Report and photography by Mark Bracks
Four-time AMA Grand National Champion, Jared Mees, created more history when he won the prestigious Troy Bayliss Classic (TBC) Cup at Old Bar Raceway, Australia, on January 21.
It was Mees’ second win in the event, held at Bayliss’ home town of Taree on the New South Wales mid-north coast.
The TBC is a unique event on the Australian dirt track racing calendar as the main events are the Troy Bayliss Legends and All Stars categories, made up of 36 riders personally invited by the three-time World Superbike Champion to battle it out for 12 places in the final.
The once-a-year event has become a staple on the Australian racing calendar as Mees, along with fellow Americans Sammy Halbert and Henry Wiles, made their fourth trek Down Under for the event.
The Old Bar dirt track is short and quick with a decent lap time into the 21-second bracket, but there was an added challenge for the Americans as dirt track racing in Australia requires the use of a front brake.
Besides the event for 450cc club racers and older two stroke weapons, there were also classes for women and junior racers. There are a number of different aspects to the event as the riders of the three Legends and the All-Stars heats do not score points—rather, it is the fastest lap times that decide who contests the one lap Superpole shootout to decide the final 12 grid.
Another feature of the day is the Americana event, where the same riders compete in an 11-stage, three lap knock out competition to decide the class podium. Current Australian Superbike Champion Troy Herfoss took the Americana win from Mees and Sammy Halbert.
In the main event, Bayliss started from the outside gate to get the early drag into turn one but Mees gave a little extra to grab the holeshot and inside line. Once in the lead, he was never headed.
In the opening laps it was the three previous victors of the Cup with Bayliss hounding Mees while the inaugural winner, Mick Kirkness, ran third and was closing after a bad gate.
Bayliss ran slightly wide and Kirkness charged though as Herfoss continued to methodically gain ground on the pair.
With seven laps to run Herfoss moved to second, but while this was going on, Sammy Halbert was closing after getting off the line in near last position.
For a time, it appeared as though both Herfoss and Halbert might threaten Mees but whenever they looked like gaining time, Mees would pull out another bike length and ended up greeting the checkered flag by 0.810 seconds to the good from Herfoss and Kirkness.
“It’s been another great weekend down here in Australia,” Mees said. “I love coming here as the racing is so intense but everyone is so friendly.
“I knew from the start that if I let Troy [Bayliss] in, he was going to be extremely hard to beat so I know I had to go for it from the start. And after racing Kirkness in the ’States, when I knew it was Mick behind me, I thought if he shows me a wheel it’s going to be tough so I rode as hard as I could for the entire race. I knew if there was anyone that would get close to me it was going to be pretty intense.”
When Herfoss got through to second it looked like he may have an answer but he had to settle for second yet again. The win for Herfoss in the Americana was scant consolation for yet another runner-up finish in the Bayliss Cup.