Eazi Grip

Australian Superbikes weekend report from Darwin


The escape to the warmth of Darwin for many of the southern-based teams comes at the ideal time. Racing on the same card as the always-professional Supercars is also a treat for the fans and riders alike. The three-race format (see triple crown!) brings a level of gravitas like no other event as we step from a maximum of 51 points on offer to 76.

The Triple Crown format has some added side effects. Race One is on the Saturday so Friday is no longer the “just feel it out” day. Across all three practice sessions today there was a genuine feeling of urgency and importance like no other Friday. Lose a day here from poor setup choices, and you’ll find yourself at the track on Saturday morning with a lot to do and no time to do it.

For the riders and teams who have had success here, it was a case of roll the bike out, set it up for the usual Darwin conditions (33c, sunny, rising track temperatures across the day) and be at the end of pit lane just as ASBK official Brendan Ferrari waves the green flag for the first session.

Due to increased safety measures and the expected event staff familiarisation process, free practice one was delayed by ten minutes and then shortened to 25 minutes. If there was a sense of urgency before, it was heightened immediately.

Early on it was Eazi-Grip supported Bryan Staring abord the frankly stunning indigenous-round-liveried DesmoSport Ducati who banked the fastest lap. Staring looked- and sounded afterward- very comfortable aboard the 2021 race winning team bike. Staring bristled at suggestions that he was losing touch with the leading pair of Maxwell and Jones and his early form- and indeed pace across the day- indicates that the Western Australian is well in the hunt not only for the top step this weekend, but genuine championship contention.

Keeping Wayne Maxwell down is like stopping a Labrador puppy from jumping on you. Incorrigible. The 2021 champion has a theory- and we all know it, and he’s done it for years- post a ludicrously fast time and make the other riders work for it. Sure enough, he nailed the fasted time in FP1 and then left it to Staring and Mike Jones to duke it out for second and third respectively.

Mike Jones would not be denied. A few clever changes in both bike setup and mindset saw the familiar Yamaha hit the top of the table for FP2 and indeed bank the fastest lap of the day. While FP2 didn’t provide conditions as conducive to fast laps as FP1, the reality was the riders found a little more and all progressed. For FP2 it was Jones- who not only managed a race simulation, but then went to a softer tyre and banged out a succession of fastest laps. One rider confided afterward; “This weekend is his for the taking”.

Maxwell and Staring rounded out the top three for FP2.

Bryan Staring cleverly countered the Jones phenom by getting out early in Free Practice 3 and posting a fast time to again challenge the field to “come at me”. The track temperature was now fifty-hell-no and after a few solid sessions from everything from Supercars to Porsches and Hyundai Excels, the track had “gone away”. Bryan Staring would later admit he wasn’t sure if it was the cars or the temperature that had slowed things, but it was certainly not as fast as it was earlier in the day.

And while earlier sessions had been all about lap times and tuning, the early running in FP3 was apparently “who would like to crash?” with a multitude of riders – mercifully largely uninjured- finding themselves off track. Josh Waters, Luke Macdonald, Marc Chiodo and Ant West all crashed, and it was clear that there was a high level of pressure and expectation.

The day ended with combined times giving the nod to Jones from Maxwell and Staring. A much-improved Glenn Allerton – in his 100th ASBK event – found some time hidden deep in the M1000RR followed by Yamaha’s Cru Halliday who ought to be pleased with yet another consistent performance.

Former Darwin race winner, Honda’s Troy Herfoss and on-the-improve Arthur Sissis were sixth and seventh, with Lachlan Epis keen to make up for lost time in eighth, Daniel Falzon in ninth and Josh Waters down in tenth after his crash in FP3.



1 46 Mike JONES (QLD) / Yamaha Racing Team Yamaha YZF-R1 1:05.506

2 1 Wayne MAXWELL (VIC) / Boost Mobile Racing with K-tech / AMA / Ipone / Pirelli / McMartin Racing Ducati V4R 1:05.591

3 67 Bryan STARING (WA) / Desmosport Ducati Ducati V4R 1:05.772

4 14 Glenn ALLERTON (NSW) / Maxima Racing Oils / Film BMW BMW M RR 1:05.812

5 65 Cru HALLIDAY (NSW) / Yamaha Racing Team Yamaha YZF-R1 1:05.866

6 17 Troy HERFOSS (QLD) / Penrite Honda Racing Honda CBR RR 1:06.094

7 61 Arthur SISSIS (SA) / Unitech Racing / Remo Contractors / SA Profiling / Aus Crush & Recyclers Yamaha YZF-R1 1:06.120

8 83 Lachlan EPIS (NSW) / BMW Alliance Racing BMW S RR 1:06.292

9 25 Daniel FALZON (SA) / William Adams CAT Yamaha YZF-R1 1:06.320

10 21 Josh WATERS (VIC) / Maxima Racing Oils / Film BMW / Broadspring Consulting Pty Ltd / Visit Mildura BMW M RR 1:06.398



It could be the heat. It could be the 76 points on offer for a perfect score. It could be the fact that we’re (pretty much) at the halfway point of the season. It most definitely was related to the arm-wrestle for leadership of the championship, but the qualifying sessions for the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown were one of the best and most exciting sessions seen in many years.

While the early session just saw top riders do enough to avoid missing Q2, for the second session the top 12 riders in the country put on a show worthy of the large crowd who were in attendance.

Mike Jones did enough in Q1 to ensure he would be there for Q2, whereas Wayne Maxwell did a Wayne Maxwell and of course topped the sheets when that was not required.

But when it really mattered in the second qualifying session, Jones got down to business and hit a 1:05.411 that he followed a while later with a 1:05.333 and then a fastest-for the-weekend 1:05.213.

While it wasn’t into the 1:04s that various pundits had predicted, the feeling in the paddock was that Maxwell would need to keep it together and his early qualifying laps- that included a short off circuit excursion- indicated that perhaps the reigning champion would not be able to have a solid dip in the last few minutes.

And then everyone else had a dip. With a few minutes to go a glance at the timing monitors was eye popping as a multitude of riders mid-lap were dipping into the fastest lap, lap record and personal best territory.

As has been often the case, the longest and hardest sector- three- would be the undoing of many.

…except for Wayne Maxwell, who just pushed through to take not only the pole position, but get into the 1:04s, the qualifying record time and – but for Mike Jones’ emphatic race simulation times on Friday- warm favouritism for the opening race.



1 #1 Wayne MAXWELL (VIC) / Boost Mobile Racing with K-tech / AMA / Ipone / Pirelli / McMartin Racing Ducati V4R 1:04.962 7 of 10 286

2 #46 Mike JONES (QLD) / Yamaha Racing Team Yamaha YZF-R1 1:05.213 6 of 10 .251 .251 277

3 #67 Bryan STARING (WA) / Desmosport Ducati Ducati V4R 1:05.330 8 of 11 .368 .117 281

Race 1

Motorsport is rarely a sport associated with romance. That concept is oft the domain of athletics and horseracing and not sports with so much noise and colour.

But one could not ignore the romance of Troy Herfoss fighting his way out- not only from sixth place on the grid- but out of a Darwin Hospital where he was 12 months ago to the day after his worst ever crash- a crash that many thought would see the end of his career.

That Mike Jones was out front reeling off lap after consistent lap was impressive- and frankly might be the start of a critical and definitive run to the 2022 Championship- but it was hard to get past not only the Herfoss result, but also the battle that he and Bryan Staring had to get to the line.

The race started off at the expected frenetic pace with the magnificent DesmoSport Ducati in its one-off indigenous livery, firing off the line from third into first for turn one. Bryan Staring wisely didn’t go too deep into the opening turn and that spooked then-second placed Arthur Sissis who had also had a huge start from seventh.

After leading for five laps, Staring found himself second to the number 46 Yamaha after Mike Jones decided that he had the pace and tyres to go to the line. As soon as he hit the lead, Jones focused on smooth, consistent laps and eked out a small, but noticeable gap.

While it was not immediately obvious to anyone off track, early in the race, 2021 Champion Wayne Maxwell was in trouble. His electronics were not on song, and he was losing power and drive in places where there was no need to drop power. Riders around him pounced as the big Ducati popped and burped its way around the Hidden Valley layout. Fourth in race one was a good outcome given the circumstances.

Glenn Allerton had been relegated from eight to tenth after a track limits breach in qualifying and apparently that situation had fired him up as he took the BMW M1000RR from tenth to fourth. In his 100th ASBK round, Allerton was not in the mood for a mid-pack finish. Glenn found himself in a group that were all looking to work their way back into podium contention and while he was unable to get by Maxwell, fifth on the day was a good outcome on a weekend where the Maxima Oils Racing Team appear to be making significant steps forward.

Allerton’s teammate Josh Waters also had a great start but some timing glitches with his transponder made it difficult to establish just exactly how he was going. For all the issues with his timing, he did in fact nail the fastest lap of the race with a 1:05.499 and after a difficult Friday eighth was not what he wanted, but there are good signs for the rest of his weekend.

Cru Halliday had a poor start and went from sixth to eighth. While he would work his way past a few riders, on the day the best he could manage was a return to sixth by the checkered flag.

For the leading group, it was all panning out to Mike Jones’ liking as he stretched his lead a little each lap. Herfoss had passed Maxwell and while you could not see his face, the attitude of the Honda and Herfoss’ body language showed he was absolutely looking to bridge the multi second gap to Staring.

And he did. With just two laps left, Herfoss arrived for what would be the battle of the day. With respect for each other, but a championship and the day’s honours to battle for, they traded positions multiple times and nearly sent themselves off track on the last lap. It was nail biting, exciting and brilliant dicing with Herfoss coming out the winner- albeit for second place on the day.

While the Staring/Herfoss fight was holding the attention of the TV directors and fans, Jones quietly took the Championship by the scruff of the neck as he took race one. He might have missed the bonus point for pole, but the 25 points for the win was ample compensation. With nominal non-title contender Herfoss second, the stretch in Jones’ Championship points lead over Maxwell and Staring was an added bonus.


“Bryan was being a bit conservative in the early phase, and I was feeling pretty good, so I pushed passed Bryan and got a good gap. Nice and easy race for me, no dicing so it was a great outcome.

For me the tyres weren’t much of an issue and they degraded fairly consistently, but ultimately I was just trying to smooth and gentle.

Just need to wake up on the right side of the bed and do it all again….”


“Far out, this probably the proudest moment I’ve had a on a motorbike.

Just sitting in the truck with the team right now, you realise how invested everyone has been in my recovery.

It’s been a big mental battle to believe I can get back here.”


“I started a little conservative as Mike said, I just wanted to find my feet in the race.

In the end I was constantly defending my position… I was seeing on the pit board that I was getting him (Jones) back a little bit, but I also had a tail that was getting shorter, and I knew who it was going to be.

Overall I started that race in the lead and I finished at the wrong side of the podium – I certainly didn’t have a bad race but not one that really satisfied me.”


Race 2

Starts. For most riders they’re just something to get done for good or ill and then get down to the actual real business of racing.

But that’s not how racing works. Get a bad start and you’ll find yourself with plenty to do. Motorcycle racing can be more forgiving compared to our four wheeled cousins where passing is at a premium.

For Wayne Maxwell and Arthur Sissis, they found themselves as the yin and yang of Race Two. Arthur repeated his good start of yesterday but with a little greatness thrown in this time round, taking his Yamaha from seventh to first into turn one. For Wayne Maxwell, short of crashing, he could not have had a worse start. “Like a kid trying to pop a wheelie on a BMX” was the call from the track announcer and it was hard to argue with that analysis, as the reigning champion effectively swapped grid places with Sissis.

It felt like a pivotal moment for both men. For Sissis it was the realisation that he could not only get to the front, but he could box on with the likes of Herfoss, Jones, Halliday and Allerton.

For Maxwell, it appeared to be the moment he conceded more points to Jones and with it potentially the title.

Up front, for five solid laps Arthur Sissis contested the lead and was P1 every time over the finish line. The South Australian Sissis gave as good as he got, showing that a good start was not all he had. In a field of wily, older racers, it was gratifying to see a twenty something serving up a hot bowl of quality race craft to the olde brigade. Staring had to use everything he had at his disposal- including the mighty DesmoSport Ducati’s straight-line advantage- to squeeze into the lead.

Championship leader Mike Jones just did that thing he does; circulating steadily and without fanfare while everyone else dropped bombs and occasionally banged fairings. It was easy to get suckered into an MMA-style battle for position, but the blue 46 Yamaha of Jones sat comfortably in fourth. While Sissis was conceding the lead to Staring on lap five, the formerly serene Jones found himself being passed by man-on-a-mission Wayne Maxwell. There was no dicing, the #1 Ducati just blew by him as Maxwell had eyes only for the front of the field.

Herfoss barged his way past Sissis and kindly left a Mike Jones sized gap and then Arthur out braked himself into turn one, running wide and just like that, a podium chance went begging.

Maxwell remained fixated on his mission and despite the Pirellis having great grip for the whole distance thus far, it was hard to believe he hadn’t somehow set them afire with his relentless pace that included a lap record (1:05.407) in case anyone needed convincing.

As the race drew closer to the checkered flag, it was a race between two warring parties: Maxwell and Staring, Jones and Herfoss. With the usual benefit of hindsight, they ought to have called a ceasefire to get away- or catch up- as their dicing was slowing their pace and the leading pair could not get away allowing the chasers to stay within a shot. Jones pulled out all he had and was able to get past Staring on the last lap.

But it was Maxwell at the flag who had been able to bang out some solid laps to deny Jones any chance of a tow to the line and take the win.
Staring came home in third with Herfoss in fourth, unable to match his heroic second from Saturday. He later conceded that his pace is his pace and there’s not much left.

The top four completed the 16-lap journey inside Jones’ winning time from Saturday, a fair indication of how the track was perhaps better, but also that the riders and teams found a little more to close the gap to Mike Jones. One rider noted it was a “good old-fashioned race with battles everywhere.”

Supercars fans unaccustomed to the frenetic pace and punch-ons that the Alpinestars Superbike class can deliver, were impressed.

Wayne Maxwell showed that he’s absolutely at his best when on the ropes and that anyone thinking he was out of the hunt for ‘22 were very, very wrong.

…and there was still one race to come.

Race 3

Motorsport remains a “funny old game” even if that is a cliche. One race- say race two today at Hidden Valley- you might pull out a ride that has commentators searching for new superlatives.

Other times you have an innocuous low side and hand your main rival not only a race win, but maybe the Championship.

When, as Wayne Maxwell did, you do this in back-to-back races, well then yes, absolutely, it is indeed “a funny old game”.

Early on, it wasn’t funny, but it was certainly entertaining as the leading duo in the championship were also the leading duo in race three. They swapped the lead a few times and then a resurgent and confident Glenn Allerton found himself back close to the front again. On lap four Allerton pushed past longtime rival Maxwell and with all the self-confidence we know Glenn has, he clearly began to think about winning the race.

Maxwell, however, fell into the clutches of Staring and Herfoss, and coming out of turn six he just twisted the throttle a little too much and had the easiest, slowest and costliest low side. He knew what the stakes were and did not let go of the bike, preferring to spin to a slow stop while gripping onto the bike and his title chances with both hands. Maxwell remounted, but there would be no repeat of his race two heroics, the front runners were gone and the gap to season-saving points was half a lap up the road.

This middle phase of the race made it clear that it’s time Mike Jones retired the “Mad Mike” moniker. Mad has too many aggressive and wild connotations. His performance this weekend and particularly in race three was not mad. Some said it was robotic, and if this is true, then he is the Terminator. He just did everything needed to execute the mission. Solid laps, a bigger gap and then eyes were just on the battle for second as the blue R1 with the familiar 46 on it loudly drew away from the field.

The battle for second was on in earnest with the trio of Allerton, Staring and Herfoss all rightly laying claim to the spot while Halliday and Sissis drove their Yamahas hard to stay in contact. Allerton found himself down as low as fourth, Herfoss as high as second, but also as low as fourth. With three laps to go, Staring had both Allerton and Herfoss push past and set sail for the line. Their battle would come down to the last corners and when Herfoss tried his usual up-the-inside move, Allerton placed himself decisively in his way and Herfoss was unable to perform his favorite move.

That was how they ran to the line. Jones – Daylight- Allerton– Herfoss– Staring.

Wayne Maxwell was able to move up to 11th for ten points and salvage something from the low side disaster at turn six, but now finds himself some 40 points (162) behind Jones (202). It is not insurmountable, but every time Jones has a round where he stretches his lead, Maxwell has one less round to catch him. The maths look difficult with three rounds, six races remaining and a maximum of 153 points on offer.

For the other top contenders- Staring (155) is now within 7 points of second in the Championship, while Halliday, Herfoss and Waters find themselves – incredibly – on the same points in fourth (136). That will be some kind of battle for the rest of the season. Allerton and Sissis are next and also sit together on 131 points.

The Championship now has a mid-winter break before reconvening at Morgan Park 5-7 August, with the regular classes rejoining us for what promises to be a hectic back half of the season.


“The team did a fantastic job and gave me a bike that I was able to race on in all conditions. When the track was in the cool conditions, we were able to go fast, when the track was hot and greasy it was a bike that was ridable and comfortable enough to be able to be super consistent on.”

“Overall first for the weekend and extending our championship lead is very important for us leaving here this weekend.”

“The trickiest thing was on the Sunday we’ve got two races, but we don’t have a warmup session, we just go straight into the first race. I found that tricky because it’s not something we don’t normally do.”


“Yesterday was pretty emotional to be honest… I won’t forget yesterday anytime soon, that was a big day for me.”

“Driving off the corner, especially turn one here when you’re on the side of the tyre for a while, when I’m picking the bike up I’m just not driving forward. The bike’s not slow, but I look like I’m slow down the straight because I’m so bad off the last corner.”

“Moving to Morgan Park that issue’s gonna be sidelined for now… all the corners where we brake hard, accelerate out and you can get that pitch in the bike, I’m quite good and the bike works quite well… I feel like I’ll be strong at Morgan Park.”


“I feel like we were in a battle for the podium all weekend… we improved the bike for race 2 and overall the package was better but we had a mechanical problem with the seat unit and the whole ducktail coming loose with the bike, I just rode around for points in the end of that race.”

“I knew that I needed to just sit on Troy and when he made a move, make a move straight away on Bryan as well… which I managed to do.”

“He’s (Troy) always going to go the inside up there on those last two corners and I knew it, so I rode tight on the entry to make him go even tighter than normal… All I wanted for him to do was to have to commit more than he wanted to so that he would roll wide on the exit so that I could drive down the last turn and it pretty much played out exactly how I wanted it.”


“We wanted more than we got, really I think we need to go back and review the weekend as to why we didn’t get it… That will only make us stronger for the future.”

“We were very much in the fight, we put in a massive show and huge effort to challenge all the riders… we were certainly a big part of the show for ASBK this weekend.”

“The first race is a good example that I was prepared to fight in the closing laps… The last race is an example that I couldn’t fight in the last laps”

Posted on Monday, June 20th, 2022 in News

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