Herfoss triumphs for second win of 2023

The weekend of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship at the betr Darwin Triple Crown alongside the Repco Supercars Championship has been chock-a-block full of action, both on and off the track.

The championship has taken on a completely different complexion with three rounds and six races to run as after the early season domination of Josh Waters (McMartin Racing), Troy Herfoss and his Penrite Honda has closed the gap up dramatically. After two wins and a second place, Herfoss has taken a massive bite out of the lead of Waters to take the round win and move to within eight points of the championship leader heading to round five at Morgan Park Raceway (QLD) next month.

The achievement has certainly put events from two years ago well behind the two-time Australian Superbike Champion as Herfoss climbed the winner’s dais in two races to make it two-round wins each for himself and Waters.

The drama for the second race this morning started yesterday afternoon when the team of Waters protested the legality of Herfoss’ rear suspension setup, however, nothing out of place was found and the protest was dismissed.

Race Two

In race two when the drama transferred to the track, Waters repeated his effort from yesterday to lead into turn one from Allerton, Herfoss and Jones. Unlike the day before, Halliday got a halfway decent start to be in fifth after the first lap as Waters led Jones Herfoss and Allerton across the line. Waters accelerated to a two-bike length lead but approximately 440 metres later as the quartet peeled into turn one, Waters was in too hot, had a moment and was forced to run off track allowing the following trio to inherit the lead.

Waters re-joined the race in 16th position to begin his battle through the field and lowered his lap record he set the previous day to be now 1:05.178 – just 0.116 sec off the all-time fastest lap set by Wayne Maxwell last year on the McMartin Racing Ducati. As Jones led Herfoss and Allerton, Jones and Herfoss were all over each other as Allerton faded with brake problems with Herfoss passing Jones when he ran slightly wide at the turn six hairpin.

Jones regained the lead with six laps to go but a fired-up Herfoss was not to be denied and reclaimed the lead. With just a couple of laps to go, Jones put a move on Herfoss at turn five but Herfoss pinned the throttle on the exit as the pair were side by side heading into the hairpin. In the powder keg of the final few laps, the defending champion tried everything to deny Herfoss but the Honda rider would have none of it as he rebuffed the challenge and reclaimed the lead to take the win from Jones by just 0.169 sec with Allerton a distant third a further five seconds adrift.

Halliday had a better result in race two as he finished fourth five seconds in from Waters in fifth. There were a number of personal best results through the field with Broc Pearson (DesmoSport Ducati) in sixth place putting in his best lap of the weekend on the last lap as he chased Waters. Anthony West in seventh was another improver with Arthur Sissis fighting through the pain of his still-healing broken left wrist in eight. Rounding out the top ten was Max Stauffer who at one stage was in fourth place but ran wide at turn one on the ninth lap and finished ninth and Ted Collins in tenth.

The result saw Herfoss take nine points out of Waters 24-point lead to be 15 points behind with one race to run.

The drama didn’t take a rest as immediately the bikes returned to Parc Ferme, a protest was lodged by the Penrite Honda Team against the McMartin Ducati regarding an alleged unauthorised part on the front forks of the Ducati Panigale V4 R. Due to the time of the protest and with another race to run, the protest hearing was postponed until a Post-Race Technical inspection of the McMartin machine after the final race.

Race Three

With the tit-for-tat protests it was a very tense affair heading into the final race on Sunday afternoon as the track temperature nudged 50 degrees celcius under the blazing blue skies of the Nothern Territory.

Lights out and it was on.

The field blasted down the straight and the riders were five abreast. Herfoss was on the inside, Sissis almost went into pit lane as he made his charge from the third row as Allerton cut through the middle of them with Waters beside. Allerton moved into second on the fourth gear flat-out charge to turn five but lost the front and crashed out. He managed to remount but had to reset the electronics as the bike would fire up again. The three times champion managed to restart the bike, but he re-joined the race over half a lap down in last place.

The extremely hot track temperature took away the chance of any lap records as the pace was slowed by about a second a lap, but it sure didn’t detract from the action. As they crossed the line to start lap two, Herfoss led Jones and Waters from Sissis and Staring, Stauffer and Halliday the seven riders, line astern, 1.8 seconds apart.

The usual suspects of Jones, Herfoss and Waters quickly gapped the rest, but it wasn’t long before Waters lost touch slightly to be over a second off the as the Honda and Yamaha pitched at each other in the battle for supremacy. The lead between Herfoss and Jones swapped a few times during the 16 laps, but Herfoss led across the line on every lap as Waters stayed well clear of the slipstream in an effort to keep the V4’s engine temperature down as well as aiming to have a better corner speed entry into turn one but it didn’t make any difference.

Halliday was on the charge to be up to fifth behind Sissis but as they negotiated turn one on the seventh lap Halliday attempted to go underneath Sissis on the exit, but they clashed, with Halliday coming down and tumbling to the outfield with the frightening sight of the bike hitting the back of Halliday but so fortunately he was not too badly injured. As such Staring inherited fourth and hung onto the position to improve his race two result to gain the confidence that the MotoGo Yamaha is getting closer to the front.

Jones and Herfoss took it to the wire as the Penrite Honda Team claimed win number two for the day from Jones in second and Waters third.

Broc Pearson put in a similar effort to again improve his finishing position to cross the line in fifth. Anthony West also improved for his best result of sixth, to gain some valuable points and put a smile on his face as Sissis was seventh from Stauffer, Collins and Matt Walters on his Aprilia to round out the top ten.

Last year was the turning point in the season for Jones when he took two wins and a second. Twelve months later, Herfoss did the same to well and truly bury the ghosts of two years ago and head to Morgan Park in a very strong position. It was a very heart-warming sight and quite emotional for many in parc ferme as Herfoss celebrated his win.

The next round of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship Presented by Motul takes place at Morgan Park Raceway on the 14th to 16th of July.

Sunday report by Mark Bracks, imagery by Endorphin Media

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