– WSBK P.I. Stats Smorgasbord
— By Michele Merlino
• Out of six races run in Phillip Island, Leon Camier managed to finish inside the top-10 only once, in race two, 2011, when he was able to overtake on the last lap both Haga and Fabrizio. He always finished his races here, missing the points only last year in race one (seventeenth), when he was pushed off-track by Giugliano as he was running eighth. In qualifying he managed a top-10 spot only last year, sixth;
• The last race of Alexander Lundh in this track came two years ago, in the Supersport championship: he was 20th in grid and 9th in the race;
• Carlos Checa is the most successful winner in Phillip Island, considering only the non-Aussie riders, with four wins in the last five races run here. The absolute record here belongs to Troy Corser (7), followed by Troy Bayliss (6) and Anthony Gobert (5). Checa is also the only rider, with the aforementioned three, to have won more than twice in Phillip Island. He started from the front row four times out of five (missing out only in 2009, seventh), and scored pole here in 2011;
• Jules Cluzel was third in grid and fourth in the race in last year’s Supersport race. He managed to finish fourth also in the 250 cc.race in 2009, behind Marco Simoncelli, Héctor Barbera and Raffaele de Rosa;
• Ivan Clementi ran a total of ten Superbike races in Phillip Island, in a period spanning from 2002 to 2006: his best result was a ninth in 2004, race two, his only top-10 placement in this track;
• Chaz Davies last year was forced to miss the Phillip Island round after he injured his left wrist in qualifying. He raced here in Supersport in 2010 and 2011: he qualified inside the top-10, but wasn’t lucky in the races, finishing twelfth in 2010, while in 2011 he was fighting for the win until three laps to the end, when he punctured;
• The last race of Federico Sandi in Phillip Island dates back 2008, when he was 15th in grid an retired in the 250 cc. championship. Out of four total races run in the 125 and 250 series, Federico never managed to score points here, retiring three times and finishing 20th in the 2007 250cc race;
• Max Neukirchner climbed on the podium twice out of twelve races contested in Phillip Island: the first one was a third in 2005, race two, behind the two works Suzukis of Troy Corser and Yukio Kagayama, and the second was a second place, beaten by Noriyuki Haga by only 0.032 seconds in race one, 2009. In that race Max was starting back in 14th: he was able to climb up in fifth on the opening lap and even led at some point, but a little mistake on the last lap allowed Haga to take the lead. Max always finished his Phillip Island races, finishing outside the top-10 only in the 2006 races (18th and 13th) and 2010 (16th and 12th). His best qualifying effort came in his debut year in Superbike, 2005, when he started from the front row with the third time. After that he missed the top-10 in grid three times out of five;
• Vittorio Iannuzzo never scored points in six races run here, retiring four times and finishing the race only in 2010, when he was 16th and 17th. In 2008 he was forced to withdraw after an accident at the start of race one: he struck Fabrizio, who was stationary in grid when the lights came out. Vittorio went off-track and was run over by his Kawasaki, breaking his arm;
• Marco Melandri always finished his Phillip Island Races between the second and sixth spot. Two podiums for him: third in race two, 2011 (his maiden Superbike podium) after a fierce fight with Biaggi and second last year in race one (behind Biaggi), at the time the best result for a BMW bike in the World Championship;
• Davide Giugliano last year was ninth and thirteenth, scoring in race one his first career top-10 finish;
• Sylvain Guintoli last year scored his only Phillip Island podium, a third in race one, passed by Melandri after seventeen laps. The Frenchman qualified here twice in fifth and once in third, but he was often struck by bad luck in the races: he fell in race one, 2011 and had to withdraw from race two for pain in his right hand and left ankle, and fell also last year in race two, when he took to the grass on the second corner after nine laps;
• The best result for Eugene Laverty in this track came in his first race here: race one, 2011, when he was fourth after having led the first two laps. An off-track excursion in race two put him in fifteenth. Last year he retired in race one for physical exhaustion: he was recovering from two falls in practice and another one during the race for a false neutral at the hairpin. In race two he was able to recover, finishing eighth;
• Jonathan Rea finished all his eight Phillip Island races, seven times among the first nine and ending up outside the top-10 (twelfth) only in race one in 2011 due to pain in his wrist, following a fall in the tests ran here in February. Last year in race two he was about to claim his first podium here, but was passed by Sykes on the last lap, finishing fourth. He obtained a fourth here also in 2011 (race two, passing Haslam on the last lap) and in 2010 in race one (defending from Biaggi’s attacks). In race two Jonathan will celebrate his 100th Superbike race;
• Last year Tom Sykes was able to score pole, the first of nine season poles. A day without celebrations though, as the Superpole was aborted after the death of Oscar McIntyre, a Superstock 600 Australia rider. Tom counts here six top-10 placements out of eight races run: only one podium, third in race two last year, thanks to a last-lap pass on Jonathan Rea;
• This is the first race for Loris Baz in Phillip Island: last year he debuted in Superbike in Donington, replacing the unlucky Joan Lascorz;
• Three podiums out of fourteen races run for Michel Fabrizio in Phillip Island, obtained in 2008 in race one and in both 2010 races. He counts a total of nine top-10 placements in the races and two front-row starts (in 2008 and 2010). Last year he was victim of two bad starts: in race one he managed to climb up the field in sixth, while a fall sidelined him in race two;
• Ayrton Badovini had little luck in Phillip Island: only two points scored out of six races contested. In 2009 he had to withdraw after he fractured a foot on Saturday; in 2011 he was fourteenth in race one and his bike let him down in race two, while last year he retired in both races for problems with his BMW’s setup;
• Good performances for Leon Haslam in Phillip Island: he won the closest ever finish in the Championship history in 2010 race one (his maiden career win), when the final margin over Fabrizio was only 0.004 seconds and was able to climb three more times on the podium out of ten races run here. His only finish outside the top-10 came last year in race one (twelfth), when he raced with two screws in his right leg, injured only five days before. In 2010 he posted here his maiden -and to date only- career pole;
• Aprilia won twice in Phillip Island: the first one in 2000 with Troy Corser, and the second with Max Biaggi, last year in race one. Since their comeback in 2009, Max was the only Aprilia rider able to score podiums in this track, four times: he adds to the aforementioned win three second places;
• Two podiums for BMW in Phillip Island: the first with Leon Haslam in race one, 2011 (third) and last year with Marco Melandri in race one (second);
• Ducati dominates the charts in Phillip Island, having won in more than a half of the races run here: 22 wins out 43 races. It’s easier to count the races when they didn’t win: in the last five years they missed the top step of the podium only in 2009 in race two, in 2010 in race one and last year in race one;
• Four wins for Honda in Phillip Island, however in recent times they endured a slump in performances in Australia. Their last win came in 2007, race two (Toseland) and the last podium came in 2009 in race two (Leon Haslam). Since then they racked up three fourths out of six races run here as their best result. The last Honda pole in Phillip Island came in 2002 (Colin Edwards);
• Last year Kawasaki fought back from a series of below-par performances in Phillip Island: thanks to Tom Sykes they scored pole after a wait which lasted since 1995 (Anthony Gobert) and they climbed on the podium for the first time since 1997 (Simon Crafar). Kawasaki won five times here, the last one in 1996 with Anthony Gobert (a double);
• Time stopped in 2010 for Suzuki in Phillip Island: that year they were able to start from pole and win in race one and score a second in race two with Leon Haslam. Since then they never climbed on the podium here and their best qualifying spot was a sixth (Camier, 2010);
• In the last four years four different manufacturers started from pole in Phillip Island: Yamaha (2009), Suzuki (2010), Ducati (2011) e Kawasaki (2012);
LAST YEAR AT PHILLIP ISLAND
The first race in Australia didn’t start well for some riders: three of them, Chaz Davies, John Hopkins and Leandro Mercado, were forced to miss out the opening weekend due to injuries sustained during the winter or in the pre-season tests. Also Leon Haslam took part at the Phillip Island races with screws inserted in his right leg after breaking it only five days before.
The situation got worse on Saturday: in the Australian Superstock series, Oscar McIntyre lost his life, and after this tragedy all the track activities were halted, Superpole was cancelled and the grid was formed with the combined qualifying times.
Pole went to Tom Sykes, followed by Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa and Jakub Smrz: BMW riders suffered in this first qualifying round, with Fabrizio in tenth, and Haslam and Melandri further back in twelfth and thirteenth.
At the start of race one the first three spots remained unchanged, but soon afterwards Checa looked like the man to beat, passing Biaggi at the Honda turn during the opening lap and, after a brief fight with Max, catching Sykes and taking the lead on the third lap, in the same spot where ha had passed the Italian.
Biaggi at this stage tried not to lose contact with Carlos: passed Sykes on the fourth lap and set the fastest race time, going after the Spaniard. The two pulled away from the rest, but on the sixth lap Checa lost control of his Ducati, highsided on the last turn, leaving Biaggi alone in the lead.
Max advantage was already a couple of seconds, but the Aprilia rider kept on pushing, going on to a solitary win.
The fight for second was among Sykes, Guintoli and Melandri: Tom wasn’t able to keep the same pace of his rivals and slided back towards mid-race, while Guintoli managed to keep second until the eighteenth lap, when a firm move by Melandri on the first turn gave the BMW rider the second final spot.
Race two was settled on the first turn: Biaggi tried to overtake Sykes, but went wide and touched with his brake lever the Kawasaki, resulting in a trip on the grass for Max, which was dead last at the end of the lap.
Out in front, Sykes was able to keep the lead for a couple of laps, before being passed by Jonathan Rea, then the Kawasaki rider had to fight with Checa: the battle was settled on the fourth lap, when Carlos took second and, on the following lap, hit the front.
Once in clean air, the Ducati rider was unreachable and went on to a solitary win. Behind him, at first Rea managed to keep second, and, further back, the two Kawasakis of Sykes and Lascorz were third and fourth. Joan however went wide on the eleventh lap, just as Biaggi, with a great comeback, was reaching the leading riders.
Max went up to fifth on the thirteenth lap, then passed Melandri on the following one and finished his great ride passing Sykes on the eighteenth lap and Rea on the following one, securing a sensational second place.
The last step of the podium was decided on the last lap, when Sykes managed to have the better of Rea, coming out of the last corner.
MILESTONES IN PHILLIP ISLAND
1990, race 2: first win for Rob Phillis. In the same weekend Peter Goddard recorded his only pole position;
1991, race one: first win for Kevin Magee;
1994: first win and first podium for Anthony Gobert in race 1, the australian went on winning his first race in race 2;
2000: first win and first fastest lap for Aprilia by Troy Corser in race 2;
2004: first win for Garry McCoy (in race 2), first podium for Chris Vermeulen (in race 1);
2005: first pole for Yukio Kagayama, first podium for Max Neukirchner in race 2;
2008: 250th fastest race lap for Ducati, scored by Max Biaggi (race two);
2009: Ben Spies scored his maiden pole in his debut race (seventh in history) and won race two. Maiden fastest lap for BMW. Excluding the first race of the Championship (Donington 1988), it was the first time a manufacturer was able to set the fastest lap in its maiden race. Win number 275 for Ducati in race two by Noriyuki Haga.
2010: first pole, win and fastest lap for Leon Haslam, maiden fastest lap for Sylvain Guintoli;
2011: first podium for Marco Melandri.
2012: 80th win for an Italian rider in Superbike, thanks to Max Biaggi. Max, at his seventeenth win, reached Frankie Chili as the most successful Italian rider in history, a record he will eventually improved, closing his career with twenty-one wins.