Winners make series move
TWO new winners joined the 2012 Australian Superbike Championships at Queensland Raceway over the weekend.
Scott Charlton claimed a popular privateer victory in race one and Jamie Stauffer returned to form to claim race two.
It was an eventful round with a damp but drying track creating set-up headaches for riders as they lined up for the opening 17-lap race.
From seventh on the grid, Racer's Edge Suzuki rider Charlton took the ultimate gamble. He pitted following the warm-up lap to swap to his second bike and a dry set-up with slick tyres.
Factory Suzuki riders Ben Attard and Josh Waters were in command early, with the points leader stretching his legs to build what would appear to be a comfortable gap.
However, the counter-strategy of Charlton proved to be a master stroke and one that saw him pick off rider after rider with relative ease.
By lap seven, Charlton had taken the lead and greeted the chequered flag close to 24 seconds clear of Waters who was battling on worn wet rubber.
"I went out there on the wet bike in the warm-up lap and there were a few dry lines," Charlton said.
"We were going to leave the dry bike in the shed but the team looked at the radar and said there was no more rain coming so we brought it into the pit lane in case.
"Six or seven laps in I could see the rubber was coming off the wets of the leaders and I knew I'd made the right choice."
Stauffer made forward progress from grid position six to claim the final podium placing.
Midday sun allowed the track to dry out with a hectic pace set from the outset of race two, the lead changing between pole-sitter Robbie Bugden and fellow Suzuki rider Attard in the early stages.
Stauffer made his move to the front on lap two, clearly confident with his Honda's settings in the dry. He maintained the advantage for the remaining 15 laps as the scrap for the minor podium placings played out behind him.
He crossed the line 4.833s clear of defending champion Glenn Allerton and pole-sitter Bugden, who recovered from a problematic opening race.
Stauffer was relieved to get his first win of the season.
"I haven't had a good season and today was a good confidence booster," Stauffer said.
"We made a big change last night that worked pretty well in this morning's conditions, and then we kept the same kind of set-up for the dry race which I was really comfortable with.
"I was able to control the race and keep a lead which was good ... it shows we're making progress with the bike."
Bugden was left to rue a disastrous opening race where he fell from pole position to an eventual finishing position of 16th.
Like the rest of the field, he struggled on the treaded tyre but found himself caught up in another rider's incident and ran on to the wet in-field.
He knew he had the speed in the dry and pushed hard to salvage third yesterday afternoon.
"The opening race was a disaster - like everyone I was on the wrong tyres and I didn't have a good feeling for what the bike was doing," Bugden said.
"As I was coming out of turn three, there was a crash in front of me and I had to run off the track. The out-field was wet and I went down a lap trying to get back on and re-join."
The Australian Superbike Championships resume at Phillip Island on August 17, the penultimate event.