The second race at Phillip Island was the grid determined by this morning's Superpole race and it took place under a sunny Australian sky.
World Superbike has a new race format including the ten lap sprint race to determine the first three rows of the grid for race two, the Tissot Superpole Race. The winner gets 12 points, but the race win isn't added to the record books. Pirelli have supplied a short race tyre that should last ten laps of every circuit on the calendar. As this is the first time this has been done, all bets are off on what will happen.
Indonesia is to get a round of MotoGP and WorldSBK from 2021. Confirmation of the news came faster than we expected yesterday, as Dorna issued two press releases on Saturday, announcing that both World Championship series it manages will race at the new circuit to be built at Mandalika in Lombok.
That MotoGP would race there is not a surprise, but that WorldSBK would also visit had not been much talked about. But this follows the same pattern as the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, where WorldSBK was sent to the track first as a trial run, before MotoGP went to race there. The agreement announced by Dorna envisages both series going in the same year, starting in 2021.
The races are to be held at a circuit to be built inside a giant tourist resort on the south coast of the island of Lombok. The track will run on what are ostensibly the public roads inside the resort, but the roads will be laid out with a circuit in mind, making this nothing like traditional street circuits like Macau or the Isle of Man. Run off should not be an issue, and the rest of the circuit facilities are due to be built inside the resort. The Mandalika resort is a project of the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation, which is looking to expand tourism to Lombok, as tourism on Bali is starting to approach its natural limits.
WorldSBK standings after the first race of the season at Phillip Island:
Press releases from the organizers and some of the teams after qualifying and the first race of the 2019 WorldSBK season at Phillip Island:
The first World Superbike race of the season in Australia may be considered a test with points, taking part over a month before first European round in Spain, but that doesn't mean it can't give us entertainment.
Alvaro Bautista set an early 1'29 lap and then sliced another tenth off it it to get within under three tenths of a second of Jonathan Rea's pole record from 2017. Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea made up the rest of the provisional front row, with Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty pushing Tom Sykes down to sixth quickest.
Superpole will be a single session later today determining the positions for race one while race two's grid will be determined by a short sprint race on Sunday morning.
Press releases from the first day of world championship racing of 2019, issued by the organizers and some of the teams after Friday at the WorldSBK round in Australia:
Alvaro Bautista ended the day on top, four hundredths of a second ahead of Jonathan Rea. Taking both sessions into account, with a third Free Practice deciding Superpole tomorrow, there were thirteen riders within a second of Bautista's quickest time.
As the 2019 motorcycle racing season starts, four time world champion Jonathan Rea ended the first World Superbike qualifying session on top on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR, ahead of class rookie Alvaro Bautista on the brand new Ducati Panigale V4. Leon Haslam, Rea's teammate this year, was third quickest with Rea's former teammate Tom Sykes joining the BMW team in fourth place. Sandro Cortese, reigning World Supersport champion, was fifth quickest on the GRT Yamaha R1.