After the postponement of the opening round at Phillip Island last month, Yamaha Racing was more than excited to get back trackside to start the 2021 season at Winton Raceway for the opening round of the Mi-Bike Australian Superbike Championship.The Winton circuit always throws up some challenges at riders and teams with its technical layout and always changing weather. The opening two days were warm and sunny before a cold front came through on Saturday afternoon that saw the rain came and track temps fall. Fortunately, race morning dawned sunny and clear but noticeably colder.
Yamaha had a staggering 73% of bikes on the grid, across all five major classes, for the opening round and again signifies Yamaha Australia’s massive investment in racing in Australia.
To watch the Yamaha bLU cRU round review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc2hdjHD2uQ
It was a roller coaster round for the Yamaha Racing Team riders of Cru Halliday and Aiden Wagner. Things started of in good shape on Friday as the team ran through a range of different settings to get the YZF- R1M’s dialled in to the circuit.
Qualifying changed things when the temperature dropped, and track conditions changed drastically. Cru Halliday was able to pilot his YFZ-R1M to fifth place on the grid while Aiden Wagner finished up in ninth.
Race one saw both riders in the mix and challenging for positions in the early going. Halliday was able to claw his way to fourth place by lap nine and then gained another position right at the finish when Troy Herfoss went down in the final corner allowing him to finish in third and take the final spot on the podium for the opening race of the season.
Wagner also applied himself well and came through from tenth in the opening laps to finish in sixth and get his season off to a very respectable start.
Unfortunately, luck turned on both riders in the second race of the round with Wagner going down early and unable to remount, while a restart was called after another rider fell in a dangerous section of track.
Wagner is battered and bruised but otherwise okay and will be back for the Wakefield Park round.
The restart was better for Halliday as he was in fifth and looking to move up, only to have a rear brake issue that saw him spear off course. He re-entered the track in 12th place and was able to claw back four spots to finish a frustrating eighth place. His 3-8 results netted him seventh for the day with the between fourth and eighth extremely tight.
“It was a frustrating round for both riders,” comments John Redding. “Each time we seemed to get some momentum; it came to a halt. Both riders kept fighting and showed heart, so hopefully there are better times ahead.”
One positive to come from the weekend was the riding of Yamaha support riders, Arthur Sissis and Jed Metcher. Both showed good pace over the weekend and combined with the YRT efforts, Yamaha leads the manufacturers championship in the Superbike class over Ducati and Kawasaki.
It was the Tom and Broc show in the 600cc Supersport event with both riders going handlebar to handlebar in two fiercely contested races over the weekend. Each time, Tom Edwards and Broc Pearson would clear out from the pack and wage a personal dual all the way to the finish. In what was somewhat justice, both riders split race wins, but the 1 point Edwards received for pole position gave him the nod for the round victory.
In third place came Max Stauffer, making it an all Yamaha podium. Stauffer finished with 4-3 results and couldn’t quite run the pace of the pair out front, but it is a good confidence booster for the young charger as he gains more experience in the 600cc class.
300cc Supersport / R3 Cup
Carter Thompson made all posts a winner at Winton where he nearly had the perfect weekend. Across his six races, three in 300cc SS and three in R3 Cup, Thompson managed to win five, with the only blemish coming in race two of the R3 Cup where he finished second.
Behind Carter in the 300cc Supersport was Ben Baker who claimed a very consistent 2-2-2 result while Tom Drane went 3-3-3 for third.
In the R3 Cup, Carter again got the best of Baker, with Caleb Gilmore in third.
The pocket rockets again took to the track and charged around like an angry swarm of bees. The equal nature of a class like this usually means rider consistency is tough to achieve but Cameron Swain proved a cut above the rest winning all three races on his way to a round win.
Nate O’Neill chimed in for second place with his 7-2-2 finishes while Harrison Watts claimed third.
“The round was a busy one for Yamaha riders and winning four of the five major classes, it can only be seen as a success,” Redding continues. “Congratulations to all Yamaha and YRD supported riders and look for continued success at the next round at Wakefield Park in April,” he ends.