Racers Edge Performance, North Coast V-Twins and Craig McMartin Racing had their best weekend of 2016.
Superbike rider Beau Beaton finished on the podium in Sunday’s third race and secured third overall for the round at Queensland Raceway over the weekend 8-10 July on the Ducati Panigale R. Not only did Beau star in the Superbike class, team partner and bike builder Craig McMartin made a welcome return to competition with fourth overall in the Superbike class on Sunday along with completely dominating the Pro-Twins class in Saturday’s Hip Pocket Workwear AFX Championship on a motorcycle he had not ridden previously.
Making a return to a circuit that holds fond memories for the Racers Edge Performance team both Beau Beaton and Craig McMartin were on the pace early. Craig decided to return to the track to help fast track development of the teams Ducati Panigale R and Panigale S machines on the control Dunlop tyres used in both Pro-Twins and Superbike classes.
Perfect conditions on Friday allowed plenty of quality track time with the team making small changes to enable the bikes to be better suited to the unique demands of the Queensland Raceway layout that only has six corners. Both Beau and Craig improved their times over the day with Beau securing a front row grid position for Saturdays first Superbike race with a 1:10.5 and Craig on the second row in seventh with a 10.8, some two seconds faster than his times in P1 earlier in the day. In the Pro-Twins class Craig took pole position with Beau in second place on the thundering Irving Vincent 1600. Saturdays first Superbike race got underway under clear skies with both riders getting good starts, Beau completing the first lap in third, only .6 off the lead and Craig in eighth.
The racing was extremely close with lap times similar to qualifying, Beau dropping back to fourth on lap two and Craig holding eighth and putting pressure on Brad Swallow in seventh. The completion of lap six saw Beau back up into third and Craig into sixth with a good break over seventh. Beau eventually crossed the line in fourth after a great battle for the last podium position and Craig sixth. A great way to start the weekends competition.
Race two once again saw both Racers Edge Performance CMR Panigale R’s launch well with Beau in fourth and Craig sixth after the first hectic lap. Beau and Craig continued to harass the front runners until lap five when Beau had a coming together with Ben Bourke on the brakes and ran off the circuit dropping to ninth after losing nine seconds. Craig took up the running in fifth while Beau was immediately back down to a respectable pace. Craig eventually took sixth with Beau recovering well to take seventh. The final Superbike race on Saturday was another close run affair with Beau and Craig in the mix and setting their fastest laps of the race on the third lap.
Beau moved forward into fourth on lap four but on the next lap was relegated back to fifth, his eventual finishing position Craig maintained sixth position for the entire race running very consistent lap times for the duration of the nine lap race.
The consistent results of both riders in the Superbike class was reflected in the overall round results with Beau fourth, his best result of the season and Craig fifth. As well as the strong results development of the Ducati Panigale R on the Dunlop control tyre had moved forward in leaps and bounds in just two days, with both riders working hard with Team Manager Greg Maher and Technical Manager Mark “Doc” Downie. Apart from racing in Superbike Craig McMartin joined Beau in the Pro-Twins class dominating the day on the Racers Edge Performance Panigale S. With the setup of the Panigale R Superbike machines on track Craig decided to jump on the team’s spare bike, that he had not ridden previously, 10 minutes prior to the first Pro-Twin race and completely outclassed the field taking three wins from 3 starts. Beau rode the wheels off the Irving Vincent in race one and hassled local gun Michael McMillan in the opening stages before the top speed advantage of McMillan’s Aprilia V4 built an unassailable lead, Beau crossing the line in third place.
The KH equipment team made huge changes to the setup of the bike after race one and Beau came out in race three as an early test for the Sunday program securing another third position on the thumping Irving Vincent, that attracted massive crowd attention over the weekend. Sunday was once again another perfect Queensland day with ideal conditions for racing. The Sun was not only shining on the track but also the Racers Edge Performance Team who had their best day of the year. Starting from the front row of the grid Beau got a great start in the first Superbike race and was right in the thick of the frantic action early, Craig only fractionally behind. After one lap the top six had started to get away, Beau and Craig both going with the lead group and starting to get away, Beau in fifth and Craig sixth. Beau held his fifth position all the way to the flag with Craig just getting pipped by Liam Wilkinson for sixth. Race two saw both riders start from row two due to the progressive grid and have to fight hard in a closely bunched lead pack. Beau was in the thick of the action early in fifth and Craig not far behind in seventh. Unfortunately, Beau got involved in a braking duel and ended up off the track dropping to last position, Craig maintained his excellent speed and consistency to be sixth on lap three. Maintaining excellent pace Craig gradually moved forward, up to fourth on lap five. Beau meanwhile put his head down and charged through from last place, taking place after place he was up to ninth by lap five. Craig crossed the line in fourth, securing a front row grid position for the final race of the day and Beau recovered well to secure eighth and a second row grid position.
Race three was another exciting affair, in the first few laps positions seemed to change in the lead group almost every corner, Beau and Craig in the thick of the action early on. The Ducati Panigale R was showing a great turn of speed on the long straights but both Beau and Craig, holding down fourth and fifth positions for the first four laps looked visibly faster through the only right hand corners on the circuit and made multiple passing attempts in this area of the track. With the pace as hot as it was something had to give, on lap five Ben Burke ran on at the entry to turn three promoting both of the Racers Edge Performance riders one position. Next lap Matt Walters did the same at the same corner and Beau was up to second position and Craig holding down a fine fourth. With one lap to go Beau was coming under increasing pressure from Michael Blair for second, but rose to the challenge and a thrilling last lap ensued. On the run to line they crossed side by side with the initial result giving second to Blair, however a video review reversed the positions and Beau recorded his, and the team’s best result of the year, a fine second place. Craig also showed he has lost nothing bringing home his Panigale R in fourth place. Following strong and consistent performances across the three races Beau scored fifty-one points to secure third overall, Craig a solitary point behind in fourth.
Unfortunately, the day did not run as smoothly for Beau and the KH Equipment Irving Vincent in the Pro-Twins class. In race one, as always, Beau got a great launch and set a cracking pace on the first lap, completing it in the lead. Michael McMillan’s Aprilia RSV-4 had the straight line speed advantage but the superb drive off the corner of the big Vincent, combined with the sublime handling and confidence Beau had to brake extremely late, meant he was able to dive up the inside every time McMillan would motor past on the straights. This made for some highly entertaining racing over the race. McMillan eventually took victory after a brilliant ride by Beau on a bike that was giving away a huge amount in top speed. Craig decided to concentrate on the Superbike class on Sunday so did not contest the three Pro-Twins races. Race two started off in similar style with Beau leading early, with McMillan passing along the straights, this went on for two laps until an engine failure on the start straight at the completion of lap three saw the Vincent pull to the side of the track calling an early end to the weekend. Whilst disappointed with the failure, KH Equipment’s Ken & Barry Horner noted that when you are pushing the boundaries, as they are, with a pushrod air cooled engine sometimes these things happen.
The next meeting for the Racers Edge Performance North Coast V-Twins Craig McMartin Racing Team is at their home circuit of Sydney Motorsport Park on 9th and 10th of September. “Best weekend of racing for………quite some time” said an elated Beau Beaton. “We were on the pace from the word go this weekend. Craig gave the bike a once over after the issues we had at Mallala last round and the Panigale R just felt great as soon as I jumped on it. With the work of Greg (Maher – Team Manager) and Doc (Mark Downie – Technical Manager) we found more consistency with the rear grip and that allowed us to maintain much more consistency over race distance with the Dunlop control tyre. The racing was so close all weekend, on Saturday I got bumped by another rider that caused me to run off the track losing a far bit of ground, but we fought back to a reasonable result after that.
Because the racing was so close it gave us a good indication of how the Racers Edge Performance Panigale compares to the Yamaha and Kawasaki’s, it is more than a match on the brakes, and mid corner speed through the two lefts we were clearly faster. Drive out of second gear corners was also good it was only in the last bit of that long back straight where we lost a tenth or two, but we could make that back up with late braking and corner speed. The second place in race three on Sunday was fantastic, and a great relief, now I can shave this beard off. It was great to have Craig here this weekend too, as expected he was right on the pace and the data we got from this weekend is priceless for the remainder of the season. On the other hand, the weekend on the Vincent was difficult, this track does not really suit a bike that has great handling and corner speed and is a little down on the competition in power and straight line speed, but we fought hard.
The engine failure in race two on Sunday was just one of those things that happens, I was OK, the bike can be fixed and Ken and Barry will come back stronger at the next round. Any hope of retaining the Pro-Twin title has now pretty much gone but we will keep pushing for race wins. As always I must say a big thanks to Greg and Julie from Racers Edge, Craig McMartin for building the bikes and Steve Mudford fine tuning the setup while Mark “Doc” Downie and Greg worked tirelessly on them both all weekend.”. “It’s a long time since I started a Superbike race from the front row of the grid” joked Craig McMartin. “Last year when I won the final round in Formula Oz it felt pretty special, but I have to say that a result like this in the premier Superbike class on the Panigale R is even more special, especially to see Beau just ahead of me and on the podium for the round. I haven’t been racing since last year and even though I do a lot of cycling and my cardio fitness was fine my arms and upper body were really sore after the weekend. The last minute decision to run the spare bike in Pro-Twins on Saturday to assist in the development showed how good the Panigale S is out of the crate, it is a stock standard bike and Greg and Doc did a great job in getting it ready in time with only short notice.
I must say a huge thank you the two of them, they worked tirelessly all weekend to make sure everything was ready to go for both Beau and I, I don’t get the chance to go racing much anymore so if I am going to have a go I’ll always want do it right, and they allowed me to do that. I am so happy for the whole team that we had a weekend like that after all the work they put in”. “I don’t know what it is about Queensland Raceway, but once again we have had a great weekend here, it has been a pretty special place for our team over the years” commented Team Manager Greg Maher “It was a great, but busy weekend though. Having Craig back racing with us was good for the whole team, although it increased our workload, two riders, three bikes and a lot of wheel changes meant Doc and I were busy all weekend. Craig, although he has officially retired, showed over the weekend he has lost none of his passion, and desire to do well, and the information we got from both riders has been fantastic. We now have a really good base setting which is something that we have been working on for a while now.
Even though we had a lot of work looking after three bikes it was a very straight forward weekend too, no crashes, no electrical issues, no other problems just strong, confidence building results for the whole team. In fact, its weekends like this that keeps us going racing, and the group of guys we go racing with. I would go as far as to say it’s more than a race team, it’s more like a family and even if we didn’t go racing we would still enjoy each other’s company. All in all, I am very happy with the results from this weekend and it gives Beau, Craig, and the whole team a great boost of confidence for the remainder of the season, I can’t wait now for the next challenge”.