ASBK ’23: Halliday Shines Under Lights, Condon Set For Dominance
Fortune, good night; smile once more, turn thy wheel – Shakespeare.
The afternoon session at an ASBK event on any given Friday usually sees the media crew considering a bar about 4pm, but for 2023 at SMSP we’re barely at the halfway point of the day’s on track action.
Expectations were high and the field delivered in spades. You had to be there. (there’s still time to be there for tomorrow)
The early sessions were a seesawing affair and while Josh Waters was certainly up there, the predicted dominance of the McMartin Panigale V4R had failed to materialise. The YRD Yamaha R1Ms of Cru Halliday and Mike Jones had turned up to do some serious business.
And so it was into Practice 3. The early running was all blue bikes with Halliday and Jones at the top- in that order. Waters was able to will himself to the top with a 1:30.382, but Mike Jones bettered that fairly quickly, posting a 1:30.247 to take the top spot. Halliday lurked thereabouts in third, just .173 behind his teammate while Staring was up to fourth, and a determined-to-qualify-better Arthur Sissis was fifth.
At eighteen minutes to go, Waters reclaimed the top spot once again, but was not in the 1:29s per the earlier sessions in the day. The track was at 39c, and one thing we had noted at the test in February was that the Ducati did not fall away in terms of performance the hotter it got. Would that hold now we were here to race for sheep stations?
At 14 minutes to go, there was a ceasefire of sorts with half the field and most of the front runners in the pits.
But their return to the track was quite a thing.
Halliday dropped the fastest lap on two wheels ever at the SMSP complex, banging out a 1:29.003. A few minutes later he was on track to do it again only this time hammered the Yamaha into the shape of a 1:28.895 to send the loudest, clearest message to the assembled audience; Cru Halliday is a very, very serious contender.
Behind Halliday, Jones had dipped to a once-amazing-but-now-ho-hum 1:29.497 while Josh Waters (3rd) 1:29.573 suddenly made the Ducati seem vulnerable.
Staring ended the session fourth, Herfoss was fifth with Glenn Allerton in sixth.
The rest of the top ten consisted of Collins (7th), Sissis (8th), Stauffer (9th) and Pearson (10th).
And we weren’t even into qualifying yet.
- Cru Halliday – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:28.895
- Mike Jones – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:29.497
- Josh Waters – Ducati Panigale V4 R – 1:29.573
- Bryan Staring – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:30.195
- Troy Herfoss – Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP – 1:30.602
The second most important non-racing session of the weekend kicked off at 8:30pm in both darkness and bright artificial light, with the top 12 set to go through to Qualifying 2. Josh Soderland didn’t even complete a lap on his Ducati before getting black-flagged for not having a red taillight.
There was a bit of settling and probing from the riders in the early part of the session which saw Jones lead from Herfoss and Stauffer. Halliday was late to the party, so too Allerton and Staring.
Dunlop Motorsport Manager Robbie Bugden watched from the sidelines as his qualifying record of 1:29.842 looked under serious threat. Chin up Robbie, you had a good run.
With 10 minutes remining, Halliday and Staring took to the circuit, while Josh Waters quietly went to P1 with a 1:29.071 and somewhere Robbie Bugden accepted the inevitability of the latest machinery and riders running down all the old records.
Seven minutes left and given how exciting the final practice was, this was a somewhat less exciting session as tactics played out slowly as the time ran down. A place in the top 12 was the only goal to progress into the final qualifying session of the night.
Most pitted, leaving Max Stauffer alone on the circuit chasing a top-five result. We were still in a Waters/ Jones/Halliday situation with no 1:28s posted while the clock just ran down.
For those on the bump spot, it was on. Matt Walters (11th) pushed hard on his Aprilia, Paris Hardwick was also pressing on for a spot in the final session and Josh Soderland set for an early night.
The fun and games of Q1 were done. The real game was now set as Q2 approached.
- Josh Waters – Ducati Panigale V4 R – 1:29.071
- Mike Jones – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:29.903
- Cru Halliday – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:30.065
- Troy Herfoss – Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP – 1:30.496
- Bryan Staring – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:30.513
The most hotly anticipated qualifying session in some time hit the track right on 9pm with 22c air temp and 27c track temp. Speculation in the media centre was high as predictions about who would be where flew left and right. (For the record, Troy Guenther from CycleOnline was closest to the pin)
Halliday was ALL business from the jump, banking a 1:29.750 for his first flyer. Teammate Jones was quickly into P2 with Allerton banking a P3 spot early as he’s fast and clever.
Halliday went faster again on his second flyer with a 1:29.347, Mike Jones hit a 1:29.672. Troy Herfoss dipped into the 29s as it was time to bring your A-game.
Halliday pitted. Nine minutes left.
Waters was down in fourth with Allerton and Staring chasing. None of these three were yet to get into the 1:29s; the exclusive domain of the top three.
Jones and Herfoss both pitted.
Staring was now the only rider in the top six still on track. Pearson was yet to bank a flyer.
Five minutes to go and the fast guys re-emerged. Halliday was first out, Waters joined him while Herfoss and Jones decided to wait.
Pearson moved up to 8th while Waters slipped to fifth Behind Staring. Halliday found traffic and could not get a fast lap done. Guest commentator Troy Corser was talking Josh Waters up- and the Mildura lad delivered with a 1:29.227 for provisional pole.
One minute left and Herfoss could not move any further forward. Jones was on a flyer and was threatening to drop a 1:28 something. While it was a 1:29.019 and not in the 1:28s, it was still the fastest time of the session.
Jones had maybe 10 seconds in pole position before teammate Halliday delivered on all the promises he’d shown all day and hit a 1:28.970 to take pole.
The chequered flag came out and the last times were banked, but nothing changed. Halliday was the deserved pole sitter and immediately our thoughts turn to tomorrow’s two races…
- Cru Halliday – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:28.970
- Mike Jones – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:29.019
- Josh Waters – Ducati Panigale V4 R – 1:29.020
- Troy Herfoss – Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP – 1:29.710
- Bryan Staring – Yamaha YZF R1 M – 1:29.837
Qualifying One for Supersport saw Jake Farnsworth post the fastest first flyer that was immediately answered by Sean Condon who posted a 1:33.706 to let the field know that he was absolutely the man to beat this weekend.
And after three flying laps, Jack Passfield was the man for the task, dropping the fastest time for the session to 1:33.253 and announcing that whatever Condon had, he was ready to go.
…but Condon would not be denied. He immediately replied with a faster time and right at the bell he further dropped the fastest time to a 1:32.509 and none would be able to better that time. Indeed Condon was some .704 faster than Passfield, leaving the field to ponder what the race will look like.
The battle between Condon and Passfield overshadowed the chasers with Lynch some 1.029 behind Condon in third with Jake Farnsworth in fourth.
Hayden Nelson and Cameron Dunker jumped up the order with both Supersport 300 graduates rapidly improving to push Supersport regulars down the order.
This saw Dallas Skeer (7th), Olly Simpson (8th), John Lytras (9th) and Tom Bramich back in tenth.
An interesting – to say the very least- evening session awaits us.
Sean Condon again took the Supersport category by the scruff of the neck and posted a time (1:32.509) some .744 faster than second-placed Jack Passfield and over a second faster than third-placed and championship leader Ty Lynch.
At eleven minutes to go, a red flag brought the night session to a halt after Jack Passfield went down and his bike ended up on circuit. Passfield was up and about, but the second-placed rider would take no further part in the session, leaving a yawning chasm betwixt top-placed Condon and nearest threat Ty Lynch.
The return session brought little by way of excitement, Condon choosing to stay in the garage while Luca Durning provided a moment of interest, being the first rider black-flagged in ASBK history for not displaying a red taillight during a night session.
..and so it was. Condon took the extra point and the pole award for Supersport and sits squarely in the box seat for tomorrow’s races.
- Sean Condon – Yamaha YZF R6 – 1:32.509
- Jack Passfield – Yamaha YZF R6 – 1:33.253
- Ty Lynch – Yamaha YZF R6 – 1:33.538