Eastern Creek Race Report: 4th-6th November 2011
WNR Kawasaki Dominate Formula Xtreme
In the short space of 12 months Warwick Nowland and his WNR Kawasaki team have risen above the best Australia has to offer and dominated the final round of the 2011 Formula Xtreme Championship at Sydney’s Eastern Creek raceway. Yesterday’s epic result ended the Factory Yamaha team’s dominance of the highly popular 600cc Superstock category in which the motorcycles are identical to those that can be purchased from motorcycle dealer’s showrooms.
The weekend began strongly with WNR Kawasaki rider Glenn Scott improving on his personal best times during Friday’s free practice sessions. The team have worked tirelessly on tuning the suspension and geometry of the Kawasaki ZX6R and much praise must go to WNR Kawasaki’s suspension technician, Stewart Winton.
Qualifying was decided by Glenn Scott’s last lap charge placing the Kawasaki rider in pole position and under the qualifying lap record.
Race 1 saw the all black ZX6R launch into the lead but it was short lived as the blue Yamaha of Kevin Curtain took control along Eastern Creek’s start/finish straight. The lead swapped several times before Glenn Scott moved away in the closing stages taking his maiden victory by 1.4 seconds ahead of Kevin Curtain.
Race 2 was similar however the top 5 riders started to close the gap and at the chequered flag it was Kawasaki’s victory once again with Glenn Scott making it 2 in a row.
Race 3 proved controversial as Yamaha and Kevin Curtain searched for answers resorting to a tyre change which imposed a 30 second penalty on the Yamaha star. The race was intense with track temperatures above 50 degrees and an enthralling battle amongst 6 riders. Curtain was the first to break free establishing a 2 second advantage making the most of his new tyre. Scott was not as fortunate having to fight amongst the dueling pack before finally having clear air to hunt down Curtain. The Kawasaki rider proved infallible matching Curtain’s lap times on much older tyres finishing 2 seconds behind at the chequered flag but 1st overall after the Yamaha riders 30 second penalty was imposed.
Saturday’s races did not have television coverage leaving anticipation high with tradition proving extra effort for Sunday’s Speedweek cameras.
Qualifying was once again extremely close with Kevin Curtain taking the top spot edging out Glenn Scott by 0.13 seconds. The top 7 riders were covered by 1 second.
Race 1 was exactly what the Speedweek cameras wanted with Scott, Curtain and Sean Condon swapping positions lap after lap. The leading trio made a break from the rest of the pack making it an epic battle between 2 Yamaha’s and 1 Kawasaki. 0.8 seconds covered the 3 riders as they crossed the finish line with Glenn Scott making everyone aware that Saturday was not just good fortune. Scott took the victory just 0.05 seconds ahead of his constant companion Kevin Curtain.
Race 2 was minutes away from starting when a torrential down pour hit the Eastern Creek circuit causing anxious moments as teams swapped bikes and fitted wet weather tyres. The organizers then suffered a delay as an air fence needed repairing after the down pour. The rain had stopped and clear skies emerged and although the racetrack was still wet, it could dry very quickly. Tyre choice would be a gamble with some riders on dry tyres whilst others chose wet weather tyres. 3 out of 4 riders on the front row fitted wet weather tyres which would later prove the correct choice. The first lap was not for the faint-hearted with bikes and riders shuffling through turns 1 and 2 searching for grip. Glenn Scott showed maturity beyond his years by waiting for the right time to move past each rider and take the lead. Curtain pursued Scott as did Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin onboard the Petronas Yamaha. But it was once again Scott who mastered the conditions and took victory by 0.64 seconds ahead of Hafizh Syahrin.
Race 3 would hopefully be a clean sweep for the WNR Kawasaki team. The sun was shining and the team had in-depth conversations about dealing with worn tyres, the heat and of course the opposition. It was the final Superstock race of the year for WNR Kawasaki before focusing on Supersport in just 2 weeks time. For the final time Glenn Scott stormed off the line into the lead closely followed by Curtain, Syahrin, Condon and Josh Hook. The challengers were to falter with Syahrin crashing out and the outright speed of Glenn Scott ruining any chance of those in chase. Scott was the only rider to lap at a similar pace to Race 1 when each rider had new tyres. To underline his dominance and the team’s strength, Scott took victory by 4.1 seconds ahead of his arch rival Kevin Curtain.
It was an impressive if not extraordinary display of speed and consistency from the WNR Kawasaki team. 6 wins from 6 starts, a feat that has never been achieved by another manufacturer in the Yamaha sponsored series.
“What can I say? I train so hard and I have wanted to beat Kevin all year. To win all the races was my plan but when it happens it feels pretty good. I do believe I can win and this weekend has made it clear, I want to win at Phillip Island in 2 weeks time. I have to thank my team and the sponsors, we have everything we need and a good bunch of guys running the show and I’m also looking forward to working with Gary Matthews from Kawasaki’s World Superbike team when he arrives in Australia. Thank you to Kevin also, he is a great rider.”
Sam Costanzo: (Crew chief)
“Today was special for us as a team. We have been working hard and we will continue to do so. Glenn did a great job and so did the rest of the team. It was good not only to see Glenn win but other Kawasaki’s are getting closer to the front.”
“This time last year I went to Kawasaki with a plan, to start a race team and help Kawasaki win races again. And I wanted to help Glenn Scott establish himself. Those boxes were ticked today. The job was done and that’s what I am about, getting the job done. I’m so happy for our sponsors and everyone involved, thank you for supporting me and joining our journey, we are just starting. I apologise for not having our full structure in place at Eastern Creek but it is being prepared for the 2 big races at Phillip Island. To see Glenn master all conditions today and leave Yamaha scratching their heads was great. We have to race them again in 2 weeks time so I’m sure they will be out for revenge. But we want to keep winning so let’s fight. This is what it’s all about.”
The team will be back at Eastern Creek Raceway this Friday testing both bikes. The Supersport bike will have a new and improved engine and yesterday’s winning Superstock bike will be transformed into a second Supersport bike to commence tyre testing with Pirelli for December's inaugural 8 Hour endurance race at Phillip Island.