Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the season opener at Phillip Island:
Cluzel just misses podium in first race
PTR HONDA'S Jules Cluzel took a fantastic fourth on his debut at the opening round of the World Supersport Championship at Phillip Island in Australia - after fighting for the victory right through to the final lap.
PTR Honda's Ronan Quarmby was a close seventh while Riders PTR Honda's Martin Jessopp improved from his 22nd position on the grid to finish just outside the points in 17th despite running off the circuit to avoid two falling riders early on. The second round of the World Supersport Championship is at Imola in Italy on Sunday, April 1st.
Jules: "I am disappointed as the podium was very close. The problem was chatter in corners two and six and I had to push more with my rear tyre to keep a fast lap. Broc Parkes had more grip on his rear tyre and he passed me just before the last corner. Anyway, the team is happy and we will improve again for Imola."
Ronan: "My team found and fixed an issue with my forks overnight and this morning in warm-up it was like riding a completely different motorcycle - the improvement was amazing. The boys don't normally take the forks out but they did so a big thanks to Chris, it was an inspired decision. The race was really good but my rear tyre started to go loose after seven or eight laps. We will work more on race set up rather than lap time at Imola. It's my first time on the bike and I am really chuffed - I want to say a big thank you to the PTR Honda team - thank you so much."
Martin: "I had a really good start and made up two rows and then at turn 10 I was run on by someone and had to turn my bike round and back on track. By the end of the lap I had lost 11-seconds but I tried my hardest and put some good laps in. I went back to a Superbike style of riding on my own - I could have done with following some racers. A lot of people were struggling with tyres and I am happy as we worked on the same compound all weekend and were in a good position. It is so annoying to be run off in the first lap and losing points in my first race but we have made progress all weekend and are going in the right direction."
Simon Buckmaster, PTR Honda Team Manager: "It is a good start to the season for PTR and we can build from here. Jules hadn't ridden our bike until he got here so his performance is impressive. Ronan came through well in the race and will only get better. Martin was run off the track avoiding two falling riders and lost a lot of time - so to finish 17th shows he has good potential."
Solid fifth for Lowes at Australia
BOGDANKA PTR HONDA'S Sam Lowes led for the first four laps to finish a close fifth in the season opening World Supersport race at Phillip Island in Australia and collect 11 championship points.
Mathew Scholtz put in an equally impressive performance to score points his debut World Supersport race, charging up to 14th position after dropping down to 20th having to avoid another rider's incident on lap one.
Bogdanka Honda PTR's did not take the start after his career best qualifying result of tenth on Saturday. The second World Supersport race of the season will take place on the first of April at Imola in Italy.
Sam Lowes: "It was a good race. I've started off well and had a really good pace but unfortunately the tyres dropped off in the end. I wanted to win the race but I'm happy with fifth and scoring some points. It's a long championship and I'm looking forward to Imola now. Chaz Davies didn't score in the first race last year and still won the Championship so it's not a bad start to the season."
Mathew Scholtz: "I made a good start and passed a few people early on but on the third to last corner on the first lap another rider tried to pass me and he clipped someone else. I managed to avoid him but I lost a few places. I started to catch people up and got up to 12th position. In the end the tyre started to drop off a bit and I finished 14th. For my first World Supersport race it wasn't too bad at all. We've scored points so we're happy about that and really looking forward to the next race. I had a very good pace in the first half of the race and I'll try to keep that until the end at Imola."
Pawel Szkopek: "We had a last minute problem and I couldn't make the start. I'd like to thank the team for putting in great work this weekend and especially today trying to get me on the grid. I went out for a sighting lap but eventually had to come in as something wasn't quite right with the engine. It's a pity because we felt we had the pace for a strong result after my best ever qualifying yesterday - and the whole team was working really well but this is racing. I'm still leaving Australia in high spirits because we can see we made progress compared to last year and that makes me really confident ahead of Imola."
Simon Buckmaster, Bogdanka PTR Honda Team Manager: "Mathew went off on the grass to avoid two riders crashing in front of him but came back and got into the points; he did a good job. Sam tried to manage the situation with his rear tyre as it went off towards the end. He did the best job he could and scored points on a difficult day. It is a long 13 round Championship and we will be ready to challenge again at the front at Imola."
CHECA AND THE ALTHEA RACING TEAM SCORE FIRST SBK WIN OF THE 2012 SEASON TODAY AT PHILLIP ISLAND!
Phillip Island (Australia), Sunday 26th February 2012: the first races of the 2012 World Superbike Championship took place this afternoon at the Australian track of Phillip Island and for Carlos Checa and the Althea Racing team it was a day of mixed fortunes; after a crash in race 1 Carlos bounced back, dominating race 2 on board his Ducati 1198 to win with an advantage of almost six seconds!
A solid performance also for rookie Davide Giugliano who earned his first championship points by closing the day’s races in ninth and thirteenth position respectively.
Checa, starting from third on the grid, was already second after the first corners, right behind Sykes. On the very next lap he was able to pass the Kawasaki rider to take the lead. Unfortunately he did not have the chance to conclude what would have been a great race due to a bad crash on the sixth lap; the Spanish rider lost the rear of his Ducati 1198, highsiding and finishing in the gravel. Although Carlos was unhurt, he was unable to rejoin the race.
Checa’s team-mate Giugliano made a good start, holding fourteenth position through the opening lap. After a few laps he was able to find a good rhythm, passing a couple of riders to position himself tenth by the seventh lap. Five laps from the end he passed Camier, and Aoyama in the final phase, to cross the line in ninth position, earning his first championship points of the season.
Race 2 -
From third position Carlos was again up in second place through the first corners. He battled for the lead with both Sykes and Rea, before securing command definitively on the fourth lap. Two laps later 2011 SBK champion Checa recorded the fastest lap of the race (1m32.8). By mid-race, he had an advantage of almost three seconds over Rea in second and in the final laps Carlos worked hard to increase his lead and assure himself of race victory! He crossed the line first, 5.7 seconds ahead of Biaggi, second.
Giugliano got away very quickly this time and was up into eighth position by the end of the first lap. He held that position, following Melandri closely for the first half of the race. Unfortunately, five laps from the end of the race, Davide began to suffer pain in his right arm which meant he couldn’t’ continue to push as he had been doing. Losing a few positions in the final minutes, the young Italian closed the race in thirteenth position, collecting three more championship points along the way.
At the end of the opening round, Checa lies in fourth position in the championship standings, with 25 points, while Giugliano’s 10 points place him twelfth. Ducati attained 41 points today and is thus second to Aprilia in the manufacturer’s classification
“In race one I had the worst crash that I’ve ever had with the Ducati. I was under pressure and pushed a little too hard. It’s extremely difficult to find the exact limit with the bike, the track, and with myself and today I exceeded that limit and fell. The team made a fantastic job of preparing a bike that allowed me to win in race two. In that race, I started strong and when I saw that Max had gone off track, I pushed hard to get ahead and win the race. Max made a good recovery but I was able to maintain a strong pace and bring home what is a very important win for me and for the team.”
“Race 1 I used to gain experience, not knowing exactly how it would go. It went quite well and I was able to use what I learned in this race to go on the attack in the second. I started strong in the second race and was up with the front group. I was able to pass those a little slower than me and was, I think, seventh. I planned to race behind Melandri and Haslam and conserve the tyres as best I could and that seemed to be working but unfortunately, five laps from the end, I started to suffer pain in my left arm and had to slow down in the final laps. It was a pity because if it hadn’t been for that, I could have finished in the front group which wouldn’t have been at all bad! I have to solve this problem before Imola where I am sure I can do better.”
Genesio Bevilacqua, General Manager of Althea Racing:
“After the crash in race 1, we were worried that Carlos may be hurt but thankfully he wasn’t and was able to concentrate on the second race. I was disappointed to see that there are riders that can start from last position and finish second, while we are penalized with six extra kilos of weight. It will be hard to overcome this difficulty this season, even with a rider, a champion, of Carlos’ caliber.
As far as Davide is concerned, after completing his ‘apprenticeship’ in race 1, he was able to demonstrate his potential in the second race. We’re going to check his physical condition of course - it is worrying and we must sort that out. I want to underline though that he completed a race at a very high level, staying close to experienced riders such as Melandri and Haslam. Once we resolve any physical problems, we can be protagonists with Davide too.”
BMW Motorrad Motorsport - WSBK - Phillip Island - Races
It has been a historic day for BMW Motorrad: Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport celebrated its best ever result in the FIM Superbike World Championship. Factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) finished second in the first race of the 2012 season opener at Phillip Island (AUS), despite only starting 13th on the grid after Saturday’s Superpole qualifying had to be canceled, preventing the chance to challenge for a better grid position. In race two he came in sixth. His team-mate, Leon Haslam (GBR), also put in a strong performance. Only four days after an operation to insert two screws to fix his fractured right tibia, Leon bravely fought the pain barrier, scoring a 12th and a strong fifth place. Overall, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport collected 45 points this weekend, more than ever before.
In his first ever race on the BMW S 1000 RR, Marco gained several positions in the first corners, working his way further up the field as the race went on. On lap 18 he had improved to second, and defended this position against Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) right to the finish line. Leon had finished 12th in the two qualifying sessions. In race one, despite his injuries, he was fighting for the top ten until the very last lap. At the start of race two Leon catapulted himself up to third, and fought for the top positions over the next laps. Marco meanwhile had a steady start, but improved his position lap by lap. Halfway through the race he found himself directly behind Leon in fifth. From then on, the two factory riders had an exciting inter-team battle, changing positions several times. In the end, Leon was able to hold on and finished fifth in front of Marco.
BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK Team’s rider Michel Fabrizio (ITA) came home sixth in race one, but wasn’t able to finish race two. His team mate, Ayrton Badovini (ITA), had to retire in both heats. The races were won by Max Biaggi (ITA) and Carlos Checa (ESP). In the riders’ championship, Marco lies in second with 30 points. Leon is eighth with 15 points. In the manufacturers’ standings BMW is third with 31 points.
Result Race 1: 2nd / Gap to 1st: 00:07.104 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:32.224 min
Result Race 2: 6th / Gap to 1st: 00:18.831 min / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:33.379 min
“I am really happy! Giving BMW its best ever result in only my first race on the RR is awesome. I still cannot believe that. The guys at the circuit and in the factory are working really hard, and they have done a great job. We didn’t quite know how we would perform in the race as we hadn’t done any long runs in pre-season testing. During the race I just tried to keep my rhythm and tried not to override as I knew I would have to look after the tyres. I had to wait for the right moment to pass Tom Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli. In the final two laps Sylvain was pushing very hard again, but I kept focused on my race and defended my position.
Race two was very difficult. It was warmer, so I had to push harder to catch the guys in front of me, and it was not easy. But we finished the first weekend second in the championship, and that is better than expected. Now we have one month to analyse the data and try to make even more improvements. We will go testing in Spain and all the guys are working hard. We all have the same goal and I very happy to see the motivation is high. Last, I want to send my sympathy to the family of Oscar McIntyre who we lost yesterday.”
Result Race 1: 12th / Gap to 1st: 00:35.648 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:33.127 min
Result Race 2: 5th / Gap to 1st: 00:18.179 min / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:33.432 min
“Overall I’m really happy. We had a problem in race one, which I couldn’t ride around. Even though just scoring points was the objective, I knew I could have done better. The boys worked really hard between races: They changed engines, electronics and the balance of the bike, and straightaway we were able to fight for a top five position. It’s a big credit to all the team and the medical staff who managed to get me out there in the first place! I also want to express my condolences to the family and friends of Oscar McIntyre, who died in that tragic crash yesterday.”
Bernhard Gobmeier (BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director):
“Overall the weekend was very positive - Marco’s second place means the best result for BMW Motorrad in World Superbike so far. The weekend was a bit of a roller coaster, but in the end we proved that our work over the winter paid off. Still, we are not where we want to be, and we have some areas to work on, and this is what we will do over the next couple of weeks.
I am very happy about the performance of our riders: Leon having finished the second race in the top five is very impressive and makes everyone at BMW Motorrad very proud. Marco’s second place in the first race has been the best result for BMW Motorrad in this championship so far. Considering the grip issues Marco faced in race two, which unexpectedly showed up from the beginning of the race, his performance cannot be valued high enough. He did an outstanding job, demonstrated his qualities, and is now lying second in the World Championship.
On behalf of the entire team and BMW Motorrad, I wish to pass my condolences to the family and friends of Oscar McIntyre, who lost his life in yesterday’s crash at Phillip Island.”
REA GETS CLOSE TO THE PODIUM ON FIRST DAY OF RACE ACTION
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) was only 0.134 seconds from third place in the second 22-lap race at Phillip Island, having held a top three finishing spot for virtually all the second leg around the 4.445Km circuit. After a seventh spot in race one, Rea sits fifth in the championship rankings, on 22 points, after opening day races that were won by Max Biaggi (Aprilia) and Carlos Checa (Ducati).
The rider from Northern Ireland had qualified in eighth place and after the disappointment of race one he was in determined mood in race two. His tyre had finally given its best, however, and despite some great tactical riding to keep eventual third place rider Tom Sykes behind him, Sykes had better drive out of the final corner and passed him down the long finish straight.
New SBK rider Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) rode with intelligence to record eighth in race one and ninth in race two, results that place him ninth in the championship overall, ahead of many more experienced riders in this class.
Hiroshi was 17th in combined qualifying, which determined the grid positions after Superpole was cancelled. This was due to a fatal accident suffered by local rider Oscar McIntyre in a support class race earlier in the day, and Honda extends its deepest sympathises and condolences to Oscar’s family and friends.
New regulations, which specify that each rider only have one bike in the pit box in 2012, had an effect in qualifying for both Rea and Aoyama, each of whom lost some valuable time in this year’s 45-minute sessions. Rea missed some action after a sensor malfunctioned inside his engine and Aoyama had to have crash damage repaired.
Raffaele De Rosa (Pro Ride Motorsports Honda) did not start in race one despite making it to the start-line, and he was 17th from seventeen finishers in race two in his first race in this division, missing out on scoring points.
PARKES CLIMBS THE PODIUM AFTER SHORT BUT EPIC SUPERSPORT RACE
Pole position man Broc Parkes Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) made a less than perfect start in the FIM Supersport World Championship race and was down in fifth for some time, then dropped to sixth, before fighting back to score third place at his home race, all despite ever-worsening rear tyre grip.
Due to fears about tyre life in the hot track conditions at Phillip Island the opening round was shortened to 15-laps instead of the scheduled 21. Most riders still had traction issues on race-day, despite track temperatures of 43°C, far less than the near 60°C temperatures which were evident during final qualifying on Saturday. Parkes was also fastest man in warm-up this morning, despite only doing three laps right at the end of the 20-minute session.
Former Moto2 rider, but WSS rookie Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda) followed up on a third place grid position with fourth in the race, just over two seconds from winner Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) and second place rider Fabien Foret (Kawasaki). Cluzel also found issues with rear tyre grip near the end and could not hold onto the more experienced Parkes.
Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda) opted to bring his bike home safely in fifth place, just less than five seconds from the winner, as he has a blistered rear tyre. His mature approach earned him eleven championship points. He had started from second spot on the grid, the middle rider in a qualifying 1-2-3 run for Honda.
Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda) went from 13th on the grid to an assured seventh in the race, ending up riding alone and to save his rear tyre. Lukas Pesek (PRORACE Honda) secured a top ten on the opening day of WSS play, stepping up two places from his qualifying position.
South African Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda) was the last Honda rider in the points, 14th, and one of many new riders to the class this season. He had qualified 15th.
Balazs Nemeth (Racing Team Toth Honda) was on course for a top ten until he slipped back severely to record a 20th place finish.
Andrea Antonelli (Team Lorini Honda), Martin Jessopp (Riders PTR Honda) and Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) finished 16th, 17th and 18th respectively.
Pawel Szkopek (Bogdanka Racing Honda) and Ondrej Jezek (SMS Racing Honda) each failed to finish, as did ninth place qualifier Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda). Thomas Caiani (KUJA Racing Honda) was the last rider classified as a finisher, in 23rd place after experiencing some issues in practice.
HONDA RIDER COMMENTS:
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team)
Race result: 7th / 4th Championship position: 5th
“We kept the same tyre option for race two as we used in race one. It was so much easier in the heat than it was in the cool and it worked a lot better than in race one. It was all over the place in that race from around mid-race distance. In race two the tyre held on a lot longer, but went off eventually and I could do nothing on the last lap to stop Sykes coming past. I was just hoping there was not a train of riders behind him when I realised he was closing, but the boys in the pit-lane has signalled me that there wasn’t. As much as I knew I would get mugged on the last corner, at least I knew it was coming! We have decent points on the board, if not good points, and we are going to Imola next so we should be good there.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team)
Race result: 8th / 9th Championship position: 9th
“If we think about how this week started, we did not do too bad to finish eighth and ninth. Of course we could be better if we had smooth sessions and everything had gone well, but we had a couple of problems that stopped us from going faster and it was somehow difficult to solve all the problems and we had to go race carrying still some small set-up problems. The guys really worked hard this weekend and it was a bit of a stressful at times, but finally we ended up doing better in the races than in qualifying. The results that I got were not what I want, but in this moment to finish in these places is not too bad.”
Raffaele De Rosa (Pro Ride Motorsports Honda)
Race result: DNS / 17th Championship position: -
“It was fun in the beginning of race two when I could race with other riders, but as the race wore on I found it difficult changing gear as the tyres got hot. I am still getting used to a Superbike and the electronics, as it is all new to me. My team and I are learning all the time.”
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda)
Race result: 3rd Championship position: 3rd
“I did not get a good start, but I was not too concerned about it. I did not attack well enough in the first six or seven laps. So I left my charge a bit too late. I was really concerned about my rear tyre, maybe a little bit too much. It was still torn quite a bit at the end. I just could not do any more and had to take the points today. I lost a gap early on and tried to close the gap at the end, but my grip was going quite quick at the end. A top three in the first race is quite good all the same.”
Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda)
Race result: 4th Championship position: 4th
“Close, but not quite there. I had some chatter problems like my team-mate Sam Lowes. Starting from yesterday afternoon we had full chatter and this happened during the race. I think some of the other bikes had more grip on the rear and no chatter. They were faster for sure. If I tried to so the same I would crash. I am thinking it is not too bad to finish fourth. I thought the podium was close, but my tyre as completely finished and Parkes had more grip, and maybe more experience! I think maybe he used his tyre less. I am happy to finish where I did in my first ever Supersport race.”
Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda)
Race result: 5th Championship position: 5th
“My rear tyre had a blister so I had to drop back. It was better to get the points than risk a crash. I could not even tip into the corner, I was losing a lot and I did not have any drive, nothing. I had to give up and could not fight. When I got to the front early on I tried to slow the pace down, but just couldn’t. I could not have done any more. But last year maybe I would have tried too hard and crashed in the same situation, so I just stayed there to get the points.”
Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda)
Race result: 7th Championship position: 7th
“It was good today. At the beginning I was with the front group and I think it was just a loss of confidence in the front end that I had after about 7-8 laps that dropped me back a bit. So I just thought to myself ‘push, but do not push too hard.’ This is the first race so you need to get some points. I am proud of myself because I had a good race and I have been training hard for this. The next race and the tests after will be about getting the bike set up for a longer race. My team did well, they did a good job.”
Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR Honda)
Race result: 14th Championship position: 14th
“My start was really bad for me and I dropped down a bit. Coming down Lukey Heights one of the other riders tried to brake past three or four others, took out someone and I ran wide. I was really far back and I had to push hard in the first few laps to catch up. I finished the tyre halfway through the race, so I was going backwards. I think for my first race we showed a decent pace at first and we just need to try and keep that pace the whole race through.”
Martin Jessop (Riders PTR Honda)
Race result: 17th Championship position: -
"I had a really good start and made up two rows and then at turn 10 I was run on by someone and had to turn my bike round and back on track. By the end of the lap I had lost 11-seconds, but I tried my hardest and put some good laps in. I went back to a Superbike style of riding on my own - I could have done with following some racers. A lot of people were struggling with tyres and I am happy as we worked on the same compound all weekend and were in a good position. It is so annoying to be run off in the first lap and losing points in my first race, but we have made progress all weekend and are going in the right direction."
Pawel Szkopek (Bogdanka Racing Honda)
Race result: DNF Championship position: -
"We had a last minute problem and I couldn't make the start. I'd like to thank the team for putting in great work this weekend and especially today trying to get me on the grid. I went out for a sighting lap, but eventually had to come in as something wasn't quite right with the engine. It's a pity because we felt we had the pace for a strong result after my best ever qualifying yesterday - and the whole team was working really well, but this is racing. I'm still leaving Australia in high spirits because we can see we made progress compared to last year and that makes me really confident ahead of Imola."
FIRST POINTS FOR CRESCENT FIXI SUZUKI
Team Suzuki Press Office - February 26.
Crescent Fixi Suzuki raced to its first World Superbike Championship points at the 2012 WSBK season-opener at Phillip Island in Australia today.
Although the results were not what they were looking for from Leon Camier and temporary stand-in Josh Brookes, the positive feedback and amount of valuable information gained will be invaluable for the next round of the series at Imola in a month's time.
Leon Camier - Race 1 - 17th, Race 2 - 12th:
"I wanted better results today but we've gathered masses of information in the team's first-ever WSBK race and I'm positive that we'll see a big improvement in Imola. I can't tell you how happy I am with the GSX-R's chassis - for me it has the potential to win races. The bike brakes really well, is stable in mid-corner; and I'm perfectly happy with its character. If we can get a bit more power, we'll be contenders for sure. In race one, I got pushed off the track by Giugliano and lost ground. I started chasing back to catch up, but as the race went on the tyre wore out completely and I couldn't push any harder.
"In the second race, I got hemmed-in going into turn one, lost ground and was 14th at the end of lap one. I was able to pass a lot of people on the brakes, but lost out on acceleration and top speed and again the way I had to ride to compensate destroyed the tyre at the end. This was a tough day but the potential is huge."
Josh Brookes - Race 1 - 16th, Race 2 - 15th:
"I feel better about today than the rest of the weekend. For race two, we went back to front-end ride height we used yesterday plus some softer springs. The changes made a huge difference to how the front end felt and the bike braked and turned better. We turned down the traction control for race two and although I was happier with the feel of the bike, it resulted in destroying the tyres more quickly. I'd like to thank Crescent Fixi Suzuki for giving me the chance to ride the bike. I have learnt a lot this weekend and my mind has been opened as to the potential of the Suzuki I'll be riding in the British Superbike Championship."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"Race two was much better for Leon and his lap times when he was playing catch up from 14th were excellent - good enough to run in the top four or five. We need to find a bit more power and hopefully this will come with the next-step Yoshimura GSX-R engines. I'm pleased that Josh got into the points. He has worked hard throughout the tests and this weekend and we really appreciate his efforts standing in for Hopper. Overall I am happier with the second race potential and generally we've gained a lot of good, useful information to take to the next round in Imola.
Paul Denning - Team Principal:
"Phillip Island is a brutal track if you don't have a perfect set-up and we also missed John's speed and experience with the Suzuki, so our backs were up against it right from the start. Leon's results today didn't demonstrate his potential, but his race pace in the second 22-lapper showed that he can run with the top group - but a combination of being 14th at the end of lap one and tyre-wear issues made it hard for him to get back into contention.
"I'd like to thank Josh for joining the team at short notice and working as hard as he did in the tests and this weekend. I'd also like to thank Fujio, Yohei and all the guys at Yoshimura. We need their help to go forward and we're all looking forward to the next-spec engines. This is a World Championship and it's tough at this level but we are determined to fight for good results!"
Honda World Superbike Team harvests points in Australia
Both Honda World Superbike Team riders, Jonathan Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama, took two top ten finishes in today's opening round of the 2012 World Superbike championship at Phillip Island in Australia.
With the race victories going to Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa, Rea took seventh and fourth places in the two 22-lap outings, while his team-mate Aoyama finished eighth and ninth.
Starting from the outside of the second row, 25-year-old Rea enjoyed good starts to both outings. In race one, however, a lack of rear grip had dropped him back to seventh at the flag, while in race two, he held second place for much of the race after a set-up change improved grip levels. However, with just two laps to go, he slipped behind Biaggi and then lost out to fellow Brit Tom Sykes on the final straight.
After problems in qualifying, World Superbike rookie Aoyama, started from 16th on the grid. Opting for the softer rear tyre in both races, the Japanese rider fought through to the top ten in race one, while a small set-up change allowed him to make it a double in his debut SBK outing.
Jonathan Rea - 7th and 4th
We’ve still got a bagful of points to go on to Imola with but we wanted to be on the podium in both races. I honestly feel like we got a bad tyre in race one and in race two we didn’t want to run in the same situation, so we were thinking about changing the tyre, but all our logic and race runs throughout the weekend told us to keep this [harder] tyre in the heat. Directly, I had more grip - OK, the temperature was even hotter, which would go against our logic - but the tyre felt like it should feel and I was able to ride strong and consistent until probably five laps to go when durability fell off and I was going backwards. I felt fresh and strong in both races and the guys have worked well all weekend. We had a little crash on Saturday and the boys worked so good with the one-bike rule to get us back out there. You have to think that this circuit is a bit unique with the tyre character, how long you’re on the side and the heat generated in the tyre. Now we move on to some tracks that are good for us and there’s a lot of work to do back at base. The guys need to find some speed, so that’s on the agenda; I’ve just done a de-brief and everything feels OK. I want to say thanks to everyone for all their help this weekend - it feels good to get to the start of the season fit and healthy and I’m looking forward to round two now.
Hiroshi Aoyama - 8th and 9th
I think it’s not so bad for my first Superbike weekend. We had a not-so-easy start on Friday when I had one crash and we had a lot of problems. That didn’t help us to go much faster and we tried many things but couldn’t improve. In the races we managed to finish in the top ten with eighth and ninth and I want to say thanks to all the guys who worked for me. It was a tough weekend but ended up not too bad. I’m looking forward to the next race in Imola - of course I’ve never ridden there, so it’s going to be tough for Friday. We have month to improve the bike a little bit and, if I can find a better feeling, I can push a little bit more and this is what I am looking for. Anyway, considering the situation now, it’s not so bad!
Riders' comments are available to view on video at the following link:
Podium For Sykes As Both Leading Kawasaki Riders Show Good Pace
WSBK, Phillip Island, Australia, 26 February 2012
Tom Sykes scored a fourth and then a strong third place at Phillip Island to go third in the championship rankings after the opening round of the 2012 championship.
Sykes’ first round results, after a winter of intense testing and development, demonstrated that Kawasaki’s plans have been moving the race set-up of the Ninja ZX-10R in the right direction. It was particularly evident at PI as this track has seldom been kind to Sykes or the team in the past and Tom does not cite it as one of his favourites.
In race one Tom led for the first two laps and was in a podium place for 13 laps, only dropping back in the final few circuits as the wind started to affect his machine and tyre wear took its toll. Changes to the bike set-up in race two helped Tom not only lead again and then defend his position but he was also able to run down Jonathan Rea to secure third exiting the final corner and holding it down the long straight.
Sykes’ team-mate Joan Lascorz could not find a set-up to let him compete in race one, but he was well in the fight in race two, sitting behind Tom in fourth until he fell, losing the front on lap 11. He only scored in one race today but he proved that with the right set-up options on his bike he can run with the best.
Pedercini Team Kawasaki regular David Salom battled against injury to go 14th in race one, but had to retire from race two due to pain and fatigue in his wrist. A great ride from stand-in Pedercini rider Bryan Staring put him tenth in race one, but the hotter temperatures in race two saw him have to fight to go 16th.
Tom Sykes: “In race one I got a good start and over race distance I had been feeling really strong all week. It was a very difficult race with the wind blowing me and the bike around but to be honest I had to use my head a bit and not get sucked into too much fighting. I was just trying to manage the gap behind, but to come away with a fourth, on a track like this, using the same tyres as the guys on the podium, is a bit of a first for us. It shows the progress Kawasaki has made over the winter. To take the podium on the last lap was really satisfying and the bike has been working really well in winter testing so big thanks to the team; they were very focused. Race two was even more windy than race one but my crew chief and team changed the balance of the bike and compensated for some things. For sure we arrived at the limit but we were able to maintain a consistent pace right to the end. I had a good fight with Max for a couple of laps and a few corners. So to come away with pole position, third and fourth in the races? I am over the moon, because this circuit has never been a strong one for us in the past.”
Joan Lascorz: “It was difficult with the settings in the first race. In the first part it was not so bad, then we had a lot of problems with vibration. The wind was also pushing me around in the fast corners. I eventually lost the front in race two but it was much better for the machine set-up. Congratulations to Tom, he rode a nice race, and congratulations to the team and Kawasaki too. I crashed out of race two but I think we were just unlucky, and it was good to find our true pace in race two for a few laps.”
Steve Guttridge: Kawasaki Europe Race Planning Manager: “This is a fantastic weekend after all the hard work the teams have done and they pulled out all the stops. They had a very intelligent testing programme and put it all together on raceday. Kawasaki is delighted with the performance and commitment of the teams. To see Tom be able to push right until the last lap and then make a pass for his podium place on the finish straight was fantastic.”
First And Second For Kawasaki Riders As Sofuoglu Takes His First Ninja Victory
WSS, Phillip Island, Australia, 26 February 2012
Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini rider Kenan Sofuoglu took only one race weekend to win his first race on the Ninja ZX-6R and also take an early lead in the overall championship fight.
The Turkish rider, twice a World Champion already, believes his new bike has what it takes to make him champion again, and few would argue with him after a display of controlled pace to start and then controlled aggression to finish. He passed three riders on one lap to take the lead and was never headed after that. This was his 18th career win in Supersport, an extension to his all-time record tally.
His Kawasaki DeltaFin Lorenzini team-mate Sheridan Morais survived a scare with his race tyre choice to record sixth place, having been very much on the early race pace. He suffered a loss of traction from his rear tyre and had to settle for sixth, which was still a more than respectable result first time out. He was only 6.8 seconds from Kenan after 15 laps.
Former champion Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step Racing) rode a controlled race to secure second, finishing only 0.078 seconds from Kenan as he battled back towards the lead. His second place made it a 1-2 finish for Kawasaki riders in a race which was shortened to 15 laps before the start due to concerns with tyre life at the fast Phillip Island circuit. The next stop is Imola, in a month’s time.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “I was actually very nervous before the start because last time I won a race was a year and a half ago, so I am really happy. This was my first time racing with Kawasaki and I did not expect that the first weekend we would be so strong. My bike was working well and it has proved that my decision to come back to WSS with Kawasaki was a good one, because I have a really good bike. I have seen this the last few years and I believe this bike can make me World Champion again. I am happy to be back in this class. Everybody had tyre problems of some kind and I was afraid of what might happen at the end of the race, so I waited and then I took the chance to go into the lead. I made a bit of a gap and I really did not know that Foret was so close behind me on the last lap, so I was pleased to see the flag.”
Sheridan Morais: “In testing we were doing a lot of race simulations and we did not have any tyre problems, so when they shortened the race to 15 laps we were actually upset about it. We had quite an advantage on a soft tyre but it turned out lucky on race day because my tyre went off. I was hanging in there early on, really comfortable but then about lap eight it started to get a bit out of control and I was pattering all over the place. I was happy about the bike and there was nothing I could do about the tyre, so that’s the way it goes. The main thing is we were in there in terms of pace.”
Fabien Foret: “Kenan and Sheridan have made some good work and obviously we got some things from them, and the bike is pretty good. When Kenan passed me I could see the rhythm is a little bit faster, and I tried to stick with him. Cluzel, with a pretty fast bike, was coming on the straight, so it was difficult to stay close to Kenan.I was pretty close and could have even made a move at MG corner, but that would have been too risky and it is the first race of the year so I did not want to crash. Good on Kenan and I am happy for my team and myself, it is a good start.”