Giles stars on all-new Suzuki Tireless Team Suzuki rider Shawn Giles hit the ground running in qualifying for round one of the 2005 Australian Superbike Championship at Phillip Island from April 1-3. The New South Welshman, riding the ...
Giles stars on all-new Suzuki
Tireless Team Suzuki rider Shawn Giles hit the ground running in qualifying for round one of the 2005 Australian Superbike Championship at Phillip Island from April 1-3.
The New South Welshman, riding the all-new 2005-model GSX-R1000, uncorked a 1:35.033 in this afternoon's second 30-minute qualifying session, which eclipsed his existing lap record by 0.233sec. Moreover, his time would have placed him 11th on the grid in the corresponding world Superbike round.
Amazingly, Giles set his time on a machine which is just at the beginning of its developmental cycle, boding well for the 34-year-old's tilt at a fourth national championship after his three-peat from 2000-02. Giles is already the most successful rider in Australian Superbike history, ahead of Kawasaki rider Marty Craggill who prevailed in 1997-98.
"For the bike to be going this well straight out of the crate is a sign of just how good this new Suzuki is," said Giles. "I'm ecstatic, because I reckon I could have dipped into the 34-second bracket if I wasn't held up by a few backmarkers on my flying lap."
Giles wasn't the only rider to kick off the domestic season in a rush, with Joe Rocket Honda's Adam Fergusson (CBR1000RR) also dipping under the lap record of 1:35.248. The defending champion unleashed a 1:35.093 in the second qualifier, setting the scene for three thrilling Superbike races -- two tomorrow and one on Sunday.
In a day where all the qualifiers set their best times in the second session, Josh Brookes (Joe Rocket Honda CBR1000RR, 1:35.554) will start from the front row of the grid, sandwiched between teammate Fergusson and Team Kawasaki Australia's Jamie Stauffer (ZX-10R, 1:35.630).
Stauffer, who finished third in both the 2000-01 Superbike championships, is coming off a hot streak at Phillip Island, having won the last four races he has contested -- all in the Supersport category.
In 2005, he's maintaining incumbency at Kawasaki, but will concentrate solely on an all-out attack in Superbikes as the Japanese marque chases its first race win since Andrew Pitt in 1999.
Reigning number two Shannon Johnson (Yamaha Racing Team YZF-R1, 1:35.977) was the last rider to make a splash in the 35-second bracket around the 4.448km circuit, and will start alongside teammate Daniel Stauffer (YZF-R1, 1:36.013) and the first of the privateer brigade, Scott Charlton (BTM Motorcycles GSX-R1000, 1:36.284). Russell Holland (CBR1000RR, 1:37.764) will start from grid position eight.
Further down the field, a couple of Superbike luminaries are lurking: Anthony Gobert (Redwing Honda CBR1000RR, 1:37.086) in 12th and 2003 national champion Craig Coxhell (GSX-R1000, 1:39.270) in 17th. Gobert, a seven-time world Superbike winner and 1994 Australian champion, is making a return to road racing after a 12-month involuntarily exile, while Coxhell is riding his mildly tweaked Suzuki as a 'warm-up' for his assault on this year's European Superstock Championship.
In Supersport qualifying, just 0.136sec separates pacesetter Brookes (Joe Rocket Honda CBR600RR, 1:38.798) from fourth-placed Fergusson (CBR600RR, 1:38.934).
With riders playing a tyre conservation 'game' in light of the hot conditions expected tomorrow -- there is a ceiling on the number that can be used during a race weekend -- qualifying was never going to be an all-out affair, with the major fireworks expected in the opening eight-lapper on Saturday morning.
Privateer Mark Aitchison (Fraser Motorcycles YZF-R6, 1:38.862) is one who will be giving it all from grid position two, alongside impressive teenager Jason O'Halloran (Rocket Racing CBR600, 1:38.882).
Queenslander Robbie Baird (Yamaha Racing Team YZF-R6, 1:39.728) will lead the second row away, with fond memories of a win in last year's final round of the championship at Phillip Island.
Thirty-two riders will line-up in race one, including the highly rated West Aussie Bryan Staring (Allect Racing CBR600RR), who has stepped up to Supersport after winning last year's 125 GP national title. He will start from 10th.
In the Superstock Cup for Australia's up and coming talent, Yamaha's Darren Edwards (YZF-R6, 1:44.216) will the lead the capacity field away in this weekend's three races.