Bumps fail to halt title charge for the i-Style Natural Aprilia Racing Team at Queensland Raceway’s Ipswich 300.
i-Style Natural Aprilia Racing Team rider Ben Attard is now tied for second place in the QBE ASBK title chase following strong rides at round six held in conjunction with the Ipswich 300 - the second of three combined rounds in 2011 with the popular V8 Supercar Series held last weekend - 19-21 August, at Queensland Raceway.
For the second round in succession at the bumpy and technically demanding layout, Ben, and the i-Style Natural Aprilia started the weekend near the top of the timesheets, only .166 of a second shy of last round winner, and current lap record holder Jamie Stauffer at the top of the timesheets. Recent surgery to cure forearm pump issues, and the pace of the i-Style Natural Aprilia RSV4 giving Ben multiple reasons to feel confident for the two races.
Once again the team worked hard in the streamlined practice and qualifying sessions of the Supercar rounds to fine tune the setup of the motorcycle for the constantly changing track conditions.
Brilliant sunshine on Saturday saw Ben continue the form from practice and qualifying to secure a front row grid position – alongside the Factory Honda’s of Stauffer and Maxwell , and Yoshimura Suzuki WSB Star Josh Waters - in the QBE Superpole shootout that determines the final grid positions for the top eight.
Attard onboard his powerful i-Style Natural Aprilia RSV-4
Race one on Saturday afternoon – in front of the huge Supercar crowd saw Ben get the hole shot and lead through turn one, Super screens showing punters at the track forward facing on-board footage from second placed Jamie Stauffer’s Factory Honda through turn two. Clearly visible was the svelte hind quarter of the i-Style Natural Aprilia RSV4 Factory slowly pulling away on the run down the long back straight for the first time. Ben completed the lap in third place behind Stauffer and runaway championship leader Glen Allerton.
The pace was frantic at the front, Stauffer crashing out in front of Ben at turn four on the second lap.
By lap three Ben was engaged in out-braking wars at the entry to turn three, moving back into second until lap five when a combination of the slipstream and a strong tail wind sees Ben run wide at the same turn, as did most of the front runners at some stage of the race. What followed was a brilliant display of controlled aggressive riding, determination, and a motorcycle on its game. Charging through the field from as far back as seventh, Ben caught and passed 2003 champion Craig Coxhell on lap ten, Waters on lap twelve and finally a surprised fellow Queenslander -and three times New Zealand Superbike Champion - Robbie Bugden on the final lap to secure third place on the podium.
“That was pretty hectic, I battled with Jamie for the first lap and then he went down, we rubbed a few times – it was pretty close – Glen got by me for a lap or two and when I tried to pass him back I got his draft and the tailwind and I just out-broke myself at the end of the back straight and ended up in the dirt. I think I went back to seventh or even eighth, then I just dropped the hammer and got back up to third, it’s a pretty good result but I am really disappointed because I could have won it. It was good to lead and tomorrow I want do it for a lot longer – and on the right lap” commented Ben on Saturday afternoon.
Race two – held in front of more than fifty thousand enthusiastic spectators at the track – was another demonstration of skill and bravado, televised nationally, the focus was on the battle for the lead in the early laps, Stauffer, Waters and Attard pulling away from the remainder of the pack. Ben set the fastest lap of the race at that stage on lap thee – only to have Stauffer go faster again as a small problem – completely out of the teams control - meant that neither Ben, or The i-Style Aprilia RSV-4 were able to reward their obvious potential today, another third place the result.
Once again, good consistent rides in a quality field resulted in a podium finish for the round, the team’s third for the season. Ben is once again tied for second in the championship, this time with former dual Superbike and Supersport champion Stauffer.
“Race two was pretty good, I rode pretty well but we just had a little issue there that meant I didn’t quite have the grip of the front guys, the bike was working perfectly, it was awesome, the mechanics worked brilliantly over the weekend and I am really happy with two podiums, but that issue really cost us. We are beating race winners consistently now so our time has to come, sooner rather than later I hope. This not my favourite track – so two podiums here and is really good – the bike is awesome and we are ready to win and I can’t wait to get the RSV4 on a good racetrack with the way it is working right now” said Attard.
The team’s sights are now firmly set on the fastest corner in the county - the scene for the next round in the battle in the 2011 QBE ASBK Title – at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.
i-Style Natural Aprilia Racing Team Team Principal Steve Trinder admitted he was a little disappointed by the weekends results “I feel the bike was the best out there this weekend - Ben showed that in the second half of race one. The weekend showed just how good the bike is, how well its setup, and how well the team is working. Yes we are on the podium, but we are ready for – and deserve - so much more”.
The i-Style Natural Aprilia Racing team’s assault on the 2011 QBE ASBK would not be possible without the continued, ongoing support of their sponsors, Motul, RST Leathers, Alpinestars, RK Chain, Goodridge, Sportsbike, Monza Imports & Archers Paint & Panel who have all been long time supporters of the team.
2011 QBE Australian Superbike Championship Series Points: 1 G Allerton (BMW) 263, =2 J Stauffer (Honda) 196, =2 B Attard (i-Style Natural Aprilia) 196, 4 T Herfoss (Suzuki) 185, 5 C Coxhell (Honda) 181, 6 W Maxwell (Honda) 177.