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Phillip Island Day Three
Rea stuns to do the double Down Under
Third row start doesn’t slow down Rea and Davies
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.”
Double podium in Race 2 at Phillip Island for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team: Chaz Davies is 2nd, Marco Melandri 3rd
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team stepped on the podium with both its riders in Race 2 of the WorldSBK championship at Phillip Island. In a thrilling race that went down to the wire, Chaz Davies missed the win by only 25 thousandths of a second. Marco Melandri, who was forced to retire yesterday after running off track while battling against an opponent, bounced back by taking third place.
Starting in 8th and 10th position respectively due to the new grid regulations for Race 2, Davies and Melandri rode a tactical race and climbed back progressively. While Davies managed to constantly pressure the winner Rea, Melandri momentarily found himself outside the top ten due to the clash in the pack early on, but was able to cut the gap one fast lap after another (setting, with a 1:31.178, the race’s best lap). Towards the end, both Davies and Melandri provisionally took the lead in a top group made of five riders, then secured the podium.
After the first round, Davies is second in the championship (40 points), Melandri seventh (16 points). The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will resume action in Buriram (Thailand) for the second round, scheduled for March 10-12.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 2nd
“Today’s race was a bit more difficult to manage, given the hotter conditions. The glass is half full though, without a doubt. We tried something different but we lost a a couple of bike lengths here and there and we just couldn’t pass Rea before the finish line. When you look at the full picture, this is a really positive result. It would be easy to be disappointed because we barely missed two wins, but historically this has never been a favorite circuit for me and sometimes I lost precious points here, so two second places are a good building block for the rest of the season.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) – 3rd
“It was a really touch race today. I got a good start but lost positions in the traffic early on, so I had to push hard to climb back, asking a lot to both myself and the tyres. When I took the lead, I tried to impose my own rhythm but it turned out not to be the right move. With three laps to go, when Rea and Davies gave the final push, I was struggling with grip and couldn’t attack them. Still, we needed a full race to understand where to improve, and a podium shows that we’re working in the right direction with the whole team.”
Stefano Cecconi, CEO of Aruba S.p.A and Team Principal
“These two races were quite peculiar, and both very tactical. Twice, the victory was a matter of thousandths of a second. Both Chaz and Marco rode extremely well, confirming that the whole team is at a high level. The potential we have shown leaves us happy but also hungry for more. The Buriram track has never been favorable to us in the past, so we’re confident it will represent a good test to verify the steps forward made thus far.”
Bradl battles hard in the second race of the Australian round
Phillip Island, Australia
The Australian Round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship has drawn to a close with the second race of the weekend at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Stefan Bradl has finished the race in fifteenth place, while his Red Bull Honda World Superbike team mate Nicky Hayden crashed out of the race on lap nine.
From fifteenth place on the grid, Bradl managed to move up several places and was eleventh by the end of lap ten. He then maintained his position for four more laps while leading a four-way pack and was fifteenth at the chequered flag.
After launching from twelfth place, Hayden was able to maintain his position and spent the first part of the race in the fight for tenth. After setting his fastest time, on lap nine the 35-year-old American tucked the front at turn ten and crashed: despite remounting his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 and returning to the track, Hayden could not continue the race.
The second round of the season will take place in a fortnight’s time at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand.
Stefan Bradl 6
My start today was a little worse than yesterday: the start itself was not so bad actually, but I got a bad line in turn one and, obviously, that carried over in turn two. This meant that the advantage I got at the start was gone already and I dropped back a couple of places. We made some changes to the bike prior to the race especially at the front, which turned out to be a positive step. Unfortunately, whilst the entry corner was good and I could be aggressive on the brakes, we were lacking on corner exit. We’re also too hard on the tyres at the moment and this meant that by the end of the race I could not keep the pace. At least, I could stay within the second group and learn a lot. All in all, it was not an easy weekend but I’m sure we will be able to improve for Thailand.
– Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Nicky Hayden 69
We made some changes in order to look after the tyres a bit more, especially with the hotter conditions of today, and it was a bit better on the gas but also a bit worse on the brakes. I didn’t get the same good start as yesterday, but I didn’t feel too bad. I set my fastest lap of the race and was improving my splits while trying to stay with the second group, but I over pushed down into Lukey Heights and came off the bike. Obviously I cannot say I’m happy with the results and with the weekend in general: today I tried my best and rode as hard as I could, but it didn’t go to plan. We’ll try to turn things around for Thailand.
– Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
We tried a different approach today especially with the electronics, in order to make the power delivery a bit softer and get some more life out of the tyres. Nicky was running at a good pace and wasn’t looking too bad: he was doing quite good lap times but at the same time he was pushing really hard and that led to the crash. It was not a big one and he tried to stay out for a couple of more laps, but then he had to retire from the race. Stefan rode well and was able to fight with the second group but he was unable to maintain the pace in the final laps. We made a step forward from yesterday with him, although it was not as big as we’d hoped. With the information we got from this weekend we have made a plan for Thailand and I’m confident we will be able to make a big difference there.
Lowes and YZF-R1 Closer Still to The Win As Van der Mark Improves
The second FIM Superbike World Championship race of the opening round at Phillip Island saw Alex Lowes once again fourth at the flag, but this time even closer to the winner – only 0.9 of a second – after 22 intense laps. Michael van der Mark found real improvements with his YZF-R1 race set-up to ride to a strong seventh, two places higher than his Saturday performance and much closer to the podium finishers.
The 4.445km long Phillip Island circuit always delivers close and combative WorldSBK action and the second race of the weekend was every bit as closely fought as the first on Saturday. The new championship Race 2 grid regulations meant that Lowes’s fourth place in race one made him the pole position man in race two, and he duly led the race after the opening lap.
Lowes’ race one performance had been a boost for his confidence as he starts his second season as an official Yamaha rider, but today he maintained a podium position approaching the final lap, challenged for the win and just came up short on the final few corners.
Lowes was less than a second behind the race winner today and leaves the Australian circuit with 26 championship points, tied for equal third in the official standings – and satisfied with his progression as a World Superbike contender and with the clear improvements in his Pata Yamaha YZF-R1.
New Pata Yamaha Official World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark was solid in his first races for the team, with ninth and seventh place finishes putting him equal seventh overall in the standings.
Van der Mark’s crew had made a late set-up change for the second race machine and it paid off well, as Michael finished only 7.307 seconds from the winner and felt that he had taken a good step forward in today’s frantic encounter.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“I felt that I had a good opportunity to get on the podium but when I attacked on the last lap I just struggled more than I expected. Halfway through the race I made a plan to look after the bike and tyre, then pushed back into a 1’31.7 pace near the end, so that took me back to the leading group. The bike was working really well but I was just not fast enough on the second half of the track, and I was not aggressive enough there. That is what cost us a podium, so it’s something I have to work on for next year at this track.
Apart from that I felt really strong and I was competitive for 44 race laps this weekend. I know the guys have done a fantastic job just improving the R1 in lots of areas. We can be happy with being equal third in the points, it’s a good start to the year, and something we can build on as a team. I think I have performed in a better way, not just riding two good races, but in how I have approached the weekend, how I conducted myself, how the team has worked together – I think we have all made a better job and that we have a good base to work from.”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
“I was five seconds closer to the front compared to yesterday and it was easier to ride the bike. At the end I had a race on my own but I was happy because I was still doing consistent lap times and we improved the race performance. Today, in warm-up, we tried something new but I did not feel much of a difference. For the race we made a big change on the bike so I did not know what to expect. I made quite a good start but in the first corner I was a bit caught up with the other guys. The bike immediately felt easier to ride so we made a good improvement for this race, and in the beginning I stayed with the front group. I had a battle with Eugene Laverty but it cost me some time, and after that Tom passed me. I didn’t drop too far away from him, and I think I learned a lot about the Yamaha and how I can improve in this race.”
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – Team Principal
“Phillip Island can be a brutal race track, so to leave here with two fully fit riders and four strong finishes is a very positive start to the season. In these two races, Alex has shown that he has become a legitimate contender – fast, consistent and smooth – and this, combined with some good improvements to his YZF-R1, gives us confidence that we can continue to build on this performance. It was perhaps a pity to miss out on a podium – when you have been in second position during the last lap and finish only 0.9 behind the winner, 4th doesn’t seem very fair! – but this is really irrelevant compared to the performance itself which we are delighted with, and which frankly exceeded our expectations. Congratulations to Alex, his crew, and the Yamaha staff behind the bike’s development – a first class effort.
Michael leaves Phillip Island happier than he was yesterday – today he raced really hard and was able to be more consistent and closer to the front group. As he finds his comfort level with the Pata Yamaha, we fully expect him to continue to move forward – he is clearly very fast! It’s important that Michael was able to finish two full race distances and score good points – this experience is a solid base from which he and his crew can build, and it is a pleasure to have such a determined racer in the team and part of the Yamaha family.”