The Aprilia Racing Team surged back into contention for race and round wins at Queensland Raceway with a strong performance in Round Three of the 2012 Australian Formula Xtreme Championship held over the weekend 21-22 July.
In a weekend that saw the team deliver on the podium potential shown in earlier rounds, rider Russell Holland - clearly getting back to his brilliant best - was dicing with the leaders in all six races held at the technical Queensland circuit.
The team had been looking forward to their home round - and the wide open spaces of Queensland Raceway - to unleash the potent Aprilia RSV-4. Taking every benefit from Friday practice to hit the ground running on Saturday, both Russel Holland in FX Superbike and the teams new recruit Sam Heath in Formula Oz, finished in the top three places overall for the FX Nationals Series, a sign of things to come for Sunday's Australian FX Superbike Championship.
Over Sundays three race Australian Formula Xtreme Championship program Russell Holland was once again on race winning pace and challenged for the lead in some hectic cut and thrust racing, his skill, the excellent handling and tractable V4 engine of the Aprilia combining well at the technically challenging circuit.
Improving his finishing position in each race form fourth in race one , third in race two, followed by a spectacular second place finish - one second from the race win, with the fastest lap of the race - in the third and final race was a warning shot to the rest of the FX Superbike competitors that Russell Holland has lost none of his tenacity, and the FX Spec Aprilia is clearly a formidable weapon.
"Second overall, I am definitely happy with that result. I really enjoyed the battle with Kev, Rick and Matt in the races and in all honesty it's been a while since I have been in really close action with a bike equal to the guys I'm battling with" commented Russell. "We had a big advantage in corner entry, the Aprilia is so well balanced and we made a setup change during Friday practice that gave it incredible stability under brakes. The team has also been working hard to blueprint the incredible V4 motor and that made a difference as well. I hope to improve even more at the next round back at Wakefield Park."
Sam Heath was full of confidence after his third place finish overall on Saturday, but an unfortunate crash early in Sundays qualifying session did enough damage to the RSV-4 Superbike to it exclude it from the Sunday program. This was disappointing considering the potential shown by Sam on Saturday, but also the main reason the team went for a hard charging young rider to replace Dan Stauffer. Stauffer was busy working with Sam during Friday practice in his role of rider coach and mentor with Sam showing the benefit of working with one of Australia's most experienced Superbike riders with a first up podium in the FX Nationals.
"That was a big crash, I cracked my helmet in half" said Sam. "Saturday was good but I wasn't pushing as hard as I could as I wanted to keep some in reserve for Sunday. I have to say though that the Pirelli's were great, they are one of the best tyres I have used and felt brand new at the end of Saturday's races. We did all the Friday practice and Saturdays qualifying on one set and another set for the Saturday races and Sundays qualifying session. I've also got to say a big thanks to Daniel, it was awesome having him there to help me on Friday. In fact I'd go as far as to say that it was one of the best helping hands I have ever had, I couldn't have had a better Friday in honesty. Big thanks also to the team, and I'm sorry I have left them with a bit of work to do."
"We had a brilliant home round this weekend, I am really happy" beamed Team Principal Steve Trinder. "Russell showed he is back to his best, his corner entry speed on the Aprilia was simply sensational to watch and it was great to be back at the front and challenging for the race win. Sam's crash on Sunday was disappointing but he's a young hard charger - we knew that - and that's one of the reasons we signed him to replace Daniel Stauffer. Sam will be back ready to go at the next round, but I was really happy with his performance on Saturday. A podium first time out shows the potential that Rod Archer and I saw in him. I also need to acknowledge the work done by Daniel in his role as rider coach and mentor during Fridays practice, we really are very lucky to have him as part of our team.
The Aprilia Racing team would like to thanks its sponsors for the 2012 season, as without them it is impossible to go racing Aprilia, Brisbane Aprilia, Archers Smash, Motul, RK Chains, Pirelli and Ferodo Brakes.