Press releases from the WorldSBK, WorldSSP teams and series organizers after the first round of the series at Phillip Island:
#AUSWorldSBK– Day 3
Make Melandri’s a double: Ducati rider beats Rea in stunning photo finish
Drama, pitstops and an incredible fight at the front at #AusWorldSBK – with the drag to the line deciding the podium
After the announcement on Saturday that Race 2 of #AusWorldSBK would be a flag to flag with a maximum of 12 laps allowed on one set of tyres, the scene was set for a showdown with a difference and Sunday didn’t disappoint. After a huge fight at the front off the line, the battle incredibly resumed full force after the stop – and by the end, a three-rider battle to decide the podium order saw Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) complete the double by just hundredths of a second.
Off the line it was reigning Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) who took the holeshot, but the field remained tightly packed together in a close fight throughout the top ten. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) was then able to get past and get away, pushing hard at the front in an impressive show of pace, but it wasn’t to be as the Irishman then crashed out of contention and left the big group to fight it out at the front.
After Laverty’s fall, Rea, Melandri, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) and Pata Yamaha WorldSBK duo Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes were locked in all-out war – and the laps were ticking down towards the mandatory time to make their pitstop.
The first three riders to pit out the lead group were Fores, Rea and van der Mark, with the trio piling into pitlane as the battle remained raging at the front. Davies, Melandri, Lowes and Camier kept it pinned as the three former leaders in pitlane waited the mandatory pit intervention time out, before next time around Davies led the four of the second wave in. Heading out pitlane as the other three blasted down the main straight, the group incredibly reformed almost exactly as it had been but with Davies ahead – and there were just nine uninterrupted laps left.
If the fight wasn’t enough drama already, there was more soon on the way as Race 1 podium finisher and perennial title contender Davies suddenly slid out the lead – having just gained a sliver of daylight between himself and the chasing pack. Rider ok but unable to rejoin, that left Independent Team rider Xavi Fores leading the way, with Rea, Sykes, Melandri, van der Mark, Lowes and Camier concertinaing and tousling for position in the tight battle behind.
As a gap began to appear and Rea appeared to have been able to pull away, the big mover was Melandri and the Italian was far from done. After his stunning Race 1 win managed to perfection, Race 2 was a different animal and the Italian sliced his way through towards the front, passing Sykes into Turn 1 and the Englishman then dropping back slightly as he got stood up. As the last lap dawned, it was Rea leading Melandri and Fores, and the stage was set.
Not quite close enough to make it work into Turn 1, Melandri kept his head down and edged closer to the Kawasaki ahead of him – not quite able to make a move at the hairpin or Lukey Heights, but tagged right onto the back of Rea. Tucking in behind the Kawasaki and catapulting himself out the final corner, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider slipstreamed it to perfection before pulling out alongside Rea, incredibly just able to take it over the line with a photo finish so close, the Ducati box put the pause on their celebrations until the result was confirmed.
Fores completed the podium, with Sykes putting together another solid result at the Island – following his best ever result at the track the day before – to come home fourth. Fifth was another good haul of points for Alex Lowes, who crossed the line ahead of Camier and van der Mark.
Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) took eighth and got some points on the board after retiring from Race 1, ahead of Loris Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) on his returning weekend and a first top ten result for rookie Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).
Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) kept his reputation for consistency going in P11, just ahead of fellow Independent Team rider Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing Verdnatura). American Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) took thirteenth after bouncing back from a crash earlier in the race, with PJ Jacobsen (TripleM Honda World Superbike Team) and Laverty, able to rejoin but two laps down, completing the fastest fifteen.
So after opening the season with a double, that makes Melandri the first key Championship leader of the year, but Rea’s 20 points for second in Race 2 were a good bounce back following late issues in Race 1 and a fifth at the flag. Sykes is second in the title fight as it stands, however – and next up it’s all change at Chang International Circuit in Buriram.
P1 - Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)
“It was a really crazy race, a lot of riders could be fast for ten laps and changing the tyre meant we were all together even in the second half of the race. It was difficult to make a plan for the last lap, but luckily with three of four laps to go I found my speed and rhythm. I knew it was so difficult to pass Jonny, especially in braking, because I wasn’t as aggressive as yesterday. But when I tried to pass him on the straight…I thought he would try and answer me back but not so strong, his braking was amazing into Turn 1 then he was very smart in Turn 2. So I started to plan for the last turn because I knew I was coming out of there fast, my Panigale was working great and we have good speed. I just want to say thanks to my team and everybody.”
P2 - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
“I’m really happy, especially with the way I’ve been feeling this week. I’ve been sick since Wednesday so to finish second today after what happened yesterday, I’m really happy. The bike was a step better so I want to thank all my crew. With our exit into the straight I knew the only chance I had to win today was to lead onto the straight…but I’m happy to at least make it exciting for the fans out there, they’ve been incredible and every year when I come here I get so much support from Australia so thank you very much. I’m looking forward to moving onto Thailand now, improving myself, getting healthy and getting a good feeling with the bike.”
P3 - Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team)
“It was an amazing race for me, especially when I changed tyres I was able to do a good restart. It was a tricky moment when I decided stop on the first lap I was able to…so after that, I was pushing so hard to lead as much as I did. At the end I made a small mistake in T4, Jonny and Marco overtook me and I wasn’t able to recover that position. But anyway, it’s a very good result for us and to start the championship in this way is more than positive for us - being a private, Independent Team.”
#AUSWorldSBK at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit: Race 2
1. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawsaki RacingTeam) +0.021
3. Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) +0.304
Stunning double by Melandri in Race 2 at Phillip Island; unlucky race for Davies, crashed out while in first position
After taking the opening race of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship yesterday, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team did the double at Phillip Island (Australia) with Marco Melandri. The race itself went down to the wire and was decided by only 0.021 seconds. It's Melandri's 22nd win in WorldSBK, which makes him the most successful Italian in the production-based series. Chaz Davies, on the other hand, rode a strong yet unlucky race, and was forced to retire after crashing during lap 12 at turn 9 while he was in the lead.
Race 2 was characterized by a mandatory tire change, a decision taken by Race Direction for safety reasons, which prompted the riders to pit-in from lap 10 to 12. At the end of lap 11, both Davies and Melandri had a near perfect pit-stop and rejoined the race in first and second position respectively. While trying to build a gap at the front, however, the Welshman crashed out, while Melandri fought in a group of three riders at the top, making the difference down the stretch.
After one round, Melandri (50 points) and Davies (16 points) are respectively first and seventh in the championship. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will be back on track on March 23-25 at Buriram (Thailand) for the second round of 2018.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1st
"It's been a crazy race. The tire change made it impossible to come up with a strategy, as many riders could be fast for 10 laps. It was a big fight, with many aggressive maneuvers. We still tried to look after the tires after the pit-stop, and in the last five laps we found our rhythm. Towards the end, it was difficult to pass Rea under braking so I decided to focus on the final sprint and catch the slipstream out of the last corner, in which we were particularly fast, and the plan worked. I'm super happy and can't wait to race at Buriram."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – DNF
"Honestly, I felt great and I thought we had some margin in the first half of the race. Then, after we changed tires, I still thought we could go for the win. I think it's the first time I've ever pushed so hard on a completely new tire, as we never leave the pits and go from zero to 100 percent like that, so maybe we took it just a bit too far and made a mistake even though it was quite late in the corner when I lost the front. This year there will be plenty of riders capable of fighting for the podium, like we've seen here, so it'll be interesting. We'll regroup and be ready to fight at Buriram."
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
"We've worked really well to preserve the tires over the entire race distance, but we managed to be competitive also with a pit-stop. Marco once again rode an amazing race, while Chaz was unlucky because he could also have fought for the win but we're sure he'll bounce back soon. We're pleased with the performance shown here in Australia, which motivates us to work even harder at home to put both Marco and Chaz in the condition to express their full potential."
Rea Second And Sykes Fourth In Aussie Thriller
After a change in the regular race two format, from a straight 22-laps to a flag-to-flag contest with mandatory pit stops at half race distance, KRT’s WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes finished second and fourth respectively. Rea’s second place today made it 350 podium finishes for Kawasaki riders since the start of the championship in 1988.
As a safety precaution to make sure that the race tyre options would go for full race distance, the second 22-lap race at the 4.445km long Phillip Island was split into two parts, with riders forced to enter pitlane for a new rear tyre during a window of three laps in the middle of the race, and having to adhere to the standard 63 second pit intervention time, which is the minimum every rider has to spend in pit lane during his tyre change at this circuit.
From the off, and starting on the front row after finishing race one in fifth place, Rea was with the front group and took over the lead on lap 20. With a lower rev limit of 14,100rpm this year for the Ninja ZX-10RR, under new technical rules for the class, Rea could not quite make his last lap leading position count at the end of the long straight. Despite leading into the final corner the three-time champion was beaten by only 0.021 seconds after a unique and often breathless second WorldSBK contest of the season.
Sykes, starting from the third row of the race after his race one podium finish on Saturday, was also in the leading group, pitting at a different time from Rea for a new rear tyre. Tom lost some degree of performance and he finished fourth at the flag, and still just 1.488 seconds from the win.
In the championship itself double race winner Marco Melandri has 50 points, Sykes 33 points and Rea 31.
On a month’s time the WorldSBK paddock will reconvene for the second round of the championship in Buriram, Thailand, between 23rd and 25th March.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “My only chance to win the race was to try and be in the lead out of the last corner. On the penultimate lap and during the race they were passing me on the straight. When I got passed by Marco into T1 I just thought ‘I am going to let the brakes off and go right down the apex and see what happens!’ I wanted to put together the best last lap I could but all weekend we have been struggling with fourth gear. It was too long for that corner and we did not have enough drive on the exit. I could not get it done today and I made a bit of a mess of my pit exit. I completely forgot to change into second gear to release the pit rev limiter and both van der Mark and Fores came past me, so I lost track position. When we came round there were already a few riders ahead so I gave myself some work to do. I am happy to turn the page and start afresh in Thailand.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “In one respect it has been very successful weekend and in another I am disappointed because I really felt that that race, potentially, was mine. I had such a good feeling with the bike but unfortunately on lap three we started to have a small technical issue and for some reason the power dropped off in some sectors of the track. Apart from that the general set-up of the bike was spot-on. In one respect we were lucky to get to the end of the race and take the championship points, but honestly I felt a better result was taken away from me. But, I have to be upbeat because it is Phillip Island in windy conditions. I had a good feeling with the Ninja ZX-10RR this weekend and there are lots of positives to take from this round. I am looking at going to Thailand now and making progress through the season.”
Pata Yamaha Battle for the Podium in Race 2 Thriller at Phillip Island
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team put in an encouraging performance on Sunday at Phillip Island, the opening round of the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship, with both riders on podium pace in an enthralling Race 2. Alex Lowes fought in the leading group throughout the incredibly entertaining 22-lap flag-to-flag race, before crossing the line in fifth, a mere 2.474s behind the race winner. His teammate Michael van der Mark was also in the podium hunt during the first part of the race but suffered from a drop in grip levels after his pit stop, battling hard to finish just half a second behind his teammate in seventh.
After a number of riders suffered from tyre degradation issues in Race 1, Sunday's Race 2 was changed to a flag-to-flag format, with riders allowed to do a maximum of 12 laps on one rear tyre before they would have to make a mandatory pit stop. Lowes had finished Race 1 in a battling sixth and therefore he lined up in third on the grid for Sunday's race. When the lights went out, the 27-year-old British rider did not have the best of starts and dropped down to ninth in the opening laps but just like in Race 1, he maturely waited for the feeling with his Pata Yamaha R1 to come to him, and as the race progressed he started to charge through the field. On lap five he was the quickest man on track and was chasing down the podium battle as he made his way up into eighth before the mandatory pit stops. Timing his pit stop to perfection, Lowes emerged as one of the big winners from the chaos and was fighting in the leading group. Once again he was involved in an excellent battle with his teammate - following on from their superb duel during Race 1 - and after passing van der Mark, Lowes rode hard in an attempt to close down the leaders towards the end of the race before crossing the line in fifth, just 2.474s behind the eventual race winner. This result sees Lowes claim 11 championship points to add to the ten he picked up on Saturday, meaning he leaves Phillip Island fifth in the overall standings with 21 points.
Van der Mark fought bravely to bring his Pata Yamaha R1 home in ninth place during Race 1 after suffering from severe rear tyre problems, which meant the 25-year-old Dutch rider would start Sunday's Race 2 from sixth on the grid. After a lightning start, he went on a stunning charge, passing rider after rider on his way up to third by lap 3. Battling for the podium, he came in to make his mandatory pit stop from fourth place on lap 10, one lap before his teammate Lowes. After a perfect wheel change, unfortunately he didn't quite have the same feeling with the tyres and, try as he might, he could not match his earlier rhythm. Determined to collect as many championship points as possible, he fought valiantly to bring his Pata Yamaha R1 home in seventh. Securing nine points in Race 2, van der Mark now occupies eighth in the championship standings with 16 points heading into Round 2.
After an encouraging opening race weekend of the season, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team now move onto Round 2 of the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship at the Chang International circuit in Thailand on the 23rd-25th March. Check out the full Race 2 results.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 5th +2.474s
"The second race was a lot better! Honestly, the bike was the best it had felt all week, which is promising to see how much progress we can make on a race weekend. After the pit stops, I felt really strong and thought I could challenge for the podium but I just had a couple of issues holding me back a little bit, which is unfortunate but that is racing. I felt really strong on the bike and I enjoyed the close nature of the racing. The pit stops did not make it easy but to get through the first round after struggling to feel comfortable during what has actually been quite a tough week for me, these results are not the end of the world. I am reasonably happy but I can' t be completely satisfied with fifth and sixth-place finishes as I want to be fighting for podiums and winning races, which is what we will try and do in Thailand."
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th - +3.098s
"It was a really interesting race! I had quite a good start and, to be honest, I really enjoyed the first ten laps. It was a massive battle for the podium and was a really good race. We made a perfect pit stop, but I just didn't have the same feeling or grip levels afterwards and I could not keep up with the leaders. It is a big shame as I felt really strong and was matching the guy's in front lap times before the pit stop. I felt I could have battled for the podium, but anyway, it is important to take some points. It has been a really strange weekend with all the tyre issues, so I am looking forward to Thailand and hopefully there we can show our full potential."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"The enforced flag-to-flag procedure put a lot of pressure on all the teams and riders for today's Race 2 but the result was an extremely exciting, closely fought battle throughout the whole 22 laps. Because tyre life - which is normally the defining point of the race result - wasn't an issue, the top riders were lapping at qualifying pace for the whole distance, which was amazing for everybody to watch. I am very proud of the team, who did two seamless pit stops and had the riders out at exactly the right time to re-join the battle for the podium. The final result for Alex in fifth is solid, yet we all feel in the garage - and he rightly believes - that he could have been in the hunt for the win on another day. His speed was right up there to fight for the victory but we will take the solid points. Michael was also involved in the heated battle for the podium. He forced his way forward in the first part of the race and looked a serious podium contender like his teammate. Unfortunately, the second rear tyre didn't seem to offer quite the same level of grip consistency as the first one, and whilst finishing any race just 3s from the winner is an extremely good showing, Michael was disappointed with seventh position. It has been a solid start to the championship. It was not quite the results we were hoping for here at Phillip Island but there are a lot of very, very encouraging signs, particularly today, and we are looking forward to heading to Thailand for Round 2 soon."
Camier sixth in epic Race 2 battle at Phillip Island
Phillip Island, Australia
Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team rider Leon Camier took sixth place in Race 2 of the Australian WorldSBK round as the British rider completed an impressive competitive debut on the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.
For Race 2 Camier lined up on the second row in P4 and after a great opening lap, ran as high as second place in a lead group comprising eight riders for the first half of the race. Meanwhile Jake Gagne, starting from row four in P12 got up to speed and was in a fight for a top ten position before he had a small crash at turn 4. However, the American rider was able to re-join the race.
Following a mandatory pit stop for new tyres at the end of lap 11 – a ruling introduced for Race 2 due to some riders experiencing high tyre wear in Race 1 – Camier and Gagne resumed their push up the field and both riders were able to make up places in the second half of the race.
Camier was especially impressive as he made some bold passing moves to move into P5 towards the end of the 22-lap race, and fighting until the end he crossed the finish line in sixth place, just 2.745 seconds behind the race winner. Gagne recovered from his earlier spill to come home in P13 and wrap up a double-points finish on his first ever race weekend at Phillip Island.
With round 1 completed, Camier is sixth in the WorldSBK championship standings on 19 points, while Gagne is fifteenth overall with 7 points. The Red Bull World Superbike Team will next be in action at round 2 of the WorldSBK season at Chang International Circuit in Thailand from March 23-25.
Leon Camier 2
I gave as much as I could in Race 2, we were really strong in some areas and in other areas not so much but overall I felt very competitive. I could stick with the leading group before and after the pit stop and made some really good passes from a long way back. I had some good battles with Lowes and Sykes and between the two races this weekend I'm really happy with my first race weekend with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team. Now I just want to keep making progress and see what we can do at the next round in Thailand.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
It was a bittersweet weekend for me; I made a lot of progress on the bike, but the crash today meant I couldn't get the result me and the Fireblade were capable of. In warm up I was in the top ten and in Race 2 I felt even better, but I got caught up with some other riders and when trying to make a pass at turn four had the door closed on me and crashed. It was a real shame but at least I could recover to finish the race and score some points. Overall, I've improved my pace a lot over the weekend and got points in both races so its something to build on. I wish we were going to Thailand tomorrow!
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
It was a very exciting race today and Leon showed what the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 was capable of, running in second place in the early stages. Leon managed to stay in the lead pack for the whole race, but unfortunately for us the pit stop was almost too good as we got Leon away very quickly which meant he couldn't exit pit lane as fast as the other riders. This cost him a bit of time on his out lap however his pace was good enough that he could catch the lead group again and a P6 finish just two seconds from the race winner was a very good way to end the weekend. Jake also found more pace than he had yesterday but he also had some bad luck with a small crash when trying to pass some slower riders. However he managed to recover and score points again and I know there's more in the bag for Jake as we get to the next races. Looking over the whole weekend I am pleased with our season start and I'd like to say thanks to all the team, the guys back at the workshop, our partners, sponsors and Honda Europe for all their support so far and now we look ahead to Thailand where we'll push even harder for some good results.
Top ten for Gulf Althea BMW at Phillip Island
Phillip Island (Australia), Sunday 25 February 2018
The first round of the 2018 Superbike World Championship concluded today at the Phillip Island track in Australia. The Gulf Althea BMW Racing team and Loris Baz, having finished yesterday’s opening race in eleventh position despite the rider’s injured shoulder, improved on that performance in race 2 today, crossing the line in ninth place.
Superbike - Race 2 – after a safety concern yesterday, it was decided that in today’s race, riders would be obliged to come in for a pit-stop with tyre change between the tenth and twelfth lap.
Starting from fourteenth on the grid, Baz made up two places through the first corners, positioning twelfth after one lap. Getting into a good rhythm, the Frenchman was lying eleventh when he came in for the tyre change. Tenth as he headed back onto the track, Loris earned another position on lap thirteen. Maintaining a good pace all the way to the finish line, Baz completed a solid race today, crossing the line ninth.
At the end of this opening round, the 12 points scored by Loris Baz place him ninth in the general standings. The Gulf Althea BMW racing team will be back on track, at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, over the weekend of 23-25 March.
"Today's race was fun. My shoulder was painful but not as bad as yesterday. I made a good start, though after five or six laps I started to struggle a little with both rear grip and my shoulder. With the second tyre things were a bit better and I was able to fight with Torres in the final stages. But I was limited in what I could do, especially when trying to pass and through the right-handers. I’m pleased I could finish both races and score a few points though. Now I will focus on recovering ahead of Thailand.”
“This opening round in Australia was conditioned by our rider’s physical condition but we reacted well and worked to score points. We were also able to verify our work in the flag-to-flag, which went well. We don’t yet have a clear idea as to where we’ll position in future races but the signs are positive. The team has done a great job, because after Loris’ crash in practice, we thought he wouldn’t even be able to race. But our rider, the professional that he is, gritted his teeth and we’ve done well. I'm pleased with the work of both rider and team.”
Positives taken for Milwaukee Aprilia in damage limiting Race 2
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit 25 / 02 / 2018
Race 2 Report
Milwaukee Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty had to settle for a single consolation point in Race 2 at Phillip Island after crashing out of the lead
A fast start from P5 on the grid moved Eugene into third behind Fores and Rea by Turn 2. Pushing hard before the mandatory pit window opened on Lap 10 Eugene passed both riders at Turn 4 to take first place before the first lap was over, stretching a gap of 1.119s over Rea.
As the chasing pack battled for position, Eugene held his pace to end the second lap 1.227s ahead of Camier. With promising speed, Eugene looked set for a strong finish before his rear tyre gave up its grip on lap 3 and high-sided him at Turn 6. He was able to start his bike and rejoin however, pitting for new tyres and bodywork repairs to see out the race in P15 to take a conciliatory point for the team.
Despite a disappointing points haul from Round 1, the team have demonstrated a massive step in performance with the Aprilia this weekend, consistently challenging the traditional front runners in every session at Phillip Island. With rider Lorenzo Savadori set to recover from injury and return to his duties at the next race, the team can look forward to another opportunity to challenge at the front.
The WorldSBK season now heads to the Chang circuit in Buriram, Thailand for Round 2 from 23-25 March.
Shaun Muir - Team Principal
"We're really disappointed with how we finished overall after ten hard days, but we have to be positive. No one is more disappointed than our riders, Lorenzo of course who got bitten hard in his Superpole crash and for that we have to be thankful that it wasn't a worse injury.
Eugene had a bad Race 1, but made some good setting changes overnight. He had a blinding start in Race 2, felt really comfortable on it and could have ridden it like that for the whole race. It was really pleasing to see him barge and elbow his way to the front.
It was a bittersweet weekend overall. We've certainly shown our potential and that the whole Milwaukee Aprilia team with Aprilia Racing and SMR is working really well. We have many races left and I am sure that the podium and first race win we're chasing hard are not far away."
Eugene Laverty #50 - Aprilia RSV4-RF
P15 - 1 point
“I made a really good start to get into third, and then at Turn 4 I passed two guys to take the lead. The bike was feeling amazing and really easy to ride, and I was pulling out a decent time gap. On lap 3 suddenly the rear lost grip and I high-sided, so I was really disappointed with that.
I had a race-winning bike under me today and after testing and Superpole that's what we expected to have. The bike's been really good at turning at this track and that's an area we improved overnight, to allow me to change direction quicker and maintain a good speed.
Race 1 was a big disappointment so today was a much stronger indication of our potential which we can be pleased with. We've got to be optimistic for Round 2 at Chang after the performance we've shown at Phillip Island. The team is right in the mix now and it's very exciting for us all."
Triple M Honda World Superbike Team Makes Solid WorldSBK Start
Phillip Island, Australia
The new Triple M Honda World Superbike Team and rookie rider Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen took part in their first WorldSBK race weekend together at Phillip Island in Australia this weekend, with Jacobsen finishing 16th and then 14th in the two 22-lap races.
After two days of official tests that preceded the first round of the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship Jacobsen and his team took their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 to within two seconds of the very fastest rider, despite still building up their basic race set-up at the challenging 4.445km long circuit.
With PJ 22nd in the Superpole 1 qualifying session, with a 1’33.875 best lap set on the Saturday of race weekend, he improved to finish 16th in the first race. He missed out on a point by one place and a mere seven seconds, after 22 intense laps.
The second race was a special one in many ways for such a new team in WorldSBK, with PJ taking 14th place and scoring two points, in a contest that was again carried out over all planned 22 laps – but this time with a mandatory pit stop in the middle to take on fresh rear tyres.
In staying out longer than most in the first sector of the second race PJ was even classified as the race leader for one lap, before coming into the pits to take on fresh rubber, as all riders were required to do by Race Direction.
American rider PJ now leaves Australia for the next round in Buriram 16th overall in the championship rankings, after a successful first ever WorldSBK weekend for both rider and team.
PJ Jacobsen 99
I am really happy with the team as they worked very hard. They were here in the pit box until one in the morning if they needed to be and we kept improving. It is a lot to take in for the team, with new parts and all the travel boxes. All the other teams have been here for a while now, so we just have to give ourselves some time and we will get there. I have tried to keep it cool all weekend and keep myself motivated for all the good things that are going to come out of this when we get it right.
- Triple M Honda World Superbike Team
This first race weekend for the team and PJ in WorldSBK gave us two points after two races. But more important is that we grew during the weekend and we have had no issues, so we are happy about this. Also, we have taken good feedback from PJ and are looking forward to having even better results. We figured out a good base set-up now for the next races and we are working hard to get the best one for PJ. He is starting to be a Superbike rider, and he is a big talent, so we are really happy to have him on board.
Tough Day to Finish for Australian Competitors in WorldSBK and WorldSSP
February 25, 2018
The highlight of the day in a tough week for the Aussie wildcards was Tom Toparis, (Cube Racing Team, ZX-6R) finishing in fifteenth in WorldSSP. It was a different story for the other Wildcards and other Australian competitors, as they failed to finish or start their respective races.
Hopes were high for Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing) as he was elevated to the front of the grid for the WorldSSP, but he found himself retiring early. Tom Toparis (Cube Racing Team, ZX-6R) finished highest of all the Aussie wildcards in 15th position. As a young 17-year-old, it’s a great effort from Toparis and the Cube Racing Team. Lachlan Epis (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) also suffered a retirement.
Australian Superbike Champions, Wayne Maxwell (Yamaha Racing Team) and Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda) both did not compete in today’s WorldSBK races. Herfoss suffered a technical issue during yesterday’s race, while Maxwell sustained injuries after crashing on two occasions during the WorldSBK and ASBK Superbike race on Saturday.
That left Daniel Falzon (Yamaha Racing Team) to compete as the sole Australian representative in the WorldSBK class. Falzon was black flagged for ignoring calls to pit for a mandatory dry tyre change. He did have the honor of leading a WorldSBK race for several laps.
Despite many of the difficulties, it was still a great opportunity for all the riders to put their name to the world stage. The Australian Wildcard riders will now bring their world experiences back to ASBK, and use it to propel their 2018 campaign.
WorldSSP back with a bang and a battle royal
Podium decided on the final lap as the reigning Champion makes a statement
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) took an emphatic first win of the season at Phillip Island as the reigning Champion took the holeshot and streaked away from the pack in an impressive show of pace. But the podium battle was a three-way scrap for honours, with 2016 Phillip Island winner Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evans Bros. WorldSSP Team) crossing the line just clear of a drag to the line between Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) and Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) – with Cortese just ahead to begin his World Supersport career on the rostrum.
There was drama from the off for WorldSSP, with the first attempt at the race Red Flagged due to a crash after a handful of laps. Ant West (EAB Antwest Racing) wasn’t able to restart after a technical problem, but Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was despite an early crash for the Japanese rider. West was unable to make it back to the pits; something required in order to be allowed to restart.
With the grid reset into original positions, the race distance was shortened to nine laps – taking away the necessity for a pitstop that had been originally announced on Saturday for safety reasons – and the all-out sprint saw reigning Champion Mahias and key rival Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) dueling off the line; the Frenchman able to take the lead. Sofuoglu slotted into second with Caricasulo and Krummenacher just behind, before the Turk began to fade as the laps ticked on.
The battle for the podium wasn’t set as a duel, however, as Cortese sliced through the field after a tough start and was catching the two men ahead with some serious speed. By the last lap, Krummenacher had just enough clear air to take second – and 2012 Moto3™ Champion Cortese timed his attack to perfection out the final corner, tucked in behind Caricasulo to beat the Italian over the line by centimeters.
Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) took fifth on his Triumph after a fantastic first race of the season, a comfortable margin ahead of the first MV Agusta of Italian Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag), with Jules Cluzel (NRT) in seventh. Cluzel, a two-time winner in the class at Phillip Island, had an early run off that dropped him well down the order and almost outside the points – but the Frenchman sliced back through the field to make up seven positions in fewer laps and head up a group of four riders close over the line.
Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) was P8 and next in that group, his Honda making it four manufacturers in the top ten. That top ten was completed by Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) and Thomas Gradinger (NRT).
Niki Tuuli (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) were P11 and P12, ahead of five-time World Champion Sofuoglu by the flag. After his early pace fighting at the front, the Turkish rider dropped back in the latter stages, feeling the effects of a big crash on Saturday morning that hampered the start of his mission to take back the crown. His teammate Okubo was P14 and just behind him, with an even smaller gap of just hundredths back to the rider completing the top fifteen, Tom Toparis (Cube Racing) - the wildcard entrant beating off some experienced competition to impress.
Now it’s time for Thailand and Buriram: a whole new challenge, a completely different track and much higher temperatures. Can Mahias do it again? Or will Sofuoglu strike back...
P1 - Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)
“It was an incredible race, a strange race because I was ready for the flag to flag and worked a lot in the morning for that situation. I had a good strategy in my head with my team and after the Red Flag that was gone, but maybe it was better for the spectacle. In the race, I pushed a lot in the beginning because during the weekend and the test I hadn’t ridden a lot with the old tyre. My strategy was push a lot to get the maximum gap then manage that and the tyre. It’s good for me and Yamaha, finishing last season with pole and the victory and now we’ve started the new season with exactly the same - pole and the victory. I can’t ask for more.”
#AUSWorldSBK WorldSSP at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit - Race
1. Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)
2. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) +1.274
3. Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) +1.527
Mahias Gets WorldSSP Title Defence to the Perfect Start in Phillip Island
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias got his title defence off to the best imaginable start at the opening round of 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship on Sunday at Phillip Island. The reigning champion was in devastating form in the restarted nine-lap sprint race, starting from pole and leading across the line for every lap before winning by 1.274s to secure the maximum 25 points. His teammate Federico Caricasulo lined up fifth on the grid and right from the start was involved in a superb race-long battle for the rostrum, fighting right to the line and just missing out on the podium by 0.039s after crossing the line in fourth.
Sunday saw a change to the WorldSSP race after tyre degradation concerns, with it being shortened to a 16-lap flag-to-flag format and riders only allowed to complete a maximum of nine laps on one rear tyre. Mahias had been the man to beat all weekend in Phillip Island. The 2017 WorldSSP Champion topping Friday's Practice and then storming to a sensational pole position on Saturday. Focused on getting his title defence off to the best possible start, the 28-year-old French rider got the holeshot in the original 16-lap flag-to-flag race and had opened up a two-second lead by the time the red flag halted proceedings on lap 3. In the restarted nine-lap race, Mahias once again got the perfect start and disappeared off into the distance setting a blistering pace. He was simply untouchable, opening up a lead of over 1.5s and managing it comfortably until the chequered flag to cap a simply sensational weekend for the rider. That now makes it two race wins from pole position in a row for Mahias - following on from his victory in Qatar at the final round of last season - and he now leads the way in the championship standings with 25 points.
Caricasulo put in a brilliant performance in SP2 to qualify in second for Sunday's race, but a three-place grid penalty for riding slowly on the racing line saw him start Sunday's race from fifth on the gird. When the lights went out in the original race, he swiftly made his way up to second before the red flag appeared. Undeterred by the interruption, the 21-year-old Italian got another great start in the restarted race, immediately getting involved in a race-long battle for second with Randy Krummenacher on the Bardahl Evans Brothers WorldSSP Team Yamaha R6. As the race went on, it became a three-way scrap for second as a third R6 joined the mix in the shape of Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing). On a spectacular last lap, Caricasulo battled valiantly but just missed out on the podium in a dramatic sprint to the line, finishing in fourth - just 1.556s off the pace of his teammate - to complete a dominant Yamaha 1-2-3-4 across the line and collect 13 championship points.
Up next for the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team is Round 2 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand on the 23-25th March.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 14:07.881
"Today's race was amazing and I am very happy to have won! I was ready for the flag-to-flag race, so I was a bit gutted when the red flag came out as I already had a 2-second lead! I managed to keep calm and in the restarted race, I tried to do the same which was to push a lot at the beginning and then try and manage the tyre. I was a bit worried as I hadn't managed to do many long runs this weekend, so I wasn't sure how the tyre would hold up, but I was delighted to win the race! It was an incredible weekend for me. I won the last race of 2017 from pole position in Qatar, so to start 2018 in the same way was amazing. I am looking forward to Thailand although it can be tricky for the bike, as it is so hot. Last year I had to retire from the race but I am now feeling really relaxed and confident because the bike is good, we aren't feeling any stress in the team, and I am very excited for Round 2!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th +1.556s
"Today was not an easy race! I had a great start in the flag-to-flag race, but then the red flag meant I had to begin again. In the restarted race I got a good start and I thought I could battle for the victory. Unfortunately, after four laps I started to have a slight issue with my rear tyre and which made it impossible to fight for the win. Despite this, I managed to keep fighting to the line and while I am disappointed to miss out on the podium, I am happy because my team worked really well, as always, and I'm sure we will back on the podium in Thailand!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"Today was an incredible day and I am very satisfied. Lucas was amazing! In the original race he showed sensational pace to break away at the start and, unbelievably, he managed to do exactly the same in the restarted race after the red flag. He was so fast, he was impossible to catch and the team did an incredible job. Federico got off to a really good start in the original race, making his way up to second before the red flag, which meant in the restarted race he had to do it all again. He did just that, battling back up to second with a great display of riding, but just missed out on the sprint to the line to miss our chance of a double podium. Our aim for Thailand will be to have both riders battling for the race win again. The team did an incredible job all week and I want to thank Yamaha for providing us with an amazing package and for all their support. Now we are ready and looking forward to Round 2 in Thailand!"
RANDY KRUMMENACHER CLOSES THE FIRST RACE OF THE SEASON ON THE SECOND RUNG OF THE PODIUM
The curtain comes down on the first Supersport World Championship round which, as usual, played out at the Australian track of Phillip Island. A track that served as Randy Krummenacher's stage as he raced to a fantastic second-place finish. Krummenacher, after having qualified seventh in yesterday's Superpole, started from sixth on the grid today when another rider up ahead of him received a penalty. The race was officially set to run over 16 laps, with a mandatory pit-stop and tyre change, a decision taken after problems with some of the tyres during qualifying. The lights went out at 1.30pm local time. Krummenacher got away well and immediately started to make up places but on lap four the red flag came out due to an accident at turn 11. Race direction soon announced that the race would be restarted according to the "quick restart" procedure, running over just nine laps and with no pit-stop.
Krummenacher quickly made up ground this time, moving into third on lap two. The Swiss rider caught Italian Caricasulo, and started to fight him for second place. The Bardahl Evan Bros World Supersport Team rider crossed the line second, just behind current world champion Mahias.
#RK21: "I'm really pleased with the result of this first race. It was my first time with the Yamaha, the team's too, and we needed to gain experience. Despite that, we proved and have seen that we are very competitive. I'm sure that if I could have completed a full race I could have done even better, though Mahias was very strong and consistent, but we were forced to stop on lap four due to the red flag and after the quick restart, the race ran over just nine laps.Nine laps in which I was nevertheless able to make up some positions and cross the line second. I'm pleased and looking forward to the next race in a month's time at Buriram. I want to thank my family and the whole time for putting me in a situation that could allow me to achieve this result."
Sofuoglu And Okubo Fight On
In a nine-lap WorldSSP sprint race, after the expected flag-to-flag race was stopped by a red flag incident, Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders Kenan Sofuoglu and Hikari Okubo secured 13th and 14th place finishes respectively at Phillip Island.
After suffering a fast crash on Saturday, Sofuoglu was ready to take the fight to the opposition, but in the single nine lap race he felt vibrations from his machine as he fought inside the top positions, and slowly dropped back, concerned about another possible tyre issue.
Kenan finished with three points for 12th place, and a great desire to have better fortune when the championship heads to Thailand in late March for the next round.
New Kawasaki Puccetti Racing rider Okubo was knocked off his bike in the first attempted running of the race, but was then fortunate to be able to make the restart after some smart repair work from his crew. Riding with his own concerns about a vibration during the race, he finished 14th and scored points in his first ride for his new team.
Round two of the championship will take place on Sunday 25th March at the Buriram circuit in Thailand.
Kenan Sofuoglu, stated: “It was a very difficult weekend. Before Superpole, with a tyre problem that made a very big crash, it did a lot of damage to my body. I still wanted to fight today but in the race I understood that the level was strong and the pace was very fast, faster than Superpole. I pushed very hard but with four or five laps to go the bike started to have a vibration. For that reason I slowed down, and lost positions. After my fall on Saturday I had no problems with my physical condition in the race.”
Hikari Okubo, stated: “I got a good start in the first race start but in turn two a lot of riders were moving and changing their line, hitting my bike, so I crashed. After two laps there was a red flag and a restart to I could get onto the grid again. The bike looked like it had no big damage and the mechanics worked well to change the damaged parts. A big thanks to them for that. I pushed hard in the restart but I had a different feeling. After three laps the rear tyre had a big drop and a vibration, so I could not push. A difficult first race but a little bit lucky as I got two championship points. Not so many but it is important to always score points.”
Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) was hugely unlucky not to score strongly in the race after demonstrating good pace in practice, suffering an early technical problem and being unable to make the restart.
Local rider Tom Toparis (Cube Racing Kawasaki) scored a point for 15th place today.
Lachlan Epis (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) was also unlucky not to finish the race with a small technical issue, but Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) finished 18th. Michael Canducci (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) fell and suffered a concussion, and is currently under assessment in hospital.
Tuuli well inside the points at Philip Island
Posted on 25th February 2018
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Niki Tuuli scored a strong points finish in today’s incident packed Australian World Supersport race.
Tuuli finished a determined 11th in the reduced to 9-lap sprint at Philip Island despite a problem with the quickshifter on the Honda CBR600RR and takes away 5 valuable Championship points.
Tuuli said: “The end was quite positive even if the result was not what we hoped but it was better than all the practices and qualifying. The first start was better, it felt like I could catch the group but then the red flag came out. The second start after the first lap the quickshifter didn’t work so riding was quite difficult but still I rode better lap times than most of the weekend. The most important thing to me is I found my smooth riding and my lap time was coming better so at the end my feeling is better. The team did a really good job because everything we did to the bike didn’t work because it came from my head. We have to focus for Thailand and I know we will come back stronger.”
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “Eleventh is not what we were looking for, we need to be challenging for the podium and the win but it just didn’t click with Niki this weekend. After the tyre failure on Tuesday in the test and his big off he was just trying too hard.”
“The race was better after the red flag, it should have been 16-laps with a pit stop but ended up being a 9-lap race, he didn’t get a good start and had a problem with the quickshifter but fair play to him he continued riding and rode a better consistent race.”
“Last year we didn’t score in the first two rounds and we still challenged for the title and finished third so it is still all to play for. The team did a great job, everybody worked really well, it’s not been an easy event for us with Andrew Irwin’s Chief Mechanic hospitalised at the start of the week and then Andrew breaking his hand but everybody kept their spirits up and did a great job. Whilst the result might not be what we were looking for we go to Thailand in a positive state of mind, confident we can challenge near the front where we can and should be.”