2018 Phillip Island WorldSBK Test Press Releases

Press releases from the WorldSBK and WorldSSP teams after the two-day test at Phillip Island:


Rea ends on top as one second covers the top ten
Sun shines down on final day of official test

Keen to get out on track for the final day of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship pre-season, the weather was kinder to riders Down Under on Tuesday and they took advantage of two full sessions on track. With less than three days to go until the first official WorldSBK session of the season begins, it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) who secured the first honours in Australia.

Blue skies welcomed the riders out on track this morning and Rea ended on top, despite a crash through turn 10. Finishing ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) by 0.206s, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was in third but nearly half a second behind the Kawasaki rider. Beginning to improve the rear feeling they have been consistently searching for, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) was fourth and close to Melandri, whilst Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) bounced back from a crash early this morning to take a top five finish.

The afternoon’s final session continued to have the sunny weather and some stunning action, with times tumbling compared to the morning.

After losing some time in this morning’s session once they changed the front callipers on the Panigale R machines, Melandri and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) once again had a mixed day over all. With the Italian completing a stronger test, he was surprised and happy with his pace so far. Ending his day in third overall, he was half a second ahead of team-mate Davies in 11th.

Laverty ended the day in a strong position of fourth, despite a crash towards the end of the day at turn four. After working with both his RSV4 RF machines set-up almost identically. Again focusing on rear grip, his team are now looking at the pace throughout the full race distance, hoping to be able to challenge at the front of the pack until the end. On the other side of the garage, Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) suffered from problems with his number one machine. Despite this the Italian improved on his opening day time, and with a final position of, tenth he was happy with the overall test.

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team continued to work on the pace for the race, changing very little to Monday’s set-up and are hoping to be as fully prepared for the weekend as possible. Improving on their times from the opening day, they are able finish in the top seven. Michael van der Mark was sixth and Alex Lowes in seventh.

Crashing at the start of the day, Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) was able to get back out on track in the afternoon and put in some long runs, as he lost track time following his crash through turn four. Having to wait to use his bike to it’s full potential in the afternoon, he was happy with the set-up and potential, which showed on the timing screens with a top five finish and lap time of 1.31.076.

Continuing to impress the field with his new team, Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) ended his day in the top eight and is just under a second behind the Kawasaki Racing Team riders, he is still working with the electronics on the CBR1000RR SP2. American team-mate Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) is continuing to work through his pace and feeling on the Honda.

Returning Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) had a solid overall test session, as he continues to work to understand the BMW and adjust to Pirelli tyres once again. His time of 1.31.542, put him in ninth. Whilst Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was hindered by his 190kph crash on Monday, as his new team had to reconstruct the bike. Putting in a lot more runs this afternoon, he ended in 13th position overall.


Successful Test Prepares KRT For New Season

KRT’s WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes have now completed their pre-season preparations after the conclusion of a two day test at Phillip Island in Australia, which will be the host venue for the first round of the championship this coming weekend.

Often taking place under windy conditions the tests were led in the end by Rea, setting a 1’30.598 best lap on the final day as he found the correct feel and feedback from his machine.

Sykes was third quickest on his Ninja ZX-10RR, with a 1’30.804 best lap; despite suffering some discomfort from the ankle he hurt in a highside crash on the first day. Rea had also crashed on day one, and again at slow speed today, but both KRT riders will start in good shape for the first practice session of race weekend, to be held on Friday 23rd February.

All Kawasaki riders will start the 2018 season with an upper rev limit of 14,100rpm. Despite this being a lower level than any of the other four-cylinder manufacturers at present, KRT now starts the season in a defiant mood after some positive testing experiences.

The heavy winds that characterised this test overall were also accompanied by sunshine at times, allowing a lot of track time for the riders and teams to make their final pre-season preparations.

Now the riders will have a slightly changed weekend schedule to take part in, with three practice sessions on Friday 23rd and then race one on Saturday 24th and race two on Sunday 25th.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “Even though the track was not in perfect condition this afternoon we managed to put together a full race simulation and we are better equipped with that information to improve the base of the bike for the race. Unfortunately yesterday I had a big crash at T11 and gave my mechanics a lot of work. They have been working super late and hard during this test and I’m so grateful for their efforts. Also a special mention should go to Arai, Alpinestars and the physio Albert, because I woke up this morning feeling relatively ok! Now we can enjoy the build up to the weekend and keep our eye on the conditions.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “Overall I am third in the lap times but I am very happy. Even happier when you consider my physical condition, after a big crash yesterday. Big thanks to the boys in the garage who worked until the early hours of the morning to be ready for today. They have given me another great bike. I have to thank Dainese and Shark for my protective equipment, and the airbag as well, as I did a few barrel rolls through the gravel in my Monday crash. I could not believe it when I woke up this morning and was ready to go. I will definitely be OK for race weekend.”

Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am happy with the results of this test and the job has been done. We have tried to prepare for the race weekend and compare some points. I think we have a good base to prepare for Friday’s race weekend. Johnny has also been improving himself from yesterday until the end of today. He is quite confident with the bike. Now we will analyse everything and try to make another step in the right direction. We tried some different items and also some tyres we tested in Jerez and Portimao. But mainly we have been trying to prepare for race weekend.”

Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Tom Sykes stated: “Most of our job was done over the previous winter tests. We worked through our complete test programme then and we knew that this test in Phillip Island was only to prepare ourselves for the race. We did this and we even managed to improve our general bike setup over these four test sessions. In our initial speed we are happy but over distance we are more than happy. We have done a good job during this test and we are ready for the weekend.”


Testing concludes for the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team at Phillip Island with Melandri 2nd and Davies 11th in the combined rankings

After an eventful start to its pre-season tests at Phillip Island (Australia) on Monday, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team resumed action today for a second and final day of testing ahead of the opening round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship, scheduled for this upcoming weekend on the same track. In warmer weather conditions – with approximately 25 degrees outside and 40 on the tarmac – Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies moved forward with the work on the race setup of the Panigale R, posting the 3rd and 11th fastest time respectively today.

Melandri, who yesterday topped the sheets with a 1:30.726 that puts him in 2nd place in the combined rankings, focused his work on the chassis to improve the overall stability in light of the strong lateral winds, finishing with a 1:31.053. Davies, on the other hand, improved his lap times by circa half a second compared with yesterday, drawing multiple comparisons and posting a 1:31.614, 11th fastest overall.

The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will take it back to the track on Friday at 09:45 local time (CET +10) for the first official practice session ahead of the opening races of the year, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:30.726 (2nd)

"It's been a couple of intense days of testing, during which we improved under many aspects. We gathered plenty of data but today wasn't easy because track conditions changed once more compared with yesterday, and we struggled once again with stability, especially on the main straight. Our lap times are competitive, but we still need to improve to be more consistent over the race distance. The races here are always very tactical, so it's hard to make predictions, but we're very motivated and keen to get started."

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:31.614 (11th)

"We focused on consistency, lapping mostly with one tire to better evaluate all the modifications we were trying. I feel better on the bike, even though the lap times don't show it yet. We've basically covered all the items in the program. We're still looking for improvements in some key areas but we have some more upgrades coming for round 1 so I'm optimistic about our chances to make steps forward and be competitive come race weekend."


Milwaukee Aprilia have completed two strong days of pre-season testing at the Phillip Island circuit

Two tests at Jerez and Portimao ended on a positive note for the team, marking a big step forward in performance. Testing at Phillip Island has brought further gains for riders Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori on board the Aprilia RSV4 RF machine.

A year of knowledge and development with Aprilia Racing and SMR has put the team in a much stronger position than they were 12 months ago, ready for a new season with a good package to challenge for the top positions.

Round 1 of the season begins on Friday with FP1 at 09:45 (AEDT), a rule change meaning there are now 3 free practice sessions on the first day.

Shaun Muir - Team Principal

"It's been a very useful and positive test for us. We left Portimao last month with some work to do, and we knew that Phillip Island is unique in its own right. We can push for a lap time but without doubt the focus for this test has been life of the tyres and getting good pace that can last from the first to the last lap.

Eugene is happier being at the sharp end and was able to finish P4 overall. Lorenzo is only a few tenths behind him in P10 and improving. We can see that the grid has have compressed overall, but last year's leaders are still the ones we need to challenge.

There's still work to do, for sure the new race format with three practice sessions on Friday will be good for us guys who still have some development to do. Now we can give the guys a little bit of R&R on Wednesday and Thursday, prepare the bikes and look forward to FP1 on Friday."

Eugene Laverty #50 - Aprilia RSV4-RF

“We've had a really good test overall, both days we made progress and got some great data. On the first run on Monday the bike didn't feel good and I struggled, but the guys worked so hard and within a few more runs they'd transformed the bike. I think the key here has been continuity with the team and the data, and understanding the Aprilia more and more.

Tuesday was a fantastic day for us to finish P4. In the morning session I went out on old tyres and went P1 which was unexpected, and we had good pace all day. For sure we are in better shape than last year and I feel a lot more confident on the bike.

Everyone is excited ahead of round 1 this weekend, we're in a good position and I'm excited to get back on track. My aim for the weekend is to be top 6 or better, considering we are in the mix more now. The thing we can't rely on is the weather which could be wet, but it will be wet for everybody and we'll get stuck in and I'll push for the best result I can get."

Lorenzo Savadori #32 : Aprilia RSV4-RF

“It has been useful testing for us, we have worked hard to achieve the best set up for the race. We haven't made many big changes to the RSV4 RF and it is more simple for me to ride, which is a very good thing.

It's difficult to compare the bike to testing in Jerez and Portimao but we used the data from those tests and have made progress here, every time we are making steps forward. My rhythm is better on the bike, and we still have more work to do.

I'm looking forward to racing again and the start of the season. This is a great track and I was fast last year, and with two more days to work with the team before Free Practice I am sure we can find some new things to try."


Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team wraps up pre-season testing at Phillip Island

The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team ended its pre-season testing programme at Phillip Island today, as another strong performance from riders Leon Camier and Jake Gagne ensured the team is ready to go at the 2018 WorldSBK season opener this weekend.

In warm and at times windy conditions at the 4.4 kilometre Phillip Island Circuit, Camier and Gagne completed a total of 267 laps over the two days of testing. Building on the work undertaken at the previous pre-season tests at Jerez and Portimao, for this test the team focused on fine-tuning chassis and electronic settings on the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 ahead of the first race of the 2018 WorldSBK season.

Having shown good pace over a single lap, the focus for Camier at the Phillip Island test was working on race pace and overall he set eighth quickest time with a personal best of 1’31.537, set in the morning session on the second day. Riding at Phillip Island for the first time, Gagne showed continual improvement over the two days and ultimately set the fifteenth fastest time of the test, his 1’32.288 coming in the final session on Tuesday afternoon.

With pre-season testing completed, the team turns its attention to the opening round of the 2018 WorldSBK season at Phillip Island, which gets underway this Friday, February 23.

Leon Camier 2

Overall this test helped me learn a lot about the Fireblade on a different track and we focused on trying some different things to improve our race pace. It was a good test for me to learn the adjustability of the bike and what works and what doesn't in terms of setting for my riding style. We now have a base setting we can use this weekend for the race and all we need is to find a couple of tenths a lap so we can be in the fight with the top six.

- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

Jake Gagne 45

I've always wanted to ride the Phillip Island track so it was great to finally get out there. I had a good first day yesterday and at the start I tried to be patient and focus on working out my lines and reference points. Today I was able to use what I learned yesterday to adjust my riding style and improved in every session. I feel like I've come a long way in learning the track and the bike at this test, we now have a lot of good data to work with and I'm looking forward to the race.

- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

Kervin Bos

Team Manager

This two day test at Phillip Island test went very well and I believe we're well prepared for the start of the WorldSBK season. For this test we wanted to build on our good work at Jerez and Portimao, and focus more on finding a strong race pace. With this in mind, with Leon we worked on some different settings to ensure consistency in long runs and to help manage tyre life, especially in the warmer afternoon sessions when track conditions will be similar to the race. For Jake, he was able to learn a lot about the Fireblade and the track and he showed improvement in every session. With testing over, we can now focus on the season opener and everyone in the team is looking forward to finally go racing with the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.


Gulf Althea BMW in action at Phillip Island

Phillip Island (Australia), Tuesday 20 February 2018

The Gulf Althea BMW Racing team has concluded its final test session ahead of the opening round of the 2018 Superbike World Championship.

On track at Phillip Island in Australia both today and yesterday, the Italian team and rider Loris Baz made the most of this final opportunity to fine tune their BMW S 1000 RR ahead of this weekend’s races. The weather remained dry, although strong winds, typical at this track, limited what riders could get done during Monday afternoon’s session.

Continuing with the work programme it had begun in recent tests at Jerez and Portimao, the team focused on performance over race distance. Yesterday, Baz positioned eleventh, setting a fastest time of 1’32.157 after having completed 57 laps. Today, the Frenchman made good progress, making the final preparations aboard his BMW. Making 81 laps of the track, a best of 1’31.542 saw him conclude in ninth place.

The Gulf Althea BMW Racing team, ready and confident after this latest test, will return to the same track on Friday for the timed practice sessions making up round 1 of this new 2018 championship.

Loris Baz

“The test hasn’t gone too badly. Yesterday morning, we were working well, improving with each exit but then things were more complicated in the afternoon due to the wind. This morning I had better feeling with the bike and we were able to close the gap to the front a little. Then, in the afternoon, warmer weather allowed me to carry out a race simulation of 15 laps. All in all, I can say I’m feeling confident.”

Genesio Bevilacqua

"A positive test. We sorted out a number of things that we wanted to do in response to Baz’s requests and needs. The riders are all very close, with similar times, even if Rea has a little more right now, so we can be hopeful of a good first race. I’m pleased, our work has gone well and now we’ll focus on achieving a positive result this coming weekend.”


WorldSSP: Krummenacher impresses to top final day

Official Phillip Island Test comes to a close with top ten split by a second

The opening practise of the day got underway under the sunny Australian skies, and the FIM Supersport World Championship were preparing for the opening round of the season with the final day of testing, and Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) impressed with a blistering time in the mornings session to end on top.

Reigning world champion Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) had a strong opening to his defending season as champion, and spent the majority of the two days at the top of the timing screens, and was narrowly beaten to the top by 0.048s. Feeling confident ahead of the Yamaha Finance Australian Round, he put in over 70 laps across the two days. Whilst his team-mate Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) had a tough second day, unable to set a time in FP4. Despite this, he ended the day in third position overall with a lap time of 1.33.643.

Newcomer to the championship Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) sat in fourth position overall as he is already impressing in the WorldSSP class, clearly getting to grips with the YZF-R6. Home hero Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing) completed the day in the top five, just half a second off the top of the times.

Five time world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) had a tough second day Down Under, as the Turkish rider was working on different set-up options throughout the day. Finishing half a second off the top, there was a full second between the top ten meaning we are set for a very competitive start to the WorldSSP season.


RANDY KRUMMENACHER SETS THE FASTEST ON THE FINAL DAY OF TESTING

Official testing has just concluded at the spectacular Phillip Island track that, as ever, plays host to the final tests and opening round of the Superbike and Supersport World Championships. Randy Krummenacher was out on track with the Yamaha R6 of the Italian Bardahl Evan Bros. team and set the fastest time of the day during the morning's session, stopping the clocks on 1'33.499. During the afternoon, the Swiss rider was improving further but a red flag brought the session to a premature conclusion.

#RK21: "I got what I was hoping for and what I was expecting during this test. I knew we had a great foundation and a team that is able to give me what I need to do well. Today's fastest time spurs me on and leaves me feeling positive ahead of Sunday's race. In the afternoon session, I was improving but unfortunately the red flag brought things to a close a little earlier than expected. We can improve further and this motivates me and makes me confident. I couldn't have asked for more on my return to the Superstock 600 category."


New Season Awaits Sofuoglu And Okubo

Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Kenan Sofuoglu and his new team-mate Hikari Okubo finished eighth and tenth fastest in the final pre-season test of the 2018 WorldSSP campaign at Phillip Island, before the racing starts for real next weekend in Australia.

Five-time world champion Sofuoglu, who is now fully recovered from pelvic injures suffered in 2017, spent much of the two testing days at Phillip Island looking for an improved set-up package. As a result was unable to go for one fast lap to move beyond the top eight in the combined times, or do a final long-run to simulate real race conditions.

Even though he is rebuilding confidence and full one-lap pace after missing much of the 2017 season through injury, Sofuoglu was only 0.662 seconds from the fastest test time.

Japanese rider Okubo was one second behind the fastest rider of all, and ranked tenth overall in a field of 24 who took part in the official WorldSSP tests at Phillip Island. He is a new signing for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team this year and is still finding his optimum machine set-up at this stage.

Now, with the first race of the season soon to take place over 18 laps of the 4.445km circuit, the main work will be to make a tyre choice and machine set-up package to last the entire race distance, at a circuit that is often very hard on the left hand side of the tyres.

Kenan Sofuoglu, stated: “We know our bike over many years of racing and we wanted to find the next step with the machine set-up. We went in many different directions with the bike’s settings but, like in the Portimao and Jerez tests, it looks like in the end we have gone back to our basic set-up. We had a very good set-up in the past and it is not easy to improve in that package. Because we spent so much time working in that area today I only had a chance to try a race simulation yesterday. I think we finished in eighth position after the tests but we will see what happens for the race. It is always different and maybe I need to search for my confidence in the race itself. I am 100% fit to ride the bike. My 2017 injury is fixed and I do not have any problems, I am only searching for some confidence right now.”

Hikari Okubo, stated: “I am happy about these two days of testing because I had the chance to improve the set-up of bike. Even if this is not the first time I rode the Kawasaki - I tested in Almeria and Portimao - I just needed more time to understand the bike. Together with the team I worked to find a better set-up and to make the tyres last the duration of the race. We tried a different set-up with the suspension, I made two long runs and we are probably on the right path to find a solution for the race.”

Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) was the fastest Kawasaki rider in the tests, in fifth place after two days of dry, but windy, track action.

Wildcard rider, and Australian compatriot of West, Tom Toparis (Cube Racing Kawasaki) secured the 17th best time, one place up on Michael Canducci (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) in the timesheets.

Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 21st and Lachlan Epis (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) 23rd.


Eventful Philip Island test for CIA Landlord Insurance Honda

Posted on 20th February 2018

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda will be represented by only Niki Tuuli at Philip Island after replacement rider Aiden Wagner was forced to withdraw as a result of problems from his recent knee surgery.

Wagner was drafted in to the CIA Landlord Insurance Honda team for round one in Australia to replace the injured Andrew Irwin who yesterday underwent successful surgery to his broken hand but it proved to be ultimately too much of a challenge for Wagner and he had to admit defeat.

Tuuli concluded the two-day test in 11th place on the combined timesheets after a tough second day on track. The Finnish rider lost a lot of track time when his rear tyre catastrophically failed crashing him out at the exit of turn 2 and he was unable to improve his time.

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “It’s been an eventful couple of days. We lost Andrew on day one when he went into turn 2 too hot and ran out of track. Both he and the bike hit the tyres and he broke his hand which put him out of the event. We like to support the WSS series and so tried to run another rider but Aiden’s very recent knee re-construction surgery prevents him from taking part any further which is a shame”

“Niki is trying a lot of things. The nature of Philip Island track is very different to most tracks in the world and certainly to Portimao and Jerez where we have tested previously. This morning we got up to mid 34s and were looking good. We were just about to do a long run and a time attack run on the better of the two rear tyres. On the first lap of the two-lap run the rear tyre failed blowing a hole in the side of the tyre and Niki crashed with just under an hour of the session to go and that’s a lot of time to lose.”

“I would confidently say that based on these conditions we are in far better shape than we look and come qualifying and the race, Niki will be challenging right at the front. Rain is now forecast for all three days which will change everything for all the riders anyway. We have opted not to run a second rider at this event, it has the potential to compromise our position as a team. Realistically it is better both for the team and for Andrew and he now has the time to recover from his injury and be fully fit for Thailand.”

Round One of the 2018 World Supersport Championship kicks off with Free Practice One at 10:40am (+11 GMT) on Friday 23rd February.


Injury rules Irwin out of World Supersport debut

Posted on 19th February 2018

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda’s Andrew Irwin has been declared unfit for further participation at Philip Island due to a fracture of the 3rd metacarpal bone in his left hand sustained in a fall during testing today (Monday).

The young Ulsterman is awaiting surgery for the injury at St. Vincent’s hospital in Melbourne and, with a full month to go before the next round at Chang in Thailand he is certain to be fully recovered and back in the saddle.

Irwin said: “I am sorry to the whole team and all my sponsors. I will be back 100 percent for Thailand.”

Drafted in to replace the injured Irwin for the opening race at Philip Island will be Queenslander Aiden Wagner who last appeared in CIA Landlord Insurance Honda colours for four races in 2015.


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