early part of the session with a 1:36.723 but it didn’t last for long. Tom Toparis (Landbridge Transport Yamaha YZF-R6) building speed over the session to post a pole time of (1:35.651), once again suggesting that barring any bad luck that he will be very hard to beat this weekend.
Toparis hinted that this weekend’s performance may not tell the whole story for the coming season.
It’s early on in the season and everyone’s on new bikes, and I think I’m quite experienced on getting on new bikes.” Toparis said.
“I think later on in the year it’s not going to be as easy with guys like Oli developing new bikes at the moment. But it’s good to start the year off with a pole and hopefully we can win some races this weekend.”
Liminton managed to lock in second from Callum Spriggs (Allsite Concrete Cutting Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:37.178) who rounded out the front row.
Oli Bayliss completed his first qualifying session as a Supersport rider in fourth with a 1:37.340, in what was a solid performance on the Cube Racing Yamaha YZF-R6.
Aidan Hayes was fifth (Hayes Johnston Pty. Ltd. Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:37.713) to complete a Yamaha top five, with the nearest challenger to the blue brand’s dominance coming from Suzuki-mounted Reid Battye (Team Suzuki Ecstar Australia, 1:37.737) in sixth.
Fastest Overall Top 10 Results:
1 Tom Toparis (Landbridge Transport Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:33.651
2 Nicholas LIMINTON (Yamaha Motor Aust. Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:36.723
3 Callum SPRIGGS (Allsite Concrete Cutting Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:37.178
4 Oli BAYLISS (Cube Racing Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:37.340
5 Aidan HAYES (Hayes Johnston Pty. Ltd. Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:37.713
6 Reid BATTYE (Suzuki Ecstar Australia, Suzuki GSX-R) 1:37.737
7 Sam LAMBERT (Mv Agusta Paramatta, MV Agusta F3) 1:37.915
8 Broc PEARSON (Yamaha YZF-R6) 1: 38.072
9 Ty LYNCH (Australian Outdoor Living, Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:38.272
10 Dylan WHITESIDE (YRD Yamaha YZF-R6) 1:38.771
Photos Cori Mitchell