2013 Phillip Island World Superbike Race 1: And So It Starts
Twenty two dry laps in Australia where tyre wear was a concern before the race started, but in the end, the Pirellis lasted the distance.
While the Ducati Panigale got the pole position, it was the Aprilia that dominated the race. It started with Eugene Laverty getting away first ahead of a cautious Tom Sykes on the Kawasaki and Marco Melandri on the BMW. Tom Sykes would lose a few places lap on lap, letting Melandri, Leon Haslam and Carlos Checa get past him. Laverty made a break but could only stretch his lead to a second and a half, while the bikes behind him passed each other cleanly, or as cleanly as Superbike riders can pass. Carlos Checa held second place for a few laps, but Sylvain Guintoli scythed his way through the field and finally passed Checa and set his sights on Laverty, while Davide Giugliano ran off track and ended his debut race.
Halfway through the race, after the usual shuffling mid-pack, Carlos Checa realised he wasn't going to make a corner and tried to run on cleanly, but he clipped Marco Melandri, turning a routine run-on into a two-bike crash. Both bikes were out, but Melandri was on his feet running to check on Carlos Checa, but the Spaniard was unconscious and required airlifting to the mainland. Checa won't be able to race in the second race as he was unconscious, meaning he would not be cleared to race in race two.
At the front, Sylvain Guintoli finally caught and passed Eugene Laverty while Michel Fabrizio duelled with Leon Haslam to try to get an all-Aprilia podium. Behind the three Aprilias, Leon Haslam, Loris Baz, Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies bunched up and traded places with surprising ease, but it was clear at this point that the Aprilias couldn't be caught.
Sylvain Guintoli charged off at the front while Eugene Laverty and Michel Fabrizio fought to the bitter end. Guintoli claimed his first ever dry win on his first outing on the Aprilia, with his team mate Eugene Laverty winning a two-bike drag race to the line ahead of Michel Fabrizio. Laverty and Fabrizio were both visibly pleased with their result. In fourth place, Chaz Davies beat a resurgent Tom Sykes by a twentieth of a second with Loris Baz, on his first ever race on the island, and Leon Haslam taking sixth and seventh. Jonathan Rea and Leon Camier were over ten seconds further back.
Eugene Laverty stated that he still had rather a lot of tyre left at the end of the race as he was overly careful, and Sylvain Guintoli took the last couple of laps a few tenths slower than the previous six, dropping into the 1'32s to ensure he won safely. Tom Sykes had a tyre that blistered a little, but he still managed to fight back after it looked like it would slow him down.
Now the tyre question has been answered, race two could see a different pace from riders.