Racers Edge Performance, North Coast V-Twins and Craig McMartin Racing begun their assault on the talent filled 2017 ASBK Championship with a strong opening round performance at Phillip Island over the weekend of 25-27 February in front of an enthusiastic WorldSBK crowd.
For season 2017 the Racers Edge Performance North Coast V-Twins team have set their sights on the talent filled Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) competing against the factory supported teams as well as dealer and distributer supported privateer teams over seven rounds.
The first round was held at Phillip Island as part of the first round of the 2017 World Superbike Championship. First practice for the capacity Superbike class was held under brilliant sunny skies on Thursday afternoon with the full to capacity field having he first chance to sample the world’s best racetrack.
Beau Beaton headed out with a newly prepared Ducati Panigale, relishing the opportunity to test the new for season 2017 Bridgestone Battlax slick tyres supplied by Whites Racing Products. With forty bikes on track getting a clear lap at any time in the thirty-minute session was difficult, but Beau was able to string a few laps together before coming back into the pits to make setup changes as the team worked on finding a setting that would work with the new tyres. With only the one practice session before Qualifying Beau and the team were happy with the performance of the bike and tyres with the limited preparation and finished the session in tenth place, with plenty more opportunity for improvement.
The single qualifying session on Friday allowed the team the opportunity to test the adjustments made after the data taken from the practice session was analysed and further improvements made to the setup of the Craig McMartin prepared Racers Edge Performance North Coast V-Twins Panigale by Team Manager Greg Maher, bike builder Craig McMartin and technical guru Mark “Doc” Downie. Feeling comfortable after only a sighting lap Beau was able to put his head down and set and impressive 1:34.5 lap time, an improvement of 1.5 seconds from practice, to secure eighth place on the grid – and highest placed Ducati – for the weekends three races.
Race one was held early on Saturday morning over eleven laps with the sun continuing to shine on the 4.45km Phillip Island Circuit. Beau got a great jump off the line and was in a strong position heading into the braking area for turn four on the first lap when an incident inside Beau forced him off the track and into the grass losing considerable time and track position. Overtaking about eight riders on the remainder of the lap and completing the first lap in twenty first position Beau then displayed pace and consistency to mount an unbelievable recovery. Seven consecutive laps all within .7 of a second of each other, despite the heavy traffic, saw Beau improve his position by four places on laps two and three, and then one place per lap for the next three laps to get back to tenth position. Despite the momentum being broken on lap nine when Beau had to take evasive action in turn one to avoid a rider that had an engine malfunction he was able to get the Bridgestone shod Panigale back to race pace on the next lap, although taking it a little easier due to potential track conditions in that corner, and secure an impressive ninth place finish after eleven hectic laps following the first lap incident.
Races two and three were scheduled for a twelve lap duration and held on Sunday in front of the large WorldSBK crowd. Getting a good jump off the line in race two Beau was battling for the lead early and completed the first lap in fourth position with Wayne Maxwell, Robbie Bugden and Josh Waters right on his tail. Over the next few laps positions were taken and lost at seemingly every corner in a sensational display of hard riding, as you would expect in a field that boasts over 25 national championships. Beau was back to seventh on the completion of lap three, and then back up to sixth a lap later, using the attributes of the Panigale and Bridgestone tyres at every opportunity to setup passing opportunities.
By lap seven Beau was in a close battle with Matt Walters and Michael Blair that looked like it would go all the way to the finish, unfortunately a red flag caused a premature end to the race and Beau unable to employ any last lap strategies to improve his position. Another ninth place finish after eleven of the scheduled twelve laps was the final result and with the race being declared a lap early, Beau’s race time over the first race improved by an impressive seven seconds for the same distance. Race three was once again another sensational display of Superbike racing from the most talent packed grid Australian Superbike racing has seen for many years. Beau was off to a great start when the race was once again affected by a red flag, this time after only two laps.
Starting the second leg from seventh position Beau immediately found himself battling for track position in a second leg that just didn’t seem to go his way. A twelfth place finish after eight laps the result despite some great riding, however on combined times from the two legs Beau secured eleventh position and a total points haul of 34 to secure ninth place for the opening round, only four points off sixth position.
New bike, new tyres but the same determination and riding skill from Beau sees the Racers Edge Performance Team in a strong position for the next round of the 2017 ASBK Championship to be held on 17-19 March at Wakefield Park, a circuit that should suit the Craig McMartin prepared North Coast V-Twins supported Ducati Panigale and Bridgestone tyres. “Really happy with the way the weekend has turned out” said Beau Beaton. “For our first weekend on Bridgestone tyres, first weekend on the new Craig McMartin prepared 2017 1199R Panigale and with great support as always from the Racers Edge Performance North Coast V-Twins Team I am so happy to repay them with this top ten result. The level of competition this year is unbelievable; by far the strongest field I have seen since I made my national level debut in 2009. I am really looking forward to developing the new bike and the Bridgestone tyres this weekend showed they have amazing potential, can’t wait for round two.
As always, a big thanks to Greg and Julie from Racers Edge, Craig McMartin for building the Panigale R’s, North Coast V-Twins for their continued support, while Mark “Doc” Downie who, with Greg and Craig, worked like Trojans on the Superbikes all weekend to make the required changes as we only had limited time to get the bike set-up for the Bridgestone’s, thank you”. “Well, all in all not to bad all things considered for the first round of 2017” said Team Manager Greg Maher “It was all a big rush in the lead up to this event, new exhaust systems that required a reworking of the Racers Edge Performance fairings, new bike, new tyres and no testing of this combination but the same crew and great atmosphere.
All up the results were strong, and about what we had hoped to achieve when you look at the quality of the field. We have set our sights on a top ten finish in the championship at the end of the year and want to challenge for top privateer team at every round. Beau rode great when you consider what limited time we have had to get used to the new tyres and get the bike setup, I think we have kicked a goal with the Bridgestone’s, they worked great and this is probably the circuit that will suit them the least. Wakefield Park, Morgan Park and Winton they should be great and those circuits will suit Beau and the Panigale R as well. It is going to be a great year and we are really looking forward to the next round.”.