Digital Edition Subscribers: Read Roadracing World Magazine Now >
Roadracing - An Online Service of Roadracing World Magazine
Feb 24, 2018

World Superbike: More From Race One At Phillip Island

The start of Race One at Phillip Island.

#AUSWorldSBK– Day 2

Melandri sliced past Sykes to reign the Island

Predictions go out the window in the first race of the year as Phillip Island shuffles the pack

Marco Melandri ( Racing - Ducati) crosses the line as the victor for the first time in WorldSBK at Phillip Island

Marco Melandri ( Racing – Ducati) put in a stunning ride at Phillip Island to win the opening race of 2018, stalking his way through the podium places before being able to catch and pass earlier race leader and polesitter Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team). Melandri adds the victory to an illustrious list of glory accrued at the Australian track, including MotoGP™, 250 and 125 World Championship wins. Behind Sykes, who took second, Melandri’s teammate Chaz Davies completed the podium – slicing past reigning Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) right at the end to begin his season on the rostrum after some late drama for Rea.

Sykes bolted from pole and the Brit was in clear air for much of the race, with an impressive start for teammate Rea from further back catapulting him up into P2 to chase down his sister green machine. But Melandri made for close company for the reigning Champion throughout, stalking Rea before passing him and then heading off to chase down Sykes.

The Italian got past the Brit with enough time left to pull away for a safer win – but Sykes held firm in second to take only his fourth podium at the track since 2009; making a huge statement of intent in the title fight. Meanwhile behind him, teammate Rea began to suffer with issues and his pace dropped.

From a seemingly safe podium finish, the reigning Champion faded quickly – with Davies and fellow Panigale rider Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) soon on the scene and both soon past Rea. Rea followed Fores over the line for fifth, but Fores did make it into parc ferme, taking the honours as top Independent Team rider in the first race of the season and getting an early lead on some of his key competitors for that title.

Meanwhile for sixth, a stunning Yamaha duel saw Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team’s Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes side-by-side, but the Dutchman began to suffer in the latter stages after his early charge and dropped back, leaving Lowes in P6 and getting some good points after a more difficult weekend. Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) made progress in the race after a crash in Tissot-Superpole and was able to come home in seventh with a late charge, breaking free of van der Mark and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia).

Laverty had a more difficult race day to come home P8 after being third fastest on Friday, with van der Mark taking ninth at the flag and just staying ahead of Leandro Mercado, who completed the top ten for Orelac Racing Verdnatura – an impressive first race of 2018 for the Argentinean.

Loris Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) took eleventh and was close to the top ten on his return to WorldSBK despite a heavy crash on Friday, with American Jake Gagne debuting full time for Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team in twelfth. Toprak Razgalioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) got his WorldSBK career off to a solid start in P13, ahead of Roman Romas (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) and Ondrej Jezek (Guandalini Racing).

Race 2 is on Sunday at 15:00 (GMT +11) – is this a new status quo? Or will the pack shuffle once again…

P1 - Marco Melandri ( Racing - Ducati)

"It was an amazing race, Tom had an awesome start and it was difficult to stay with him. I kept the speed in some corners and they Jonny and Tom were faster than me in others. When the pace began to drop off, I was able to catch Jonny but it was difficult when I was in the front and the wind came up. I just tried to keep my rhythm and I am so happy."

P2 - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)

"It was my strongest start to a season, I'm happy and had a smile from start to finish. But I had to do a few things differently in the final turn with the wind, but luckily we'd done a lot of work in the race when the tyre began to drop off. Luckily we put in enough pace early on and only had to lose one place to Marco. It's a shame, I wanted to get the win but we can keep enjoying the racing and can continue to progress."

P3 - Chaz Davies ( Racing - Ducati)

"Its been a tough winter and to start with a podium is a great result. I didnt expect Jonny to have whatever problem he had but I'm really happy with the result. I felt like I was fighting with the bike so the first priority is to understand why I lost the feeling on used tyres. I knew there was room for improvement, I can't fault the bike but there was something missing with the bike."

#AUSWorldSBK at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit: Race 1

1. Marco Melandri ( Racing - Ducati)

2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) +1.180

3. Chaz Davies ( Racing - Ducati) +9.265

Championship Standings after Race 1, Round 1

1. Marco Melandri (ITA) Ducati (25 points)

2. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki (20 points)

3. Chaz Davies (GBR) Ducati (16 points)

Set up for a showdown: Mahias makes his mark in Tissot-Superpole

Reigning Champion to begin his title defence from pole after frenetic WorldSSP qualifying

Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) took an impressive pole position for the first race of his title defence, fighting off teammate Federico Caricasulo and Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) for the honour and creating a front row of likely title contenders in 2018 – setting the scene for an incredible first showdown of the season on Sunday after a frenetic qualifying.

With wind at Phillip Island and grey skies overhead, the conditions were a challenge for the field, but fourth place was nevertheless an impressive debut in the class for 2012 Moto3™ World Champion Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing), who looked on course to take a first front row but was just pipped by an improving Caricasulo. Veteran Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing) will line up fifth for his home round as the Aussie also makes his fulltime return to the class, with last year’s podium finisher making a late improvement.

Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) made it three manufacturers in the top six on his Triumph, with Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evans Bros. WorldSSP Team) locking out seventh on his return to the class – previously a WorldSSP race winner at Phillip Island and doubtless pushing to repeat the feat.

Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) was the leading MV in eighth, the former FIM STK1000 Cup winner just ahead of Jules Cluzel (NRT). Cluzel, a perennial title contender in World Supersport and twice winner at Phillip Island, was up on his final sector before then losing time; the Frenchman forced to settle for P9.

Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) took tenth and was the man who led the way comfortably through Tissot-Superpole 1, subsequently able to qualify one place ahead of direct Superpole 2 entrant Kyle Smith’s (Gemar Team Lorini) Honda.

Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) rounded out the top twelve on the grid after his last dash in Superpole 1 took him through, with Thomas Gradinger (NRT), Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) and Niki Tuuli (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) locking out the fastest fifteen.

Pole position - Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)

"Its the best way to start the season, I'm very happy for this - last year I only had one pole position but this year I already have one and I'm feeling a lot happier on the bike. The bike felt a bit tricky today, I had to save a couple of crashes on the front which isn't really my style, but maybe this problem is the wind. It's so good to have a pole position to start tomorrow."

#AUSWorldSBK WorldSSP at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit:

Tissot-Superpole 2

1. Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team)

2. Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) +0.359

3. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +0.380

More, from a press release issued by Gulf Althea BMW:

Baz grits his teeth in race 1 in Australia

Phillip Island (Australia), Saturday 24 February 2018

An encouraging result for the Gulf Althea BMW Racing team in the opening race of the Superbike World Championship, which took place this afternoon at the Australian track of Phillip Island. Having unfortunately suffered a bad crash in yesterday’s second timed practice session, Loris Baz gritted his teeth today to cross the line eleventh in race one.

Superpole 1: despite carrying a shoulder injury after yesterday’s crash, and despite the fact he hadn’t faced the SP since 2014, Baz nevertheless gave it his all during the brief qualifying session. Having put in a fresh tyre with ten minutes still on the clock, the Frenchman was able to record a short series of fast laps. Thanks to a best of 1’32.016, he closed this first Superpole of the season in fourth place, thus qualifying on the fifth row of the grid for race one.

SBK - Race 1: Loris got away very well from fourteenth on the grid, moving up into eighth place already through the first corners. Oscillating then between ninth and tenth during the initial part of the race, the Frenchman started to suffer more from around lap ten onwards, losing something of the rhythm he’d demonstrated early on. The final phase, however brought improvement to both his pace and position, with Baz crossing the line in eleventh position.

Loris Baz:

"A very tough race. Yesterday afternoon I could barely make any laps due to the pain in my shoulder. This morning it was a little better in practice but not by much, I just tried to save as much energy as possible for the race. In Superpole, I was able to set a good time, considering my condition. Then, in the race, I made a strong start and got up to eighth but many riders were passing me into turn 4, I was lacking the strength going into the right-handers. I tried my best to fight back and my pace wasn’t that bad but the right-hand corners turns were a real problem. The bike performed well and I’m happy to score a few points but this really wasn’t the start I’d hoped for. Tomorrow I will strive to finish top ten, I just hope I haven’t strained my shoulder too much today.”

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Sykes Second As Rea Finishes Fifth

The opening race of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship saw official KRT riders Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea finish in second and fifth places respectively, with Sykes leading for 18 of the 22 laps. Sykes’ second place today took his tally of podium finishes in WorldSBK to 101 – 100 of them on Kawasaki machinery.

For most of the opening race of the 2018 season Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea were in podium positions on their official Ninja ZX-10RRs, until the last few laps when Sykes lost a few vital tenths due to a drop in rear traction in the high winds. Rea had more serious issues and slowed quite dramatically as his rear tyre blistered and he went from second place to fifth, almost pulling into the pits at one stage to retire.

Sykes had started the first race of the Phillip Island weekend from pole position, having won the first Superpole contest of the year earlier in the day. It was his 43rd career Superpole success, making him equal best-ever WorldSBK qualifier alongside Australian legend Troy Corser.

Out front in the race Sykes pulled out a strong lead from the start, heading up Rea by over a second after one lap of the 4.445km circuit. He extended that lead to over 1.5 seconds, but them Rea and eventual race winner Marco Melandri drew themselves closer and closer. Sykes defended his position by responding to his pit board signals but after Rea dropped back and Sykes started to lose the very best of his rear traction, Melandri took the lead with four laps to go.

Sykes scored a strong second place in the final result, over eight seconds ahead of the third placed rider, with Rea being forced into giving up two more places at the flag, to earn a hard-won fifth place finish.

The second race of the new season is scheduled for 15.00 hours on Sunday 25th February.

Tom Sykes, stated: “I was smiling from start to finish. I had a good launch off the line on the Ninja ZX-10RR and I was really happy with the race package. We had done out homework in the test, and in free practice when we used one set of tyres for two sessions. Today, with the heavy wind, I was not able to finish some of the corners as efficiently as yesterday in practice. Ultimately, that is what put the rear tyre in a kind of fatigue mode with five laps to go. Shortly after that point we started suffering with the front in turn three, and in places like the last turn. Tomorrow is another day and I am quietly confident.”

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I had a blister in the rear tyre from around lap 16 which was really unfortunate because until that point I felt quite good with the bike. It is a double edged sword because, of course, the tyre did not stand up to the job and the way I was riding, but also the way I have been riding is not 100% natural right now. I am still trying to find a good way. We have been changing the bike quite a lot to feel really comfortable. We could not make it happen. The vibrations were that much that I kept thinking I was going to crash, like Donington. It crossed my mind to come into the pits and pull out but I just nursed it through all the lefts and finished the race to salvage some points.”

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team:

Camier fights to seventh place in Race 1 at Phillip Island

Australian Round

Phillip Island, Australia

The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team scored a double points finish in Race 1 at Phillip Island, as Leon Camier fought his way into seventh place and Jake Gagne came home in twelfth at the opening race of the 2018 WorldSBK season.

Starting on the grid in tenth and thirteenth place respectively, Camier and Gagne were both able to make decent starts as the lights went out and settled into a good rhythm in the opening laps.

As the race reached half distance, Camier upped the pace and after passing Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty on lap 15 for eighth place, continued to push hard and overtook Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark with a couple of laps remaining to move into P7, the position he held all the way to the finish line.

Meanwhile, Gagne also managed to increase his pace in the latter stages and found himself embroiled in a fierce four-way battle for tenth place and ultimately came home in P12 to score valuable points at the season opener.

Due to his finishing position of P7 in Race 1 Camier will line up in P4 on the row 2 of the grid for Race 2 while Gagne will start on row 4 in P12. Race 2 of the Australian round of WorldSBK starts at 1500 local time (GMT +11).

Leon Camier 2

I made a good start in the race as qualifying didn't go to plan, but in the opening laps I got involved in a couple of battles that cost me some time. Once I broke away I was able to set a good pace and make up some positions, but

when my rear tyre went away in the last few laps I focused on keeping my position. Hopefully if I can get a good start from fourth on the grid tomorrow and we can find a setting to look after the rear tyre a bit better, we should have a good Race 2.

Jake Gagne 45

For my first race here my first priority was to finish the race and score some points which I did so I'm happy with that. I felt comfortable on the bike and the work we did in practice to preserve the rear tyre worked as I could fight in the group for tenth place in the second half of the race. There was a couple of aggressive moves in the last few laps but I was able to keep up the pace, so for tomorrow my goal is to once again fight for the top ten.

Kervin Bos

Team Manager

Today was a solid start for the team as both riders were able to score points in Race 1 which is what we were after and shows us we can push for a better result tomorrow. It was unfortunate that Leon's crash meant he couldn't qualify higher up the grid as I think his race pace means the top five is realistic. However, he is starting from P4 tomorrow which gives us the chance to score a good result tomorrow. Jake was also able to make a step during the race and move up from his grid position and get in the fight for tenth position, he learned a lot today in terms of tyre management so for Race 2 we are also confident another good result is on the cards.

More, from a press release issued by Racing Ducati:

 A day to remember for the Racing - Ducati team: Melandri wins Race 1 at Phillip Island, Davies is third

The Racing - Ducati team enjoyed a memorable performance at Phillip Island (Australia), home of the first round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship. Marco Melandri took an extraordinary victory in Race 1, his second with Ducati and first on the Australian track, and Chaz Davies put together a strong comeback to finish in third position.

Starting from third and fifth position, Melandri and Davies fought respectively in the first and second group early on. As the race progressed, the Italian erased the gap from Sykes at the top, taking the lead with five laps to go and defending his position until the checkered flag. The Welshman also gave a strong performance, coming back from sixth to third position in the second half of the race to take a podium that leaves him hopeful ahead of tomorrow.

The Racing - Ducati team will resume action Sunday at 10:30 local time (CET +10) for a warm-up session ahead of Race 2, scheduled to start at 15:00.

Marco Melandri ( Racing - Ducati #33) – 1st

"It's been a fantastic race. Sykes got off to a strong start and it wasn't easy to follow him and Rea early on. As the race went on, I managed to cut the gap. Once in the lead, it wasn't easy anyway because the wind gusts were even stronger. The last lap seemed to last forever, but we hung on and brought home the victory. I want to thank the whole team for the hard work done throughout the winter. Tomorrow we'll need to get a blistering start from third row, and we can still improve some details, but I expect another solid race."

Chaz Davies ( Racing - Ducati #7) – 3rd

"I'm really happy with this result. It's been a tough winter, so it's great to start the season on the podium. The race itself was different than usual here, everybody pushed hard from the very beginning. I had a fun battle with Forés and I didn't expect Rea to have whatever problem he ran into and drop back, but I seized the opportunity when it came. This morning I had a great feeling on used tires, but in the race we struggled a bit more, especially with the left side of the tire, and the bike moved a bit too much. Otherwise, I think we could have fought at the top. We've been improving session by session, and I'm happy with the bike now. The goal is to fight for the win tomorrow."

Stefano Cecconi, Aruba CEO and Team Principal

"There couldn't have been a better way to start the season. Marco showed once again his competitiveness on this track, taking advantage of one year of experience with the Panigale R to clinch an extraordinary win. Chaz rode a smart race, finishing strong to take a podium that gives us hope after a winter break made more complicated by injuries. We want to achieve great results once more tomorrow with both our riders."

More, from a press release issued by MV Agusta:


Heavy sky and strong gusts of wind welcomed the first race of the season at Phillip Island. The De Rosa – Badovini Italian duo gains the 3rd and 4th row on the grid for the WorldSSP race, while a puncture to the tire forces Jordi Torres to pull out from the first WorldSBK race of the season.

WorldSBK – Team MV Agusta Reparto Corse

The data acquired in the first day of testing allowed Torres to get a better feeling with his MV Agusta F4 RC machine, with the Spaniard getting the first position in the Tissot-Superpole1 and making into the last qualifying session. Unfortunately, because of a crash during the SP2, due to a technical problem, Torres couldn’t complete the first timed lap, forcing him to settle for the 4th row on the grid.

In Race 1, Torres starts fast from the grid and begin his attack to the Top 10 area. At the halfway point of the 22-laps Australian track, the Spaniard gets the 1oth position and tenths by tenths starts to bridge the gap with the riders ahead. When he was catching the riders, at 4 laps from the end, a puncture to the tire forced the Spaniard to stop and lose his first championship points of the season.

WorldSSP – Team MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag

Despite the incident in the previous tests slowed him down on the opening day, Ayrton Badovini gets back a good feeling with his MV Agusta F3 675, leading the Tissot-Superpole1 qualifying session.

After the SP2 final session, both the Team MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag’s Italian riders will finish into the top 10, with De Rosa getting the 8th position on the grid and Badovini, behind him, closing 10th.

For safety reasons, the WorldSSP race, scheduled for tomorrow at 13.30 local time, will feature a mandatory pit stop to change the tires, to be performed between lap 8 and 10.

Jordi Torres – I’m definitely disappointed with the way my first race with MV Agusta ended up. And it’s a real shame because during the Superpole I set a good pace and along with the team we made important steps forward on the bike’s setting. In the race, I fought a lot with Baz and Razgatlioglu and when I finally managed to pass them both, I started trying to catch Laverty and Van Der Mark. Unfortunately, at 4 laps from the end, I realized I suffered a puncture to my tire and I had to get back to the box. We are already working to analyze the data we got today and tomorrow we want to fight for the top positions in Race 2.

Raffaele De Rosa – In qualifying we didn’t manage to set a very fast lap but I have to say that we have a good pace and this makes me confident for tomorrow’s race. We must definitely make another step forward to reach the top positions but I’m happy with the way we are working and I cannot wait to get back on track for this first race.

Ayrton Badovini – Of course, I am very happy to get the access in SP2, because it was our goal today, but the most important thing for me is I have found a good feeling with the bike. Tomorrow we will face the race full of confidence on our potential, knowing we will be able to fight with the front group.

Top 5 This Week