Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda Racing, CBR1000SP) captured the 2018 YMI Superbike Championship at Winton Raceway on Sunday.
In what was an epic showdown at the Spokes.com.au presents Round 6 of the Yamaha Motor Finance Australian Superbike Championship presented by Motul Pirelli (ASBK) he managed to wrap up the championship — with a round to spare.
Herfoss took out the first race, which was filled with drama from the outset as Bryan Staring (Kawasaki BCperformance, ZX-10R) crashed at turn one.
The race was soon red flagged as a result and the riders would have to restart.
When the race got back under way, Wayne Maxwell (Yamaha Racing Team, YZF-R1M) had a lightning start with Josh Waters (Team Suzuki ECSTAR, GSX-R1000R), Herfoss and Troy Bayliss (Desmosport Ducati, 1299 Panigale) in tow.
Maxwell was pumping in fast laps, but disaster struck when he crashed on lap eight; ending his championship run for 2018 and giving Waters the lead — for a short while.
Herfoss managed to hit the front with only five laps to go with a daring overtake, with the veteran Bayliss starting to charge and contend for victory.
As the race reached the concluding stages, an already crazy affair was brought to an end when Adam Senior’s (Senior Engineering, Yamaha YZF-R1) bike caught fire with the race red-flagged after only two thirds of its laps were completed.
The YMI Superbike race two was once again full of drama.
This time Herfoss would lead, but Maxwell would take the ascendency on lap two.
Unfortunately crashes by Chiodo and Jamie Stauffer (Craig McMartin Racing, Ducati 1299 Panigale) would cause a red flag.
When the race restarted, Nathan Spiteri (Livson, Suzuki GSX-R1000R) also crashed and the red flag came out again.
After the third restart the race was cut to 12 laps and Bayliss would lead from Maxwell and Waters.
With clear air in front of him it would be interesting to see if he could make a break for it, Herfoss was back in fourth.
Maxwell made his move on lap three and would be looking to avenge his crash in race one.
Herfoss, meanwhile, was content with a leisurely fourth, holding the points advantage he needed to secure the championship.
‘‘That was too stressful,’’ Herfoss declared post-race.
‘‘We had a bad start and we actually had a problem with the quick shifter.
‘‘I wouldn’t mind going old school, but it was cutting in and out.
‘‘I’m just so happy because we’ve worked so hard and my rivals have been strong.
‘‘To win it with a round to go, I wouldn’t have dreamt of it. Congratulations to the whole team.’’
In the Kawasaki Supersport Championship Cru Halliday (Yamaha Factory Racing, Yamaha YZF-R6) showed his style — and his new racing helmet — as he wrapped up the title.
Halliday also collected the overall round win with a second in race one and a win in race two.
Halliday was speechless and relieved to take out the title at Winton.
‘‘The pressure was on and I brought the new helmet here, so I had to wrap it up,’’ he said.
‘‘That last lap on the track, I’ve never been so cautious going around a track on a motorcycle.
‘‘I can’t wait to go out and celebrate this with the team, such a relief and thank God it’s over.’’
Max Croker (Mat Mladin Racing, Suzuki GSX-R) took out second overall after picking up his first Kawasaki Supersport race win in race one and then third in race two.
The feel-good story of the weekend was definitely the return to the class of Nic Liminton (Yamaha, YZF-R6) who collected fourth overall for the round.
But perhaps the real connection between riders and fans went all but unseen when Troy Bayliss took the champagne bottle from the podium, signed it and handed it to a passing young fan.
Then another wide-eyed youngster was handed Bayliss’ third-place trophy.
Bayliss then backtracked, saying he should have asked the kids if they wanted photos, but while he had some taken with the champagne bottle and its proud new owner, the lad with the trophy was nowhere to be found.
Probably headed for home in fear Bayliss might change his mind and want it back.
It was a delightful touch by a legend of the sport.