Tom Toparis has finally locked up his first Australian Supersport Championship after he guided his number seven Landbridge Yamaha YZF-R6 to two race wins at the penultimate round of the 2019 Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK), held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.Toparis entered the round with a comfortable points margin over his rivals and a top five finish in the opening race would have been more than enough to secure the championship. But when the lights turned green, his competitive DNA kicked in and he engaged in a one-on-one combat with South Australians Nic Liminton in the opening ten lap race. The pair were simply in a class of their own with the fighting it out.
Liminton made his final dash for the race lead on lap nine when he drafted past Toparis down the main straight heading into Doohan Corner. It looked as if Liminton was on course to potentially take his second race win of his career until he ran off line into the entry to Lukey Heights and tucked the frontend, allowing Toparis to race to a 13.109 second victory over Aidan Hayes.
With Toparis notching up his twelfth race win for the season, it was more than good enough to see the Goulburn based rider locking up his maiden national championship and putting it beyond reach.
“While I only needed to finish sixth to secure the title, it was important for me to win the race as to win the championship its always a lot nicer to have a race victory to go along with it,” said Toparis. “I’ve been trying to win the Australian Supersport Championship for a couple of years now. This year has been like a dream. The Landbridge Transport Yamaha YZF-R6 has performed so well all season, which is a huge credit to my team. I’m just happy to get the job done for my team, Yamaha Motor Australia and the rest of our sponsors. We can now head into the final three races of the season with any pressure and simply enjoy the them,” he added.
And that he did! Race two saw Toparis again ride into the sunset, this time beating Liminton by 5.684 seconds, which handed Toparis his sixth overall round win for 2019.
“It’s been a great weekend and a weekend which we’ll never forget,” said a jubilant Toparis after race two. “I’m just so happy to be able to get the championship locked up this morning and to be able to top it off with another race win is just fantastic. I’m just so proud of everyone who has helped me this year and I couldn’t have done it without them,” concluded Toparis.
Second to Toparis overall for the round was Hayes, aboard his Hayes Johnston Pty Ltd/Hayes Electrical entered Yamaha R6 machine. Not only was Hayes’ second place in race one his first time in the top three, but his second-place overall finish was his maiden Australian Supersport Championship podium finish.
Hayes explained that the start of the weekend didn’t go to plan for him, as things didn’t quite work out in terms of his bike setup. However, he reverted to some previous settings which he knew would have given him some good race pace for Sunday.
“We were running third in the last few laps in race one, but to due to Nic’s crash we managed to finish second. It’s disappointing for Nic, but we’ll take it,” said Hayes.
For race two, he improved his start significantly and be up the front right from the green light. Hayes spent the entire race battling with fellow YRD supported rider, Jack Passfield aboard his Stay Upright Rider Training entered Yamaha YZF-R6. The end result saw Hayes hanging onto third place, beating Passfield by a mere .028.
“Race two just all fell into place. I felt really comfortable out there which was a big positive. To be able to score a 2-3 result and my first overall podium finish is such a great feeling. I just can’t wait for the final round in a few weeks’ time now,” concluded Hayes.
Three points shy of Hayes was Passfield in third, which also marked his first time he has taken a top three overall finish in the Australian Supersport Championship. The 21-year-old, who started from third on the grid, his first front row start in the Supersport category, rode to a 3-4 result, which he described as a great weekend.
Right from the start of the weekend Passfield was on the pace, which according to him, helped him a lot. “To be able to be up the front and chasing the faster riders has helped me so much,” explained Passfield. “The last few rounds have slowly been coming together and finally it is starting to pay off. I have to say a massive thanks to the crew at Stay Upright Rider Training who have been in my corner helping me with coaching. They have believed in me from the word go, so its nice to reward them with this podium finish,” he added.
Broc Pearson finished fourth overall for the round, making it a Yamaha 1-2-3-4 finish. Fellow Yamaha riders, Ty Lynch, Jack Hyde and Rhys Belling completed the top ten, finishing in sixth, seventh and eighth place respectfully.
In terms of the overall championship, five Yamaha riders lead the way, with Toparis already having locked up the title, with Pearson in second on 246-points, 38-points clear of Liminton, with Hayes leaping from fifth to fourth place, with Cube Racing’s Oli Bayliss bumped down to fifth place, trailing Hayes by ten points after he crashed out in race one, but had to retire from race two due to the damaged sustained in the opening race.
In the Australian Supersport 300 Championship, it was damage control for Max Stauffer, who had his championship lead cut from 39-points to just 16-points. Staring from second on the grid, Stauffer scored a 6-6-4 result, which handed him sixth place for the round.
The Australian Superbike Championship now heads 995km north from Phillip Island to Sydney Motorsport Park for the grand finale which is scheduled for 1-3 November.