These just in:
Laverty new Championship leader after the first Round
Phillip Island (Australia), Sunday 24 February 2013 - In the unique scenery of Phillip Island the first round of 2013 eni FIM Superbike World Championship proved to be a success, while the Victorian Government announced the GP Circuit will host the FIM Superbike World Championship for a further three years, from 2015 to 2017. Close racing and high-level competition entertained the 61.500 spectators over the 3 days and provided a remarkable show to the fans all over the world. Aprilia Racing Team riders Sylvain Guintoli (Race 1) and Eugene Laverty (Race 2) got one win each in Sunday World Superbike races, both finishing in 2nd place when not on top.
Aprilia gets 1-2-3 at Phillip Island World Superbike Race 1. It's the second time that the manufacturer from Noale monopolise the podium (first one was at Nurburgring last year) with works rider Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) taking his 4th win of the career in his first race onboard the RSV4, ahead of team mate Eugene Laverty.
The race started with Eugene Laverty moving off well from second position, trying to run away from his opponents. The Irishman was able to keep the gap between himself and the rest of the field until he was caught up by Guintoli, who overtook Laverty on lap 15 and led the race until the chequered flag.
Sylvain Guintoli: "It's great to start off with a win! Quite honestly, after the tests I know I could do well and from the start my intention was to give it my all. My goal has always been to win, but sometimes you have to adapt to conditions. In the first race I didn't get off to a good start and I lost a few positions, but lap by lap I found the right pace to move forward. Eugene had gotten away well and when I overtook him I managed to keep the distance and take this important win. In Race 2 Eugene had a bit more than me in the last laps. He employed a strategy similar to the one I used in the first race, but this is a fantastic result for the team even if we are just at the beginning of the championship".
Later in the race Laverty had to deal with a confident Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia), who closed the gap and had a shot at 2nd place. Laverty waited until the last lap to make the perfect move on the Italian at 'Lukey Heights'. Right outside of top-3 is Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team) who battled hard with fellow Englishman Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) up to the finish line, to end up ahead of his rival for just 0.051 seconds, with team mate Loris Baz to follow.
After a competitive first part of the race, Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) struggled a bit to keep the pace and eventually finished 7th ahead of team mate Jonathan Rea. Two potential contenders for the podium positions got out of the race during lap 13, as Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare), accidentally hit Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team) from behind after outbraking himself, while entering Turn 4.
Results race 1: 1. Guintoli (Aprilia) 22 laps/97.790 km in 33'47.109 average 173.668 kph; 2. Laverty (Aprilia) 1.352; 3. Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1.359; 4. Davies (BMW) 5.702; 5. Sykes (Kawasaki) 5.753; 6. Baz (Kawasaki) 6.769; 7. Haslam (Honda) 6.830; 8. Rea (Honda) 17.944; 9. Camier (Suzuki) 19.152; 10. Neukirchner (Ducati) 26.557; 11. Cluzel (Suzuki) 30.305; 12. Clementi (BMW) 30.411; 13. Lundh (Kawasaki) 45.185; 14. Allerton (BMW) 48.632; 15. Stauffer (Honda) 53.453; etc.
A formidable last part of the race allowed Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) to get the better of team mate Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team) to win race 2 at Phillip Island. Thanks to this successful effort in the first Round, Laverty is now the eni FIM Superbike World Championship leader, tied up in points with Race 1 winner Guintoli.
The 26 year old from Toomebridge, Northern Ireland, started his final charge on the lead on lap 20 by overtaking Melandri at Turn 4 and setting an incredible 1'31.168 (new lap record). Laverty then got past Guintoli on the straight and held onto 1st place up to the chequered flag.
Eugene Laverty: "We got off on the right foot all the work from the past few days has paid off. My Aprilia was fast and it performed as I wanted it to from the 1st to the last lap. In Race 1 I may have been a bit too conservative with the tyres, still taking a nice second place, but in Race 2 I pushed a bit more decisively. At the end when it was Sylvain, Melandri and me, I tried and was able to get away, shaving a few more tenths off my pace. The track record two laps from the finish was nice confirmation that we turned up to the races in the best possible conditions. 45 points after the first race are some nice spoils."
Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia), after a long catch up with the front runners, made a small mistake and ran wide during the last lap, in a desperate attempt to overtake fellow Italian Melandri for 3rd position.Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), far from the ideal fitness condition, finished 5th ahead of Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia), Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) and Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike).
Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) did not take part to Race 2 to undergo some medical checks at Melbourne, following the nasty-looking crash of the previous race.
Results race 2: 1. Laverty (Aprilia) 22 laps/97.790 km in 33'45.938 average 173.768 kph; 2. Guintoli (Aprilia) 0.418; 3. Melandri (BMW) 1.382; 4. Fabrizio (Aprilia) 2.282; 5. Sykes (Kawasaki) 11.545; 6. Giugliano (Aprilia) 12.508; 7. Cluzel (Suzuki) 17.330; 8. Rea (Honda) 17.339; 9. Camier (Suzuki) 19.886; 10. Haslam (Honda) 19.996; 11. Neukirchner (Ducati) 27.629; 12. Allerton (BMW) 42.809; 13. Stauffer (Honda) 42.893; 14. Sandi (Kawasaki) 44.899; 15. Lundh (Kawasaki) 57.824; etc.
Standings: 1. Laverty 45; 2. Guintoli 45; 3. Fabrizio 29; 4. Sykes 22; 5. Melandri 16; 6. Rea 16; 7. Haslam 15; 8. Cluzel 14; 9. Camier 14; 10. Davies 13; 11. Neukirchner 11; 12. Giugliano 10; 13. Baz 10; 14. Allerton 6; 15. Clementi 4; 16. Stauffer 4; 17. Lundh 4; 18. Sandi 2. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 50; 2. BMW 29; 3. Kawasaki 22; 4. Honda 17; 5. Suzuki 16; 6. Ducati 11.
World Supersport - Kenan Sofouglu forces his way to victory
Kenan Sofuoglu wins the 32nd race of his career in World Supersport Race at Phillip Island by getting the nod over pole man Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha), after a thrilling battle that went on throughout the entire race. The defending and three-time World Supersport Champion gave Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki the first win in the series and set the new lap record in 1'33.283. Lowes, on the other hand, did his best to stay close to the Turkish rider to eventually finish with a solid second place.
Rookie Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) ended up 3rd in his debut race in World Supersport. The Reigning European Superstock 600 Champion managed to stay with the two riders up front during the first part of the race, slowing down a bit later on and finishing with 6.771 seconds from Sofuoglu.
Second Mahi Racing Team India rider Fabien Foret finished 4th ahead of Intermoto Ponyexpres duo of David Salom and Luca Scassa, with Andrea Antonelli (Team Goeleven Kawasaki) to follow. The 2002 World Supersport Champion got a terrible start from the 3rd spot on the grid, crossing the line at the end of lap 1 in 14th position. An unlucky Roberto Rolfo (ParkinGO MV Agusta Corse) was forced to withdraw from the race in the very last part, while battling for 4th position. A big crash on the exit of Turn 12 at the end of lap 3 involved Russian Vladimir Leonov (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) and Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini Honda).
Results: 1. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 15 Laps/66.675 km in 23'32.480 average 169.935 kph; 2. Lowes (Yamaha) 1.899; 3. Vd Mark (Honda) 6.771; 4. Foret (Kawasaki) 11.095; 5. Salom (Kawasaki) 12.076; 6. Scassa (Kawasaki) 12.943; 7. Antonelli (Kawasaki) 23.968; 8. Zanetti (Honda) 24.536; 9. Roccoli (Yamaha) 24.782; 10. Kennedy (Honda) 24.809; 11. Ivanov (Kawasaki) 32.825; 12. Marconi (Honda) 33.028; 13. Tamburini (Suzuki) 33.055; 14. Scholtz (Suzuki) 34.067; 15. Baldolini (Honda) 34.993; etc.
Riders Championship: 1. Sofuoglu 25; 2. Lowes 20; 3. Vd Mark 16; 4. Foret 13; 5. Salom 11; 6. Scassa 10; 7. Antonelli 9; 8. Zanetti 8; 9. Roccoli 7; 10. Kennedy 6; 11. Ivanov 5; 12. Marconi 4; 13. Tamburini 3; 14. Scholtz 2; 15. Baldolini 1. Manufacturers Championship: 1. Kawasaki 25; 2. Yamaha 20; 3. Honda 16; 4. Suzuki 3.
The new 17 inch Pirelli Diablo Superbike tyres did not disappoint expectations in the first round of the season, allowing the riders to significantly increase their lap times compared to 2012.
The new tyres confirm their performance during the winter tests, letting riders improve their lap times by more than one second for each lap of the race compared to last season
Phillip Island (Australia), 24 February 2013 - The 2013 eni FIM World Superbike Championship opened up with the new 17 inch Pirelli tyres that had riders putting significantly better times on the boards compared to last year. The Aprilia riders proved to be able to adapt best to the new tyres right from the start and they also managed to find the best set-up in order to take advantage of the solutions Pirelli brought to the Australian round, as the two race results demonstrate. Aprilia Racing Team riders Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli took turns standing on the first and second step of the podium, followed by an excellent Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) also astride an Aprilia RSV4 Factory (3rd in Race 1 and 4th in Race 2) as well as the rider from Ravenna, Marco Melandri, on his BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK BMW S1000.
But besides the riders, the undisputed stars of the weekend were the Pirelli tyres, called upon to tackle a circuit which was definitely not easy and that was full of unknowns, not the least of which was the new asphalt where no tests could be done in the months leading up to the race. In any case, the results obtained by the new 17 inch tyres were particularly encouraging and give high hopes for the 2013 season. In fact, practically all the riders improved their lap times by more than one second each race lap compared to last season and this is a sign of how the new 17 inch tyres are able to provide decidedly better performance compared to their 16.5 inch predecessors.
The Pirelli solutions chosen by the riders:
Pirelli developed various Superbike and Supersport solutions for the first round of the season, knowing that in any case there would be a lot of unknowns. In fact, the Phillip Island track has always been one of the most extreme and aggressive on the tyres because of its particular layout of almost all left-handers, one of which is a quite fast one. These turns put significant stress on the left side of the tyres. On top of that, the races are held here duing a time of year when temperatures are particularly high and this year the track was completely resurfaced during the month of December although, for logistical reasons, Pirelli had to send all the tyres by sea already in the month of November 2012 without the benefit of knowing what the conditions would be. The teams also had no idea what to expect as they had never tested the characteristics of the new asphalt prior to this week. Despite these difficulties, the solutions Pirelli brought not only allowed the riders to race, but also to provide (as they do every year) an exciting show for the more than 60,000 race fans who always turn up on the island to watch this important motoring event.
There were two solutions in Superbike which proved to be winning ones and were the most popular among all the riders in both race 1 and race 2. On the rear it was the SC1 R1299, a development solution with a medium hardness compound and internal materials which were particularly intended to keep the tyre's operating temperature lower in anticipation of overheating. For the front, on the other hand, most of the riders opted for the SC2 R982, a medium hardness blend which is excellent for high external temperatures because it ensures the solidity of the tread band. This is the solution usually favoured by more aggressive riders who prefer a compact tread band.
In Supersport, because of the weather conditions and the very abrasive asphalt, the race was reduced to 15 laps in order to guarantee that all the teams would be able to finish, as was indeed the case. On this note, we should point out that, unlike in Superbike where the riders use slicks, in the Supersport class grooved tyres (the Diablo Supercorsa) very similar to the street version are used. In fact, the race replica version of this tyre can normally be used on the road as well. In spite of this, performance in this case was also quite high and sufficiently consistent, as was demonstrated by the fast lap that Kenan Sofuoglu (MAHI Racing Team India) set in the last lap.
Pirelli Best Lap Award:
The "Pirelli Best Lap Award" is awarded by Pirelli to the rider who sets the fastest race lap. This recognition is presented by a Pirelli representative during the Paddock Show in a press conference which follows the podium at the end of races 1 and 2 for the Superbike class and at the end of the Supersport race, for a total of three awards each weekend. The time set by the fastest rider is indicated and can be seen in the trophy which is in the shape of a motorcycle instrument panel this year.
The Superbike and Supersport rider who has earned the most "Pirelli Best Lap Award" titles at the end of the season will be elected "Best Lap Winner: fastest rider of the year" and awarded in the usual end of year ceremony.
The riders who won the Pirelli Best Lap Award in the first round of the season at Phillip Island are:
SBK Race 1 - Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma), 1'31.323 (7th lap) SBK Race 2 - Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team), 1'31.168 (20th lap) WSS - Kenan Sofuoglu (MAHI Racing Team India), 1'33.283 (15th lap)
Comment from Giorgio Barbier, Pirelli Moto Racing Director:
"We knew that the season début would be full of unknowns and that it might hold some surprises. The Australian track per se has always been very demanding on tyres because of its layout and the high temperatures. Tracks like this, with fast turns that need to be taken leaned over and with the throttle wide open, are becoming less common in Europe and they have often been replaced by chicanes to favour rider safety. The new asphalt certainly didn't make our work any easier because we had to send the solutions for this round in November of last year, before the track was even resurfaced, so we had to design the tyres based on information from past years and considering how they might perform on the new track surface. Despite these difficulties, we are quite satisfied with the race weekend. We placed all the riders in conditions to be able to compete in the races and at that point the ones who managed to get their bikes set up the best earned their places at the front. In this round race strategy and the rider's ability to take care of the tyres were definitely key factors. Besides the peculiarities of this track, we are quite happy about the times that almost all the riders were able to achieve with the new tyres, with significant increases in lap times".
The 2013 Pirelli statistics for the Phillip Island round:
? Total number of tyres Pirelli brought: 3580
? Number of solutions (dry, intermediate and wet) for the Superbike class: 6 front and 7
? Number of solutions for the Supersport class (dry, intermediate and wet): 4 front and 6 rear
Number of tyres available for each Superbike rider: 36 front and 38 rear
? Number of tyres available for each Supersport rider: 24 front and 33 rear
? Temperature in Race 1: air 27° C, asphalt 47° C
? Temperature in Race 2: air 26° C, asphalt 48° C
? Maximum race speed reached by Pirelli tyres: 320.5 km/h, Michel Fabrizio in Race 1, 3rd lap
APRILIA DOMINATES WORLD SBK
RACE 1 IS A ONE-TWO-THREE WITH GUINTOLI, LAVERTY AND FABRIZIO.
LAVERTY TRIUMPHS IN RACE 2 WITH GUINTOLI SECOND AND FOUR APRILIAS FINISHING IN THE TOP SIX.
THE TWO APRILIA STANDARD BEARERS NOW LEAD THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN A TIE.
TOP POINTS FOR APRILIA IN THE MANUFACTURER CHAMPIONSHIP.
Phillip Island - Australia, 24 February 2013 - The first and long awaited round of the 2013 World SBK season was dominated by Aprilia, winning both races and placing a seal of superiority worthy of the reigning World Champion Team on the weekend.
Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli swapped the top two steps of the podium and are now tied at 45 points to lead the world championship. Aprilia is at top points in the world Manufacturer championship with 50 points. The 4 cylinder bikes from Noale made a true show of superiority at Phillip Island: a one-two-three finish in Race 1 and a one-two for the official riders in Race 2, with four RSV4s finishing in the top six.
The victory in Race 1, which came at the end of an exciting comeback, was a reward for Sylvain Guintoli in his début race on the Italian bike. Team mate Eugene Laverty crossed the line right behind the Frenchman after leading for most of the race and being kept busy in the last few laps fending off attacks from Roman rider Michel Fabrizio, also astride an Aprilia RSV4 for Team Red Devils Roma.
In Race 2 Guintoli and Laverty got away during the first laps, tailed by Marco Melandri and the two private Aprilia RSV4s ridden by Fabrizio and Davide Giugliano (Team Althea Racing) to take the top two steps of the podium in reverse position. This is Eugene Laverty's second win with Aprilia and it is a result that comes, above all, from the intense work done over the past few days which was aimed at optimising tyre performance down to the last taps. The track record set by the Northern Irishman 2 laps from the end is a demonstration of just how effective that work was.
Michel Fabrizio's fourth place (Team Red Devils Roma) and Davide Giugliano's sixth (Team Althea Racing) confirmed the Aprilia RSV4's superiority on this fantastic Australian circuit.
"We got off on the right foot - were Eugene Laverty's first words - all the work from the past few days has paid off. My Aprilia was fast and it performed as I wanted it to from the first to the last lap. In Race 1 I may have been a bit too conservative with the tyres, still taking a nice second place, but in Race 2 I pushed a bit more decisively. At the end, when it was Sylvain, Melandri and me, I tried and was able to get away, shaving a few more tenths off my pace. The track record two laps from the finish was nice confirmation that we turned up to the races in the best possible conditions. 45 points after the first race are some nice spoils. I've never started a season this well and now we'll be thinking about Aragon and how to stay on this path".
Sylvain Guintoli couldn't have asked for a better début: "It's great to start off with a win! Quite honestly, after the tests I know I could do well and from the start my intention was to give it my all. My goal has always been to win, but sometimes you have to adapt to conditions. However, today the setting was good, I didn't have any serious concerns about tyre duration and everything went according to plan. In the first race I didn't get off to a good start and I lost a few positions, but lap by lap I found the right pace to move forward. Eugene had gotten away well and when I overtook him I managed to keep the distance and take this important win. In Race 2 Eugene had a bit more than me in the last laps. He employed a strategy similar to the one I used in the first race, but this is a fantastic result for the team even if we are just at the beginning of the championship".
Unlucky day for Ducati Alstare
After yesterday's superb Superpole victory, expectations were high for good results today and Carlos Checa made his intentions clear by making a good start in the first of the two 22-lap races. At the end of the first lap, he was in third place before forcing his way into second spot after five laps. From then on he was locked in a battle for a podium place with Haslam and Melandri and although he could catch and pass his rivals on the brakes and in the turns, he was losing out on the straights. Trying to pass Melandri on the brakes going into Siberia, Carlos inadvertently clipped the back end of the Italian's BMW, causing both to crash.
Melandri was OK, but Carlos suffered concussion and taken to the Medical Centre for further checks. Whilst there, he recovered sufficiently to be able to speak though he couldn't remember the crash. Although Carlos appeared not to have broken any bones, it was decided that he should be transferred to Melbourne hospital for further checks and an overnight stay as a precautionary measure. It is expected that he will be released tomorrow.
Francis Batta (Team Owner)
"To win Superpole yesterday at the first race with this new bike was an excellent result and a testimony to all the hard work everybody has put in. It's clear that our bike is down on speed compared to our competitors, so Carlos has been having to make up for that on the brakes and in the turns. We need to improve our speed so that Carlos and Ayrton can compete with our rivals. This bike is very new for all of us, but we are working as hard as we can and making progress every time we go out on the track. I'm sure we will keep improving and be in a good position to challenge for podiums next time out."
Conditions: Dry, sunny/cloudy 27C (air), 47C (track)
Rea and Haslam start SBK season in Australia
Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam have left Phillip Island in Australia with a solid points haul following today's opening round of the 2013 World Superbike championship. The two races were won by Sylvain Guintoli and Eugene Laverty.
In warm and dry conditions, the new Pata Honda duo fought tyre degradation and electronics issues around the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit to bring their CBR1000RR Fireblades home for four points finishes.
In race one, Haslam had a good start from the third row of the grid and was battling for a podium finish for 18 laps before tyre problems dropped him back to seventh at the flag. After a slower start to race two, the 29-year-old British rider got caught in a first lap melée at turn 10 when two other riders crashed. He dropped back several places, losing touch with the leading group and eventually finishing 10th.
Jonathan Rea finished eighth in both today's 22-lap outings, the second being his 100th World Superbike race start. The 26-year-old from Northern Ireland scored a total of 16 points, despite issues with electronics and tyres and leaves Phillip Island tied for sixth place in the overall SBK points standings.
Jonathan Rea - race one 8th; race two 8th
It's been a strange weekend, and it's frustrating for us all to look at the classifications and see where we are because I don't feel that it's a true reflection of where we deserve to be. On the other side of that, it's clear how much effort we're going to have to put in to make the electronics better. It's our main problem right now because back at the team's workshop we found a little bit of power for the engine for this event and I know there's another plan to develop that. It's clear we need to make a couple of steps forward and bypass where we were the electronics last year. I feel there's a light at the end of the tunnel though because I've already got some positive feelings with the new system. There are just a few inconsistencies when getting on the throttle with the traction control cutting in and holding back the engine. We made some positive steps with the bike between race one and two, and we've got a three-day test at Aragon, which we really need. Two finishes is always the aim for the first race, but we leave here still with work to do.
Leon Haslam - race one 7th; race two 10th
It's been a bit of a disappointing day. We had some issues that we couldn't overcome in race one and I ended up heading backwards. It felt like I had the pace to challenge for a rostrum but I was held back in a couple of areas. In race two we made some positive changes but I had a bad start and then got caught in the melée with two other riders crashing out down at the MG hairpin on lap one. I lost around 10 or 11 seconds that would have allowed me to battle for third or fourth again if I hadn't lost that time. There are a lot of ?if's and ?but's, and we've got a lot of work to do in this next month to try to resolve a few issues.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinaor
We learned a lot today. We also learned that we have some more work to close the gap to our competitors and I'm happy that we're going testing next. Leon had a tremendous start to race one and he was battling at the front for a podium. Unfortunately some set-up problems pulled him back a little. Jonathan didn't have such a good tyre in race one and it was spinning up quite a lot earlier than Leon's, so he wasn't able to battle for anything. Leon didn't have such a good start to race two and got caught in a bit of hassle, which meant he had to start again from the back. He was pushing forward but some problems with the bike meant he couldn't do consistent lap times. Jonathan had a good start to race two and the bike and tyre worked better, but not better enough. We'll learn from the data and make a good test plan for Aragon to overcome these problems.
Positive weekend for the Althea Racing team at Phillip Island
Today at Phillip Island in Australia, the first two rounds of the FIM Superbike World Championship 2013 took place. The Althea Racing team rider Davide Giugliano, started from the fourth row with the tenth fastest time in Superpole obtained yesterday. Race one was unlucky for Davide who started fast and was in seventh position in the first lap. Seeing the chances to fight for the top positions the Althea team rider pushed to the maxium, but in the third lap, his bike muted and Davide was forced to withdraw due to an electrical problem, which is still being analized by the technicians of the Italian team. In race two Davide started again very well, gaining an excellent fifth in very short time and which he kept until a few laps from the end, when a drop in his tires forced him to settle for sixth place.
Davide Giugliano : "I think this has been a positive weekend. Since in race I rode only few laps , without collecting important data necessary for the second round, in the second race I started very strong and I kept a fast pace almost until the end. Of course today's results does not satisfy neither me nor my team. I started from the fourth row and maybe I stressed out the tires trying to gain field. In the end my race pace suffered and I lost contact with the leading group. It is important that we look ahead and these two races can serve as a very important test, which allows us to go to Aragon with added know-how and additional safety measures ."
Genesio Bevilacqua : "It was a weekend with some difficult moments, such as the technical problem which we suffered in race one, that has forced us to review the entire bike, changing several components for a matter of safety of course. This has created a bit of tension in our team and maybe even Giugliano has suffered from it. The analysis of the second race is positive and the lack of a better results depends only on a sudden drop of the tires, to which Davide replied intelligently, for example bringing home a good result for a team like ours, which needs to accumulate data and experience on this new bike. We're not satisfied with what we obtained today, but seeing how things went, we must take these results and look forward to certainly more ambitious goals."
FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Jules Cluzel marked his debut in the eni FIM Superbike World Championship by taking an impressive seventh place in this afternoon's second race at Phillip Island in Australia.
Cluzel got a good start to the second race and was up into eighth by the end of lap one. He maintained a strong rhythm and made his way to sixth as the race progressed. Cluzel then got involved in a battle with last-year's championship runner-up Tom Sykes before the British rider pushed Cluzel back into seventh, a position he held until the end of the race despite coming under intense pressure from Jonathan Rea in the closing stages. Cluzel had made a strong start to his rookie season in Superbikes by finishing 11th in race one on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R1000 after starting from 17th on the grid. The Frenchman's results today were just reward for him and his crew following the string of misfortune and frustration that had hit him throughout the test and then the race weekend in Australia, and leaves him on a positive footing as he heads to the next test and race.
Leon Camier scored a pair of ninth place finishes at the 4,445m Phillip Island track today, but both under different circumstances. In race one he got a poor start and was battling all race long to make up places. He ended lap-one in 13th but fought his way to ninth at two-thirds distance and following a battle to the line with Rea, the FIXI Crescent Suzuki rider just couldn't get past him at the line to take eighth. In race two, Camier was the innocent victim of a first lap crash which forced the Englishman off the track He re-joined in last place and then had the task of chasing down the field. Camier made up time to the pack and began picking off riders, eventually making his way to ninth on lap-19 after passing Leon Haslam. He pushed all the way to the line, but was unable to make up any more places and was left to think of what might have been in the second race.
Today's weather was again warm and sunny with a light breeze, air temperatures got up to 27°C and the fine weather led to a weekend attendance of 61,500 over the three days. Race one was won by Sylvain Guintoli on an Aprilia, with Ireland's Eugene Laverty - also on an Aprilia - taking the honours in the second event. Guintoli and Laverty share the championship lead as the pair also took a second place apiece today.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will now head back to England for a short break before the next race at Aragon in Spain on Sunday April 14th. The next time the team takes to the track will also be at Aragon for a private test at the start of April.
"I am really happy with both races, even though the first one was very difficult, but I finished and learned a lot. We chose the wrong tyre in the first race, which was not a big problem because I need to learn and understand everything. I needed to do some laps today and I think in the two races today I did more laps than I had done all weekend - and maybe the test as well! It's really good to finish the weekend like this and I am pleased for my team as well because they have had a tough time and worked really hard to get me on the track. I think today has been a good step for the future."
"The first race was really difficult and the bike just didn't feel like anything we'd been working on over the weekend. We really struggled and we made the wrong tyre choice - by the end of the race the tyre was destroyed! This was very strange because all weekend we'd done race runs on the tyres and it hadn't shown wear like that. I'd put in good laps on used tyres in the test and during practice, so we were confident that it would work, but whatever the reason is, it didn't!
"I got a better start in race two and tried to make some places up early on, but as I tried to go round the outside coming into a corner there was a big crash in front of me and I got taken out and on to the grass - so that was really the end of the race for me! The rest of the time was just spent catching up and racing with some other guys. I had to try and do what I could and I could see Jules and Johnny Rea coming back to me really quickly so I kept pushing, but just couldn't get up to them. It's frustrating because I felt that in the second race we had the package to challenge the front pack."
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
"We will leave Australia after these two weeks in Phillip Island with a positive outlook because, irrespective of two quite disappointing results for Leon caused by the wrong tyre choice in race one and being knocked off the track in race two, we've still shown great potential and it's clear that the bike is at a different level than it was 12-months ago. The whole team and both the riders have been superbly positive, despite a few issues - including five absolutely massive crashes in total! The guys have worked incredibly hard to be in good shape come race-day.
"Jules has shown that he is absolutely not scared of getting involved with the best Superbike riders in the world and we know very well that Leon's potential - and that of the bike - is a lot better than two ninth places. We have a three-day test at Aragon at the start of April, where we have some new stuff coming to improve the bike further, and we're really excited about the prospects for the season."
Fourth Overall For Sykes After Phillip Island Opener
WSBK, Phillip Island, Australia, 24 February 2013
Tom Sykes and Loris Baz were at the sharp end of competition on their Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10R machines in Australia with Sykes leaving the first round with two fifth places and Baz one sixth
Fourth Overall For Sykes After Phillip Island Opener
Having overcome the effects of injury to his left wrist in recent testing, and then losing track time, Sykes recovered well to post results he did not expect even just a few days ago. He is now fourth overall in the rankings.
Baz would have been much higher up the overall points than his current 13th place if he had not been taken out in race two, when another rider hit his machine.
In the first race Sykes was away second off the line and held that position for some time before being forced back by other competitors, some of whom would later fall from contention. Sykes, riding with a small crack in his left wrist, was uncomplaining after race one and felt he had a good run to fifth place, and could have even taken more. He was only 5.73 seconds from the winner. Loris Baz had a great ride in race one, recovering from a grid position of 11th to finish sixth, and he was up to fifth place at one point.
In race two Sykes led but found that his tyre had spun on the wheel rim and his bike suffered from rear vibration from then on, losing places to other riders initially but battling to his second fifth place finish. Loris no-scored in race two after another rider hit him at the bottom of the slow MG corner.
Kawasaki Pedercini Team competitor Alex Lundh scored points in race one for 13th place, his team-mate Federico Sandi was 16th. In race two Sandi was 14th and Lundh 15th.
Tom Sykes: "In race one, honesty, I was very happy with that top five. It is a shame because we had the package to go a little bit stronger. I managed the beginning of the race but unfortunately in the last six laps, just before I passed Haslam, Davies made a nice pass into turn nine. Unfortunately his style is a little bit different from the one that I have set the Ninja ZX-10R for this weekend and that mean that when I was behind him I could not do exactly what I wanted to do with the bike. We were five seconds from the front, last year it was 12, so at one of our ?worst' circuits we have closed a gap and all while I have been riding injured. I think there is a bit more to come. Race two was completely different but I am happy to have left Phillip Island in fourth position. Our rear tyre appears to have been spinning on the rim and I had vibration and chatter, so that sacrificed corner entry. It was a shame because I could not use the bike to its full potential. I am happy considering that last week I was lying at the side of the track, 80% certain I would not be able to ride today. We got good points and we can build on this."
Loris Baz: "Race one was a really good result. I was faster in the race than practice but we did not change much on the bike. On a track like this when you are with other people with more experience it helps because they are pulling you along. I was really surprised, because I was not checking my lap times, that on lap 11 I looked and saw a 1'31.8. I was happy with that! I was coming back on Tom and was going to pass Haslam but when I came up on Haslam I had a problem with the tyre so I went really wide. I passed Haslam on the last lap so I am really happy and for a time I was fighting for fourth place. In race two I think Chaz lost the front going into MG, I got hit and my race was over. It was a shame, and I am sure I could have battled with Tom up front again but we have many more races this year to do it."
Phillip Island - Races.
Sunday, 24th February 2013.
Weather conditions: Sunny with light clouds in the afternoon.
Temperature: Air: 26 - 27 °C, Track: 47 - 48 °C
Number of riders participating: 20/19 from 13/12 teams
Fastest lap Race 1: Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) 1:31.323 min (lap 7)
Fastest lap Race 2: Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) 1:31.168 min (lap 20)
The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team has started the 2013 season by celebrating a podium position finish. At the opening round of the FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island (AUS), factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) finished third in the second race. It was a bravely fought podium for him after his already injured shoulder was further aggrevated after a crash in race one. Marco's new team-mate Chaz Davies (GBR) impressed with a fourth place in his debut race on the BMW S 1000 RR but had bad luck in race two, when a crash and a ride-through penalty robbed him of his chances of another good result.
At the start of race one, Marco improved from fifth on the grid to third place. His strategic approach was to save his tyres in the first half of the race and then to start his chase for the front in the latter half. This plan worked well in the beginning of the race. During the opening laps he dropped back to seventh but then proceeded to work his way back through the field. However, his ambitions came to an involuntary end on lap 13. While in third place, Marco was hit from behind by Carlos Checa (ESP) when entering turn four meaning his race was over. His team-mate Chaz gave a great performance in his first ever race aboard the RR. The Welshman started from 12th on the grid but charged his way towards the front over the course of the race, fighting a number of exciting battles. With three laps to go, he had improved to fourth, defending this position against several attacks from Tom Sykes (GBR) right up until the finish line.
In race two, luck changed sides within the team garage. On lap two, Marco improved to third and from then on the Italian stayed hot on the heels of the leading duo, consisting of Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) and Eugene Laverty (IRL). Marco didn't let the gap get any larger than a few tenths of a second as he was preparing to overtake them in the closing stages of the race. Marco completed part one of the plan by overtaking Laverty for second position on lap 16. He then started to close the gap to leader Guintoli, but the battle between the three wasn't over. On lap 20 Laverty passed Marco and Guintoli to take the lead, meaning that Marco dropped back to third place. He defied the pain in his shoulder and fought off Michel Fabrizio (ITA) to secure a podium finish. Meanwhile, it was Chaz who was having some bad luck. He made a good start to the race and initially improved to eighth, but unfortunately crashed on the opening lap. With a flat rear tyre from the crash, he rode back to the pits, got it changed and returned to the track in last place with a gap of a whole lap to the rest of the field. Not only this, but Chaz was given a ride-through penalty after race direction decided that it was not correct wheel change. Chaz continued the race bravely and finished the race in 17th place.
In the Riders' championship, Marco is fifth after the first round with 16 points, while Chaz sits in tenth with 13 points. In the Manufacturers' classification, BMW lies in second with 29 points. The two races were won by Guintoli and Laverty respectively.
Result Race 1: DNF / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:31.338 min (lap 9)
Result Race 2: 3rd / Gap to 1st: 0:01.382 min / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:31.549 min (lap 18)
"In race one I was working my way towards the front and had improved to third place, when I was hit from behind by Carlos and unfortunately I fell on my right shoulder. I don't know why it happened, maybe he made a mistake or he had a technical issue, I just went down suddenly. I am sorry for Carlos, he is a professional rider and I wish him a speedy recovery. In race two, I fought within the leading group from the very beginning, despite the pain in my shoulder. In the closing laps I had Michel really close behind me trying to overtake me, but I succeeded in defending my position and battled for my place on the podium. In this type of situation, it is like winning for me. Regarding my shoulder, I have surgey planned on Wednesday, following a medical examination on Monday to define which kind of surgery I have."
Result Race 1: 4th / Gap to 1st: 0:05.702 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:31.482 min (lap 9)
Result Race 2: 17th / Gap to 1st: 2 laps / Fastest Lap Race 2: 1:32.007 min (lap 10)
"After race one, I was happy with the points I received for my fourth position finish, but honestly I would have liked to have a podium. I knew after warm-up that a podium was realistic. I was almost a little bit disappointed when I didn't get it, despite the fact that I achieved far more than I expected before I started the weekend here. The race was quite hectic. To overtake in Phillip Island you need to make a split second decision and there are a lot of close moves, especially ones that use the brakes. The bike was working great on the brakes, so that was an advantage. It was a little bit of a shame that I was held up in the very beginning. I think if I could have stayed directly behind the leading group I would have had the speed to move away with them. In the opening lap of race two I lost the rear as I turned in. I'm not exactly sure why. The only reason I can give is either that somebody tapped me or that the extreme right hand side of the tyre wasn't quite scrubbed in and that made the rear spin around. Unfortunately, Loris was on the outside of me and he had nowhere to go. Of course that was very disappointing but we are mostly taking the positives from the first race and will build on those for the future rounds."
Andrea Buzzoni (General Manager BMW Motorrad WSBK):
"In race one while Marco was making his moves to achieve a podium position he was hit by Carlos and fell off. It's one of those things that happen in racing. I wish all the best to Carlos and hope that he gets well soon. Chaz started from the 12th place and succeeded in his first race on the BMW S 1000 RR and achieved fourth place. He demonstrated that his connection and knowledge of the S 1000 RR is improving. In race two Chaz unfortunately crashed at the fourth corner, the group was tightly packed and it's not clear how it happened. Unfortunately, because of this he was out of scoring points in the race. Despite the pain that Marco has in his shoulder, he has done a very good job. He fought with the competitive Aprilia bikes at the front of the group for the whole of race two. He ended his race in third position, which is an excellent result under the circumstances. I would like to congratulate Marco on this. As soon as Marco returns to Italy he'll have a medical check to ascertain what medical treatment is required to ensure that his shoulder is recovered for the next race. Overall, I'm very satisfied of the work the team have done this winter, in the testing and the sessions as the bikes have improved in all areas. This result shows the excellent work that the newly structured combination of R&D and team have done."
Stephan Fischer (Technical Director BMW Motorrad Motorsport):
"We have proved that our RR is competitive although the results do not reflect our true performance potential. Our riders were able to ride consistently fast lap times, especially in the first race, regularly achieving times in the low 1:31s. Especially in the first race, we had a very fast pace. With our set-up we were well prepared for this track, which is pretty aggressive to the tyres. Unfortunately, Marco had a crash in race one, otherwise he could have claimed a really good result. But our thoughts are with Carlos and we hope he is OK. We were happy with Chaz' fourth place finish in the first race. The fact that both our riders have been this competitive shows that our bike works well here. In the second race, it was bad luck for Chaz to crash and then to have the ride-through penalty. Regarding Marco we have to say that he had an incredible performance, especially after he fell on his injured shoulder. Overall you could sum up that it could have been better, but it could have been worse. We proved that the team and the bike are working well and we are already setting our sights on Aragon."