WorldSSP standings after round 1:
Phillip Island, Australia
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.
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.
Press releases from the teams and series organizers after qualifying and the first race at Phillip Island:
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.
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.
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.
Kenan Sofuoglu had a strange crash at Stoner Corner that brought out the red flags and medical staff, cutting the session short. Lucas Mahias ended the session quickest ahead of Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel. Behind the three Yamahas was local favourite Ant West on the Kawasaki holding off another Yamaha, that of Randy Krummenacher. Sofuoglu was sixth quickest in spite of his crash.
Barni Ducati's Xavi Fores was quickest in the morning's untimed session, ahead of the Kawasakis of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, and was the only independant rider in the top ten. Yamaha's Alex Lowes and Ducati's Marco Melandri posted almost identical times ahead of the Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and yesterday's quickest man Lorenzo Savadori.
Press releases from the teams and organizers from Friday at Phillip Island: