2014 World Superbikes Phillip Island Test Day 1 Times: Laverty Impresses Ahead Of Giugliano And Sykes

Near perfect conditions at Phillip Island saw fast times being set from the beginning of the first day of testing for the World Superbike class. The morning was especially good, with nary a breath of the wind which usually blasts across the circuit, whatever the weather.

Eugene Laverty took advantage of the conditions to set the fastest time, getting within a couple of tenths of the pole record and ending with a lead of two tenths. Both Suzukis started strong, Laverty leading while Alex Lowes ended in 5th, just under half a second behind his teammate. It was an impressive start for Lowes, riding at a track he hasn't seen before.

Davide Giugliano was 2nd fastest on the Ducati Panigale, two tenths behind Laverty and just ahead of the Kawasakis of reigning world champion Tom Sykes and Loris Baz. Giugliano's strong start looks hopeful for the Ducati, but Phillip Island is a track where Ducatis have always gone well, in all forms. Marc Melandri ended the day in 6th, six tenths behind the man he replaced at Aprilia, and fractionally ahead of Leon Haslam on the Pata Honda.

The new EVO class made a solid start to proceedings. The new, cheaper form of World Superbike machinery - basically Superstock engines in full Superbike chassis - held its own at the circuit. Niccolo Canepa was particularly impressive, ending the day in 11th and fastest EVO machine on the Ducati Panigale, just 1.3 seconds off the time of Laverty, and 1.1 behind Giugliano on the full fat factory Panigale. The rest of the EVO class - a gaggle of Kawasakis - were a little over two seconds off the pace of Laverty and the SBK machines.

Despite the perfect weather, it was not all plain sailing. There were several big crashes, Sylvain Barrier and Michel Fabrizio being transported to hospital with suspected pelvis injuries. The EBR machines of Geoff May and Aaron Yates also faced a tough shakedown, missing the second session after engine problems meant the team spent the afternoon stripping the bikes, rebuilding them and swapping engines.

Times:

Pos No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 58 Eugene Laverty Suzuki GSX-R1000 1:30.513    
2 34 Davide Giugliano Ducati Panigale 1199R 1:30.718 0.205 0.205
3 1 Tom Sykes Kawasaki ZX-10R 1:30.737 0.224 0.019
4 76 Loris Baz Kawasaki ZX-10R 1:30.757 0.244 0.020
5 22 Alex Lowes Suzuki GSX-R1000 1:31.000 0.487 0.243
6 33 Marco Melandri Aprilia RSV4 1:31.146 0.633 0.146
7 91 Leon Haslam Honda CBR1000RR 1:31.172 0.659 0.026
8 50 Sylvain Guintoli Aprilia RSV4 1:31.321 0.808 0.149
9 65 Jonathan Rea Honda CBR1000RR 1:31.404 0.891 0.083
10 7 Chaz Davies Ducati Panigale 1199R 1:31.419 0.906 0.015
11 59 Niccolò Canepa Ducati Panigale 1199R EVO 1:31.897 1.384 0.478
12 24 Toni Elias Aprilia RSV4 1:32.301 1.788 0.404
13 44 David Salom Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1:32.636 2.123 0.335
14 71 Claudio Corti MV Agusta F4 RR 1:32.858 2.345 0.222
15 52 Sylvain Barrier BMW S1000 RR EVO 1:32.997 2.484 0.139
16 11 Jeremy Guarnoni Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1:33.509 2.996 0.512
17 9 Fabien Foret Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1:33.676 3.163 0.167
18 32 Sheridan Morais Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1:33.954 3.441 0.278
19 23 Luca Scassa Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1:33.960 3.447 0.006
20 21 Alessandro Andreozzi Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1:34.140 3.627 0.180
21 84 Michel Fabrizio Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO 1:34.314 3.801 0.174
22 10 Imre Toth BMW S1000 RR 1:36.258 5.745 1.944
NC 99 Geoff May EBR 1190 RX 1:38.152 7.639 1.894
NC 20 Aaron Yates EBR 1190 RX 1:39.656 9.143 1.504
NC 56 Peter Sebestyen BMW S1000 RR EVO 1:42.242 11.729 2.586

 

2014
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Comments

I am delighted to see the Suzukis seemingly more competitive but I am a little confused. Are the factory giving more support? Have the team made some kind of breakthrough? Are the riders simply of a higher quality? I'd guess it's a bit of all three but would like to know the truth.

I just hope, if they are in a title challenging position, Suzuki supports them with development. In 2010, in the GSX-R anniversary year incredibly, Suzuki let the lead in the Championship dwindle, ultimately conceding the championship to Aprilia. This doesn't fill me with confidence.

I'd also like to know what's going on. The rules changes we see as fans are often not the real rules changes.

My guess is that horsepower limits have been revised, and Suzuki's small-bore engine is now on the pace. We'd never hear about it because it would be part of homologation procedures. The engine reliability rules may be playing a role as well.

Following the winter press released from crescent it seemed like they had quite a breakthrough in their electronic strategies.

Also Yoshimura apparently found a few more horses. This coupled with other factories like Aprilia and Kawasaki having to dial back their engine for the new reliability rules have swung the pendulum back in favor of the aging gixxer. Today the Aprilia's were apparently doing 3mph less down the straights compared to last year and the gixers were doing nearly the same top speed.

Regarding factory support, I read that crescent are set to get the new swing arm developed for the motogp test machine....

Eugene Laverty is the main factor I believe in Suzuki's resurgence. He is a top class rider and person and derserves a seriously top class bike. Now new engine rules might help level the field a bit but we all know how the GSXR typically goes. Pulling for Eugene big time this year, hoping he is a serious title contender all season.

I figured Buell would have some growing pains, but seeing them this far off pace? A bit foreboding. I guess its just testing so maybe just no flyers.

I doubt either rider has ever been to PI before and a fast track like that will not play into Buell's strengths. I think they will have to take this one on the chin and move on.

I don't think Philip Island is a good indicator for engine progress, because horsepower doesn't seem as important here. Which can be seen for example in the smaller gap between Moto2 and MotoGP at this circuit and the competitiveness of the non-factory Aprilia last year. The Suzuki always had a great chassis, but I won't believe in a better engine until they are equally competitive in the next few rounds. I do hope they are more competitive, it's sad seeing great riders suffer with half-hearted support.

One good piece of news for Buell is that they won't have to race at Monza this year! The EBR looks to be very low on top end speed even compared to the 1199R.
Even after owning a Buell I still can't believe they will run a single front brake disc setup in WSBK. That thing (The brake disc) is going to get HOT at some tracks with heavy braking efforts.