A select few previews from some of the World Superbike teams ahead of this weekend's opening round of the 2016 WSBK season:
The Wait is Over as Yamaha Returns to WorldSBK Racing
After an absence of four years, the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit will host the historic return of Yamaha to the FIM Superbike World Championship this weekend, as practice kicks off at the Australian circuit on Friday morning.
Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli have spent the winter preparing strongly with their new Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. The careful groundwork, development and evaluation and a strong showing during the past few days of official pre-season testing signifies the new partnership is now eager to begin their championship challenge in earnest as the lights go out for the opening race this coming Saturday.
Celebrating its 10th time as host for a WorldSBK season opener - the seventh consecutively since 2009 - Phillip Island's 4,445m Grand Prix Circuit remains a favourite of riders and fans alike making it a perfect location to welcome Yamaha's return. Overlooking the ocean on Australia's southern Bass Coast, the high-speed layout, 12 corners and constant changes of elevation and direction create a demanding challenge for teams and a truly electrifying first round of competition.
Lowes and Guintoli get the action underway for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team at 10:15hrs local time in the first of two scheduled free practice sessions on Friday 26th February. Witnessing the championship's new two day race structure for the first time, the traditional Superpole shootout will now start at 12:30hrs on Saturday - as riders placed 20-11 after the previous day's practice compete for the two available promotion spots. The all-important 12 rider fight for pole position will then take to the track at 12:55hrs. Saturday afternoon heralds the first race of the 2016 season as the 22-lap battle commences at 15:00hrs, with Sunday's final contest also hitting the asphalt at 15:00hrs.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will be joined by Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team's MotoGP rider Bradley Smith for the entire weekend, reporting exclusively from within the Phillip Island paddock for Yamaha Racing's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram coverage. Watch his introductory YouTube video with the team here and follow behind-the-scenes with #BradleyDownUnder.
"Phillip Island is my favourite track of the year. Going there for the first race is like starting your meal with a dessert! There is always a great atmosphere on the island, with plenty of sea, sun & fast corners. We also get the chance to go surfing on the off days and the WorldSBK pre event this year is being held at Cowes Beach on Thursday afternoon so what's not to like!
"Since our first outing in November the whole team has accomplished a lot of work and our progress has been very encouraging. Phillip Island will be the stepping stone so I am excited to race again and find out about our strengths and weaknesses. Make no mistake, our target is to win races but we do not want to underestimate the size of the task. Our potential is clearly strong but we are at the very beginning of the challenge."
"'The Island' is one of my favourite race tracks, as it is for most riders. From my first laps here I loved the place! It is a very fast track but it is also quite technical which is hard on tyres and makes the racing close and tactical. My favourite corner is Stoner as it's a very fast on power left hander where the whole bike slides and I look forward to it every lap. In terms of machine set up, Phillip Island can throw up some challenges, as it has so many turns on throttle without too many hard braking areas so the best set-up can be quite peculiar. I'm still learning how best to ride the YZF-R1, after the last two days of testing here but, like everyone, I'm looking forward to this round and being the first one for all of us it's important to get the season off to a trouble-free and solid start!"
Milwaukee BMW launches at Phillip Island
The Milwaukee BMW World Superbike Team has been officially launched at Phillip Island
Ahead of their racing debut in the 2016 FIM World Superbike Championship in this weekend’s event, the team unveiled the bikes’ liveries and new teamwear in the Paddock Show tent at the Phillip Island circuit.
Speaking at the launch, team principal Shaun Muir added:
“It’s a proud moment for the team and our sponsors to unveil the bikes and riders to the wider public here at Phillip Island. The build up to this point in time has been tremendous. My team and riders have faced every possible challenge in such a short period of time. Logistically and technically we have ticked every box. In fourteen weeks we have gone from a domestic championship winning team to World Superbike contenders.
With just six problematic test days behind us, we hit the track here at Round 1 in Australia. It’s clear and obvious we are on the back foot in terms of on track performance, however I have every faith in the team and especially Karel and Josh that they will start to get the feel and understanding of the Milwaukee BMW 1000RR and results will follow. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors for their support in this new exciting project.”
A new season begins for Honda in the FIM Superbike World Championship
Honda is ready to tackle the 2016 edition of the World Superbike and Supersport championships, which are set to start tomorrow (Friday 25 February) as the opening round at Phillip Island in Australia gets underway.
This will be the first of 14 rounds across the globe, spread from February to October, which will see Honda’s standard bearers fighting for top honours aboard their production-based race bikes sporting the company’s famous white, red and blue livery.
American Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark from the Netherlands will race the 2016 version of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in the Superbike category. The WorldSBK specification of Honda’s iconic superbike has received several upgrades through the winter, ranging from new engine characteristics to revised suspension and electronics.
Two former world champions with unquestioned talent and speed, Nicky and Michael will be joined by PJ Jacobsen, who last year claimed the runner-up spot in the World Supersport championship. The 22-year-old American will return aboard the Honda CBR600RR, with the goal of becoming the rider to claim the tenth world title in the middleweight class with Honda and Dutch-based tuning company Ten Kate Racing.
Honda and Ten Kate will partner together once again to continue what has been so far an extremely successful journey, with ten world rider titles and ten manufacturer titles over both classes claimed in the past 14 years.
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Nicky Hayden 69
The next stage of my career in World Superbike is about to begin. I must say I’m very happy to be here and for this opportunity to race with Ten Kate and Honda, which allows me to continue doing what I love at the highest level. I feel I can still be competitive and I’m here to prove it. I appreciate all the support from the fans and I am really looking forward to get started. I’m sure it’s going to be a great season for all of us!
- Honda WorldSBK
Michael van der Mark 60
I’m really happy to be racing with Ten Kate and Honda once again; it’s my fourth year with the squad so I can say it’s like a family for me and I think we can have another great season together. This my second year in WorldSBK will be very important for me and the start is just around the corner, so it’s time to go out there and fight for the best result at every race.
- Honda WorldSBK
Patrick Jacobsen 99
I’m very excited to take on my third year in World Supersport and to do so with Honda and Ten Kate. I love the Honda CBR600RR and I feel we’re in a position to battle for top honours. This is the ideal situation for me as I know everyone already and I feel at home with the team. I’ve been dreaming of this since I was a little kid and I can’t wait to get out there!
- Honda WorldSSP
Ronald ten Kate
Pata Honda team manager
The time to go racing has arrived once again and we feel very motivated entering the 2016 season. We are ready and we reckon we have the right team, riders and bikes to do well. Michael and PJ will be out there to confirm themselves at the front of the field and I’m sure Nicky will be a force to be reckoned within the WorldSBK paddock, after all the success he’s had throughout his racing career so far. New teams and riders have arrived and changes have been made to rules and schedules, but all that doesn’t affect our approach to racing and our desire to win.
- Pata Honda
Honda's WorldSBK Operations Manager
Honda is once again fully behind the World Superbike effort and believes in the great importance of the series for the company. We have three supremely talented riders, an extremely professional team and some loyal and enthusiastic partners and sponsors on our side. The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP and the CBR600RR have been further improved throughout the winter and I’m sure the riders will get the best out of them. It’s going to be an exciting year for all of us, for the fans coming to the races and the ones watching from home.
- Honda Motor Europe
Exclusive comments on video from Phillip Island
25 February 2016
Watch Kawasaki riders give exclusive comments on their testing sessions at Phillip Island.
Thursday, 25 February 2016
Life's A Beach!
Phillip Island Pre-Event is the first victory of the year for class of 2016
The WorldSBK paddock was today welcomed to Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit by owner Fergus Cameron, inaugurating what is to surely be another fantastic season of racing.
WorldSBK and WorldSSP riders then attended a pre-event in Cowes on Phillip Island ahead of the opening Round of the 2016 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, trying their luck at sandcastle building and paddle boarding.
Jonathan Rea, Nicky Hayden, Chaz Davies, Leon Camier, Alex De Angelis, Josh Brookes, Sylvain Guintoli, Lachlan Epis, Kenan Sofuoglu and Randy Krummenacher each joined forces with two local children to take on the challenge of two halves, first consisting of building a sand fort and then followed by a relay and paddle board race.
Team Rea ended the first half with a well-designed and professional sandcastle, but competition was tough from the likes of Hayden and Brookes. Hayden’s soft toy penguin on his castle, an homage to Phillip Island, seemed like the winning detail until he was pipped at the flag by Australia’s own Josh Brookes. Brookes, in the dying seconds, swept through to victory by virtue of a small-scale erupting sand volcano, wowing the judges and sealing the win.
Part 2 saw the junior teammates of each rider tag them as part of a relay and set the riders running into the water to paddle board to a buoy and back. Leon Camier, by virtue of a stunning start, took an early lead that would prove decisive and the MV Agusta rider took victory in the second half of the challenge, setting himself up perfectly for the weekend of racing that kicks off tomorrow at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
The first Round of the season is now only hours away, with Friday sessions now providing riders in WorldSBK with the chance of qualifying for the Tissot-Superpole 2 session to fight for grid position. This weekend marks the dawn of a new era in WorldSBK, with the first race of the season now to be held on Saturday, and bikes will be on track for the first time at 1015am on Friday to get the action underway.