Round 2 of the Australian Superbikes Championship will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend, with the best in South Aussie road racing making the trek to compete with national champions in a spectacular night round, a first for the Australian series.
Here's a refresher on what happened during Round 1 at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit a few short weeks ago, and what we can expect from our riders in Sydney.
#61 Arthur Sissis got off to one of the great starts he is known for in Race 1, but a dreaded mechanical gremlin saw him fall to the back on the pack. The race was red flagged due to rain 5 laps in, giving Sissis another opportunity to gain back positions, but unfortunately the bike was struck by more issues on the grid.
"Out of turn 2 on the second lap the bike cut out for a few seconds then got going again. In the restart I came to the grid and the bike just stopped so had to jump on spare bike with wet tyres on a dry track - so it wasn’t the best day but Sunday's races were better with a 5th and 7th. It was a tough weekend but happy to come away in one piece and a with few points on the board." - Arthur Sissis, Unitech Racing
Arthur sits in championship 7th heading into Round 2. Bike issues aside, we saw strong times from Arthur during February's nigh testing and can expect a good fight from him this weekend.
#64 Michael Kemp came away with 9th place in Race 1, a fantastic result for his first time racing at the island and first full season in the ASBK. Michael's main focus going into Sydney will be getting the right suspension set up, setting new PB's and out-performing his closest competition. Michael made strong improvements during testing last month, his first visit to Sydney Motorsport Park.
It was fantastic to finally see #92 Jack Davis on the ASBK grid. Jack hit his weekend PB before unfortunately being taken out by another rider at Miller corner during Race 1, but saw some good dicing at the back of the pack during Race 2 and 3. Jack is competing in selected rounds only this year to gain ASBK experience, and will not compete at Round 2.
It was a nervous start to the season for #85 Ty Lynch, qualifying in 11th place on Friday. Ty had a difficult Race 1, finishing in 8th place just behind fellow South Aussie #86 Dallas Skeer. Re-finding his confidence and getting off to a brilliant start in a wet Race 2, Ty quickly shot to 2nd position with a big gap on the rest of the pack. Nearest rival #29 Harrison Voight crashed out during lap 3, one of eight riders to go down during the slippery survival of the fittest, allowing Ty to take the front spot and finish the race with an almost 13 second lead. Race 3 saw riders faced with a difficult tyre decision after a quick blast of rain. Most opted for wet tyres, and on a quickly drying track this dramatically affected their performance. After a great start, Ty was able to secure 5th place, enough to put him on the top step of the podium for the round and heading into Sydney with 54 points.
#86 Dallas Skeer fought hard across the weekend, qualifying in 5th, and rising to the challenge in Race 1 in particular where he fought back several positions to take 7th place after not getting the best race start. Dallas got caught amongst the chaos in wet Race 2, but played the long game to finish the race and keep putting valuable early points on the board. Sitting in championship 10th, a fantastic start to the season, we look forward to seeing Dallas getting his confidence back at Sydney Motorsport Park after a crash in testing which left him significantly injured.
It was a very exciting weekend for #220 Declan Carberry, known for performing well in wet conditions. It was no surprise to see him confidently climbing through the field in Race 2, finishing 9th after qualifying 19th. Declan finished Race 3 in 7th place in his best ASBK performance yet, at one point fighting in 3rd position at the front of the pack and having his South Aussie friends and family on the edge of their seats. Declan heads into Sydney in championship 11th. Having never ridden Sydney Motorsport Park, Round 2 will be a challenge for Declan, but the expected rain may be to his advantage.
Brothers #45 Olly Simpson and #66 Mitch Simpson made an impactful start to the season, finishing in 5th and 7th overall respectively, and with Olly taking 2nd place in Race 3. Mitch joins brother Olly in the 600 series this year, moving up from Supersport 300. Olly had a significant crash at Round 3, Wakefield Park last year, leaving him unable to return to the series until late in the year. It's great to see the Simpson boys back and well and truly in the fight, and we're looking forward to seeing what they've got for us in Sydney.
An impressive performance from #57 Cooper Rowntree who fought with the front group throughout the round. Most excitingly, Cooper looked set to take his first ASBK race win on Sunday morning as he lead the charge into the final turn, but the hungry front-running pack swallowed him on the home straight pushing him into 7th place by mere hundredths of a second.
"On the last lap of race 3 I was in an intense battle for 2nd, planning for the front straight while leading the group onto the line, I got swamped over the finish line for 7th place." - Cooper Rowntree
Cooper made consistent lap improvements during the official test at Sydney Motorsport Park in February, and performed particularly well under lights where he was the 5th fastest in the 300 class. If this, and his performance at Phillip Island are anything to go by, we may see a long-awaited podium for Cooper this weekend.
#95 Tara Morrison has made a strong first impression within her first few rounds in the ASBK. Qualifying in 8th position, a solid effort for an ASBK newcomer, Tara has quickly established herself as a genuine competitor and "one to watch" as she diced with the front of the field throughout the weekend. Tara unfortunately crashed out of Races 1 and 3, but took away a 10th place in Race 2. In testing, Tara's lap times saw her 18th fastest in the field for her first Sydney outing. With her growing confidence, we are sure she will have a few surprises in store for us this weekend.
#72 Ryder Gilbert has made steady improvements since joining the ASBK field at the end of last year, and it was a highlight to see him leading the group at the rear of field at multiple times throughout the weekend and tussling with fellow South Aussie and ASBK newcomer #87 Brock Quinlan. Qualifying in 22nd and 21st, respectively, both riders walked away in the points for Round 1, with Ryder placing 18th overall and Brock 22nd. Ryder and Brock both face the challenge of learning a new track heading into this weekend's Sydney round.
#51 Samuel Pezzetta had a difficult start to his 2023 race season. A crash during Friday's Race 1 found Sam unable to grid up for Saturday's Race 2, finding that the bike was unfortunately still having issues on the out lap. Jumping onto the spare bike and making the most of what was left of the round, Samuel fought hard during Race 3 to hold his position and finish 11th, taking away some much needed round points.
Looking to Sydney, Samuel posted some excellent times during February testing with a 1:45.251 his best over the two days. Sam will no doubt be looking to redeem his place as a top 300 contender after Round 1's misfortune.
#33 Jordy Simpson, brother of Olly and Mitch, rode with consistency over the weekend and did well to maintain his steady pace through the different conditions the weekend brought. Qualifying in 18th, Jordy finished with 13th, 18th and 16th placings to give him a 14th overall, his solid efforts making him the 2nd best South Australian performer in the 300 class for the round.
Round 2 kicks off on Friday morning at Sydney Motorsport Park, with racing well into the evening across Friday and Saturday. Spectator tickets are available - see the ASBK website for details. Live timing is available via Computime.
WHERE TO WATCH:
SBS Viceland - Saturday 7pm AEDT
SBS & SBS HD - Sunday 1pm AEDT (replay)
ASBK Livestream - ASBK website and social channels
BY REBECCA BOWDIDGE