Bikes: Mixed fortunes for Joe Rocket

Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider Joshua Waters claimed pole position and three thrilling race wins from four starts on his Suzuki GSX-R600 in front of a record Australian Superbike Championship crowd at Queensland Raceway's double-header at the weekend.

But Waters' results were overshadowed by a race incident on Saturday that involved Team Joe Rocket Suzuki Superbike riders Shawn Giles and Robbie Bugden, with three-time champion Giles seriously injured in the high-speed crash.

Both Giles and two-time New Zealand Superbike champion Bugden were treated at the scene by the Suzuki-sponsored Racesafe Medical Team, with Giles subsequently transferred to Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital. The 38-year-old is expected to remain in hospital for a further four days while his condition stabilises.

Giles suffered severe concussion and a fracture to his lower leg in the incident, although he was cleared by medical personnel of suspected chest and shoulder injuries, while Bugden's injuries were confined to severe bruising and soft-tissue damage.

The incident which claimed both Team Joe Rocket Suzuki riders occurred as Giles and Bugden were battling for fourth place on the penultimate lap in Saturday's opening 16-lap Superbike race.  When Bugden crashed heavily on the exit of Turn Three, the closely-following Giles had no time to take evasive action and hit Bugden's cart-wheeling Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R1000 at full throttle. The impact flung both riders high into the air with debris from the two bikes spread across the track surface. Race officials immediately red-flagged the race.

Bugden bravely returned to the track for race two later in the day and claimed nine points for a 12th-place finish, but was ruled out of Sunday's Round Five races when his injuries proved too painful.

The double-header concept at the Queensland circuit saw Round Four's two races conducted on Saturday, with Round Five's two races held on Sunday - a potential haul of 101pts available to any rider who could claim pole position and win all four races to clean-sweep the weekend.

Giles had claimed pole position for the double-header round during Friday qualifying with the fastest ever lap of the 3.12km Ipswich by a motorcycle with a stunning 1:08.6470, a lap time 2.3563sec faster than Garth Tander's V8 Supercar lap record.

The bonus point for pole position had moved the in-form Giles to within two points of championship leader Glenn Allerton in his quest for a record-breaking fourth Australian Superbike Championship, while the pace of the Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R1000s was evidenced when Bugden topped the speed trap readings at the end of the back straight with a top speed of 273km/h. Team Joe Rocket Suzuki team mates Craig Coxhell and Giles recorded 271km/h and 270km/h respectively to give Suzuki GSX-R1000s the top three readouts.

With Giles and Bugden taking no further part in the race meeting, 2003 Australian Superbike Champion Coxhell was left to fly the Team Joe Rocket Suzuki colours in Sunday's Round Five.

The 25-year-old, runner-up in the 2007 championship, recorded fourth and third placings in Sunday's two 16-lap races to claim third overall for the round; Coxhell's battle with defending champion Jamie Stauffer and points leader Glenn Allerton in the second of the day's two races the highlight of the meeting. The Team Joe Rocket Suzuki rider hit the race lead with two laps to run, but a small error under brakes dropped him to third, just 0.376sec off the race win.

Along with fourth and sixth placings in Saturday's two races, Coxhell has jumped from sixth to fourth in the overall points standings with two rounds remaining in the seven-round series.

Pole position and two impressive race wins in Saturday's Round Four moved 21-year-old Waters to within 11 points of the Australian Supersport Championship lead with the Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R600 rider looking to repeat the double victory on Sunday.

However, a small error when leading the final lap of Sunday's opening 16-lap Supersport sent Waters crashing out of the event; the Victorian escaping injury in the high-speed get-off which sent bike and rider tumbling through the Turn One gravel trap.

Waters bounced back - literally - to claim a thrilling 0.295sec victory in Race Two and consolidate second on the championship points table, 28 points adrift of series leader Jamie Stauffer with two rounds left to run.

The sixth and penultimate round of the 2008 Australian Superbike and Supersport Championship takes place at Tasmania's Symmons Plains Raceway on August 29-31.

Phil Tainton - Team Manager:

"It's been a great weekend for Josh and the Team Joe Rocket Suzuki GSX-R600, but that's been overshadowed by the injuries to Shawn and Robbie.

"I'm proud of how the whole team pulled together in difficult circumstances and how Josh and Craig were able to keep their focus on the jobs they had to do.

"Josh has shown he's capable of breaking up the blue team at the front of the Supersport field and that we've got a competitive bike that can win the championship.

"For Josh to come back from his crash and win the next race was an impressive performance, as was Craig's battle for the race win on Sunday.

"I'm extremely happy with how the two riders performed over the four days of the double-header event in conditions that were demanding on everyone. We had eight races to prepare for and the concerns for Shawn and Robbie in our minds the whole time."

Aaron Jones - Suzuki Australia Racing Co-ordinator:

"All of us wish Shawn a speedy recovery. The response of the Racesafe Medical Team at the circuit should be commended and Shawn's progress over the past two days since the incident has been extremely encouraging."It's a testimony to Shawn's fitness and dedication - as well as the care he's receiving at the hospital - that he's recovering from his injuries as quickly as he is."I'd like to congratulate Phil Tainton and the whole Team Joe Rocket Suzuki crew for being so professional and resilient over what was a tough weekend. Congratulations to Josh and Craig on their results across the two days."

Craig Coxhell:

"I'm happy with my result in the final race after what had been a difficult day on Saturday. I got a double slingshot down the back straight in that final race on Sunday that put me into the lead, but I arrived at my braking mark a lot faster than I had previously. I out-braked myself and that let Jamie and Glenn back past. When they went side-by-side through Turns Four and Five on the last lap I thought I'd have another chance to go for the win, but they just didn't back off and didn't leave a gap. The racing is unbelievably hard and close this year.

"My bike had good race pace all weekend, but I was frustrated with my starts on Saturday. The team made some changes overnight and I was able to get away with the front guys on Sunday and run with them.

"There's no way you can close down a gap this season as the pace is so hot. You can't give these guys a start in the early laps and then expect to haul them in."

Joshua Waters:

"I'm really happy with three wins and pole position, but I'm also really disappointed with my crash on Sunday. We could have come away from this round with the series lead, if not for that. I was so mad when I went down that I was hitting the ground with my fist in frustration as I was tumbling.

"The racing is so close in Supersport this season you have to keep pushing the whole time and I was on the limit when I hit the bump at Turn One. The front tucked so quickly I couldn't save it.

"The new 2008 bike is awesome and is getting better with each meeting. I used the spare in Sunday's second race - it was the first time I'd ridden it all weekend. I'm looking forward to the next round."

Robbie Budgen:

"My bike flicked sideways really suddenly as I exited Turn Three and before I could do anything I was down. I really feel for Shawn - he just had nowhere to go.

"The exact same thing happened to me at the previous round when Jamie Stauffer crashed in front of me and I ploughed straight into his bike at high speed. It's an awful feeling.

"I'd like to thank privateer Michael McMillan for loaning me his spare GSX-R1000 so I could get some points in Saturday's second race, but my injuries and bruising worsened overnight and I couldn't race on Sunday."

2008 AUSTRALIAN SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP

Superbike Overall Results - Round 4 (Saturday, 12 July):

1 Daniel Stauffer, 2 Jamie Stauffer, 3 Glenn Allerton, 4 Jason O'Halloran, 5 Kevin Curtain, 6 Craig Coxhell (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 7 Chris Trounson, 8 Zac Davies, 9 Scott Charlton, 10 Jon Cartwright.

Superbike Overall Results - Round 5 (Sunday, 13 July):

1 Jamie Stauffer, 2 Glenn Allerton, 3 Craig Coxhell (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 4 Jason O'Halloran, 5 Kevin Curtain, 6 Jon Cartwright, 7 Chris Trounson, 8 Zac Davies, 9 Scott Charlton, 10 Craig McMartin.

Superbike Championship Points (after 5 of 7 rounds):

1 Glenn Allerton 193pts, 2 Jamie Stauffer 187, 3 Dan Stauffer 166, 4 Craig Coxhell (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 160, 5 Jason O'Halloran 154, 6 Kevin Curtain 117, 7 Shawn Giles (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 112, 8 Robert Bugden (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 105, 9 Chris Trounson 104, 10 Zac Davies 102.

Supersport Overall Results - Round 4 (Saturday, 12 July):

1 Joshua Waters (Suzuki GSX-R600), 2 Jamie Stauffer, 3 Jeremy Crowe, 4 Judd Greedy (Suzuki GSX-R600), 5 Ben Attard, 6 Wayne Maxwell, 7 Christian Cassella, 8 Mitchell Carr (Suzuki GSX-R600), 9 Grant Hay, 10 Chris Quinn.

Supersport Overall Results - Round 5 (Sunday, 13 July):

1 Jamie Stauffer, 2 Wayne Maxwell, 3 Ben Attard, 4 Judd Greedy (Suzuki GSX-R600), 5 Jeremy Crowe, 6 Grant Hay, 7 Mitchell Carr (Suzuki GSX-R600),8 Joshua Waters (Suzuki GSX-R600), 9 Chris Quinn, 10 Shaun Geronimi.

Supersport Championship Points (after 5 of 7 rounds):

1 Jamie Stauffer 221pts, 2 Joshua Waters (Suzuki GSX-R600) 193, 3 Wayne Maxwell 164, 4 Jeremy Crowe 153, 5 Ben Attard 148, 6 Judd Greedy (Suzuki GSX-R600) 147, 7 Grant Hay 124, 8 Mitchell Carr (Suzuki GSX-R600) 119, 9 Chris Quinn 104, 10 Ian Andrews (Suzuki GSX-R600) 89.