Phillip Island, Australia
Marco Melandri has struck the first blow on the opening day of a two-day test for the WorldSBK class at Phillip Island. The Aruba.it Ducati rider was over a third of a second quicker than second place man Tom Sykes on the factory Kawasaki. In turn, Sykes was two tenths faster than his teammate, reigning WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea.
The Kawasaki men both suffered crashes at Turn 11, with Rea having a very large highside which persuaded him to skip the second session on Monday afternoon. His time in the first session was good enough to keep his third place.
Lucas Mahias got his WorldSSP title defense off to a strong start in Phillip Island, topping the first day of testing ahead of this weekend's season opener at the Australian track. Despite strong winds blowing down the Gardner Straight and making life difficult in both the first and final sectors of the track, Mahias ended up a couple of hundredths ahead of his teammate, Federico Caricasulo.
The official start of the WorldSBK season is less than two weeks away, with practice for the first round set to kick off at Phillip Island on Friday 23rd February. And to get fans in the mood for the return of actual racing, the coming week sees a full program of testing take place.
The week kicks off in Jerez, where the full grid of Moto2 and Moto3 has now assembled. After skipping the Valencia test last week, the Marc VDS Moto2 team, Sky VR46 team, and Swiss Innovative Investors team are all on track together in Jerez. The test will last for three days, from Monday through Wednesday 14th February, with the Moto2 and Moto3 classes taking to the track in separate sessions.
|18 March||Qatar*||Losail International Circuit|
|08 April||República Argentina||Termas de Río Hondo|
|22 April||Americas||Circuit of The Americas|
|06 May||Spain||Circuito de Jerez|
|20 May||France||Le Mans|
The FIM today released the provisional 2018 WorldSBK version. Just as last year, the schedule contains thirteen rounds, spread out from February to late October. Two circuits visited in 2017 are out, Jerez and the Lausitzring, while Brno makes a return to the WorldSBK schedule, and a brand new circuit in the west of Argentina, near the border with Chile.
The schedule starts as ever at Phillip Island in Australia on 25th February, with the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes competing. As is traditional, the race is preceded a couple of days earlier by a two-day official test. The start of the series is once again rather fragmented, however, as WorldSBK fans will have to wait four weeks for the second round of the series at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
The series then heads to Europe, with a back-to-back weekend at Aragon and then Assen. At Aragon, the series is joined by the WorldSSP300 and Superstock 1000 series. The Assen round is the first clash of the year, running on the same weekend as the Austin round of MotoGP at the Circuit of the Americas, but as they are running in different time zones, the races themselves will not clash.
MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. Every week after each MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.
In the latest episode of his video blog, Fast Freddie Spencer casts an eye over the events of a thrilling Phillip Island MotoGP race. Spencer shares his memories of riding at the Island, and his abiding memories of his first visit there, and being in the odd situation of testing during the day and then popping down to watch the Penguin Parade after he was done.
Marc Márquez's Phillip Island victory was arguably his best so far; surviving that vicious six-rider brawl, then going on to win by almost two seconds.
There must’ve been times in the early stages of that race when Marc Márquez must’ve thought he was waking up from a nightmare.
The previous weekend at Motegi he had fought wheel to wheel with Andrea Dovizioso, both men walking the line for five extra points. Situation normal: two rivals risking everything for the crown, each of them with as much to lose or gain as the other.
Phillip Island was the total opposite. For much of the race, Márquez found himself in the nightmarish position of being the only rider in the lead group with everything to lose, surrounded by rivals who mostly had nothing to lose. There’s no worse place to be if you’re chasing a title.
Aleix Espargaro will not be racing at Sepang. The Spaniard broke a bone in his left hand when he crashed out of the MotoGP race in Phillip Island, and is to fly back to Barcelona for surgery. Aprilia will not replace Espargaro, his absence coming at too short notice to find a replacement rider in time.
Below is the official press release issued by Aprilia:
ALEIX ESPARGARÓ FORCED TO MISS THE GP OF MALAYSIA
THE SPANISH RIDER WILL UNDERGO SURGERY THURSDAY IN BARCELONA
Despite his great desire to get back on the track, the injury he suffered at Phillip Island will force Aleix Espargaró to miss the GP of Malaysia. The Spanish rider, who fell in the race as he was battling in the lead group, suffered a fracture to the fourth metacarpus of the left hand and he will undergo surgery on Thursday in Barcelona. The goal is to recover in time for the last race of the season in Valencia.
Phillip Island always delivers. If you came to the track on the edge of the world hoping for a spectacle, you got more than your money's worth. Three stunning races at arguably the greatest racetrack in the world. Three races which really mattered: with just two rounds left after Phillip Island, the results had a significant impact on all three championships. And to cap the day off, one of the best MotoGP races of all time, the second here in the space of three seasons. The sun even shone. Well, most of the time, anyway.
Is it a coincidence that two of the greatest Grand Prix races, perhaps of all time, have happened at Phillip Island in the last three seasons? I don't think so. This place, and this time, have conspired to create the perfect conditions for motorcycle racing. Firstly, there has never been a greater concentration of riding talent on the grid at the same time in the premier class. Secondly, performance parity between the different factories, and between factories and privateers, has never been so great. And thirdly, the Phillip Island circuit is simply made for motorcycle racing. A flowing track in a stunning setting, where brave and skilled riders can make passes at nearly half of the corners on the track.
The 2015 MotoGP race at Phillip Island was a four-way dust up which saw Marc Márquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone, and Valentino Rossi pass each other a grand total of 52 times in 27 laps. The 2017 race saw seven riders slug it out over the same distance, passing and repassing each other a total of 73 times. Blink, and you missed a change of the lead. But you had to blink, just to catch your breath. It is a good job the assiduous Tammy Gorali was willing to go back and tally up the action.