Round three of the 2018 ASBK got underway at Australia’s brand new – world class – racetrack at Tailem Bend in South Australia presenting a new challenge for the Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Racing Team and the teams star rider, four times Australian Champion Jamie Stauffer, over the weekend of 19-22 April.
Having not attended the pre-event test held two weeks prior to the event Thursday’s two thirty-minute practice sessions were spent learning the technical eighteen turn layout of the 4.95km “National” track.
With a strong base setup for the Panigale R, only minor changes were made during the day as lap times improved, Jamie finding nearly five seconds over the two sessions as his familiarity with the new track improved.
Overnight changes to the K-Tech suspension by technician Adrian Monti and Team Managers Craig McMartin and Greg Maher resulted in a further 2.3 second reduction in lap time in the third practice session, this improvement saw Jamie move forward and secure a time inside the prestigious top ten of the thirty-eight bike field.
By the time the first qualifying session got underway on Friday afternoon, with a refined bike setup on the Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Panigale R and improved track knowledge, which is especially important at this track due to the number of blind corners and elevation changes, Jamie was again able to improve his lap time by almost half a second to secure a provisional place on the fifth row of the grid.
Saturday morning’s second qualifying session saw another dramatic improvement in lap times following a considerable change in the set-up of the K-Tech suspension on the Panigale R overnight. Another 1.4 second improvement over the previous best lap set in Q1 during the session secured a second-row grid position and was a stunning result for Jamie Stauffer, The Craig McMartin Racers Edge Performance Team and the Ducati Panigale R.
Unlike a normal ASBK weekend race one got underway on Saturday afternoon in front of a healthy crowd. Unfortunately, the original start was red flagged on the first lap after an incident requiring a full re-start over a shortened nine lap duration. Jamie launched the Craig McMartin Racing Racers Edge Performance Panigale R off the line well and was right in the middle of a busy lead group fighting for position over the first lap, completing the first 4.95lk lap in seventh position right on the tail of Bryan Staring and with Al Phillis right on his tail. Jamie held position in seventh for the second lap despite making some passes. By lap three Phillis had made his way past but Jamie was still right on his tail and using the strengths of the Panigale R to stay ahead of another multiple Superbike champion in the form of Glenn Allerton. Allerton found a way past on lap five forcing Jamie and the McMartin Racers Edge Panigale back to ninth ahead of Matt Walters. Walters pushed his Kawasaki past on lap six, but Jamie repaid the favour the very next lap to hold ninth position at the end of the shortened nine lap race. Jamie was also able to seven consecutive laps within one second after setting his fastest lap of the race on his first flying lap.
Race two on Sunday morning got underway with track temperatures around ten degrees lower than Saturdays race one. Once again Jamie got a good jump off the line but loose several positions in the jostling for position over the first lap. Fighting back from tenth position Jamie pushed the Panigale R two places higher on lap two, setting a 1:54.4, half a second faster than in yesterday’s race despite the heavy traffic. A blistering 1:53.9 on lap three saw Jamie close in on fast starting Al Phillis before making his way past on lap four. Maintaining position for the next few laps, with Phillis right on his tail, Jamie was also closing in on Arthur Sissis. While trying to find a way past Sissis Allerton was able to find a way past in the cut and thrust of the battle around the back of the circuit. By the completion of lap eight Jamie was into seventh position and leading the group, once again recording consistent lap times. On the final lap Phillis was able to up the pace and get away. Jamie secured another strong finish in eighth, a one place improvement over the previous race.
Track temperatures were back up again as the grid assembled for the final race of the weekend that was also featured live on SBS and Fox Sports with the 2006 & 2007 Superbike Champion once letting the field know he is not just here to make up the numbers. Getting away with the lead group Jamie was siting in sixth as they filed made their way through the first complex of corners right on the tail of local hero Daniel Falzon and ahead of Josh Waters, Glenn Allerton and Bryan Staring. Waters was able to find his way past on lap two with Jamie sitting on the tail of the lead group that had opened a gap over the pursuing pack. Allerton had managed to close the gap and found a way past on lap four with Staring also finding a way past. Jamie was able to take back a position as he maintained pace while fast starting Arthur Sissis dropped back through the field. As the seventh lap started Jamie was sitting in eighth with a handy lead over the group behind. Once again showing great consistency in lap times Jamie was looking to close in on Josh Waters in front when a
crash involving the three-time Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss brought out a red flag, the race was declared, half points eventually awarded.
With half points for the final race and combined results of ninth, eighth and seventh Jamie finished seventh 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 eleventh position overall for the championship.
“It was really good to get to a new track and it certainly lived up to the hype that’s for sure” commented Jamie Stauffer. “I think we started the weekend a little behind the eight-ball due to not being at the test, but the team worked well, and we got to learn the track while getting the bike as good as we could as we progressed. Overall, I was really happy with the progress we made and the results we achieved, we are moving forward every weekend which gives me confidence. I think we are only one big step away from having a bike that can win or at least get on the podium, that’s what we are here for and what the team deserves, and we are all pushing for that. A little more fitness from me, as well as getting the bike off the line a little better will also help as well as keeping up the continual improvement in set-up from the team and we will be there for sure. I am really looking forward to Darwin, I have had some good races there previously so looking to continue that at the next round”.
“Seeing as we gave everyone else a two day head start I am really happy with how the whole weekend went” commented Team Manager Craig McMartin “We managed to improve the bike every time we went out so that is a positive, plus we as a team are still learning what Jamie needs, after all this is only our second round together. From first practice we changed the bike every time we went out based on the feedback from Jamie as he got faster and faster, we started out on Thursday nearly ten seconds off the pace due to having to learn the track to qualifying on the second row of the grid. Having Adrian come on board has also helped, he has worked with Jamie in the past so is aware of the feel he is after and that has sped things up considerably. We made more changes for the races as the track condition and temperature changed and to score three top ten results in this field was impressive. Jamie is also such a professional, he has fit into the team perfectly, Greg and I are really enjoying working with him and we all feel some great results are just around the corner”.