MIXED SEASON OPENER FOR SUZUKI2007-02-19 05:34
Team Yoshimura Suzuki endured a weekend of highs and lows at the opening round of the Australian Superbike and Supersport Championships at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway at the weekend.
The 'high' came in the Supersport class where new recruit Joshua Waters (pictured) scored fifth and fourth placings in the two 13-lap races to secure fourth overall on the Supersport Championship points table.
It was an impressive debut in Suzuki colours for the 20-year-old with the Team Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R600 still in the early stages of development.
The 'low' came in the Superbike class where three-times Australian Champion Shawn Giles lies 15th on the points table after an up and down weekend: After qualifying on the front row, 36-year-old Giles and his GSX-R1000 Superbike were in stunning form and running easily within the top three on track. The Suzuki hero looked to be on target for two podium results in both 13-lap Superbike races before falling victim to the slippery 3.93km circuit.
Giles wasn't the only one to find the limits of adhesion on a weekend where track temperatures soared past the 55-degree mark and a number of top-level riders showed signs of gravel rash on both body and machine.
In race one Giles was forced to run wide at turn two and onto the grass after misjudging his braking mark while involved in a multi-bike battle for track position, dropping outside the top 15. But he charged back through the field to claim eighth place.
The opening Superbike race was run in two parts after officials red-flagged the race on lap eight due to a crash involving privateer Steve Manning. The rider received only minor injuries but Manning's bike was in a dangerous position alongside the track surface.
In race two, when again battling for a podium finish with Daniel Stauffer, Giles had a low-speed crash at turn nine. He was unhurt in the incident but was unable to restart his bike and was forced to retire.
Team-mate Craig Coxhell also had his share of bad luck in his return ride although 13th and sixth places have the Victorian seventh overall on the points table.
In race one the 24-year-old was holding a top-10 position when he had to take evasive action to avoid the tumbling Suzuki GSX-R1000 of satellite team-mate Robbie Bugden. Coxhell's sixth in race two reflected the form that helped him win the 2003 Australian Superbike Championship for Suzuki before heading overseas.
Bugden, third in the 2006 Australian Superbike Championship, had a frustrating meeting on his Team Yoshimura Suzuki when a high-speed crash in race one was followed by a DNF in race two due to the first race damage.
With the Australian Superbike and Supersport Championships held over eight rounds in 2007, and another 350 points up for grabs, Team Manager Phil Tainton is confident the team can regroup after the disappointment of round one.
Introducing a new double-header format, rounds two and three of the 2007 Australian Superbike Championship will take place at Victoria's Winton Raceway on March 22-25.
Phil Tainton' Team Manager:
'I'm extremely happy with how the riders performed today in conditions that were demanding on man and machine. We had some bad luck this weekend but I couldn't have asked for more from the riders.
'We showed we have good speed from the bikes, and we can run at the front. Josh rode two perfect races in the Supersport Championship and Shawn was fast all weekend on the Superbike.
'How good are our Australian rules when 15 riders are separated by just over one second in qualifying' This year's Superbike championship is shaping as the most competitive for many years.
'Congratulations to Jamie Stauffer on his wins today.'
'It's been one of those meetings and I'm disappointed with the race results after qualifying so well. The bike had good speed all weekend and I can't say enough about the team and the performance of the tyres.
'In race one I got into turn two a little too hot and ran wide, and in race two I lost the front without warning. It was a strange crash because I didn't do anything different from the lap before.
'It's a long season with seven rounds to go, so there's plenty of time to make up the 38-point deficit to Jamie.'
'I'm reasonably happy with the results - and to get 23 points from the two races - but this weekend has been a struggle.
'I went quicker in testing a few weeks back and never really got to grips with the circuit this weekend. The Australian championship is extremely competitive and I knew it was going to be tough.
'My aim was to get comfortable with the team and the bike in the opening round and score points in both races. The Yoshimura Suzuki team is like a big family to me and it's good to be back after three seasons overseas.'
'I set myself a goal of a top five finish overall this weekend so I'm happy to be sitting fourth in the points. We're still in the early stages of developing the Suzuki GSX-R600, and there's a lot more to come. I'm feeling more comfortable on the bike every time I ride it.
'It's a pity I crashed and damaged my number one race bike on Friday as the results could have been even better.'
'It's a disappointing way to start the new season with no points after finishing off so strongly last year. It's so competitive out there it's important to have the bike set-up spot-on and we'd been chasing the front-end all weekend and trying to find a feeling that I was happy with.
'I guess I was trying too hard in the restart of race one and the tyre wasn't up to temperature after the delay. It tucked as I went around turn eight and I couldn't save it.
'Although we got the bike repaired in time for race two, it seems part of the electrics had been damaged and I couldn't finish the race.'
Superbike Overall Results(Round 1): 1 Jamie Stauffer, 2 Daniel Stauffer, 3 Glenn Allerton, 4 Adam Fergusson, 5 Scott Charlton, 6 Shannon Johnson, 7 Craig Coxhell (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 8 Shannon Etheridge, 9 Wayne Maxwell, 10 Michael Fraser (Suzuki GSX-R1000).
Superbike Championship Points: 1 Jamie Stauffer 51, 2 Daniel Stauffer 40, 3 Glenn Allerton 34, 4 Adam Fergusson 33, 5 Scott Charlton 30, 6 Shannon Johnson 29, 7 Craig Coxhell (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 23, 8 Shannon Etheridge 23, 9 Wayne Maxwell 21, 10 Michael Fraser (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 20.15 Shawn Giles (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 13.
Supersport Overall Results(Round 1): 1 Jamie Stauffer, 2 Jason O'Halloran, 3 Jeremy Crowe, 4 Joshua Waters (Suzuki GSX-R600), 5 Judd Greedy, 6 Bryan Staring, 7 Russell Holland, 8 Nick Henderson, 9 Gareth Jones, 10 Mick Kelly.
Supersport Championship Points:1 Jamie Stauffer 51, 2 Jason O'Halloran 40, 3 Jeremy Crowe 36, 4 Joshua Waters (Suzuki GSX-R600) 33, 5 Judd Greedy 31, 6 Bryan Staring 31, 7 Russell Holland 27, 8 Nick Henderson 27, 9 Gareth Jones 24, 10 Mick Kelly 23.
Source: Team Suzuki Press Office
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