2017 Philip Island World Superbike Race Results: How Close Do You Like It?

Philip Island is a favourite track for riders and fans alike and it produces fast, close racing. The first race of the year and everyone apart from Davies and Fores used the Pirelli SC2 front tyres and the SC1 rears, ready for twenty-two laps where the results determine where you start race two. With Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty both returning to World Superbike and Stefan Breadl and Randy Krummenacher both joining the class, the new mixed with the old as Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies all looked intent on continuing their three-way scrap for the title.

The lights went out and the two Ducatis charged to the front ahead of the two Kawasakis, Marco Melandri leading his teammate Chaz Davies into the first turn. Jonathan Rea took second place off Davies and, further round the lap, Sykes pushed Davies back to fourth. Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores latched onto the four riders ahead and it looked like nobody was going to break away at the front and run away with it.

On the second lap, Rea and Sykes both worked their way past Melandri and Davies tried to join them but couldn't pass his Ducati teammate. Fores and Lowes swapped back and forth and at the start of lap three, Melandri drafted past Sykes. The top six bunched up together, finally creating a gap from them to Michael van der Mark in eighth.

After more jostling, jockeying and tyre conserving, the groups behind the top six caught up, all bunched behind Melandri who took the lead on lap six.

On the eighth lap, fourteen bikes were all within striking distance of one another, then it was twelve and then it was six. On the tenth lap, the lead changed again, with Tom Sykes passing Davies, then Rea and finally Melandri, Alex Lowes also made a play for the front, passing Sykes at the Honda hairpin and becoming the fourth man to lead the race. A lap later, Jonathan Rea took the lead back, powering past on the Gardner straight. Rea led Lowes, Sykes, Melandri, Davies, Leon Camier and Xavi Fores with just a second's gap from Fores to the battle behind.

Then, on the fifteenth lap, heading into turn two, Marco Melandri crashed out and had to get his bike out of the gravel, returning in nineteenth place, and limping to the pits to join Lorenzo Savadori, crash, and Josh Brookes, blown head gasket, as non-finishers.

Leon Camier and Xavi Fores closed up to the front four and then they were six. More swapping around down the straight until two laps from the end when Lowes made a small mistake and introduced a gap to the front three. Sykes, Rea and Davies made the first group and Lowes, Fores and Camier made the second. It was now time to forget about tyre conservation and try to win.

Rea was in the lead, having charged down the straight into the first turn, with Davies and Sykes close by. Davies was visibly quicker than Sykes, having to go round the outside of his Kawasaki at turn one to avoid hitting him. Once Davies got the drop on Sykes, he closed up to Rea in no time and the pair left Sykes behind to deal with a fast Yamaha with Alex Lowes on it.

Rea rode defensively and quickly, and Davies couldn't find a way past. As the corners counted down, Davies was left with only the last corner or the straight. Riding six to eight inches from Rea's rear tyre, Davies powered out of the last corner and charged to the line, pulling out of Rea's clean air and powering to the flag.

It wasn't to be; Jonathan Rea crossed the line four hundredths of a second ahead of Chaz Davies and started his title defence with a win and twenty-five points. Davies finished in second with Tom Sykes a second behind him and Alex Lowes a mere three hundredths of a second behind Sykes. Leon Camier held off an attack from Xavi Fores, rounding out the top six.

Race Two tomorrow will have a new grid, headed by Alex Lowes, Leon Camier and Xavi Fores. Row two will be Jordi Torres, Eugene Laverty and Michael van der Mark and Row three will be Tom Sykes, Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea, the world champion being rewarded with ninth place for his victory. Marco Melandri, Lorenzo Savadori and Nicky Hayden make up the fourth row.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Gap
1 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10R  
2 7 C. DAVIES Ducati Panigale R 0.042
3 66 T. SYKES Kawasaki ZX-10R 1.050
4 22 A. LOWES Yamaha YZF R1 1.082
5 2 L. CAMIER MV Agusta 1000 F4 3.002
6 12 X. FORÉS Ducati Panigale R 3.320
7 81 J. TORRES BMW S 1000 RR 8.725
8 50 E. LAVERTY Aprilia RSV4 RF 12.135
9 60 M. VAN DER MARK Yamaha YZF R1 12.180
10 88 R. KRUMMENACHER Kawasaki ZX-10R 12.439
11 69 N. HAYDEN Honda CBR1000RR 19.344
12 21 M. REITERBERGER BMW S 1000 RR 21.336
13 40 R. RAMOS Kawasaki ZX-10R 24.866
14 15 A. DE ANGELIS Kawasaki ZX-10R 24.902
15 6 S. BRADL Honda CBR1000RR 28.936
16 84 R. RUSSO Yamaha YZF R1 39.404
17 86 A. BADOVINI Kawasaki ZX-10R 42.941
18 37 O. JEZEK Kawasaki ZX-10R 48.043
RET 33 M. MELANDRI Ducati Panigale R 7 Laps
RET 25 J. BROOKES Yamaha YZF R1 16 Laps
RET 32 L. SAVADORI Aprilia RSV4 RF 17 Laps

 

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2017
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Total votes: 130

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Comments

This race was a hoot, with 4 different manufacturers in the top 5 positions. Not sure that the second race grid arrangement is looking terribly necessary, but still I have to admit I am looking forward to what happens tomorrow.

Total votes: 84

That's 6 manufacturers in the top 8.

Honda were disappointing even if it is early days.

Total votes: 84

What was the logic to  moving 4th thru 6th and 7th thru 9th to the first and second row and inverting the first three on row three?  Not really sure I see where their going with this.  What's the point?

Total votes: 78

The new grid system smells of meddling for the sake of trying to make a "show". Today's race demonstrated that it is not needed. Very foolish and artificial in my view. All winners of these altered grid races should have an asterisk.

Total votes: 64

It's not like they haven't been up front with this.  It was the point of the whole exercise from the get-go.  Personally, I'm going to wait until a few races into the season before I decide whether it works or not. 

As somebody with no cable TV package, and paying a ridiculous amount for the Dorna MotoGP streaming service (not to mention a much more reasonable amount for Motomatters!...), I'm a bit tapped out, so WSBK has to be sacrificed.  I'd love to watch, and would if Dorna came out with a combo streaming package at a reasonable price.  My inclination is that this would bring them a lot more viewers and subscribers than messing with the grid, but I'm willing to give it chance and see what happens.  At season's end, we'll all know whether the organizers are having the last laugh or not when they release the year's viewing and subscription numbers.

Total votes: 65

I must say that I am really disappointed with Honda. It's amazing to me that the biggest Motorcycle manufacturer in the series can't field a more competitive entry than what we have seen thus far in pre-season testing and at Phillip Island. All the hype surrounding the new Fireblade SP2 reminds me of when they introduced the customer RCV a few years ago in MotoGP. A lot of expectations and very disappointing results. I know it's early days for the new superbike but when you look at the results Van Der Mark and Hayden achieved at PI last year vs. what Hayden and Bradl have done this year its really puzzling. A tiny company like MV can field a competitve bike but Honda can't? I wish HRC would get more involved in this project and Honda would really go after achieving a SBK crown.

Total votes: 83

It is not down to 'can they', it's down to 'do they even care'.
Unfortunately, they don't care. The bigwigs down at Honda view WSBK as an unnecessary expenditure, for them MotoGP is the proving ground and WSBK is just another racing series that Honda should be in but does not really want to.

It is unfortunate that they think so, but it is also simply the way it is.
Jonathan Rea probably has a smile on his face, all those Honda promises ended up being empty

Honda often reminds me of the famous saying from Only Fools and Horses: This time next year...

Total votes: 74

Honda's mindset in world superbike baffles me.
After Johnny moved to Kawasaki and achieved what he has, I thought certainly that they would have produced a stronger package to "save face".
Especially since they were putting one of their former MotoGP world champions on that package.
I don't get it...

Total votes: 75

"I must say that I am really disappointed with Honda. It's amazing to me that the biggest Motorcycle manufacturer in the series can't field a more competitive entry than what we have seen thus far in pre-season testing and at Phillip Island."

The RedBull Honda is not a HRC/Factory supported bike. The bike is a customer bike bought by Ten Kate Racing and Red Bull as title sponsor. Ten Kate Racing is making and supplying the racekit and development parts for the team (no input from RedBull AFAIK).

I agree with your sentiment though. I would like for NHayden and SBradl to have a competitive package. It is shocking that Hayden could not secure a better ride than customer bike without factory support. At this point I wish he would have taken the Ducati WSBK ride when offered to him.

Total votes: 72