If the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship taught us anything, it's that this looks to be a two-horse race. Assuming no major wrenches are thrown in the works. Aprilia's Max Biaggi and Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa had the pace of everyone else in the field covered. Handily. And each of the early championship-protagonists cruised to victory without having to worry about the other after a couple of off-track excursions.
Carlos Checa took the honors for Althea Ducati in Sunday's second World Superbike race from Philip Island from Aprilia's Max Biaggi and Tom Sykes. Checa won comfortably after Biaggi ran off track when he nearly collided with Sykes' Kawasaki at the opening corner, leaving the Roman to fight his way through the field from dead last.
Sykes stole the final step on the podium from the Honda of Jonathan Rea in a drag race from the final corner of the last lap in a battle filled with tire smoke and black lines trailing from both bikes at every corner exit.
Kenan Sofuoglu capped off his return to World Supersport with a win Sunday afternoon in Philip Island. The former world champion and Moto2 star won a thrilling battle with Fabien Foret, Broc Parkes, Jules Cluzel, and Sam Lowes.
Lowes led the opening third of the race before being overtaken by Foret and eventually fading to fifth. Cluzel continued his impressive debut with a fourth-place finish, just missing out on the podium in the final lap.
Aprilia's Max Biaggi took the first race win of the 2012 World Superbike season from Philip Island by a margin of just more than seven seconds over BMW's Marco Melandri and Effenbert Liberty Ducati's Sylvain Guintoli.
Biaggi cruised to a comfortable victory after Carlos Checa crashed his Althea Ducati in the final corner after 17 laps. Rain was spitting at the time, which could have led to the highside. Checa was taken to the medical center to be treated for an elbow injury. There's no word on Checa's status for today's second race.
Broc Parkes was again the fastest man on track in Sunday morning's Supersport warm up session. The pole man finished more than a half-second quicker than Fabien Foret, who was followed home by Sam Lowes, Vladimir Leonov, and Kenan Sofuoglu.
Carlos Checa led Sunday's morning warm up from Philip Island by more than a half-second over Tom Sykes. Checa put in a string of 1'31 lap times that's only been rivaled throughout the entire weekend by Max Biaggi during Saturday's qualifying session.
Press releases and video from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after Saturday's practice at Phillip Island:
Broc Parkes bagged the 15th pole of his career at Phillip Island, taking over from Kenan Sofuoglu at the end of the session, and holding off late charges from Sam Lowes and Jules Cluzel in a delayed World Supersport session, Parkes' advantage over Lowes just sixteen thousandths of a second. Honda's dominate the front row, with the Ten Kate bike of Broc Parkes ahead of the Bogdanka PTR of Lowes and the PTR of Cluzel, while the Kawasakis follow, Sofuoglu taking the final spot on the front row, ahead of Fabien Foret and Sheridan Morais.
Saturday’s World Superbike Superpole and World Supersport final qualifying sessions from Philip Island were cancelled after a serious accident in the Australian Supersport race resulted in the death of Australian rider Oscar McIntyre. The 17-year-old collided with fellow racers Luke Burgess and Michael Lockhart on the second lap of the Australian support race and died despite receiving immediate medical treatment at the scene. Because of the seriousness of the accident, the event organizers decided to cancel Superpole.
Max Biaggi may have finished Saturday's final free practice session atop the timing screens, but the man on the move is, you guessed it, Carlos Checa. Checa put in 12 laps in the 1'32 range, while Biaggi managed just three. If Saturday's final free practice session is anything to go on, the field will struggle to hold on to the back of Checa for more than a handful of laps.
If Friday was Honda's day in World Supersport, Saturday morning belonged to Kawasaki. Kenan Sofuoglu led Sheridan Morais in a DeltaFin Lorenzini Kawasaki one-two. Pawel Szkopek and Sam Lowes finished third and fourth respectively for Simon Buckmaster's PTR Honda team. Rounding out the top five was Fabien Foret on his Step Kawasaki, some four-tenths off the 2007 World Supersport Champion's pace.
Tom Sykes led Saturday's second qualifying session by overshadowing the battle developing between Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi. The Kawaski man put in a time good enough to stay atop the sheets for the final 20 minutes of the session, despite the Ducatis and Aprilias of Checa and Biaggi exchanging quick times good enough for second place. Jakub Smrz fired in a time good enough for fourth with less than 10 minutes left in the session. Effenbert Liberty Ducati teammate Sylvain Guintoli rounded out the top five.
Press releases from the WSBK and WSS teams and from Infront Motor Sports after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Johnny Rea has pulled off the first upset of the weekend at Phillip Island, by posting a sub-1'32 lap during the first session of qualifying for the World Superbike class to seize provisional pole. In the dying seconds of QP1, the Honda WSBK man took nearly a second off his best time to usurp the Ducatis, which had dominated until then, and seize the top spot. Rea's fast time demoted Effenbert Liberty's Jakub Smrz into 2nd spot, who had himself pushed Carlos Checa off provisional pole a few moments earlier.