Maxwell does everything possible to claw back points deficit at Morgan Park
Wayne Maxwell has taken the maximum 51 points – two race victories plus the extra point for pole position- as he undertakes a desperate push to take his fourth championship in the back half of season 2022 of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championships presented by Motul.
Starting as underdog to championship leader Mike Jones who has turned many laps at the 3.0km Morgan Park venue – one he counts as his “home circuit”- Maxwell used every ounce of his talent, cunning and race craft to practically will himself to the top the podium, thereby reducing his pre round 40 point deficit to Jones by 11.
With two rounds and five races remaining in season 2022, we are set for a thrilling run to the championship finish line.
bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup Race Two
Levi Russo was missing from the grid following a crash in the warmup, giving the leaders an easier task, and it was Hudson Thompson who made the most of the opportunity from the start. It wasn’t long before a leading pack broke away, establishing a little over a second between Marcus Hamod in fifth and Ryan Larkin in sixth by the end of lap one.
As they crossed the line for the first of six laps, it was already evident that this race would be hard fought, as Harrison Watts made the move on Thompson to lead by 0.047, with less than half a second separating first from fifth.
Larkin and Alexander Codey did their best in sixth and seventh to catch the leading group, but without the tow it was very difficult work.
Cameron Rende found a way past Watts through Dunlop corner with Hamod now up to third, but it was short lived as Watts had a game plan and took the lead once more just after the line.
Three laps down the leading pack of five was three seconds ahead of the next riders, with plenty of jostling for position throughout each lap. Crossing the line to start lap four – the gap to fifth was under a third of a second.
Watts was still looking strong, taking the bulk of the time in the lead, even if it’s never more than a few corners at a time as this group was not afraid to put the moves on each other on a near-constant basis…
Starting lap five, Bodie Paige with the bright red helmet decided the time was right and took the lead down the straight, continuing to hold on for the entire lap and even over the line – holding off Watts in the tow.
Rende managed to claw his way back in to take the lead once more from Paige, setting up the move on the exit of Michelin corner to hold on through Suzuki corner and into the Yamaha chicane. But right on the back of Rende coming out of the last corner was Paige, who tucked in with a perfectly timed tow to take the win by just 0.011, barely the width of a tyre.
Rende held on to second place with Watts right behind rounding out the podium.
Michelin Supersport Race One
Pole sitter John Lytras gave up one spot after the start to Ty Lynch who was able to jump away. The alliteration friendly pair of Lynch and Lytras were away to a small, but important lead.
Lap three, Lytras found his way past Lynch and within a few corners, the white R6 was a few bike lengths off the front.
Meanwhile Tom Bramich has worked his way to the back of Jake Farnsworth who was in third place.
Suddenly, Lytras was seen stopped trackside frantically trying to restart his bike and… reboot it. “It looks like the bike turned itself off” noted commentator Steve Martin. It was a painful sight as the championship leader worked frantically to get his machine going again, as his rivals zipped past.
Just like that, Ty Lynch found himself in the lead and – at that point – very close to Lytras in the championship points. With Lytras down in 13th- but with his ears pinned back, every rider he passed meant a few points ahead in the championship. Finishing thirteenth meant that Lynch was just one point behind. An extraordinary situation.
And then it happened again. Lytras again stationary trackside with the bike showing a blue screen of nightmares. Any hope of some extra consolation points went away and suddenly Lynch found himself a few seconds up the road. The machine eventually restarted, but he was 13th and three laps down on 12th.
Meanwhile Bromich and Farnsworth were locked in a riveting arm wrestle for second. Bromich finally worked his way past and was able to get a small but decisive gap.
The last laps were by comparison quiet at that front, but Mitch Kuhne, Tom Drane and Luca Durning were fighting it out for fifth place and traded places several times before finishing in that order.
With another race to come, the first act had everything…
Lytras on the race one dramas:
“I actually lost all throttle, when it first stuffed up, I went into turn one and the bike went straight to idle so I had no throttle which is fly-by-wire, it just kept doing it throughout the race.”
Dunlop Supersport 300 Race Two
There are no gentleman’s agreements in Supersport 300. It’s all “I’m gonna get mine” and listing the lead changes is a fruitless exercise.
But we can say that it was Taiyo Aksu who led them away, but variously Jonathan Nahlous, Glenn Nelson and others appeared to lead, but the important fact was that nine riders got away to a five second lead from another group comprising seven more riders.
The leading group of Aksu, Nahlous, Liam Waters, Cameron Swain, Jonathan Nikolis, Cameron Dunker, Glenn Nelson and Hayden Nelson raced hard and fair and the slightest gap was an open invite to be passed. That’s fine, you just have to wait a few corners and repay the favour.
With two to go Aksu was late on the brakes into turn one to take the lead. It really felt like he meant business and was clearly prepping for the run to the line. Championship leader Dunker was down in fifth and while a part of the lead group, he did not appear able to press a claim for race leadership.
Last lap and Aksu led them over the line. Nahlous was inside and into the lead at turn one, Swain lurked and showed the leaders a wheel here and there, but Aksu held second place and had eyes only for leader Nahlous.
Bunching up through the final turns, it was impossible to work out who would take the minor placings- Aksu had just enough to hang on for first place, but it was Waters in second, Swain up for third, Nahlous would be disappointed to be shuffled from first down to fourth and Dunker in fifth.
At the start of the weekend, Aksu was the only rider seemingly capable of genuinely chasing Dunker for the title, and yet another Aksu win with Dunker in fifth started to make the complicated maths to take the championship lead a reality.
Alpinestars Superbike Race One
Lachlan Epis jumped away from downtown to take the lead off the line and he and Wayne Maxwell headed away. Late in the lap, Maxwell put in a pretty brutal pass and Epis went off track, rejoining in 13th and taking away any opportunity the BMW Alliance squad had for a much-needed podium finish.
Classic Maxwell. Head down, bum up and setting sail for the finish line- on lap two. With Cru Halliday now in second place and Mike Jones in third, it was the stuff of nightmares for the Yamaha Factory squad. Halliday had made it clear at the Friday presser that he wasn’t just going to give up a spot for Jones as “I need to get wins.”
But on lap six, Jones finally got past his teammate and set off for the now 2.4 seconds-ahead Wayne Maxwell.
At this point it was Maxwell, Jones, Halliday, Troy Herfoss and Bryan Staring rounding out the top five.
Herfoss saw the opportunity when Halliday had a rear wheel step out and overtook the R1 to move up to third. He too was now off in pursuit of Maxwell.
At half distance, the pressure valve blew with Cru Halliday sliding off at turn six. Jones was a lonely second, while Maxwell was a lonely but-happy first, but the gap was down to 1.7 from 2.4 seconds. Maxwell’s cunning plan to create pressure on Jones by getting out to a good lead was being brought undone as Jones played the reverse card and put the pressure back on the 2021 champion.
Lap 10- the lead was down to 1.6 seconds. Pearson had overtaken teammate Staring for fourth in his first outing aboard the DesmoSport Ducati. And while we were busy typing that, Maxwell’s lead fell to 1.4 seconds.
By lucky lap 13, it was under a second. Jones was now able to start lining-up the K-Tech Ducati Panigale and think about where he wanted to pass. “the number one machine is in trouble” said Steve Martin and while he is the expert, it was now obvious to all. As if we didn’t need anything else to add to the tension; the back markers came into play.
A 0.6 second gap on lap 14. Jones could now surely feel the heat from the Ducati exhausts and the blue R1 was now in contact with the gap now just two tenths. The time doesn’t matter. They are together as we headed into the final lap.
Tension? Yeah… all of it. Maxwell had to use everything he had in his skill bag and 20 years of top-level racing experience to just get a tiny, but vital gap. At the bottom of the circuit, he’s too good, and as they go through the last chicane, the Ducati can pretty much take it from there and he crossed the line first.
Jones was home for second with Herfoss third to round out a podium of past winners at Morgan Park.
Broc Pearson brought home his Ducati in a startling and better-than-expected fourth place, ahead of teammate Staring in fifth, Glenn Allerton in sixth, a valiant ride from Epis, working his way into seventh, Arthur Sissis in eighth, in ninth Jed Metcher and Max Stauffer rounded out the top ten.
Yamaha Finance R3 Cup Race Two
Cameron Dunker was swallowed off the line down to fourth by turn one while Liam Waters had a great start into first.
Aksu down one spot to sixth was the one to watch on the back of three wins this weekend already.
The field was tight as they settled into the race, after one lap there was barely a gap of half a second.
Glenn Nelson took advantage of the slipstream onto the main straight to take second place with sights set on Waters ahead.
The next lap, Glenn Nelson made the move on Waters at the back end of the lap, but lost the spot again on the straight – Waters and Cameron Swain both coming through.
On lap three, Aksu made his way through, up to third and looking strong. By the final chicane, Aksu was right on the back of Swain and cruised by on the main straight to take the lead – setting back of back-to-back fastest laps in the process.
Swain wasn’t done, taking the position back from Aksu but it didn’t last – only a few corners later Swain crashed out of the lead while trying to battle with Aksu. Swain was okay but that was his race done.
Into lap five and Aksu looked to build on the lead, now out to 0.35 and holding out now comfortably from Waters on the straight.
As the leading pack settled in for a few laps, there was a great little scrap happening from ninth down to 13th with Henry Snell holding out the pack, separated by less than a second.
Waters, not to be outdone, got the head down and reeled Aksu in, taking the lead on lap seven, holding off a charge from Aksu at turn one on the start of the final lap.
Marianos Nikolis has worked his way up into a potential podium, fighting with Dunker with the Nelson duo in fifth and sixth.
Heading into the final chicane Waters set himself up with a clean exit to hold on and win by 0.143, while Aksu had to defend a fiery Nikolis, who very nearly pipped second on the line.
In the midfield, a trio of Jack Favelle, Snell and Jonathan Nahlous hit the line three-wide separated by just 0.051 with Favelle taking a hard fought ninth.
bLU cRU Oceania Junior Cup Race Three
Levi Russo made the grid this time out and with a solid start held the lead into turn one.
In the usual OJC fashion the lead group exchange the lead numerous times throughout the first lap and by the end of lap one it was Harrison Watts leading Bodie Paige with Hudson Thompson and Russo in third and fourth.
From second place on lap two, Thompson made a mistake at the entry to Suzuki corner ending his race early, losing the front under brakes into the right hander.
A bit of a gap emerged as the leading group reacted to the collapse of Thompson, but by the start of lap four it was all back to the usual tight racing with Paige leading the way.
Marcus Hamod and Paige battled throughout lap four exchanging the lead, with Cameron Rende, Watts and Russo keeping them honest.
In the midfield, a second group was tucked closely together led by Hunter Corner with another five bikes, all within half a second of each other.
Into the final lap, Rende takes the lead, but we’ve seen time and time again that it means almost nothing if you can’t find a good half-second gap before the tow kicks in onto the main straight.
A mistake by Hamod, drifting out onto the grass, gave Watts a great little gap coming into the Yamaha chicane. The gap was about 0.25 but it wasn’t enough and Watts was completely swamped heading across the line.
The timing board showed Rende the winner by 0.73 over Watts and Paige in third 0.05 behind Watts, and it took a video review to confirm the result. Hamod did well to hold onto fourth after his excursion on the grass, holding out Russo in fifth.
The second pack came across the line eight seconds adrift of the leaders, with Ryan Larkin taking sixth from Sam Drane, and only 0.577 splitting sixth from tenth.
Michelin Supersport Race Two
The mood on the grid of race two of today’s supersport race was tense. After his 13th placed, three-laps-down race one, John Lytras and his team were understandably nervous after his nightmare race one where his bike cut out twice, costing him any chance of victory.
It was Ty Lynch who jumped away and led the field into turn one, with a rejuvenated and focused Lytras in pursuit. The leading pair would do exactly that, and after a few laps they would get out to a multi-second lead, with Tom Bramich in third, but losing contact.
Jake Farnsworth crashed out in turn one, while fourth through seventh diced for position. This group of Rhys Belling, Tom Drane, Luca Durning and Scott Nicholson would stay in contact with each other until the race-end.
Lytras meanwhile had moved past Lynch and by lap eight, he was out to a 1.7 second lead, with a 14 second gap back to third placed Bramich.
At lap 12, Lytras just needed to stay upright, and for the bike to stay happy. There were no signs of the electrical gremlins that had plagued him in race one. With a near-five-second lap, he was inevitable.
Lynch had served up everything he had, but Lytras sought and received some redemption for his issues in race one and crossed the line some 6.2 seconds back to Lynch with Bramich third and then the Drane (4th) led bunch finished together with Nicholson (5th), Belling (6th), Durning (7th) and Troy Guenther (8th).
Dunlop Supersport 300 Race Three
The final race of the weekend for the Supersport 300 crew was always going to be tense. Championship leader Cameron Dunker was blessed because despite his results not being quite where he needed them to be, his main rivals were either absent or not at the front either.
Taiyo Aksu was the standout rider of the weekend, but starting the weekend fifth in the championship meant that the challenge to get to the top of the standings was rather large
So at the jump it was Aksu again leading from Liam Waters and Glenn Nelson. On this occasion the leading group consisted of ten riders, and they would stay close for the duration of the 10-lap journey.
Variously, Marianos Nikolis and Waters lead the race, with Aksu unhappily in third, trying everything to stay in contact and work his way back to the lead. Cameron Swain sat happily in fourth, content to let the leading trio trade the lead- and fairing paint- while he waited to pounce.
Aksu found himself back in the lead by lap six and managed the impossible- a small gap to the pursuing pack. The pack called for a brief ceasefire, realising that their common enemy was off the front.
Jonathan Nahlous was able to catch and pass Aksu for 2-3 corners, before Aksu would once again take the lead. Nahlous and Aksu swapped the lead several times before Swain tired of the Nahlous/Aksu show back in fourth and took the race lead on lap nine.
The final lap board came out, and Nahlous took the lead into turn one. Swain passed him back, while Aksu worked back up to second. With the corners running out, Swain led from Aksu and Nahlous.
Aksu took the lead with a few corners to go and tried to sneak to the line. Swain had the perfect sit and like a pro cycling sprinter, pulled out of the slipstream to take his first win in Supersport 300 by 3/100th of a second.
Alpinestars Superbike Race Two
It was Mike Jones with the holeshot in race two with Maxwell tucking in behind. Bryan Staring was into third, with Lachlan Epis (4th) and Cru Halliday (5th).
It was apparent even after lap one that Jones was looking to pop off the front to avoid any shenanigans with second placed on track and second in the championship Wayne Maxwell.
But Maxwell was having none of that, pushing back into the slipstream and immediately looking to pounce. While the Ducati has the horses, as the late Ken Wootton said of a younger Jones “he has the biggest brake rotors in the paddock” and there was no out braking the R1 into turn one.
After three laps, there was plenty of tension but little passing as the riders seemingly settled in. Troy Herfoss moved up into fourth, while Staring made contact with the leading duo and the two Ducatis started to stalk the lone blue Yamaha.
Herfoss set off after the leaders and thanks to relentless fast laps, by lap five it was a four-man race with Jones, Maxwell, Staring and Herfoss within a second of each other.
Further down, Broc Pearson was leading Epis, Halliday, Arthur Sissis and Glenn Allerton as they tried to work their way to the leading quartet.
In the space of three corners, Herfoss worked his way from fourth into second place “like carving up backmarkers” according to commentator Steve Martin.
While we were collectively distracted by Herfoss, Maxwell had taken the lead into turn one after a solid draft and late braking move.
Staring fell away slightly, while teammate Pearson began to catch the leaders. Gary Crilly from Pirelli was interviewed and noted that Herfoss was the only rider in the leading group who had gone with the softer tyre option. As that was happening, Herfoss took the lead.
But by lap 11, Jones had taken the lead from Herfoss while Maxwell was shuffled back to third. Pearson was now the fastest man on circuit and Jones was trying to pull away from the hungry Herfoss and Maxwell.
Pundits began to speculate on Herfoss’ tyre life while Jones just pushed out to a near one second lead on lap 12. Pearson was now on the back of Staring and the decision by DesmoSport to offer the rookie Superbike rider a seat mid-season began to look like a very clever move.
Into the last laps and it was Jones, but now he had Maxwell back with him at just 0.3 behind. Pearson passed Herfoss as Staring did the same- confusing many and the two Ducati teammates began sizing each other up for the final podium spot. The soft tyre option for Herfoss was now starting to go away from him and he dropped seconds a lap to the leaders.
Into the final lap, with Maxwell, just 0.1 behind at various points. Further back, the Ducatis diced and then in an incredible turn around, Maxwell found a way through the #46 Yamaha and Jones immediately had a huge moment that nearly ended off track. It was an unbelievable finish.
Maxwell takes the maximum 51 points, Jones continues to lead, Pearson has arrived and there’s just two rounds to go…
Yamaha Finance R3 Cup Race Three
A lightning start from Liam Waters could only be bettered by the one and only Taiyo Aksu who continued to show his weekend form, moving from fifth to second and right on the tail of Waters.
At the start of lap three, Aksu made the move on Waters to take the lead, but nothing is a given here and there were seven bikes behind all in the mix.
The final race of the weekend had given these riders countless laps to figure out the right race plan and setting up the chicane exit onto the main straight looked a crucial element of any good race.
By lap five, Cameron Swain was looking to pull the trigger, taking the lead well before the main straight, only to hand it straight back to Aksu and Waters.
The movement within the leading pack of eight was constant and countless while seven seconds up the road was essentially the other half of the field with Cooper Rowntree at the head of ninth to 15th split by less than a second.
Into lap seven it was Hayden Nelson looking to make the big moves, up into second as they headed to the line, with Swain falling to seventh.
Waters lead the final lap with Aksu and Marianos Nikolis close behind.
Aksu went for a move on Waters but couldn’t hold on to it, and it looked like that could be a good thing heading into the chicane- the tow awaited.
But Waters managed a clean-as-you-like exit out of the final corner and somehow managed to hold off the attack from Aksu, staying just ahead by 0.047 to take the race and overall weekend win.
Nikolis held on for a well fought third place ahead of Cameron Dunker with less than a second back to eighth.
To come away with 51 points at probably my worst track on the calendar… I’ve surprised myself. The boys in the team worked really hard to give us a package that worked. We had really good consistency and pace. In the first race I suffered a little bit physically but in the second race I was a lot stronger and able to fight it out right to the end with Mike.
It’s a very narrow window with that bike with the balance with the weight from front to rear, so that’s what we really work on recently and that’s what’s given me the confidence to win races.
Well Mike has to continue to finish second and he’ll get home but there’s a lot of racing to be had and there’s a lot of guys that are getting pretty keen… Bryan’s super strong at Phillip Island… so anything’s possible it is racing. We haven’t had a wet race yet, we’re probably due for one of those and we’ll just see how it goes.
I obviously wanted to win the races, I said that yesterday… to get beaten it’s not a great feeling, you come here, your goal is to win, and when you don’t achieve that then obviously you’re disappointed.
The flip side of that, I have to be happy because I’m still leading the Championship, if you look at the performance from the weekend, I feel like I gave my best at all times, and was actually really quite strong, just Wayne was able to pip me there and have enough right at the very end. Compared to the rest of the field, we’re still very strong and I feel great on the Yamaha.
My understanding is that we are intending to go and do it (MotoGP round of superbikes at Phillip Island) and we still are. It should give us a bit of a chance to get some more setup time on that particular circuit ahead of our actual ASBK Championship round later there in November.
All in all a reasonable weekend. It only really came together in race two – that was the first time I felt like I could let my wings out a little bit. I’m happy to end up third, but after race one and after qualifying, third overall for the weekend is pretty good even if we had hoped to be slightly better than that… Unfortunately lost a bit of gap to Wayne for second in the Championship, but as he just said, there’s plenty of races to come.
I was kinda just at the back of that group for most of it, and mostly just dying to hang in there. I wasn’t a huge part of the action in the fight for the actual battle… I still rode a good race, the last part of it I didn’t quite have the speed that the other guys had to bring it home but it was a good result in third.
The main aim is to finish every race, like he still finished the first race but that’s a big hit in the points for him. It’s a long season.
It’s been one of our strong points this year, just getting of the line is half your race really, got a good jump and then I just tried to run with Lytras the whole race. Got about eight laps in and I just ran out of tyre and ran out of steam and that was it.
Phillip Island and The Bend for me is a strong point for me and we’ve done a lot of testing at The Bend over the last four or five months. It will be interesting to see how he performs there, he’s actually turned it up this part of the season – he struggled a little bit at the start and he’s really starting to come on strong.