WSBK: Rea leads Championship after round one with double victories at Phillip Island
Day 3, Sunday 26th 2017 – The season-opening Yamaha Finance Australian Round at Phillip Island saw Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) wrap up a double victory from ninth position, in a superb Sunday race. Starting from a re-shuffled grid, Aruba.it Racing – Ducati pair Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri were also on the podium.
A stunning last lap battle between four riders for podium positions saw Rea come out on top again, with Davies a close second (+0.025s), whilst Melandri rode excellently for third (+0.249s) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) collected more good points in fourth having led the race early on.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) finished fifth, whilst Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended up at the back of a group of six riders who had been battling for the podium positions.
Behind that front group, it was Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who crossed the line in seventh and eighth respectively for a good haul of points, whilst Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) also registered top ten results.
After his solid fourth in Race 1 on Saturday Lowes made an excellent start from the head of the reshuffled Race 2 grid to lead the way in the opening stages, with Laverty and Fores also getting in the mix early on. Rea soon came through from ninth though, making light work of the challenge of the new regulations for 2017 which sees the grid reshuffled on Sunday further to the Race 1 results.
Rea took over in the lead with 17 laps to go, as Davies also soon came through to contest the lead, with Lowes fighting to stay with the Welshman and Rea for a podium result.
Melandri emerged as a contender in the second half of the race, having steadily fought his way to the front from tenth on the grid after his WorldSBK comeback on Saturday ended in a disappointing DNF. The Italian was delighted to return to the podium at the end of Race 2 as he kept Rea and Davies in his sights.
A technical issue saw Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) pull off track and out of contention in the Warm Up lap. Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) crashed with 14 laps to go, with additional crashes for Riccardo Russo (Guandalini Racing) and Ayrton Badovini (Grillini Racing Team).
The WorldSBK riders will be back in action at the second round of the season, the Motul Thai Round, over the 10th-12th March weekend.
P1 . Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team
“I’m so happy because to win a last lap battle here is hard, but to do it two times here and with tactical racing, it’s so hard. I just wanted to come here and start on my way, before yesterday I hadn’t won before the summer break in 2016 so it’s nice to start my campaign and with 50 points and two wins.”
P2. Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
“It was tight in both races and this one was even closer I reckon. Everybody had a little go at taking the lead and tried to break away at the front, but its near-on impossible here at Phillip Island so I just ran my own race. I tried to break away with a couple of laps to go but it wasn’t going to happen. We gave away a lot of points here last year, so to take 40 points at what is not one of our favourite tracks is good and look forward to the next one.”
P3. Marco Melandri – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
“It’s been a very good weekend, race one was difficult race two was even more difficult because I came from the back, which meant I was pushing the tyre a bit too much. In the last few laps I didn’t have enough grip to try and fight for a win, but those two guys were a bit stronger than me today. To be back on the podium in my first Round after a year and a half off is good.”
Championship Standings after Race 3, Round 1
1. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (50 points)
2. Chaz Davies (GBR) Ducati (40 points)
3. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki (26 points)
Saturday, 25 February
Phillip Island Day Two – Rea triumphs as tactics prevail
Champion wins opening thriller with Lowes set to take pole in Race 2
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was the backdrop for a stunning first race of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) took a superb win, to start the season in style. Rea beat Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) by just 0.042s across the line as the pair battled hard to the last corner, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) also on the podium.
An enthralling race was the perfect way to start the 30th season of the WorldSBK championship, with Rea, Davies, Sykes, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) all taking turns in the lead.
Lowes briefly led mid-race and would eventually finish fourth, crossing the line just over a second behind Rea and just 0.032s behind Sykes.
Melandri made a spectacular return to the championship in his first WorldSBK race since 2014, taking the lead off the line and running at the front for several laps only for his day to end in frustration after a crash at the Southern Loop with 8 laps to go.
An excellent showing from Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) saw the Englishman cross the line three seconds behind race winner Rea to complete an all British top five.
A solid start to the season by Spaniards Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) and Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) saw them take sixth and seventh respectively.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) completed the top ten, with Krummenacher producing an impressive ride on his WorldSBK debut.
Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team) were 11th and 12th respectively, whilst debutant Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) was 15th. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) crashed at Turn 6 with 17 laps to go, dashing the hopes of the Italian of a good point-scoring start to the year.
With the new grid format introduced for 2017, we will see Alex Lowes start from pole position whilst Jonathan Rea will be battling from ninth. Race 2 at 3pm local time (+11 GMT) on Sunday at the Yamaha Finance Australian Round will see Rea looking to make it a double victory weekend, but his rivals will be pushing him hard at every turn.
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team):
“To start the season with 25 points is exactly what I needed to do, especially after the end of last season played out and hopefully we can work step by step. It was a strange race, it should have been much faster. But we did what we had to do in the end to get 25 points.”
2. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati):
“It was important to get this first race out the way and get some good points on the board. I tried a bit of a different strategy and it didn’t quite work out for the win. In the end I knew it was going to come down to myself and Jonny; but with this being one of our tougher tracks it’s hard to get the strategy right. We’ll have a little think for tonight and see if we can go one better tomorrow.”
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team):
“I have to say to finish on the podium, not far behind those two in Phillip Island is a big positive for me. That’s only the third podium I’ve had in this circuit, so it gives me a lot of confidence going forward. I had a couple of warnings very early on and I was able to settle down, but ultimately I did an acceptable race. A podium at Phillip Island is my first target and I hope we can improve on it tomorrow.”
Friday, 24 February
Phillip Island Day One-Davies Friday’s fastest at Phillip Island
Ducati rider takes opening honours
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was Friday’s fastest participant at the season-opening Yamaha Finance Australian Round, with the Welshman topping the combined FP1 and FP2 timesheets courtesy of a 1’30.189 best time from the morning.
Defending World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) was the second quickest rider on Friday at Phillip Island courtesy of a 1’30.255 lap in FP1 and he was the fastest rider in the later session.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) put in a good performance to end the day third fastest, also courtesy of his best FP1 effort, a 1’30.486, putting him just ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) – who was fourth and trailed Davies by just under four tenths.
On his return to WorldSBK Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was fifth quickest overall, thanks to his 1’30.627 lap registered in the afternoon outing.
Also going straight through to Tissot Superpole 2 on the opening weekend of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship are Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team), who rounded out Friday’s top ten.
Savadori provided the most spectacular moment of the day, surviving a huge wobble at turn 11 in FP1.
The likes of Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), meanwhile, will participate in Tissot Superpole 1 on Saturday having ended Friday 11th and 12th respectively.
Earlier in the day FP1 had been red flagged after less than ten minutes of action after an engine fault for Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) briefly left an oil leak on track, though the action soon got back underway. Camier ended Friday in 13th place on the combined timesheets.
Rookie Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 14th best and ran off track just over 15 minutes before the end of FP2, quickly returning to the asphalt after his excursion onto the grass.
Likewise newcomer Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) ran off track at turn 4 at one stage in his first official WorldSBK session in FP1 and the German ended up 16th overall.
Alex De Angelis (Pedercini Racing SC-Project) crashed at turn 11 but walked away from the incident late in the afternoon session and was Friday’s 15th fastest man. Ayrton Badovini (Grillini Racing Team) was also a late crasher in FP2 and concluded Friday in 17th place on the timesheets.