Round 4 of the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship took place on August 7-9 at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway. It was arguably the biggest Sunday crowd assembled at the Western Sydney motorsport complex for a national motorcycle event. They were not disappointed with the jam packed program.
The AMCN Superstock 600 class has been one of the most hotly contested categories in the paddock all season. This weekend was no different.
After completing a successful test at the 3.93km circuit, Cru Halliday was well prepared and determined to bridge the point’s gap to Championship leader Rick Olsen.
Hungry for his first win in the ASBK Championship, Cru wasted little time posting consistent lap times in the 1:37’s during practice. Cru dominated the early stages of first qualifying and didn’t look as though he was going to be challenged. Late in the session Rick Olsen laid down a blistering time of 1:37.008 and moved to the top of time sheets. With the Championship so tight it was important to get the one point awarded for qualifying in pole position. Cru returned to the circuit after a quick visor change and attempted to better Rick’s time. On his first flying lap out of the pits he did a 1:37.048. just 0.040 off Rick’s time.
With the light fading Cru continued on for a second lap. In hindsight a bad plan! He unfortunately missed his breaking marker for turn one and went a bit too deep and to hot and crashed at over 200km/h. It was his first ever road racing crash. Thankfully due to the quick response and professional care of the Suzuki Race Safe team he was set to continue racing with only minor injuries.
On Saturday Cru’s team transferred his Dunlop D209 GP Racer control tyres to his number two bike and he was ready to go again. He put the Friday afternoon incident behind him and got straight back down to business in second qualifying. After taking a few laps to ensure his number two bike was set up perfectly, he got straight back into the 1:37’s. Unfortunately the 36’s eluded him and he was unable to better his Q1 time.
Race one got underway in similar conditions to Friday’s qualifying, poor visability, late on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately a number of riders crashed in the first turn with many being taken to hospital, the race was abandoned and postponed until Sunday morning.
Sunday morning’s restart provided another example of Cru’s blindingly fast starts. He led the field around turn one and two. On the approach to turn three his race came to a premature end as he lost the front, pushing too hard trying to fend off his aggressive competition. As if to display how evenly matched Rick Olsen and Cru are, Rick demonstrated synchronised crashing. He went down in the same spot at the same time.
Cru’s second bike was now badly damaged with the teams spares limited. Fortunately his two bikes went down on opposite sides. The team acted immediately. They assessed the damage as it was pushed back to the pit garage; with little time between races they had a massive task ahead. Working non stop they chose to rebuild his number one bike from the Friday incident. Cannibalising the number two bike they were able to make one good bike out of two. Both bikes will now have to go to Greg from GMD Computrack to make sure they are straight. Thanks go to Chris Beck for lending us some race glass and Ian Irving for sourcing us a master cylinder.
With Rick going down and the remaining riders only receiving half points, due to the race being red flagged three times, the championship standings were still close. Cru was able to keep his spirits high as he prepared for race two.
Race two and three saw Rick Olsen and Cru Halliday battling to the end. The pair taking a win and a 2nd each. Mitchell Pirrotta kept them honest in the second race and battled hard for his 3rd position. In race three, Cru took the early lead. He and Rick battled hard trading places during the race. When Cru got back in front, Rick stayed glued to his tail piece even hitting Cru’s back wheel at one point. Unfazed, Cru kept his head down. His powerful late braking skills were too much for the #3 rider. As they rounded the final corner Cru’s timing was perfect and he broke the slip stream instantly, catching Rick by surprise. They both tucked deep under their YZF-R6 screens with Cru leading Rick over the line by .040 of a second, coincidently, the same margin that Rick had over Cru in qualifying.
“Rick and I were so close all weekend. I was kicking myself when I went down in the first race. My team were absolutely amazing. Watching them all pitch in and work so hard to get my bike ready for race two inspired me to do well and really lifted my spirits. My arm was a little sore, but I had to ride through it to repay them for all there hard work this weekend.
“I also want to thank everyone that lent me parts after my crash. The Quinn brothers, Chris Beck, Amy Omara. Marty Dowd in particular.”