It was a mixed round of racing for Kawasaki BCperformance in the 2018 Australian Superbike Championship at Wakefield Park in New South Wales, as previous points leader Bryan Staring recorded a 5-DNF scorecard.
Round one winner Staring qualified sixth on the grid with a 58.347s and improved to fifth on-board the Ninja ZX-10R in the opening 20-lap encounter, however a crash at turn two while running sixth ruled him out of the second race at half distance.
That non-finish unfortunately demoted him to 14th overall for the round, however he is now sixth in the championship standings and 29 points outside of the lead following two of seven rounds. Regardless, he's firmly focused on gaining redemption in the coming rounds.
"Race one was okay to finish in fifth, but crashing out of race two was a disaster for my championship," Staring commented. "It was just a disappointing way to finish the round and everything seemed to be a bit of a challenge this weekend. Anyway, it was my mistake when I went off the track and I couldn't restart the bike, so that was it.
"By no means are we out of it, right now it's still early in the championship and we have some tracks coming up that I imagine will be well-suited to myself and the Ninja ZX-10R. Winning is definitely still the target and we're confident that we can bounce back in the rounds to come, so a big thanks to the team for their efforts all weekend."
Teammate Kyle Buckley enjoyed a return to form in New South Wales to capture 10th overall on Sunday. He qualified 13th with a 58.943s lap-time on Saturday and then lodged 12-10 finishes in an impressive showing on race day, now P13 in the standings.
"It was good to start the weekend strongly here at Wakefield Park and then by Sunday afternoon, to be in the top 10 was a really strong result," explained Buckley. "I didn't expect this following Phillip Island, so I'm just really happy and am getting my confidence back again. Now I really look forward to Tailem Bend and I'm excited for more laps."
Kawasaki BCperformance team owner Kelvin Reilly is certain Staring will be able to rebound from Sunday's disappointment, while also being pleased with Buckley's return to form at the 2.2-kilometre venue in hot and windy conditions.
"We worked hard on the set-up all weekend and got down to a reasonable pace, but at the end of the day we could have done better," Reilly reflected. "A lot of things didn't go our way and, to be honest, Bryan is actually sick today, which is probably what caused the fatigue and led to the mistake. Still, we are definitely still in this and it's a long season.
"On the other side of the garage, it was really nice to see Kyle coming back to where he belongs and his confidence is increasing. To finish inside the top 10 was good in his second year on the Superbike, so I think he's moved on from the injuries and can use what he took out of this weekend and come strong in the rounds to come."
The weekend saw Giuseppe Scarcella finish fifth overall with the BCperformance Junior Team in the Kawasaki Supersport ranks, claiming sixth in race one and the fifth in the second outing. He also sits fifth in the championship with that result. Teammate Ben Baker was absent from the Supersport 300 class at this round, currently overseas competing.
From P10 on the grid, Swann Insurance Kawasaki's Matt Walters finished 11th overall in the Superbike division aboard his Ninja ZX-10R despite some minor mistakes in the races, taking 10-12 finishes. As a result he is now eighth in the points, continuing his form displayed in 2018.
"We had the Ninja ZX-10R handling really well and the Swann Insurance Kawasaki team worked great all weekend," Walters said. "In the first race I ran off the track, but still scored valuable points, and then did pretty much the same in race two from eighth position with a couple of laps to go. It was a mistake on my behalf, but I still got a good result and I'm happy with the round. We can now move forward from here and look forward to the next one!"
Meanwhile Brad Swallow qualified 12th, but a major incident in the warm-up denied him the opportunity of a strong result. He rode his spare bike to 17th place in race one, but sat out the second and ended up 19th overall for the round.
Finishing second on track in the Supersport was Goulburn local Tom Toparis on-board his Cube Racing-prepared Ninja ZX-6R, remaining in the championship lead, while teammate Oli Bayliss was runner-up in Supersport 300 riding a Ninja 300. He also leads his class following Wakefield Park.
Team GoEleven Kawasaki World Supersport Championship regular Lachlan Epis made a guest appearance in Goulburn, qualifying second and then claiming third in race one on a privateer Ninja ZX-6R, but crashed out of the second race later in the afternoon.
Round three of the 2018 Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) will be contested at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia on 19-22 April. Visit www.asbk.com.au for further information on the series.