Phillip Island, Australia

2018 Phillip Island WorldSBK: What we saw in Australia - A recap of Phillip Island

The opening round of the 2018 WorldSBK season is in the books and certainly provided us with plenty of excitement and plenty to talk about.

New schedule:

The 2018 season will see three free practice sessions on Fridays, and from the outset we saw the benefit of this schedule. In the past, if a rider crashed or had a technical problem on Friday it severely hampered their weekend. Any time lost was magnified because you could easily lose 60 minutes of track time. The new schedule sees three 40 minute session, to ensure the riders have the same amount track time. A crash on his out lap in FP2 saw Alex Lowes miss the entire session and while the loss of track time hampered the Englishman, getting out in FP3 allowed him to set a time good enough for entry into Superpole 2. The schedule will also allow riders to use Friday afternoon for a race simulation, whereas in the past this was harder to achieve.

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2018 Philip Island World Superbike Race Two Results: Zero Tyre Strategy Required

The tyre problems of Saturday brought in a mandatory flag-to-flag race, with riders having to change tyres in the middle of the twenty-two lap race, on lap ten, eleven or twelve. The reverse grid is still being used, for some inexplicable reason as it had no effect last year, putting the fourth-placed rider from race one into pole position. 

Race Two didn't introduce any changes to the rev limits, the limits aren't introduced until three weekends have taken place, so everyone is still on 3.3% above the rev limit of the road bike. Georgia Flood, the anthem singer, served as a windsock as she sang, showing the wind was still coursing along the start/finish straight as a headwind, increasing the advantage of a slipstream. 

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2018 Philip Island World Supersport Race Results: Flag-to-Flag, Red Lap, Sprint Race, Oh my.

The first World Supersport race of the year opens with some controversy before the race even starts, with four riders getting penalised three places for unsafe riding. During qualifying, Federico Caricasulo, Sandro Cortese, Raffaele De Rosa and Jules Cluzel were all deemed to have ridden unsafely in qualifying, slowing down at inopportune times to deal with rivals trying for a tow. 

To make matters worse, with tyre problems causing issues, the race has been shortened to just sixteen laps with a mandatory pitstop on lap seven, eight or nine for a new tyre. Without a second bike, this will require every one of the twenty-two riders to get their rear wheel removed and replaced.

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2018 Philip Island World Superbike Race One Results: A Different Pace Of Race

The opening race of 2018 would be the proof of the new rules. Would anyone be able to break the Ducati and Kawasaki dominance at a windy seaside?

Tom Sykes led Marco Melandri into the first turn with Jonathan Rea charging round the outside to challenge Melandri out of the corner and take the inside line to take second place and slot in behind his Kawasaki teammate. Eugene Laverty and Xavi Fores were joined by a charging Chaz Davies to round to the top six, albeit almost a second off the front three.

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2018 Philip Island World Supersport Superpole Results: Exciting Opening Session

World Supersport Superpole one was contested by twelve riders, with Stefan Hill sitting the session out after being declared unfit. 

Heading into the mid-session tea break, Ayrton Badovini and Loris Cresson held off Mike Di Meglio for the qualifying places but after the tyre change, Niki Tuuli pushed his way to third place with Thomas Gradinger taking it off him a minute later. 

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2018 Philip Island World Superbike Superpole Results: Windy Qualifying Plays Havoc

The first Superpole of the year took place under unpredictable weather, with a strong wind across the straight making things uncertain. Superpole one had twelve riders fighting for two promotional spots with Jake Gagne and Toprak Razgatlioglu in the two favourite places to advance.

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