Following the recent successful outings in the ASC Swann Series, Racers Edge Performance, North Coast V-Twins and Craig McMartin Racing headed south to Winton Motor Raceway to take on the Factory supported teams in the ASBK Final at Winton Raceway over the weekend of 30 September to October 2.
The meeting was to be held on the freshly resurfaced track, and with no testing prior to the event, the team were disappointed to be greeted by cold and wet conditions for Fridays three, twenty-five-minute, practice sessions. With a wet track, and the possibility of rain also affecting the remaining two days of the event, the team readied the Ducati Panigale R’s to get out and work on finding a wet setup to enable Beau Beaton to continue his recent run of strong results.
Practice session one finished with Beau recording the ninth fastest time using his Dunlop wet tyres on a fully wet track, and then going on to improve that time by over two and a half seconds in P2 as the track dried slightly. The third and final practice session was to be held on a very wet track and Beau, like a majority of the riders in the field opted to not take part and prepare for the first of two thirty-minute qualifying sessions to take place the next morning. With the strong base setting the team now have only minor adjustments were required to convert the impressive Panigale R for the wet conditions.
The first of two qualifying sessions was held on a wet but drying tack and the session ended with Beau completing nine laps, his fastest lap coming on his last to secure eleventh position. The weather was continuing to improve and although not getting any warmer the track was completely dry for the second qualifying session later in the day, and lap times improved considerably. Once again, the strong base setup of the Panigale R allowed Team Manager Greg Maher and Craig McMartin, the teams bike builder, and Ducati guru, to quickly react and adapt the Racers Edge Performance North Coast V-Twins machine to the changing conditions. A one position improvement, and a drop of over twelve seconds in lap time due to the dry track would see Beau line up on the fourth row of the grid next to ASBK Championship points leader Wayne Maxwell on the Factory Yamaha for the seventeen lap races on Sunday.
Sunday’s first race for the final round of the 2016 ASBK Title got underway in slightly warmer, but importantly, completely dry conditions. Beau launched well off the line and held his starting position at the end of a hectic first lap. Beau and the Panigale uncorked their fastest lap of the weekend on lap two comfortably sitting right on Maxwell’s tail and leading the Ducati charge when Beau crashed losing the front at the tricky turn three on lap three.
With the bike suffering considerable damage the team got to work preparing the second bike for action in race two. Luckily, Beau did not suffer any injuries but was disappointed as, although early in the race, he was feeling very comfortable running his best pace of the weekend so far.
Due to the efforts of the team the spare Panigale R was ready for race two. Although slightly heavier and less developed than the number one bike it was able to put in a top shelf performance. Starting from his qualifying grid position Beau repeated his efforts from the first two laps of race one, sitting in tenth position right on the tail of Braydon Elliott and dropping another second off his best lap time from the previous race. Assuming ninth position, and the mantle of leading Ducati on lap three, Beau continued to push hard to stay with the lead group. By lap five he had built a comfortable buffer over the next rider and due to not finishing the early part of race one found himself in uncharted waters in terms of tyre wear. Maintaining a pace sufficient to hold position on track, while not stress the Dunlop tyres the riders in front managed to slowly pull way but Beau increased his leaded over the pack behind. When, in the final stages of the race, Beau was subjected to pressure from a closing Mike Jones on the Factory Ducati Panigale he was able to drop a second off his ties into the low 1:24’s to hold his position and finish in eighth position, and leading Ducati. Beau also finished as the fourth placed privateer rider in the field, a commendable performance considering the increased length of the races over the sprint format the team has been racing in the ASC Swann Series.
The next meeting for the Racers Edge Performance North Coast V-Twins Craig McMartin Racing Team is the penultimate round of the 2016 Swann Series at Queensland Raceway on the 28-30 October.
“Good weekend really, I am really happy” commented Beau Beaton. “Yes we had a little spill but to be able to jump on the spare bike that has very little development and that I have hardly ridden and get a PB around Winton speaks volumes for where we are at in terms of setup and how Craig builds these bikes. This weekend was all about additional track time and with Friday being wet, and the first session on Saturday too we lost a lot of that time. So to be as strong as we were was good. I was feeling pretty good in race one and then just lost the front without warning. The front tyre we were using this weekend is the same one we use in the ASC Swann Series so that is a bonus but the rear with the additional grip took some of the feel away and with so few dry sessions we didn’t have time to get on top of it. I also enjoyed the longer races for a change and I think doing the twenty-five lap Supermoto race on my KTM the other weekend at the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship in Newcastle certainly helped with that too. Still, the weekend was good, we have had some time on the bike between rounds of the ASC Swann Series and we will now head the QR feeling strong and see if we can keep the podium run going. As always I must say a big thanks to Greg and Julie from Racers Edge, Craig McMartin for building the bikes being able to do this round at short notice”.
“Conditions on Friday were pretty horrible, but we got out and did a few laps” said Team Manager Greg Maher “Normally you wouldn’t bother but the forecast said that rain was a probability everyday so we had to make sure we were in a position to race in the wet if required. In the end our weekend was running very smoothly, like a race weekend should. We have a really good base setting for Dunlop tyres now and we only needed minor compression and rebound adjustments to cope with either wet or dry conditions. We did find that we probably need to find a setting to work our front tyre a little more though, Beau lost the front without warning in race one and at the end of race two, while everyone else’s fronts were destroyed, ours looked almost new. In hindsight we probably should have tried the soft option front that no one else thought could do the race distance, but the rain on Friday reduced our available dry track time. The crash in race one was a little disappointing but that happens in racing, and it is not like Beau does it a lot, but unfortunately we just happened to put a new set of Racers Edge Performance fairings on the Panigale R before that race though. It was also a long time since we have done a race of that distance and Beau just backed it off in the mid-section of the race when his position was secure to conserve tyres, but he was able to increase his pace at the end when he was coming under threat to finish as top Ducati. Craig now has a bit of work to do to get the bike ready for our next meeting in Queensland, we had good pace last time so I can’t wait to get back there and continue this rich run of form.