The 2018 ASBK season got underway for the Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Racing Team at round two of the championship, the first stand-alone meeting, with four times Australian Champion Jamie Stauffer in the saddle of the Panigale R recording sixth overall at Wakefield Park over the weekend of 16-18 March.
Having spent limited time on the Craig McMartin built Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Racing Team Panigale R, and limited opportunities to ride a Superbike in the last eighteen months, the 2006 & 2007 Superbike Champion let the field know he was not just here to make up the numbers with a sub sixty second lap in the opening practice session.
Working closely with Team Managers Craig McMartin and Greg Maher to adapt the Panigale R to the Pirelli tyres, and the unique demands of the short and technical circuit just outside Goulburn, Jamie managed to shave another second off his lap time in the second practice session to move into the top five, surely sounding alarm bells for one of the strongest ASBK fields in the last decade.
Practice session three saw further minor changes to the Panigale R and the K-Tech suspension resulting in another half second improvement in lap times, taking Jamie and the Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Racing Panigale R within .081 of getting into the 57’s.
Saturday saw excellent conditions greet the team for the two thirty-minute qualifying sessions to decide the grid for Sundays two twenty lap races. Jamie was into the 59’s on only his second flying lap before a warning light on the comprehensive standard
dash saw Jamie bring the Panigale R back to the team pit to be checked over by Ducati guru McMartin.
With the problem quickly identified and rectified by Craig, Jamie was ready to go at the beginning of the second qualifying session and only nine and a half minutes in had moved the Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Racing Panigale R up onto the provisional front row of the grid with a 58.829. As the tempo rose toward the end of the session Jamie was able to shave over a half second off that time to secure fifth place on the grid, and leading Ducati, Jamie also managed to record eight laps in the 58 second bracket throughout the session.
Unfortunately for the entire field Sunday’s weather had taken a turn, extremely strong winds buffeting the circuit and constantly covering the track surface in dust. Also, Craig had been working hard overnight to make more minor modifications to the Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Racing Panigale R, focusing on making the bike easy to ride on the short technical layout that allows no rest.
Race one saw Jamie get a solid start from the second row and slot into eighth place at the completion of lap one, right on the tail of Matt Walters. Holding that position for the first six laps, circulating at consistent pace in the mid to low 59’s, Jami was under pressure from another multiple Australian Superbike Champion in the shape of Glenn Allerton. Allerton forced his way past on lap seven with Jamie getting the better of Walters on the following lap to go back to eighth, a position he would hold till the chequered flag came out after twenty hard laps despite the constant pressure being applied by Walters and Al Phillis in the dying stages of the race. Jamie also showed incredible consistency with fifteen of the twenty laps of the race in the 59’s despite the howling gale.
Further changes to the Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Racing Team Panigale R for race two saw Jamie record an even stronger result. With no drop in the wind Jamie scorched off the line and was in the thick of the action through turns one and two on the opening lap, eventually finishing it in seventh, and holding station for the initial nine laps of the race. Jamie moved forward one position when the 2009 Superbike Champion Bryan Staring crashed out and held that position to the end of the race to secure a strong sixth place behind three-time WorldSBK Champion Troy Bayliss and ahead of race one nemesis Glenn Allerton.
With combined results of eighth and sixth Jamie finished sixth overall for the round with twenty-eight points, only three behind Bayliss in fifth.
Despite not riding and scoring any points at the first round of the championship Jamie has moved into fourteenth position overall for the championship.
“All things considered I didn’t go too bad” said the master of understatement, Jamie Stauffer. “I all honesty I would have liked to have gone better in race one, the wind made it hard, but it was the same for everybody. I really wanted to improve after that and show we can run at the front. Craig and Greg made some more changes for race two and the bike was much better, I was turning it better and even though I got held
up a few times, and apart from being physically buggered due to not having done any training due to work, I felt that result was better, but I still want to be closer to the front. All in all, I didn’t go too bad. The whole team were so professional, Craig, Greg, Julie, everyone in that garage were putting in. Craig and Greg did such a great job on the bike, and they just love it, so I really like to get up the front for them”.
“I have still got a burning passion for the sport and to get good results so that’s why we have come back for another go in 2018 ” commented Team Manager Craig McMartin “I also enjoy the atmosphere in the pits with Greg and Julie from Racers Edge Performance but that is also why we need a certain style of rider with a personality that really fits into our family. I feel so privileged and honoured that a rider of Jamie’s calibre has come on board for this year to help us achieve the results we all crave, only a few years ago I could not have dreamed of having a multiple Superbike and Supersport Champion like Jamie ride a bike that a built. I am so happy with how he went first time out with so little time on the bike and we all feel that we can only get better from here. We are all really looking forward to getting back out on track at round three at the new Bend Circuit in South Australia.