The opening round of the Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island may have dominated the sporting headlines on the final weekend of February, but there was more than just World Superbike races taking place at the 4.445km Australian circuit. It was also the opening round of the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) and Procon Maxima BMW rider Glenn Allerton made history by being the first BMW rider to win an Australian Superbike race.
In fact, Allerton dominated a drama-charged day at Phillip Island, winning both races on an HP Power Kit-equipped S 1000 RR that was still in road trim with headlights just a couple of weeks earlier. Having had an initial test of the RR at Phillip Island, Glenn returned to the same circuit for the official World Superbike test on 21-22 February. Although his team only had one day to turn the road bike into a race bike, he still managed to set the fastest times of the local riders on the first morning, giving him early confidence to aim high for 2011 with the RR.
Wet weather at Phillip Island on Sunday’s race day meant that the ASBK riders were forced to gamble after the race 1 out lap, with a damp circuit sending some of them scrambling for spare bikes with wet tyres fitted. The RR-mounted Allerton elected to remain on slicks, and despite being swamped in the opening laps, soon found his pace as a dry line emerged around the flowing circuit.
The 30-year-old picked off place after place, and by the fifth lap found himself in the lead after blazing past pole position man Wayne Maxwell, who was struggling on deteriorating wet rubber. By the time he scorched past the chequered flag, Allerton had a lead of over 20 seconds on his RR, with second-place going to another European machine, the Aprilia RSV-4 ridden by Ben Attard.
Proving the victory was no fluke, the New South Wales-based rider backed up the performance by winning race two in dry conditions, again by a solid margin. These two wins from two starts – on debut with a new team and race bike – has Allerton excited about his championship chances in 2011.
“This is the best start to a season I’ve ever had,” said an ecstatic Allerton. “The weekend really could not have gone better for us, given we are a new team and racing a new bike. We made a good choice this morning on the slicks but in the second race we showed that the pace was genuine. Given the limited time we’ve had to work on the RR, the team at Hepburn Motorsport has done an awesome job. Thanks also to BMW.”
Allerton leaves Phillip Island with a 13-point advantage over second-placed rider Troy Herfossi. The teams will now set their sights on the next round of the championship, which will be held at Symmons Plains Raceway in Tasmania. Allerton is looking forward to continuing this early form at his favourite track on the calendar.
Procon Maxima BMW team owner, Wayne Hepburn, was thrilled with Allerton’s performance, saying that: “It’s wrong that a standard road bike can compete at this level but that’s how good the BMW S 1000 RR is. The RR, combined with Allerton’s skills, was indeed a recipe for success.”
This was a view shared by Tony Sesto, National Manager for BMW Motorrad Australia, who said: “It was evident from the outset that we would have success on Sunday. The team’s commitment and professionalism towards preparing the bike, as well as Glenn’s determination to win, was the proof. It was an outstanding result for BMW considering the RR is still a very new bike in the Superbike segment. All of us at BMW Australia are ecstatic.”