The 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship roared into action at Phillip Island with an action-packed opening encounter. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team) claimed the victory by one of the smallest margins in WorldSBK history. Just 0.137-second separated the top four riders at the end of a thrilling opening race to the season.
At the start of the race polesitter Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) lost the lead to reigning Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), with the pair coming together on track. Sykes was able to continue without leaving the track but Rea’s race was disrupted after a trip through the gravel. He was able to continue but re-joined the circuit in 18th and last place. Rea’s race came to an end after five laps when he crashed at Turn 8.
On lap two of 22, Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) passed Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team) at Turn 1 for second place as Sykes maintained his lead throughout the first half of the race. Sykes would continue to lead before rookie Redding made a move on him at Turn 1, slicing ahead in style.
Van der Mark followed Redding through for second place shortly afterwards before race winner Razgatlioglu passed Sykes into Turn 4, meaning polesitter Sykes had fallen from first to fourth in the space of just four corners. On Lap 12, Sykes found himself moving further down the order to sixth as both Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Leon Haslam (Team HRC) passed him.
Redding’s lead at the front of the race lasted just three laps as he got passed by both Razgatlioglu and van der Mark on Lap 14. With eight laps to go Razgatlioglu was leading the race with teammate van der Mark. Razgatlioglu’s lead lasted four laps as he traded positions with teammate van der Mark, who looked to be building a gap at the front.
However, the gap stretched to a few tenths at most as Razgatlioglu, Redding and Lowes kept up with van der Mark’s pace throughout the latter stages of the race. All four riders were able to pull away from Sykes and Haslam towards the end, meaning a group of four were chasing victory in the first race of the season.
Razgatlioglu was able to hold on to victory from Lowes and Redding with the trio separated by just 0.041-second at the end of the race and van der Mark just a tenth back in fourth place; it was the second-closest podium in WorldSBK history. Lowes was third going into the final corner but took advantage of van der Mark getting slightly off line as he looked to pass Razgatlioglu. With Toprak getting a slight twitch leaving the final corner, he and Lowes had a drag race to the line with Redding and van der Mark trailing just behind.
Haslam was able to hold on to fifth from Honda teammate Alvaro Bautista, who started in 15th, as the Spanish rider charged his way through the field. After a crash in the Tissot Superpole left him without a chance to set a time on the qualifying tyre, Bautista recovered to finish only half a second behind his teammate.
Loris Baz (Ken Tate Racing Yamaha) finished as the top Independent rider by finishing where he started the race in seventh. Redding’s Ducati teammate, Chaz Davies, finished the race in eighth after making his way through the field in a similar fashion to Bautista with polesitter Sykes eventually taking the flag in ninth.
Italian rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) finished just 0.012s behind Sykes, who lost a lot of ground at the end of the race. His BMW teammate, Eugene Laverty, finished in 11th place just 0.027s behind his teammate. Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) held off Sandro Cortese (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) to finish in 12th while his teammate, Garrett Gerloff, finished in 14th place, both on their debut.
Gerloff had been running as high as seventh place during the race but fell back down the order as the race approached its conclusion, perhaps highlighting inexperience around a circuit that places high demands on tyres. He finished ahead of Chilean Maximilian Scheib (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura), who also started the race strongly and ran as high as ninth place.
Scheib was the last classified runner with Takumi Takahashi, Xavi Fores and Rea all not finishing the race. Fores crashed out on Lap 10 while Takahashi had a mechanical issue in the latter stages.
World Superbike Race One Results (Saturday)
Yamaha Finance Australian Round
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu, Turkey (Yamaha), 22 laps, 33:48.344, 107.851 mph
2. Alex Lowes, UK (Kawasaki), -0.007-second
3. Scott Redding, UK (Ducati), -0.041
4. Michael van der Mark, Holland (Yamaha), -0.137
5. Leon Haslam, UK (Honda), -3.910 seconds
6. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Honda), -.4.426
7. Loris Baz, France (Yamaha), -4.493
8. Chaz Davies, UK (Ducati), -11.849
9. Tom Sykes, UK (BMW), -11.910
10. Michael Rinaldi, Italy (Ducati), -11.922
11. Eugene Laverty, Ireland (BMW), -11.949
12. Federico Caricasulo, Italy (Yamaha), -20.720
13. Sandro Cortese, Germany (Kawasaki), -20.778
14. Garrett Gerloff, USA (Yamaha), -26.0315
15. Max Scheib, Chili (Kawasaki), -34.385
16. Takumi Takahashi, Japan (Honda), -8 laps, DNF, Mechanical
17. Xavi Fores, Spain (Kawasaki), -12 laps, DNF, Crash
18. Jonathan Rea, Northern Ireland (Kawasaki), -17 laps, DNF, Crash
More, from a press release issued by Barni Racing Team:
Leon Camier forced to give up races in Phillip Island
The Brit has much pain in the injured shoulder during winter tests. After free practice, team and rider decided not to be on track for Superpole and races
Phillip Island (AUS), 29th February 2020. Given the physical condition of its rider and after hearing the opinion of the doctors, the Barni Racing Team announces that Leon Camier will not race in round 1 of the World Superbike Championship. The Brit is still suffering pain on the left shoulder after the surgery had last 24th December 2019 due to the injury occurred during the Aragon winter test. Leon will not take part neither in the Superpole nor the races scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Marco Barnabo, Team Principal:
“This morning Leon was still suffering from yesterday and try to race in this condition it was too dangerous. Of course we are very sorry because to be here it was a big effort for us; when Leon back on track in Portimao I was confident he could ride here. Unfortunately the situation is worst than we expected and we decided to avoid any risks letting Leon to recover well for the next race.”
“I’m really disappointed not to be able to race and I want to apologize all the team. I did everything I can to be ready for this weekend but it was not enough. I keep working to be strong in the next race but it’s an evaluation process we made weekly week. It was an hard decision, but for now we decided not to race it was the best.”
More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:
Brilliant First KRT Podium For Lowes As Rea Finds Misfortune
New Kawasaki Racing Team rider Alex Lowes finished an often-dramatic 22-lap opening WorldSBK race at Phillip Island in a battling second place, missing out on a win by just a slender 0.007 seconds. After a lap one collision with another rider KRT rider Jonathan Rea was forced off track on lap one and in his subsequent efforts to pass riders he was to fall at high speed and no score.
After qualifying in eighth place in Superpole Lowes ran seventh in the early laps but passed first Leon Haslam and then early leader Tom Sykes to go fourth – then suddenly lose a place on lap 16.
He clawed his way back into contention after a tangle with Leon Haslam and in a remarkable last five laps the leading positions were contested with full commitment. Lowes felt confident of a final lap challenge for the win on the Ninja ZX-10RR.
Lowes worked his way up to third and then pounced on the final few corners to make up the five bike lengths that eventual race winner Razgatlioglu had in hand entering the final few fast curves.
Starting from the front row of the grid on his Ninja ZX-10RR machine, having qualified third in Superpole, Rea was in the lead for the first few corners until Sykes moved up inside him at speed in turn eight. They touched and Rea was forced to lift his bike up and run off track going into turn nine.
Regaining the asphalt in last place he made up several places with class leading pace before he fell while attempting to pass another rider around the outside of turn eight on lap six.
After such a dramatic opening race of the year – with the top four riders covered by just 0.137 seconds – Rea and Lowes will now face one ten lap Superpole race and then a second full 22-lap Race Two on Sunday 1 March.
Alex Lowes, stated: “My first race green machine and I had been a little bit slow at the beginning of the week in the tests, struggling to feel really comfortable. But every day every session has got better and I have been calm and patient. That was the story of that race. I felt I had a little bit more tyre at the end than the other guys to race them but what a fantastic race to be part of. I hope all the fans enjoyed it. I had a smile on my face the whole way and hopefully tomorrow there are two races just as close and we can keep it going. Really enjoyed it, great racing, and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am just so frustrated because after what happened in the first lap, being put back there. I felt I was making good ground. I felt great with the bike and I was coming up on Rinaldi and setting him up for a pass. I went really wide at the Hayshed as he opened up and started losing the front on the bumps. I am relatively OK, aside from being under the bike for a while so I burned some of my leg. Frustrating to start the year like that but there are a lot of battles left and we have tomorrow. The good thing is that I felt good with the bike. The sprint race will be flat to the mat for ten laps. I am sure I can be in that leading battle and keep my powder dry for that last lap.”
Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was to crash out at turn two in his first race for his new team, while Sandro Cortese (Outdo Kawasaki TPR) 13th and Maximilian Scheib (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 15th, scoring a point.
More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport WorldSBK Team:
BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team kicks off the 2020 WorldSBK season with a record pole at Phillip Island.
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
The 2020 FIM World Superbike Championship (WorldSBK) started with a bang by the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. In Saturday’s Superpole qualifying of the season opener at Phillip Island (AUS), Tom Sykes (GBR) rode his BMW S 1000 RR to a record pole position. Sykes was then leading half of the distance of race one, before dropping positions and finishing ninth. His new team-mate Eugene Laverty (IRL) was 13th in Superpole and 11th in the race.
It was a dream start to the season for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. In Superpole, Sykes was the first rider to go out on the qualifying tyre and rode to a stunning new all-time lap record by setting a time of 1:29,230 minutes. In the remaining minutes, no one was able to beat that and so Sykes, who is the WorldSBK pole record holder, celebrated his 50th pole position in the series. Laverty qualified for 13th place on the grid.
Race one of the new season also began perfectly for Sykes on his RR. After a few position changes on the opening corners, the Englishman regained the lead and maintained P1 until the 12th of 22 laps. In the second half of the race, Sykes unfortunately fought with blunt weapons and so had to settle with ninth at the chequered flag. Laverty dropped some positions at the start but then showed great fighting spirit to battle his way back towards the top ten, crossing the line in 11th.
Shawn Muir, Team Principal:
“Firstly we are pleased on getting pole position in Superpole with Tom, this gave him a real good chance of a result in race one. Eugene however didn’t make the best use of his qualifying tyre, but he will learn from that and come back stronger. The race obviously was a little disappointing given the great start for Tom who was riding with a lot of confidence and lead for a large proportion of the race. We made a tyre choice which in hindsight wasn’t what most went with, it was the ‘B’ type rear compound tyre which in the latter stages lost grip and that cost many positions. Eugene had a different situation and ran with a few difficulties during the race with engine braking pushing him deep into corners, but he settled into the race well and at one stage was the fastest rider on track. But having starting down in P13 meant he got himself into Davies, Rinaldi and Tom in the closing laps. We will take the information away, work hard over night and hopefully come back stronger tomorrow.”
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director:
“We had a very nice starting position today to kick off the season. Starting from the front row with this view here in Phillip Island is just fantastic. Tom Sykes’ pole position is a great achievement that we deserved. Throughout the week we showed, also in the test, that we can be in the mix. It was of course also great to lead the first 11 laps of the race. Handling of the bike looks very good. Then unfortunately Tom got a tyre issue and as a result the performance dropped sharply. So we have to look at our tyre selection again. Many competitors were on a different tire compound. Eugene Laverty’s performance in qualifying was unfortunately not so strong, which resulted in a relatively poor starting position. On the other hand, he had good pace in the race and was sometimes as fast as the top riders. He fought with Davies and Rinaldi for a long time, was then overtaken again and again on the straight because we still lack engine power here. But Eugene was basically satisfied with the chassis and I think there is a lot of potential. We will attack again tomorrow.”
“The day started well and with all things considered I have to say I am very happy with a number of things. Certainly qualifying for me was really controlled and felt really comfortable. The BMW S 1000 RR was working great with the Pirelli qualifying tyre so I was able to do what I wanted and to get a circuit record along with my 50th pole position which is some achievement. In the race, we had a good start. It was unfortunate we had a coming together with Jonathan Rea early on, but I settled back in and got into a good rhythm for the first half of the race. Unfortunately, my rear tyre drastically dropped off mid race which is something we didn’t expect and ultimately cost us in race performance, this is something we will work on overnight and make sure we are there or there about for tomorrow two races.”
“We had a difficult start to the race. Obviously starting from P13 meant we had some work to do in the early stages, but I felt it went better than expected as I was worried we didn’t have the pace to go with the group. Having said that it was clear that some of the riders around us didn’t have such good race pace but for us, that was something we have been working on over the last four days which helped regarding our pace late in the race. We will start again from P13 tomorrow which makes it tough for me, but I will attack and try make up some positions early on.”
More, from a press release issued by Pata Yamaha:
Incredible Debut Yamaha Victory for Razgatlioglu in Phillip Island
Phillip Island, Australia (29 Feb 2020) – Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla new signing Toprak Razgatlioglu scored a stunning victory at his very first attempt in race one at Phillip Island, as his team-mate Michael van der Mark missed out on a podium finish by just 0.096 seconds.
The 4.445km-long circuit in Australia delivered a thrilling race from the start with front row qualifier Jonathan Rea running wide on lap one and eventually falling soon after, as the Pata Yamaha with Rizla pairing of Razgatlioglu and van der Mark battled at the front through all 22 intense and often combative laps in dry and sunny track conditions.
Both riders had stated that the 2020 Yamaha R1 had benefitted from a series of improvements, and both proved it with their ability to qualify on the second row of the grid and then stay in contention to the end, in a race with up to seven riders fighting within the leading group.
After long-time leader Tom Sykes had dropped back and Scott Redding took the lead for three laps, Razgatlioglu assumed front-running control for a while, until van der Mark made his claim for the win from lap 19 to 20.
Razgatlioglu reasserted his hold on the lead for the final two laps and it looked like a Pata Yamaha with Rizla 1-2 was on the cards, until Kawasaki rider Alex Lowes made a last-corner pass, pushing van der Mark wide and allowing Scott Redding also to pass within sight of the flag.
In the final analysis the entire four-rider group was covered by just 0.137 seconds across the line, with Razgatlioglu winning by just 0.007 seconds from Lowes – making this the closest finish in WorldSBK history. The 23-year-old Turkish rider records the first win for Yamaha in Australia since Ben Spies’ championship-winning year in 2009, and subsequently takes an early series lead for the first time.
After celebrating a famous win for the Pata Yamaha Team with Rizla, the new R1 and ‘new boy’ Razgatlioglu, there will be two more chances for success for him and van der Mark on Sunday 1 March.
The now traditional ten-lap Superpole sprint race on Sunday, at noon, will be followed by the second and final 22-lap Superbike Race Two, at 15.00hrs local time.
Toprak Razgatlioglu: P1
“Today in FP3 I felt much better with the bike. It was turning well and the rear grip was much better. I said to myself that I was ready to race! But before the race I was incredibly stressed because this is my first time racing the R1 and as an official rider. I knew I needed a good early track position and after the start I focused on the race conditions because I knew I had to save the tyres. The bike was sliding at the end and on the final lap I was worried because when I opened the gas it started spinning, not going forward. It was very close – but I won on the new R1! Tomorrow we will try for a good set-up on the rear tyre. Maybe the ten laps race will be no problem but it is important for the long race.”
Michael van der Mark: P4
“Our plan was to win and I felt I could do it. We knew we had a good pace and could do it all race long, but I did not want to lead the race, just stay behind some guys and save the tyre towards the end. The plan was working and I felt really comfortable; even quicker than the other guys in some areas of the track. But, I lost my drive grip and especially in the last two corners I did not go forward. It is a shame we lost out on the podium places, we need to improve just a little to be there tomorrow. Congratulations to Toprak – together we have shown that the new R1 has made a good step forward.”
Paul Denning: Team Principal
“What a start to the season! Since his first day on the R1 Toprak’s outright talent has been very clear. Here at Phillip Island, at a circuit he had not had good results at in the past, and following tyre durability concerns at the test – to turn that into such a strong qualifying performance and then an incredible race victory was more than we could have expected. It is a dream start for him and his Yamaha career with us, but we will be keeping our feet firmly on the ground as regards to tomorrow. It is Phillip Island and anything can happen! Jonathan Rea made a mistake and the top four were covered by one tenth so everything can change but for the moment we will certainly enjoy Toprak’s victory. On Mikey’s side I feel desperately sorry for him not to be at least on the podium. He rode a clever race, finished a tenth of a second from victory and fourth wasn’t really what he deserved. He made no mistakes and he and his team did a brilliant job preparing for the race. Michael will recover and I expect him again to be fighting for the victories tomorrow.”
More, from a press release issued by Aruba.it Racing Ducati:
Scott Redding notches up his first podium finish (P3) in WorldSBK. Excellent comeback for Chaz Davies, 8th at the chequered flag
The 2020 World Superbike season began today with a spectacular race at the Phillip Island circuit (Australia) as Scott Redding took his first podium with Aruba.it Racing – Ducati while Chaz Davies made a great comeback by finishing eighth.
Starting from the front row (P2) after a convincing Superpole, Scott led the race from lap 12 to lap 16 before being involved in a gripping battle with the Razgatlioglu (Yamaha), Van Der Mark (Yamaha) and Lowes (Kawasaki). On the final lap, the British rider tried to create the conditions to exploit the power of his Ducati on the final straight, conquering the third place just 41 thousandths of a second from Razgatlioglu and 7 thousandths of a second from Lowes.
After a difficult qualifying session that forced him to start from row six (P16), Chaz managed to recover six positions in the first lap. The Welshman then ended his race in eighth position after successfully attacking Sykes two laps from the end.
Superpole: Scott, Chaz & Top 6
P 1 – T. Sykes (Bmw Motorrad) 1’29.230
P 2 – S. Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’29.569, +0.339
P 3 – J. Rea (Kawasaki) 1,29,598, +0,368
P 4 – T. Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) 1,29,769, +0,539
P 5 – L. Haslam (Honda) 1,29,859, +0,629
P 6 – M. Van Der Mark (Yamaha) 1,29,863, +0,633
P 16 – C. Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’30.966, +1.736
Race 1: Scott, Chaz & Top 6
P 1 – T. Razgatlioglu (Yamaha)
P 2 – A. Lowes (Kawasaki) +0.007
P 3 – S. Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.041
P 4 – M. Van Der Mark (Yamaha) +0.137
P 5 – L. Haslam (Honda) +3,910
P 6 – A. Bautista (Honda) +4,426
P 8 – C. Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +11,849
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #45)
“I am very happy with the way we started the season with both the front row this morning and the podium finish in Race 1. I said that finishing in the top three positions would be a great result and for that, I thank the team for the work done so far. I can say that it has been a phenomenal race, we fought until the end and I think that people watching from home and especially those who are on the track enjoyed a lot”.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7)
“Unfortunately, the starting position compromised the race. We didn’t manage to exploit the Q tyre in qualifying and we have to figure out how to solve this problem. From the middle of the race, my pace wasn’t bad, I was lapping with times close to the front group but obviously, the gap was too big to try to catch them. In tomorrow’s Superpole Race it will be important to recover some positions in order to start in a better condition”.
More, from a press release issued by Honda Pro Racing:
Team HRC makes a positive start to the season in WorldSBK Race 1 at Phillip Island
29 Feb 2020 Australian Round
Phillip Island, Australia
WorldSBK 2020, Round 1
The Phillip Island circuit in Australia is hosting the inaugural round of the 2020 FIM Superbike World Championship, today’s action comprising the Superpole qualifying session and the first 22-lap race of the weekend. On track with riders Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista, Team HRC enjoyed a positive debut race with the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, crossing the line fifth and sixth.
After a short final practice session earlier in the day, the team was ready for the all-important Superpole session which played out in warm, dry conditions. Having demonstrated consistent pace in yesterday’s sessions, Haslam also proved strong over the flying lap, setting a series of fast times and a best of 1’29.859 to close fifth. A strong result which put him on the second row of the grid for the season’s opening race. With ten minutes left to run, Bautista unfortunately ran wide onto the grass at Turn 9, crashing into the gravel as a result and suffering some bruising to his left arm. Unable to return to the track for the final stages, the Team HRC rider qualified in fifteenth place (1’30.963).
Come 3pm local time, it was time for the inaugural race of the 2020 WorldSBK season. From fifth position on the grid, Haslam made a strong start, lying sixth through the opening stages. The Brit was able to maintain a consistent pace through the first half of the race, before closing in on, and passing, Sykes for fifth on lap 13. Just half a second from the race leader on lap sixteen, Haslam moved into fourth on that same lap. Struggling a little with rear grip by the final stages of the races, Leon did everything he could to hold on to fifth place, crossing the line to score his first 11 points of the 2020 season.
From the fifth row of the grid, Bautista immediately got into a very good rhythm, working his way through the field in impressive fashion, to progress from fifteenth to eighth position by lap eight. Making up another position by the mid-race point, the Spaniard held seventh until lap seventeen when he passed Sykes to move into sixth position. Maintaining very strong pace throughout the second half of the race, in line with that of the leading group, Bautista crossed the line in sixth place.
Team HRC will be back in action tomorrow, ready for the Tissot Superpole race and the second 22-lap Superbike race.
Leon Haslam 91
Honestly speaking, I felt we had the pace to win today, but I was conscious of the rear grip levels right from lap one. I was able to remain with the leading group until about five laps from the end, after which a lack of grip made it impossible to keep up. Overall, I’m very happy with the bike handling, we just need smoother delivery out of the faster corners. The good thing is that we know where we need to focus our efforts tomorrow and going into the next races. Pace-wise I’m very happy and I really can’t fault the efforts of Honda and HRC; a positive first race day.
The earlier crash was really down to a lack of grip and losing that time in Superpole meant starting a way back on the grid, which made things more difficult of course. It wasn’t easy getting past all those riders, some of whom I was passing down the straight. I then tried to get into a good rhythm and was able to retain a pace in line with what we saw in practice, but in the second half of the race my arm, which I injured in the morning’s crash, started to bother me a little more. The important thing is we have collected a lot more data which we can use in preparation for tomorrow. All considering it’s been a positive day.