Australian Superbike: Kawasaki take step in right direction February 21, 2007
Superbike Championship (ASC) kicked off at Eastern Creek Raceway on the weekend with Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) recording promising results in the Australian Superbike Class.
KRT Riders Shannon Johnson and Wayne Maxwell took to a hot race track competing in both the Australian Superbike and Supersport Classes. At an event that saw track temperatures soar up to 52Â°C, mother nature certainly put Riders fitness levels to the test.
Friday 16 Practice One and Two
KRT put in a solid performance in the Superbike Class and were looking good at the completion of practice, with Johnson only 0.75 seconds off the leading riders fastest lap time. Both Johnson and Maxwell showed signs of promising form placing 3rd and 5th overall at the conclusion of practice.
In the Supersport Class riding the all new 2007 ZX-6R Supersport, both riders utilised the practice sessions to familiarise themselves with an all new machine. Due to last minute tyre issues, the team were forced to run the new ’07′ bike on ’06′ tyres, a combination which would prove a challenge to the Teams results. Johnson placed 9th and Maxwell 6th at the conclusion of practice.
Saturday 17 Qualifying One and Two
Leading into the Superbike Qualifying Session, there was a positive buzz in the KRT Pit Garage after posting good practice results. Both Riders gave positive feedback on the ZX-10R’s racing performance in practice sessions One and Two. Johnson was only 1 second off the fastest lap time and qualifi ed for Race One in 10th place and Maxwell in 12th.
In the Supersport Class, tyre issues and lack of development parts available hampered the Riders qualifying potential with them fi nishing further down the order than their top ten positions in Practice had indicated. Race One would see Shannon start from the 4th Row and Maxwell the 6th row of the grid.
Sunday 17 Race One and Two
After disappointing qualifying results, both riders mentally prepared themselves to challenge Race One from mid pack. They knew they would have to battle traffi c in order to make up places in such warm weather conditions. Shannon started Race One from the 4th row and Maxwell the 5th row on the grid.
Johnson consistently put his ZX-10R through its paces making up 4 places before an off track excursion by a back runner saw the race red fl agged. Upon Race Ones conclusion, Shannon was in 6th and Maxwell in 10th place.
After clearing the track, Race One was restarted with Johnson getting an awesome jump on the fi eld in the 6 lap sprint.
Restarting from the second row on the grid, Johnson jumped up to second place by Turn One and would sweep around the outside to lead the Race by Turn Two. Johnson continued to tussle with the front runners for the remainder of Race One and finished in third place, only 0.15 seconds behind Glenn Allerton and 1 second behind race winner Jamie Stauffer. Maxwell also continued to improve his Race result, fi nishing in 9th place.
As the track temperatures continued to soar, Riders knew their fi tness would make or break their campaigns when they took to the track for final 13 lap Race of the event.
From the start, Johnson’s riding ability was tested when he was caught up in a tussle on the fi rst lap and sustained damage to the front of his machine dropping him back to the rear of the pack. Regaining his composure and still with 13 laps ahead of him, Johnson set about working his way back up the order overtaking riders one by one to fi nish Race Two in eighth place.
“Race two was nearly over before turn one. I was hit by a fi ll in rider not once but twice. How I stayed on I will never know as the front mudguard was torn off, the fairing damaged. By the time I had regained my composure I was basically dead last. In the end I just ran out of time, fi nishing eighth on the back of a six bike group covered by less than two seconds. I found some satisfaction in that my fi tness was great, but still that didn’t help the frustration.”
Maxwell rode consistently under the hot conditions and fi nished Race Two in 12th position.
The Supersport Class Results would see Johnson and Maxwell fi nish the event in 11th and 16th place.
Team Manager David Cullen said,
“Both Riders have had limited time on the new ZX-6R with the 2007 Championship starting so early this year. The 2007 Model has only just been released and unfortunately, we have had to start racing the Supersport Championship on a machine which is still a work in progress for us.”
Commenting on the Teams results this weekend Cullen went on to say, “It really was a bag of mixed results this weekend. A 5th and 8th place in the Superbike Class is a step in the right direction toward our Championship campaign. It was evident that Johnson’s fi tness got him through this weekend, remaining competitive and posting a great result in Part 2 of Race One. Maxwell has put in a solid effort in preparation and I think he will only get better as he gets back into the swing of racing at Australia’s top level. The whole Team prepared well in the limited time available. They have remained focused and dedicated to developing and getting the most out of our race bikes. I think everyone did a great job this weekend and worked well together. We are looking forward to posting good results at the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island in March and Rounds Two and Three at Winton.”