Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the opening weekend of the 2017 season in Australia:
Phillip Island Day Three
Rea stuns to do the double Down Under
Third row start doesn't slow down Rea and Davies
The season-opening Yamaha Finance Australian Round at Phillip Island saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) wrap up a double victory from ninth position, in a superb Sunday race. Starting from a re-shuffled grid, Aruba.it Racing – Ducati pair Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri were also on the podium.
A stunning last lap battle between four riders for podium positions saw Rea come out on top again, with Davies a close second (+0.025s), whilst Melandri rode excellently for third (+0.249s) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) collected more good points in fourth having led the race early on.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) finished fifth, whilst Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended up at the back of a group of six riders who had been battling for the podium positions.
Behind that front group, it was Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who crossed the line in seventh and eighth respectively for a good haul of points, whilst Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) also registered top ten results.
After his solid fourth in Race 1 on Saturday Lowes made an excellent start from the head of the reshuffled Race 2 grid to lead the way in the opening stages, with Laverty and Fores also getting in the mix early on. Rea soon came through from ninth though, making light work of the challenge of the new regulations for 2017 which sees the grid reshuffled on Sunday further to the Race 1 results.
Rea took over in the lead with 17 laps to go, as Davies also soon came through to contest the lead, with Lowes fighting to stay with the Welshman and Rea for a podium result.
Melandri emerged as a contender in the second half of the race, having steadily fought his way to the front from tenth on the grid after his WorldSBK comeback on Saturday ended in a disappointing DNF. The Italian was delighted to return to the podium at the end of Race 2 as he kept Rea and Davies in his sights.
A technical issue saw Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) pull off track and out of contention in the Warm Up lap. Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) crashed with 14 laps to go, with additional crashes for Riccardo Russo (Guandalini Racing) and Ayrton Badovini (Grillini Racing Team).
The WorldSBK riders will be back in action at the second round of the season, the Motul Thai Round, over the 10th-12th March weekend.
P1 . Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team
“I’m so happy because to win a last lap battle here is hard, but to do it two times here and with tactical racing, it’s so hard. I just wanted to come here and start on my way, before yesterday I hadn’t won before the summer break in 2016 so it’s nice to start my campaign and with 50 points and two wins.”
P2. Chaz Davies - Aruba.it Racing - Ducati
“It was tight in both races and this one was even closer I reckon. Everybody had a little go at taking the lead and tried to break away at the front, but its near-on impossible here at Phillip Island so I just ran my own race. I tried to break away with a couple of laps to go but it wasn’t going to happen. We gave away a lot of points here last year, so to take 40 points at what is not one of our favourite tracks is good and look forward to the next one.”
P3. Marco Melandri - Aruba.it Racing - Ducati
“It’s been a very good weekend, race one was difficult race two was even more difficult because I came from the back, which meant I was pushing the tyre a bit too much. In the last few laps I didn’t have enough grip to try and fight for a win, but those two guys were a bit stronger than me today. To be back on the podium in my first Round after a year and a half off is good.”
Island Double Gives Rea 40 Superbike Wins
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) joined an exclusive club with his 40th career FIM Superbike World Championship race win today while Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) joined the leading group in the race for a time, but finished sixth. In the championship points Rea leads with a perfect 50 while Sykes has 26, and is ranked third overall.
In warm and sunny conditions the second Phillip Island race saw a small piece of history being made on two main fronts. First of all race one front row winner Rea and third placed Sykes had to start race two from the third row on their Ninja ZX-10RRs, under the new championship regulations. Sykes took over seventh grid place and Rea ninth, in another new twist to the 2017 season. Then, Rea secured his historic 40th race win at the end of the 22-laps.
Rea, able to get into the lead as early as lap six despite starting from the third row, raced for the win from then on, holding off Chaz Davies over the finish line for the second time in two days, this time by a margin of 0.025 seconds. Jonathan has now won five of the six most recent Phillip Island races, on a Kawasaki.
This latest race win gave Rea his magical 40th career victory; a level only reached and then later passed by three other riders in WorldSBK history. They are Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss and Noriyuki Haga. Rea, the 2015 and 2016 champion, also scored the Superpole win on Saturday for an almost perfect opening weekend of the new campaign on the new Ninja ZX-10RR.
Sykes, the WorldSBK champion in 2013, had more of an issue getting to the front group in race two, having to fight his way through once he had passed some slower riders and using up too much of his available tyre life in the process. He finished sixth today, 4.781 seconds from the win but having taken his second good result of the opening race weekend and third place overall in the points.
In the Manufacturers’ Standings, Kawasaki leads from Ducati 50 to 40.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Phillip Island was really rewarding and to win two last lap battles here means a lot because it is a such a hard track to lead from the front on. Whilst that 40th career victory means a lot it is more important to put a good score on the board for round one.
When I went through to clean air in the lead with three or four to go I was worried that the other riders may be learning too much about the bike. I had to be sure just to change the lines up a little bit but on the last lap, from Siberia corner onwards, I just put my head down and completed a very good back section. I covered my line into the MG hairpin and got myself tucked in as well as I could on the front straight. There was not only one area where we found some pace in the winter tests; we generally just polished the bike. Nothing magic happened but I feel good about this bike. The way things have changed a little bit have suited me. I can ride less on the limit and we have more tyre left to fight with at the end of races, compared to last year.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “It was a strange race today. I got a decent start, was happy with my track position but I struggled a little bit and couldn’t turn well enough really. I could not get alongside some of the others so I ended up about ninth or tenth after a while. The guys in front of me had a little bit of a scrap and the leaders got away. After nine or ten laps I was able to bridge the gap back to them. I think I did a fairly good job really but I had to use a little bit too much rear tyre. We have left here in third position in the championship. I got a bit carried away because I wanted more than third after yesterday’s podium but if somebody offered me that position before I came here, I possibly would have taken it. I love Phillip Island, love the people, love the track but we have never had two strong races here.”
Double podium in Race 2 at Phillip Island for the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team: Chaz Davies is 2nd, Marco Melandri 3rd
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team stepped on the podium with both its riders in Race 2 of the WorldSBK championship at Phillip Island. In a thrilling race that went down to the wire, Chaz Davies missed the win by only 25 thousandths of a second. Marco Melandri, who was forced to retire yesterday after running off track while battling against an opponent, bounced back by taking third place.
Starting in 8th and 10th position respectively due to the new grid regulations for Race 2, Davies and Melandri rode a tactical race and climbed back progressively. While Davies managed to constantly pressure the winner Rea, Melandri momentarily found himself outside the top ten due to the clash in the pack early on, but was able to cut the gap one fast lap after another (setting, with a 1:31.178, the race’s best lap). Towards the end, both Davies and Melandri provisionally took the lead in a top group made of five riders, then secured the podium.
After the first round, Davies is second in the championship (40 points), Melandri seventh (16 points). The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action in Buriram (Thailand) for the second round, scheduled for March 10-12.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 2nd
“Today’s race was a bit more difficult to manage, given the hotter conditions. The glass is half full though, without a doubt. We tried something different but we lost a a couple of bike lengths here and there and we just couldn’t pass Rea before the finish line. When you look at the full picture, this is a really positive result. It would be easy to be disappointed because we barely missed two wins, but historically this has never been a favorite circuit for me and sometimes I lost precious points here, so two second places are a good building block for the rest of the season.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 3rd
“It was a really touch race today. I got a good start but lost positions in the traffic early on, so I had to push hard to climb back, asking a lot to both myself and the tyres. When I took the lead, I tried to impose my own rhythm but it turned out not to be the right move. With three laps to go, when Rea and Davies gave the final push, I was struggling with grip and couldn’t attack them. Still, we needed a full race to understand where to improve, and a podium shows that we’re working in the right direction with the whole team.”
Stefano Cecconi, CEO of Aruba S.p.A and Team Principal
“These two races were quite peculiar, and both very tactical. Twice, the victory was a matter of thousandths of a second. Both Chaz and Marco rode extremely well, confirming that the whole team is at a high level. The potential we have shown leaves us happy but also hungry for more. The Buriram track has never been favorable to us in the past, so we’re confident it will represent a good test to verify the steps forward made thus far.”
Lowes and YZF-R1 Closer Still to The Win As Van der Mark Improves
The second FIM Superbike World Championship race of the opening round at Phillip Island saw Alex Lowes once again fourth at the flag, but this time even closer to the winner - only 0.9 of a second - after 22 intense laps. Michael van der Mark found real improvements with his YZF-R1 race set-up to ride to a strong seventh, two places higher than his Saturday performance and much closer to the podium finishers.
The 4.445km long Phillip Island circuit always delivers close and combative WorldSBK action and the second race of the weekend was every bit as closely fought as the first on Saturday. The new championship Race 2 grid regulations meant that Lowes's fourth place in race one made him the pole position man in race two, and he duly led the race after the opening lap.
Lowes' race one performance had been a boost for his confidence as he starts his second season as an official Yamaha rider, but today he maintained a podium position approaching the final lap, challenged for the win and just came up short on the final few corners.
Lowes was less than a second behind the race winner today and leaves the Australian circuit with 26 championship points, tied for equal third in the official standings - and satisfied with his progression as a World Superbike contender and with the clear improvements in his Pata Yamaha YZF-R1.
New Pata Yamaha Official World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark was solid in his first races for the team, with ninth and seventh place finishes putting him equal seventh overall in the standings.
Van der Mark's crew had made a late set-up change for the second race machine and it paid off well, as Michael finished only 7.307 seconds from the winner and felt that he had taken a good step forward in today's frantic encounter.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
"I felt that I had a good opportunity to get on the podium but when I attacked on the last lap I just struggled more than I expected. Halfway through the race I made a plan to look after the bike and tyre, then pushed back into a 1'31.7 pace near the end, so that took me back to the leading group. The bike was working really well but I was just not fast enough on the second half of the track, and I was not aggressive enough there. That is what cost us a podium, so it's something I have to work on for next year at this track.
Apart from that I felt really strong and I was competitive for 44 race laps this weekend. I know the guys have done a fantastic job just improving the R1 in lots of areas. We can be happy with being equal third in the points, it's a good start to the year, and something we can build on as a team. I think I have performed in a better way, not just riding two good races, but in how I have approached the weekend, how I conducted myself, how the team has worked together - I think we have all made a better job and that we have a good base to work from."
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
"I was five seconds closer to the front compared to yesterday and it was easier to ride the bike. At the end I had a race on my own but I was happy because I was still doing consistent lap times and we improved the race performance. Today, in warm-up, we tried something new but I did not feel much of a difference. For the race we made a big change on the bike so I did not know what to expect. I made quite a good start but in the first corner I was a bit caught up with the other guys. The bike immediately felt easier to ride so we made a good improvement for this race, and in the beginning I stayed with the front group. I had a battle with Eugene Laverty but it cost me some time, and after that Tom passed me. I didn't drop too far away from him, and I think I learned a lot about the Yamaha and how I can improve in this race."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - Team Principal
"Phillip Island can be a brutal race track, so to leave here with two fully fit riders and four strong finishes is a very positive start to the season. In these two races, Alex has shown that he has become a legitimate contender - fast, consistent and smooth - and this, combined with some good improvements to his YZF-R1, gives us confidence that we can continue to build on this performance. It was perhaps a pity to miss out on a podium - when you have been in second position during the last lap and finish only 0.9 behind the winner, 4th doesn't seem very fair! - but this is really irrelevant compared to the performance itself which we are delighted with, and which frankly exceeded our expectations. Congratulations to Alex, his crew, and the Yamaha staff behind the bike's development - a first class effort.
Michael leaves Phillip Island happier than he was yesterday - today he raced really hard and was able to be more consistent and closer to the front group. As he finds his comfort level with the Pata Yamaha, we fully expect him to continue to move forward - he is clearly very fast! It's important that Michael was able to finish two full race distances and score good points - this experience is a solid base from which he and his crew can build, and it is a pleasure to have such a determined racer in the team and part of the Yamaha family."
Milwaukee Aprilia scored a double points finish in Race 2 at Phillip Island, after a tough weekend at Round 1 of the series
Under new regulations for 2017 which saw a reverse grid for the first time in World Superbikes, riders Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty started 11th and 5th respectively. They were in the thick of the action from lights out, with both riders quickly progressing on the new Aprilia RSV4 RF.
After a crash on Saturday Lorenzo set out determined to progress in Race 2. He executed some good passes and quickly demonstrated a strong pace on his way to finishing 9th with 7 points.
From 5th place Eugene fought a thrilling battle with Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores for the lead. He rode hard but was unable to maintain his pace throughout and eventually came home in 10th with 6 points.
The results are not what the team hoped for coming to Phillip Island, but they have gained a wealth of invaluable data from Round 1 and will continue to progress and take steps toward the front of the grid for Round 2.
Round 2 of the 2017 WorldSBK season takes place at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand from 10-12 March.
Keep up to date with Milwaukee Aprilia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as they contest the 2017 WorldSBK Championship
Team Manager Mick Shanley
It's been a difficult race weekend for us, there's no hiding that. We came here for a stronger finish than what we got, but with it being a new bike it's thrown up a few things that perhaps we weren't expecting.
We've got a lot of data and a plan on what we need to improve for Thailand. The guys in the team have worked incredibly hard all weekend, and we'll be working hard next week both at SMR and at Aprilia.
It wasn't an easy weekend but it's shown that when things are working we're capable of being at the front. We saw strong performances from Eugene and Lorenzo, reached the front and qualified higher than we have before. Expectation of the team is high and we want to be up there battling with the leaders.
Lorenzo Savadori #32
Grid - 11th Race - 9th
The bike felt pretty good in Race 2. After the crash in yesterday's race we looked at the setup again, and we found some useful things for today.
I lost a lot of time passing other riders from 11th, and it wasn't possible to catch the front group. Towards the end of the race the rhythm and pace were not so bad, and I am happy to get some points.
We know what the problems with the bike are, and we still need to improve the feeling and the rhythm in a race. Tyre wear is something to look at also, but I think we can have a better result in Thailand.
Eugene Laverty #50
Grid - 5th Race - 10th
It was a really tough race today. At the start we had some good pace and I was shaping up to take on Alex [Lowes], but my pace dropped off and I started to go backwards. I rode hard and I tried to hang on, but our race pace just wasn't enough.
The track hasn't really played to our strengths this week and that's shown, but I'm confident we can use this weekend to find some pace and improve.
We don't just want to take small steps forward; we want to take big chunks out of the guys at the front. At the moment the bike is some way from them, but the team know that and I know they'll work to fix it.
Disappointment for Althea BMW at Phillip Island
Phillip Island (Australia), Sunday 26 February 2017
Sunday at Phillip Island unfortunately didn’t go according to plan for the Althea BMW Racing team. Jordi Torres was unable to even start Race 2 today due to a technical problem that emerged during the sighting lap. Markus Reiterberger crossed the line in thirteenth place.
Superbike - Race 2 – Though Torres did go out on the grid today, a technical problem that arose during the sighting lap forced him back into the garage before the race even began. Reiterberger got off the line well, placing eleventh after lap one, between Hayden and Savadori. During the first laps the German rider tried to get into a good rhythm but he lost a little ground during the central phase of the race. With a track temperature of over 50°C, tyre management also proved tricky today. Fighting for almost the entire duration of the race in a group with Bradl and De Angelis, Markus crossed the line in final thirteenth position today.
After this opening event of 13 scheduled rounds, Jordi Torres lies tenth in the standings having scored 9 points in race1 weekend while Reiterberger is in thirteenth position with 7 points. This means that BMW starts out in sixth place in the manufacturer's classification with 12 points.
The next round will take the Althea BMW team to Thailand, and the Chang International Circuit over the weekend of 10-12 March.
“We wanted to improve on yesterday’s bike but we went in the wrong direction in warm-up unfortunately. In the end, we went with the same setting as yesterday to be safe. I made a good start, but the guys ahead of me were faster and they built a gap. I was in eleventh for most of the race, defending myself from the group immediately behind me, just losing a little on the final lap which was a shame. It’s been quite a positive weekend, despite today’s race result, as I’ve been able to fight but of course we aim to improve in the next races.”
“We had an unexpected issue with the electronics at the start and so I couldn’t even begin the race today unfortunately. It’s a pity because we were keen to exploit the chance to start up front, from fourth position, but that’s how it goes and there’s nothing we can do about it. We did our best over the weekend and, aside from today, I think the work’s taking us in the right direction. I hope that, once the issues are resolved, we can be more competitive in the coming races.”
“Torres had a problem during the sighting lap and this unfortunately sent race 2 up in smoke for him. We’re still having difficulties with the electronics, issues that I hope are soon resolved also because the rider has shown that he is able to react, scoring a great seventh place finish in race 1. Starting from fourth today, I’m sure he would have been able to run a good race and I’m sorry for him and for the team that has worked so hard. We need to consider the negatives of the weekend and strive to avoid these during the next rounds. For Reiti, unfortunately he’s still a little indecisive during the crucial phases of the race and is not yet interpreting the race strategy as well as he could. He’s still suffering from some inexperience. Team Althea wants to be doing a lot better…”
Bradl battles hard in the second race of the Australian round
Phillip Island, Australia
The Australian Round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship has drawn to a close with the second race of the weekend at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Stefan Bradl has finished the race in fifteenth place, while his Red Bull Honda World Superbike team mate Nicky Hayden crashed out of the race on lap nine.
From fifteenth place on the grid, Bradl managed to move up several places and was eleventh by the end of lap ten. He then maintained his position for four more laps while leading a four-way pack and was fifteenth at the chequered flag.
After launching from twelfth place, Hayden was able to maintain his position and spent the first part of the race in the fight for tenth. After setting his fastest time, on lap nine the 35-year-old American tucked the front at turn ten and crashed: despite remounting his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 and returning to the track, Hayden could not continue the race.
The second round of the season will take place in a fortnight’s time at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand.
Stefan Bradl 6
My start today was a little worse than yesterday: the start itself was not so bad actually, but I got a bad line in turn one and, obviously, that carried over in turn two. This meant that the advantage I got at the start was gone already and I dropped back a couple of places. We made some changes to the bike prior to the race especially at the front, which turned out to be a positive step. Unfortunately, whilst the entry corner was good and I could be aggressive on the brakes, we were lacking on corner exit. We’re also too hard on the tyres at the moment and this meant that by the end of the race I could not keep the pace. At least, I could stay within the second group and learn a lot. All in all, it was not an easy weekend but I’m sure we will be able to improve for Thailand.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Nicky Hayden 69
We made some changes in order to look after the tyres a bit more, especially with the hotter conditions of today, and it was a bit better on the gas but also a bit worse on the brakes. I didn’t get the same good start as yesterday, but I didn’t feel too bad. I set my fastest lap of the race and was improving my splits while trying to stay with the second group, but I over pushed down into Lukey Heights and came off the bike. Obviously I cannot say I’m happy with the results and with the weekend in general: today I tried my best and rode as hard as I could, but it didn’t go to plan. We’ll try to turn things around for Thailand.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
We tried a different approach today especially with the electronics, in order to make the power delivery a bit softer and get some more life out of the tyres. Nicky was running at a good pace and wasn’t looking too bad: he was doing quite good lap times but at the same time he was pushing really hard and that led to the crash. It was not a big one and he tried to stay out for a couple of more laps, but then he had to retire from the race. Stefan rode well and was able to fight with the second group but he was unable to maintain the pace in the final laps. We made a step forward from yesterday with him, although it was not as big as we’d hoped. With the information we got from this weekend we have made a plan for Thailand and I’m confident we will be able to make a big difference there.
WorldSSP: Rolfo clinches victory in sensational show
Opening race goes down to the wire
In the closest ever finish the class has seen, the first WorldSSP race of the year at the Yamaha Finance Australian Round brought immense levels of drama. With Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag) emerging victorious as he beat Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) by just +0.001s across the line, with Anthony West (West Racing) also on the podium.
In a shortened and restarted 10-lap race – after an earlier red flag – Rolfo held his nerve on the finish straight to edge Mahias out by the narrowest of margins over the Phillip Island finish line. It was later announced the Frenchman was handed a one second penalty following the last lap tussle, but he kept hold of his second position.
There was last lap drama as Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) had a spectacular collision at MG when both were in contention for victory, with another front runner Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25) also suffering and falling back to finish 13th.
Veteran rider West took a popular third place as a wild card, with Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing) also in the top five.
Pole man PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) crossed the line sixth after a hectic afternoon for him, with the top ten completed by Aiden Wagner (GEMAR Team Lorini), Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing).
The original race had been red flagged after a big crash for Robin Mulhauser (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) at turn 6, with Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) also crashing out when there were 13 laps of the scheduled 15 to go.
The restarted race over 10 laps gave Baldolini and Jacobsen a second chance, with Baldolini having crashed and Jacobsen having dropped back through the field with an apparent technical issue just before the red flag.
But it was not Jacobsen’s day as the American rider ran off track at turn 10 early in the restarted race and eventually finished five seconds back from the front group in sixth.
Davide Pizzoli (Race Department ATK#25) crashed out of the shortened rerun, with DNFs also recorded by Stefan Hill (Profile Racing), Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini)
Defending champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was absent due to a pre-season hand injury which means he will miss the opening two rounds of the 2017 championship, the Turkish rider looking to come back in style early in April at MotorLand Aragon in Round 3.
Before then the WorldSSP riders will be back in action at the second round of the season, the Motul Thai Round, over the 10th-12th March weekend.
P1. Roberto Rolfo - Team Factory Vamag
“It was fantastic to win here in Phillip Island and for the first time in Supersport, I am really happy. The work from the team was unbelievable all weekend and over the winter, I love this bike and last year I had many problems. To start the new season this way is one of the best things that can happen in my case.”
Caricasulo crash dashes Cluzel’s victory hopes in Australia
Posted on 26th February 2017
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda riders Robin Mulhauser and Jules Cluzel both crashed out of the incident packed opening round of the World Supersport Championship at Philip Island today.
Cluzel was comfortably leading the already shortened race after a text book start when Mulhauser highsided on the second lap at turn six, with the resulting debris on the track causing the race to be red flagged.
The re-started ten lap sprint race saw another impressive start from Cluzel. He was leading the frenetic pack on lap seven when he ran wide and moved back to fifth place. The CIA Landlord Insurance Honda CBR600RR looked strong as Cluzel was fighting his way again to the front with the podium in sight when he was clipped by the out of control Caricasulo, launching Cluzel spectacularly out of the race at turn ten on the final lap of the demanding Philip Island circuit.
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “Racing can be cruel sometimes. It’s a real shame as our bikes and riders have been so strong all weekend. Jules was looking really comfortable but unfortunately a big error by Caricasulo has cost us the win. Jules was taken to the medical centre and will now go to the hospital in Melbourne for further examinations to determine whether or not he will be fit to race at the next round in Thailand. Robin was going well in the top ten before his crash. Fortunately, he is unhurt but his bike is a complete write off. Hikari underwent successful surgery for his broken collarbone today and we are optimistic that he will be back to full fitness for Thailand.”
Fighting Fourth For Ryde At Round One
Kyle Ryde (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) showed all his spirit and talent during a challenging day for the WorldSSP riders at Phillip Island. Ryde finished fourth in what was eventually only a ten-lap FIM Supersport World Championship race.
After a red flag due to another rider’s crash that stopped the first attempted running of the WorldSSP race, while Ryde was in a strong position up front, the final race was cut to 10 laps. It had already been reduced to 15 laps from its scheduled 18-lap duration at the start of the race weekend.
Kyle, only 19-years-old and running without his regular team-mate Kenan Sofuoglu alongside while the Turkish star recovers from surgery at home, kept his cool and pace in the final 10-lap sprint, taking away 13 points for fourth place.
Ryde felt he could have made an even better finish had the red flag not appeared in the first running, as he had worked hard on a full race strategy, but in the first regular weekend with his Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team fourth place was much more than many more established championship contenders took away.
Next up for Kyle is the second round of the championship at Buriram in Thailand, two weeks from now.
Kyle Ryde, stated: “The main thing today is that I got fourth place and kicked off the season with 13 points. I was a bit gutted that the red flag came out in the first part because it was pretty easy staying in second place and saving my tyre. Once I went back to seventh in the final running of the race they were all going crazy and I got punted wide twice at MG corner. I just thought if I stayed behind them something would happen and on the last lap something did; two riders fell and went out of the running. I have made a big step forward and I am riding around with the fast group. It was a positive, very positive, day. Even for Kenan’s sake, two of the main contenders dropped points at the opening round. Now we will roll onto Thailand and try to do the same again there.”
Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) was eighth today, Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) ninth and Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) tenth.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) scored points in 12th place. Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI Kawasaki) earned 14th place in the re-run race, the last rider to finish after so many falls and retirements were recorded. Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) was forced out by another riders’ crash.
First Race First Podium For New Yamaha YZF-R6
In a dramatic WorldSSP race in Australia Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) fought all the way to second place on the new YZF-R6, finishing just 0.001 seconds from victory. He was subsequently penalised one second, but retained his runner-up status, after clashing with race winner Roberto Rolfo over the finish line. Mahias fellow GRT Yamaha rider Federico Caricasulo was on course for a possible podium finish but fell on the final lap and no-scored.
Originally scheduled for 18 laps the first WorldSSP race of the 2017 season was cut to 15 laps as a precaution against excessive tyre wear, and after a crash brought out the red flag in the first attempted race a ten lap contest was finally run.
The race was as intense as its sprint length may have indicated and Mahias was never out of the top three places across the line. Rolfo and Lucas exited the final corner line astern and touched as they battled for the win across the line, with Rolfo eventually running of the track surface.
Caricasulo, who had qualified third, led the first lap on the YZF-R6 and stayed in contention for the win right through until the final lap. In trying to re-pass Jules Cluzel he fell and collided with his rival's machine on the exit of MG corner, his front-end grip issues finally catching him out.
The WorldSSP riders now head to Thailand and the Buriram circuit in readiness for the second round on Sunday March 12th.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team
"It was a very short race but a very good one. In the beginning of the week I crashed very hard in turn three so it is incredible to be on the podium today. Coming to the line for the final time I realised I could be fast out of the last corner. I would have preferred to win the race but I was just a bit short. Finishing second is a good start for Yamaha as this is a new bike and this is its first podium in the World Championship. My focus from the start was in saving the rear tyre, not pushing a lot. I had a good feeling with the front but some other riders slid a lot from the rear. I was not aggressive with the throttle so that was not a big problem for me and we got a good result."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team
I had some problem all race with the front grip and I was almost closing the front sometimes. In the last lap I definitely closed the front and crashed. I am sorry for Jules crash and I hope he will make a quick recovery. I am sure we will do better in the next races. My concentration was not a problem and my mind was clear even with two starts, it was just the problem in the front and now we will check what happened. Maybe it was the high temperature but now we will try to understand why.