2017 Phillip Island WorldSBK Saturday Post-Race/Qualifying Press Releases

Press releases from the organizers and some of the teams after the first WorldSBK race and qualifying for the World Supersport class:

Phillip Island Day Two
Rea triumphs as tactics prevail
Champion wins opening thriller with Lowes set to take pole in Race 2

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was the backdrop for a stunning first race of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) took a superb win, to start the season in style. Rea beat Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) by just 0.042s across the line as the pair battled hard to the last corner, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) also on the podium.

An enthralling race was the perfect way to start the 30th season of the WorldSBK championship, with Rea, Davies, Sykes, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) all taking turns in the lead.

Lowes briefly led mid-race and would eventually finish fourth, crossing the line just over a second behind Rea and just 0.032s behind Sykes.

Melandri made a spectacular return to the championship in his first WorldSBK race since 2014, taking the lead off the line and running at the front for several laps only for his day to end in frustration after a crash at the Southern Loop with 8 laps to go.

An excellent showing from Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) saw the Englishman cross the line three seconds behind race winner Rea to complete an all British top five.

A solid start to the season by Spaniards Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) and Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) saw them take sixth and seventh respectively.

Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) completed the top ten, with Krummenacher producing an impressive ride on his WorldSBK debut.

Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team) were 11th and 12th respectively, whilst debutant Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) was 15th. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) crashed at Turn 6 with 17 laps to go, dashing the hopes of the Italian of a good point-scoring start to the year.

With the new grid format introduced for 2017, we will see Alex Lowes start from pole position whilst Jonathan Rea will be battling from ninth. Race 2 at 3pm local time (+11 GMT) on Sunday at the Yamaha Finance Australian Round will see Rea looking to make it a double victory weekend, but his rivals will be pushing him hard at every turn.

Top Three:

1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team):

"To start the season with 25 points is exactly what I needed to do, especially after the end of last season played out and hopefully we can work step by step. It was a strange race, it should have been much faster. But we did what we had to do in the end to get 25 points.”

2. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati):

“It was important to get this first race out the way and get some good points on the board. I tried a bit of a different strategy and it didn’t quite work out for the win. In the end I knew it was going to come down to myself and Jonny; but with this being one of our tougher tracks it’s hard to get the strategy right. We’ll have a little think for tonight and see if we can go one better tomorrow.”

3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team):

“I have to say to finish on the podium, not far behind those two in Phillip Island is a big positive for me. That’s only the third podium I’ve had in this circuit, so it gives me a lot of confidence going forward. I had a couple of warnings very early on and I was able to settle down, but ultimately I did an acceptable race. A podium at Phillip Island is my first target and I hope we can improve on it tomorrow.”

Superb Win For Rea As Sykes Takes Strong Podium

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) and his team-mate Tom Sykes each led the first race of the new FIM Superbike World Championship season at Phillip Island in Australia and contested the win right to the very last lap. Ultimately, Rea took his 39th career race win and Sykes only his third ever podium finish at this circuit, after a highly successful opening race day for the new Ninja ZX-10RR.

With tyre wear always a potential issue at the unique and fast 4.445km Phillip Island circuit, the early pace of the race was controlled by the top riders to ensure their overall race package be in good shape at the end of 22-laps, especially on a track surface that was warmer than during the opening day of practice.

Rea and Sykes, starting 1-2 on the grid after Rea had scored his ninth career pole earlier this morning, had both shattered the previous track best record to earn their top grid placings. Tom and Jonathan had to fight for much of the race, which had a consistent leading group of 14 at one stage. As the laps counted down to the finish first Sykes, and then Rea, lead the final charge towards the flag.

Rea gave the Ninja ZX-10RR its first race win by using all his race craft on the final lap, heading off Chaz Davies by 0.042 seconds, with Tom in third place and just 1.050 seconds from the winning time.

Rea has now scored four wins from the last five races held at PI, with one more race still to go this weekend. For Tom, who has seldom found great fortune at this track, his podium was both a cause for celebration and a motivating factor for race two tomorrow.

Race two will take place at 15.00 on Sunday 26th February, local Australian time.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “That was one of the strangest races I have ever been partly because in some places the pace was slow in the 1’33s but I was wary to always stay at the front of the group and keep out of trouble. I think the further back I ever was third but I tried not to do too much at the front. I knew when Chaz mounted a challenge at the end I needed to be really strong. Twice after lap ten I tried to go to the front and push the pace forwards but it did not really pan out. With two to go I got track position and then played it clever on the final lap. We have been working hard in the off season to find some advantages.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “Considering the two days of testing this week, and yesterday’s times, I would say we have taken a good result today. But, considering where we were, close behind the leading two, I am disappointed not to get something extra! But that is only my third ever podium at Phillip Island, so to make a top three here, very close to the two guys who were out front, is potentially better than a win at some other circuits for me. Really I am quite happy. We had some warnings from the bike at times and we were able to adjust. In a nutshell, at this track, with hot track conditions today, a little bit of wind too – everything against what I would normally want – I was on the podium, and close to the winner. So for me this has been a very positive day and felt quite comfortable out there.”

Chaz Davies is second in the 2017 WorldSBK season opener at Phillip Island, Marco Melandri forced to retire

The 2017 WorldSBK season opener at Phillip Island (Australia) yielded bittersweet results for the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team. Chaz Davies rode a tactical race and finished in second position, only 0.042 seconds behind Jonathan Rea. Marco Melandri, on the other hand, was forced to retire with seven laps to go after going off the track while battling against an opponent.

In fourth and third position on the grid respectively after Superpole, Davies and Melandri took the lead thanks to a blistering start and then constantly fought in the leading group. As it often happened in the past, the Australian track led to a hard-fought, exciting race, with seven riders at the top and narrow gaps. The battle, however, penalized Melandri, who was forced off track at turn 2 after disputing the same line with another rider. Conversely, Davies was able to play defense and wait until the final laps to attack, missing the victory by only 0.042 seconds.

The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action tomorrow at 11:25 local time (01:25 CET) for WUP. Race 2 is scheduled to start at 15:00 (05:00 CET). Due to the new grid regulations for Race Two, Davies and Melandri will start in 8th and 10th position respectively.

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 2nd

“We’ve made a good step forward for the long distance today, but the race itself was a bit of waiting game, as always here in Phillip Island. We had to look after the tyres, playing cat and mouse, and it was a good show. I tried not to get caught too much in the battle and basically reacted to what was going on around me. We almost won, but we still lacked something on the straight. I could pass, but only after the finish line, so we’ll have to try something else. Anyway, we adopted a different strategy compared with the past, a bit safer, to not give away points. That’s the key at this point of the season, because more favorable tracks for us will come soon enough. But, I can’t wait to have another go at it tomorrow.”

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – DNF

“Since the race was pretty slow-paced and crowded at the top, I wanted to take my time and save the tyres to try and pull away with Rea and Davies towards the end. I passed Lowes at turn 1 and went a bit wide, but he changed direction earlier than usual at turn 2, cutting in front of me. I lost the front for a moment and had to pick the bike up, going off the track. I knew a group battle would be a weak spot for us, given my long absence from the races. Today, however, it was really busy out there, and sometimes the races end like this. I’m disappointed, but also confident and eager to bounce back, given our potential. I learned many things today, and tomorrow it’ll be a different game, even though I’ll start from fourth row.”

Ernesto Marinelli, Superbike Project Director

“For sure it was a strange race, because all the top riders were worried about tyre wear and played defense, keeping the gaps really narrow. In these conditions, the final results are always unpredictable. On the one hand, we’re happy because Chaz fought for the win until the very last meter, but we’re also a bit displeased because Marco could have done the same but a contact took him out before the last laps. Both have shown to have the potential to win, but we want to keep working and give them something extra ahead of Race 2.”

Lowes and Yamaha fight for the win in Phillip Island Race One Thriller


In a thrilling first FIM Superbike World Championship race at Phillip Island in Australia, Alex Lowes secured a spirited fourth place and his new team-mate Michael van der Mark ninth, earning good points and setting themselves up well for the second race of the weekend on Sunday 26th.

After qualifying fifth on the grid in Superpole – in a time better than the circuit’s previous outright fastest lap - Alex Lowes used his 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1 to good effect in race one, fighting in the leading group throughout and crossing the line in a photo-finish for third place, only three-hundreths of a second from former World Champion Tom Sykes.

More impressively, Lowes was also only 1.082 seconds from the winner after 22-laps of sometimes close and furious action, leading the whole field on lap 11 as he tried to up the pace and break up what was a combative leading group of riders. Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team rider Michael van der Mark scored ninth place in his first WorldSBK race on the YZF-R1, and was a respectably close 12 seconds from the win itself, after starting from tenth on the grid. He had to qualify out of Superpole 1 and into Superpole 2 earlier in the day, but did so in professional style.

Van der Mark also battled in a group of riders for the whole race, missing out on 8th place by only 0.05 of a second, and the experience gained about his new machine during his first race on the YZF-R1 will be used to find improvements for tomorrow’s Race Two.

Under the new championship rules, Lowes’ fourth place puts him on pole for Sunday’s 22-lap contest, a position he hopes to exploit to the full in the early laps. Michael will be sixth off the grid on Sunday because of his top nine finishing position today. Today’s podium riders will now start race two from the third row, again because of the new regulations.

Paul Denning - Team Principal

“Both for us at Pata Yamaha and for the World Superbike Championship as a whole, today was an exciting way to start the season! We have been so impressed by Alex’s approach to the winter tests and to this first race event, and today showed the result of very serious preparation and a lot of hard work. As a rider, Alex has made a big step forward and this has allowed him to use the improvements in the bike, the team and the technical support structure. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow from pole position! Whatever the result, the target is to maximise the potential of the package and keep building forward, and today has been a great start to that process.

Michael made a brilliant start, rode aggressively and fought hard for every single lap of the race. The Championship has huge strength in depth this year and this was shown today, if you are a small percentage away from the optimum it will be tough to finish at the front. Michael’s adaptation to the Yamaha package continues, and this 22 laps will be very valuable experience – we will try to help him to take a step forward for tomorrow’s race and we know that very soon we will see him fighting at the front.”

Michael van der Mark

“In Superpole 1 we made a big step forward with the bike and the lap times came quite easy. We made good progress and in Superpole 2 it was the first time, really, with a qualifying tyre for me on this bike. The lap was not perfect but I was happy to be in Superpole 2. The race was quite good and in the beginning I was with the front guys but I felt that I struggled with drive. I wanted to be smooth to save the tyre but there was not enough drive from the rear, which is why I struggled to stay with them. I had a couple of nice fights with the other guys but I was just not comfortable enough to do the same as the guys in front. Tomorrow I hope we can find a solution to find more drive. Now I have had a real race on the bike I can see the real issues, and what the real strong points of the other riders are. I hope we can close up to them tomorrow, I will be giving 100%!”

Alex Lowes

“I felt quite comfortable today and the race simulations that I have done allowed me to relax a bit more in the race itself. I had been on a decent pace in the race runs and knew what to expect from the tyres and the bike. I managed to keep my speed to the end and I was a bit surprised that they were messing around a bit at the front! At one stage there were too many guys in the front group and everyone was a bit close - I did not feel very comfortable with that so I tried to push on a bit and stretch it out. It worked out quite well for me. The lads in the team and all at Yamaha have done a great job with the bike. Unfortunately I made a bit of mistake near the end and it dropped me back from the first three, I was able to pull them back in the last three laps but fourth place is still good. It is easy after the race to say that I could have done a bit better but my goal was top five in the races here, and then build during the year to close the gap. But we were in the race for the podium, and I just enjoyed being able to fight with the guys.”

Mixed start for the Milwaukee Aprilia team in Race 1 at Phillip Island

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit 25 / 02 / 2017

Milwaukee Aprilia experienced mixed fortunes in Race 1 at Phillip Island, with one points finish and one DNF

With riders Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty starting from 6th and 13th respectively after Saturday's Superpole sessions, the team were in a strong position for the first race of the season.

After a difficult test and practice period Eugene showed improved pace in the race, executing a series of strong passes to finish 8th with 8 points. With valuable data gathered during the race, there will be chance to find more pace from his Aprilia RSV4 RF. Eugene will take advantage of the new reverse grid ruling to start Race 2 from 5th position.

After a slow start saw him lose some places, Lorenzo was quick to make up ground and fought his way up behind the leading pack. He soon set a blistering pace and was reeling in the leaders, but had an unfortunate crash that ended his race early.

The team will debrief tonight ahead of Sunday's finale and target podiums in Race 2.

Race 2 at Phillip Island begins at 15:00 (AEDT) (04:00am GMT).

Eugene Laverty #50

Grid - 13th Race - 8th

The crash in qualifying came at the wrong time. The bike felt good up to that point and I was pushing harder, but the bike was off after two corners and I missed out.

I made the race hard for myself by starting 13th, but I managed to make up a few places quickly. My feeling on the bike wasn't great throughout and I struggled with getting it stopped and turning, but to score points is a positive.

We can work on and improve our issues from today for sure. It's only a short warm up tomorrow and it won't be easy, but with the reverse grid tomorrow as well we should be in a better position.

Lorenzo Savadori #32

Grid - 6th Race - DNF

I enjoyed using the Superpole tyre and I had good pace. I made a small mistake in qualifying and lost a few tenths, but I was happy to be on the second row.

The start of the race was not great and I lost some places. When I got some clear space I had good speed and I was reducing the gap to the front, but then I had a crash which was unfortunate.

My rhythm on the bike is still not great, but I think we can find some answers tonight. It's not easy to close the gap to the guys at the front but we're working very hard and hopefully we will have a good Race 2.

Team Principal Shaun Muir

It was a frustrating race for both sides of the garage. Lorenzo had the pace to run at the front no doubt, which he showed moving from 13th to 6th, but he didn't settle quick enough and had an off. He has work to do tomorrow and would have had a clear top 6 today, so there is a clear target for him in Race 2.

On the other side I'm pleased for Eugene to get a result, unfortunately 8th isn't where any of us want or expect him to be. At the moment we haven't given him a bike that he can race on, and that's something we've got to work hard on. Between SMR and Aprilia we need to give him something to compete with, and that won't be far away.

First points for Hayden and Bradl in opening race of the season at Phillip Island

Australian Round

Phillip Island, Australia

The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has contested the opening race of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship today at Phillip Island, with Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl finishing eleventh and fifteenth respectively.

Hayden launched from eleventh place on the grid and was immediately eighth on board his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machine as the World Superbike field entered turn one. The 35-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky, kept himself in the fight for eighth place until the final three laps when, after losing a bit of ground, he returned eleventh at the flag.

Bradl gained three positions at the start and for the first half of the encounter he did his best to maintain the pace of the riders ahead. The 27-year-old German rider managed to remain within the top 15 and to score his first World Superbike point.

The second race of the Australian round will take place tomorrow at 15:00hrs local time, after the traditional 15-minute warm up session that will get underway at 11:25. The new rules concerning the grid for race two will be applied for the first time tomorrow, with Hayden and Bradl starting the encounter from twelfth and fifteenth positions, respectively.

Nicky Hayden 69


We made some important changes to the setup today in order to be as ready as possible for the race. I got a really good start and I was able to stay with the group for a while and learn as much as possible. There were a few parts of the track where I was able to be really quick, but as the race progressed I got passed several times on the main straight and it was hard to take the position back. Surely we would have like to be closer to the front, it’s surely a lot more fun there but there's another race tomorrow, so we'll see what we can do.

- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

Stefan Bradl 6


My first World Superbike race has not been an easy one. We were strong on the brakes and that’s a positive, but if there is one point we need to work on ahead of race two is the connection between the throttle and the behaviour of the rear tyre, which was spinning a lot. I could feel the tyre in the opening laps, but as the laps went by the situation got a bit more problematic. We improved compared to testing but something is still clearly not right, so we have to work on it and come up with some ideas ahead of race two.

- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

Pieter Breddels

Both riders got a great start to the race and were able to make up some places and for a good number of laps their pace was not so bad. For half of the race the first twelve riders were within 2.8s and until the final stages, Nicky managed to stay with in mix for eighth place. Stefan had more of a difficult time, but in any case we got some important data and we will work hard to be ready for race two tomorrow. We have few ideas in mind and hopefully we can make good use of the warm up to see if we can move forwards.

Torres and Althea BMW seventh in the season’s first SBK race

Phillip Island (Australia), Saturday 25 February 2017

The opening race of the 2017 World Superbike season took place today at the Australian track of Phillip Island, bringing encouraging results for the Althea BMW Racing team and its riders Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger.

Superpole 2: Both Althea BMW riders had qualified for the second Superpole today. Making some initial laps on the race tyre, the pair were lying tenth and eleventh mid-session. Back out then with the qualifying tyre along with the rest of the field, the last minutes brought some frenetic changes in position. A fast lap for Torres, in 1’30.564, saw him climb the timesheets to seventh place while Reiti (1’31.009) closed twelfth. The Althea BMW thus qualified for the first race of the 2017 season on the third and fourth row of the grid respectively.

SBK - Race 1: despite having scored a very positive grid position, Torres unfortunately lost several positions off the line due to the fact that the bike's electronics still need work, thus finding himself in thirteenth place ahead of team-mate Reiti,14th. Over the course of the opening laps, Torres started to make headway, moving into tenth place by lap six. Through the central phase, the Spaniard battled with Laverty for ninth position before making further progress and moving up into seventh place on lap 14, leading the chasing group and holding this position all the way to the line. Reiterberger oscillated between 12th and 14th place over the course of the 22-lap race, lapping first with Bradl and then just behind Hayden. In the second half of the race, the gaps that had opened up between him and those immediately in front prevented him from achieving more than twelfth place today.

“All in all, we finished the race fairly well. I thank my mechanics as they worked really hard to give me a bike with a very good set-up. Unfortunately, I lost too much ground at the start, we need to work on our launch control strategy. If I’d been able to stick with Camier and Forés off the line then I think I could have kept pace with them. We’ve improved anyway, the pace was good and the result not bad. Tomorrow, thanks to the new regulation, we’ll start fourth so we absolutely have to make the most of that advantage.”

“Today was a little more difficult. During practice, we tried to improve problems at the rear by working on the setting and that took some time. It was tricky for me to set a position and with the qualifying tyre I finished twelfth. Then I didn’t make a great start to the race, but I was right behind Jordi so I tried to follow him and keep pace. I did this for a few laps but then he passed Laverty, I was unable to do the same and in pushing I had stressed my front tyre. My race pace was not as fast as I’d hoped but we’ll try to do better tomorrow.”

WorldSSP: Jacobsen the pole man at Phillip Island
Tissot-Superpole 2 sees American on top, joined on row one by Cluzel and Caricasulo

At the Yamaha Finance Australian Round at Phillip Island on Saturday it was PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who took WorldSSP pole with a 1’33.128 best time.

In the brilliant Australian sunshine on the Bass Straight, Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) got closest to Jacobsen to qualify in second and third respectively, both riders just over a tenth behind the American.

A crash for Caricasulo late in the session meant he was unable to challenge for pole in the final minutes.

Just off the front row is Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) who will line up fourth on the grid ahead of Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25) on the second row.

The third row features Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag) and Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini). Meanwhile, Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) are on row four.

Okubo crashed mid way through Tissot Superpole 2 and ended up 10th on the grid. Kawasaki ZX-6R equipped pair Ryde and Canducci were the two riders to graduate from Tissot Superpole 1.

Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) crashed at the end of Tissot Superpole 1 at turn 2, leaving him in 13th on the grid.

Defending WorldSSP World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is absent this weekend having sustained a hand injury during pre-season, so there is an opportunity for his rivals to take advantage in Sunday’s first race of the season which starts at 1.30pm local time.

Pole Position

PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)

"I feel really good and I'm really happy to get my first Tissot-Superpole, especially riding for a new team; they've been great through the test and through this weekend, so it's great to get the pole for them. I'm excited for the challenge in-front of me."

Cluzel to start first round of 2017 from front row

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Jules Cluzel will start the season opening, 18 lap World Supersport race at Philip Island from second position on the grid, just over a tenth of a second behind pole sitter Jacobsen.

In glorious Australian sunshine Cluzel was able to secure the front row start posting a time of 1’33.2 and the Frenchman is looking forward to a battle for the podium in tomorrow’s race.

Jules said: “I am really happy, I enjoyed the last part of qualifying. I followed Jacobsen and that has helped me a lot; too much I think because I am not normally a rider that follows people. I did it because I wanted to see where I was losing time and at the end I saw that I was quite good, quite comfortable. In the last turn I lost everything that I had gained over the whole lap but then I saw my time and realised we were fast! I have to understand how to ride the bike better and quicker alone because we have really strong potential. The target tomorrow is to improve at the last turn because that is the key to winning the race.”

Hikari Okubo started his first Superpole 2 full of confidence that he could battle for a top five place on the grid when he fell on his second flying lap at turn eleven. He was taken to the circuit medical centre where x-rays confirmed a broken collarbone, ruling him out of any further participation in the event this weekend.

A time of 1’34.591 secured Robin Mulhauser a place on the sixth row of the grid for his debut outing with CIA Landlord Insurance Honda and his progress suggests he is on target to achieve his aim of a strong points finish in the race tomorrow.

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “Fantastic job by Jules today and a great job by the team. He was fastest for a time and PJ just pipped him to pole on the second lap they did together. It was good they went round together so Jules could see where he was weak and where he was strong and also see ways that he needed to adapt to get the best from himself and also from our bike. He’s looking strong for the race tomorrow. We’ll try to improve, try some things in Warm Up and look to challenge for the win tomorrow in the race.

Robin is improving again in lap time. He’s a little disappointed with 17th but to be honest, he struggled to get the best out of the tyre on the first lap. He’s aware of that but he’s in a very strong positon to challenge for a points finish and as close to the top ten as he can in his first race with CIA Landlord Insurance Honda.

It is such a shame for Hikari, he’s been riding so well all weekend. He was top six in SP2 and then on his first run he crashed and unfortunately he’s broken his collarbone. He is going to hospital tonight for an operation tomorrow morning with a view to being fit to ride in the next round in Thailand. He was doing such a great job and he was so unlucky for this to happen. We wish him a speedy recovery.”

Round One of the 2017 World Supersport Championship takes place tomorrow at 1:30pm local time.

Caricasulo Takes New Yamaha YZF - R6 To Front Row Start


Riding the new Yamaha YZF-R6 GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team rider Federico Caricasulo secured a front row start in Superpole qualifying at Phillip Island, setting a lap time just 0.122 seconds from pole. Lucas Mahias recovered from his heavy first day crash to post fifth best time on his official YZF - R6 and take a second row start.

As the temperatures on the track rose on Saturday at Phillip Island the pace also increased and in Superpole Caricasulo’s hard work in practice paid off with his third place grid start. He has set 52 laps so far, more than any other WorldSSP rider.

Mahias eased himself into FP3 and then Superpole qualifying today, as he regained his confidence and pace, with the help and encouragement from his team and young team-mate Caricasulo.

With practice and qualifying completed the excitement of the new season begins in earnest on Sunday 26th. Uncovering the full potential of the new YZF - R6 will be the aim over race distance, in what will be its first real test at this level.

The first warm-up session will start the action tomorrow morning and then the shortened 15-lap race will begin at 13.30.

Lucas Mahias

“I am a little bit sore after yesterday’s crash so this qualifying position of fifth is not so bad. Tomorrow is the race itself and fifth place will be a good place to start from. Thanks to my team-mate Federico because he helped me to get my confidence back with the bike. We will improve the bike set-up again tonight and tomorrow we will have 15 laps, not 18.”

Federico Caricasulo

“A top three qualifying position is OK especially because I made a mistake when I was pushing very hard. I think I could have bettered my Superpole time but no problem. If the bike is good in the race we can do better. For 15 laps tomorrow I am happy because my tyres are working well. We are improving the bike set-up in every track session so I think tomorrow can be better again. I also think Lucas has regained his confidence because he did a good lap and I am happy for him.”

Ryde Rises To Fourth After Strong Superpole Saturday

Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) put himself fourth on the starting grid for tomorrow’s FIM Supersport World Championship race at Phillip Island after making great strides in Superpole qualifying.

With Kenan Sofuoglu now back at home after missing the first round through injury Ryde had been flying solo in his pit garage during his first race weekend for the championship-winning Kawasaki Puccetti squad.

Despite struggling in the recent tests and first day of race qualification yesterday Ryde relied heavily on the advice of his team and the 19-year-old went fastest in WorldSSP Superpole 1. Having thus qualified for Superpole 2 he went out to improve his performance even further and earn a fourth place starting position, with a time only 0.355 from pole.

Ryde will now start his first race from the leading place on the second row of the grid, in a race that has been shortened to 15 laps from the scheduled 18.

Kyle Ryde, stated: “That improvement was down to the team; trusting in what they want to do with the bike. This morning the set-up was not how I liked it but I had Jonathan Rea, the Superbike champion, telling me to just ride it and ride it. And then I had Andrew Pitt, who was a Supersport champion, telling me just to ride it and ride it. That is what I did this morning and it felt a little bit better. I went into Superpole with a new front and a new rear tyre - and it just clicked. A 1’33.4 today is a brilliant achievement compared to yesterday, and put us on the second row. I still feel that I have got a little bit left in me. That is a good sign as it was not a perfect lap but for my first race with Kawasaki Puccetti Racing it is a brilliant outcome. Where I was on Monday and Tuesday at the test I was devastated to be down the order. Yesterday, in 16th place, I was also down in the dumps. I knew I could do well today, but I did not quite expect this. An awesome job from the team.”

Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) was seventh in Superpole continuing his learning process on the Ninja ZX-6R at good pace. Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI Kawasaki) was 12th after Superpole 2, with Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) right behind him in 13th and 14th positions. Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) was 21st fastest in Superpole at his home round, and Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) placed 23rd.

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