—  Superbike World Championship 2013 – Round One – Phillip Island
—  Laverty wins WSBK race two

Irishman Eugene Laverty has turned the tables on his Aprilia factory team-mate Sylvain Guintoli to win the second World Superbike race at Phillip Island’s season-opening round this afternoon.

Laverty sat behind Guintoli for most of the race – and even dropped back to third behind Marco Melandri (BMW) at one stage – before making his decisive move with four laps to go, and confirming his intentions with a new lap record of 1m31.168secs just a short time later. The previous lap record of 1:31.323 was set by Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) in race one.

Guintoli finished 0.418s behind Laverty in the 22-lapper, while BMW-backed Melandri — who crashed in race one after being taken out by Ducati’s Carlos Checa – completed the race in third – but not before a minor scare when Fabrizio tapped the back of his bike at turn nine on the last lap.

Fabrizio remained upright to finish fourth, with the top eight was completed by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki), Davide Giugliano (Aprilia), WSBK rookie Jules Cluzel (Suzuki) and Jonathan Rea (Honda). Rea’s team-mate Leon Haslam was ninth, but had to fight his way back trough the pack after a lap one melee which also involved Loris Baz (Kawasaki) and Chaz Davies (BMW).

Checa wasn’t on the grid fort race two after his heavy crash in race one, after which he was flown to hospital in Melbourne for observation.

Australian pair Glenn Allerton (BMW) and Jamie Stauffer (Honda) were 12th and 13th respectively in race two.

Laverty and Guintoli lead the championship on 45pts apiece, ahead of Fabrizio (29), Sykes (22), Melandri (16) and Rea (16). The next round will be held in Aragon, Spain from April 12-14.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Minster for Tourism and Major Events, The Hon Louise Asher, announced this morning a three-year contract extension for Phillip Island to continue to host the Australian World Superbike round until 2017.

A total of 61,500 spectators attended this year’s WSBK round over the three days.

Superbike Results:
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 22 Laps/97.790 km in 33’45.938 average 173.768 kph;
2. Sylain Guintoli (Aprilia) 0.418;
3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1.382;
4. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 2.282;
5. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 11.545;
6. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 12.508;
7. Jules Cluzel (Suzuki) 17.330;
8. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 17.339;
9. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 19.886;
10. Leon Haslam (Honda) 19.996;
11. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) 27.629;
12. Glenn Allerton – Australia (BMW) 42.809;
13. Jamie Stauffer – Australia (Honda) 42.893;
14. Sandi (Kawasaki) 44.899;
15. Lundh (Kawasaki) 57.824;
16. Iannuzzo (BMW) 1’22.574;
17. Davies (BMW) 2 Laps;
RT. Clementi (BMW); RT. Baz (Kawasaki).

Fastest Lap: Laverty in 1’31.168 average 175.522 kph.

Pole Position: Checa in 1’30.234 average 177.339 kph.

Riders Championship: 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.

— Sylvain Guintoli wins first WSBK race

Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli has led an Aprilia clean sweep of the top three places in the opening Superbike World Championship race of the season at Phillip Island.

Guintoli, 30, passed factory team-mate and long-time leader Eugene Laverty on lap 15 of the 22-lap race, and then eased away to a 1.352-second victory – his fourth in WSBK competition and his first at Phillip Island.

After being passed by Guintoli, Laverty then fell into the clutches of the hard-charging Michel Fabrizio over the last few laps, but he managed to hold off his opponent in a thrilling battle all the way to the finish line.

The four-way arm wrestle for fourth position was just as intense, with BMW’s Chaz Davies eventually working his way to the front of the pack after 22 hard-fought laps, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki), Loris Baz (Kawasaki) and Leon Haslam (Honda) filling positions five to seven.

Jonathan Rea (Honda) was eighth, while Australians Glenn Allerton (BMW) and Jamie Stauffer (Honda) scored world championship points in 14th and 15th positions respectively.

Spaniard Carlos Checa (Ducati) and world No. 3 Marco Melandri (BMW) both failed to finish after a nasty collision at turn four on lap 13 while involved in the fierce scrap for fourth position.

Race two is at 3:30pm this afternoon. World Supersport (one 21 lap race) will race at 1.30pm

Superbike Race 1 Results:
1. Sylvania Guintoli (Aprilia) 22 Laps/97.790 km in 33’47.109 average 173.668 kph;
2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1.352;
3. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1.359;
4. Chaz Davies (BMW) 5.702;
5. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 5.753;
6. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 6.769;
7. Leon Haslam (Honda) 6.830;
8. JonathanRea (Honda) 17.944;
9. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 19.152;
10. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) 26.557;
11. Cluzel (Suzuki) 30.305;
12. Clementi (BMW) 30.411;
13. Lundh (Kawasaki) 45.185;
14. Glenn Allerton – Australia (BMW) 48.632;
15. Jamie Stauffer – Australia (Honda) 53.453;
16. Sandi (Kawasaki) 1’22.730;
17. Iannuzzo (BMW) 4 Laps;
RT. Checa (Ducati); RT. Melandri (BMW); RT. Giugliano (Aprilia).

— Sofuoglu the World Supersport victor after a late blitz

Reigning world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) has outlasted Yamaha’s Sam Lowes (Yamaha) to kick off the 2013 Supersport World Championship in the best possible fashion at Phillip Island this afternoon.

Aboard his exceptionally fast ZX-6R, Sofuoglu won the 15-lap event by 1.899 seconds, but it was his outstanding work rate in the last three laps that made sure of victory, including a new lap record on the last lap – 1m33.298s.

The victory adds to Sofuoglu’s previous successes at Phillip Island in 2009 and 2012, and he has now won 22 WSS races in an outstanding career that is yet to show any signs of slowing down.

Lowes led for major parts of the race, but all his hard work around the back of the circuit came undone when Sofuoglu blasted straight back past along Gardner Straight.

But it was still a sensational start to the season for Lowes, as it was for third-placed WSS rookie Michael Van der Mark (Honda), who made it three separate manufacturers on the podium.

The 20-year-old Dutchman even held the new lap record for a while, but lost touch with the leaders in the last few laps.

Van der Mark finished 6.771 seconds behind Sofuoglu, with Fabien Foret and David Salom in fourth and fifth on their Kawasakis. Foret charged back through the field after a poor start from the front row of the grid, which saw him back in 20th place on lap one.

Mitchell Carr (Triumph) was the leading Australian in 16th, ahead of Honda riders Josh Hook (Honda) and Matt Davies (20th). Kevin Curtain (Yamaha) retired with mechanical problems after four laps.

1. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 15 Laps/66.675 km in 23’32.480 average 169.935 kph;
2. Sam Lowes (Yamaha) 1.899;
3. Michel Vd Mark (Honda) 6.771;
4. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki) 11.095;
5. David 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;
16. Carr (Triumph) 38.271;
17. Josh Hook – Australia (Honda) 43.352;
18. Coghlan (Kawasaki) 45.430;
19. Calero Perez (Honda) 48.398;
20. Davies (Honda) 51.343;
21. Iddon (MV Agusta) 52.541;
22. Toth (Honda) 53.273;
23. Blokhin (Honda) 1’30.957;
24. Morais (Honda) 4 Laps;
RT. Rolfo (MV Agusta); RT. Lombardi (Yamaha); RT. Curtain (Yamaha); RT. Linortner (Honda); RT. De Rosa (Honda); RT. Leonov (Yamaha); RT. Menghi (Yamaha); RT. Salvadori (Yamaha); RT. Schacht (Honda).

Fastest Lap: Kenan Sofuoglu in 1’33.283 average 171.543 kph.

Pole Position: Sam Lowes in 1’32.545 average 172.910 kph.

—  Matt Davies Report

The home crowd certainly had something to cheer about in the opening round of the World Supersport championship at Phillip Island earlier today as the youngest full time competitor within the series rode with great maturity to finish his debut WSS race in 20th position.

Starting 29th the Aussie hotshot was up to 23rd place by the end of the opening lap.

The race was shortened to 15 laps because of tyre wear concerns and the remaining 14 laps would see the 17 year old former European Junior Cup champion locked in a battle with his PTR team mate Nacho Calero.

The championship moves back to Europe for round two which is to be held at Motorland Aragon, Spain in April.

Matt Davies (20th) – ‘I am so happy to finish my first World Supersport race. I got a pretty good start but went a bit wide in the first corner. I have only raced at Phillip Island twice before so I am pretty happy with 20th. The team are fantastic and I am going to learn a lot from them. I am looking forward to the start of the European part of the series now.’

— Dynotech Maxima BMW Report

WSBK wildcard Allerton in the points at Phillip Island.

Glenn Allerton, riding the Dynotech Maxima BMW S 1000 R HP4 made the most of his wildcard entry in Round 1 of the World Superbike Championship by collecting WSBK points in both races.

Apart from some minor engine upgrades, the locally prepared Next Gen Motorsports HP4 was standard. Allerton gave away both horsepower and weight but made up this with corner speed and local knowledge, he acquitted himself well over the weekend only missing Saturday’s Superpole by one place.

In Race 1 Allerton finished a creditable 14th. In Race 2 he was in the thick of the action as he worked himself well and truly into the race after making great position following the early race incident at MG Corner. Unfortunately this saw BMW GoldBet’s Chaz Davis out of contention. Allerton had the HP4 working well on the deteriorating tyres and finished in 12th position.

Allerton was both excited and delighted by the performance on the weekend.

“This weekend has been an awesome experience, every riders dream to compete against the best in the world. So much preparation has gone into this weekend and I’m immensely proud of our team’s achievements. To earn world championship points was fantastic, ” said Allerton.

General Manager BMW Motorrad Australia and New Zealand, Tony Sesto was also delighted with the result.

“Glenn and the Dynotech Maxima BMW Team are to be congratulated on the weekend, it was a fantastic achievement to race against the best and gain World Championship points. The BMW HP4 is a fantastic motorcycle and I am looking forward to the Australian Superbike season where Glenn will showcase is immense riding talent” said Tony.

—  Pirelli Report

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 rear
• 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

— Team Pata Honda Report

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.

— Kawasaki Report

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.”

Kenan swapped the lead often and fought almost all race long with the British rider Sam Lowes, whom he finally beat by 1.899 seconds after a brilliant late display of pure pace, breaking the lap record over and over near the end. His new lap record of 1’33.283 was set on the very last lap.

The fight for fourth place finally went to Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India rider Fabien Foret, despite a dreadful start that saw him fight back from 14th place in race one. He was battered and bruised from a big practice fall but gritted his teeth to leave Australia fourth in the standings.

A great day in many ways for the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R saw both Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres riders, David Salom and Luca Scassa, finish fifth and sixth respectively, despite each having their own hand injuries to contend with. Team Go Eleven Kawasaki rider Alessandro Antonelli was seventh, putting five Kawasaki machines in the top seven places.

Vladimir Ivanov (Kawasaki DMC-Lorenzini Team) posted 11th place and Kevin Coghlan (Kawasaki DMC-Lorenzini Team) was 18th, just out of the points.

Kenan Sofuoglu: “It all worked out very well in the end. Sam Lowes did a good job all weekend and it was not easy to catch him, but we kept working to find the way to save the tyre for 15 laps and in the morning warm-up I did not give up. This morning I told mechanics we should do it in the warm-up and show everyone we could do it in the race. Warm-up was good and also the race – the last three or four laps especially. The plan was to give it everything and the lap times was almost at qualification pace for those last three laps. I was happy because the team were working very well and the bike also. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is still the best bike in Supersport. Everybody thought after the qualifying that another bike would come and beat everyone else but Kawasaki power is still there and it is a great package for the full race.”

Fabien Foret: “At the beginning I got left on the line because I did not put it in first gear, not properly anyway. I came back well and I just rode as hard as I could and tried to enjoy it. I am hurting a lot but on the bike it is not too bad. I had a big crash in practice and I am just stiff and sore but that is not the big issue when on the bike.”

David Salom: “I had a very big accident in practice so I was surprise to be able to race and then I surprised that I could finish inside the top five. For me it was a good race and a good weekend with the bike, if we forget the fact that I was riding with an injured little finger on my right hand. We made a recovery and we should have a strong result and at the next round at Motorland.”

— Aprilia Report

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”.

— BMW Goldbet

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.

Marco Melandri:
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.”

Chaz Davies:
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.”

— Ducati Report

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 Suzuki Report

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.

Jules Cluzel: “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.”

Leon Camier: “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.”

— HRC Report

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) each scored points inside the top ten in the two 22-lap FIM Superbike World Championship races at Phillip Island in Australia today, leaving the first round in sixth and seventh places respectively.

Having both experienced issues in perfecting the latest electronic set-ups on their CBR1000RR machines, potential full performance was unable to be maintained over full race distance. Haslam has been up as high as second in race one, his first for his new team, but dropped back to finish seventh, only 6.830 seconds from the winner Sylvian Guintoli (Aprilia). In race two Rea was the highest placed Honda finisher, eighth. Race two was won by another Aprilia rider, Eugene Laverty.

In the new format of Superpole qualifying for the FIM Superbike World Championship, now for the fastest 15 riders from combined qualifying, Haslam had finished up eighth and Rea ninth. A new grid layout of three riders per echelon came into being for the first time in Australia, placing both Honda riders on the third row.

With the postponement of the planned Indian round in two weeks time, the second round of the series takes place at the Spanish circuit of Motorland Aragon on Sunday April 14th.

The 2013 FIM Supersport World Championship started well for full season rookie rider Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) after he qualified fourth and then raced to third and his first podium in this category of racing. Kawasaki rider Kenan Sofuoglu won the race itself, from Sam Lowes (Yamaha). Van der Mark was 6.771 seconds down at the flag, in what was a radically shortened 15-lap contest, not 21 as originally planned.

Concerns about tyre life on the aggressive new Phillip Island race surface caused this decision to be reach on Friday, giving teams time to readjust their settings for a much shorter race. The intensity of competition was unaffected, and although van der Mark broke the previous lap record early in the race, Sofuoglu ended up setting a new lap record on the very last lap of the 15.

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) had a tough baptism in his first ever WSS ride, but he rode well and made up two places at the end to go eighth in the race and eighth on points leaving Australia.

Another new WSS rider, Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) posted a great qualifying lap to go fifth in the grid and despite a loss of rear tyre performance near the end of the race he finished tenth, and was the third best Honda rider on show.

Luca Marconi (PTR Honda) secured a good handful of points for his 12th place finish, finishing second in a multiple rider battle and some 33 seconds from the win.

The last Honda points scorer was Alex Baldolini (Team Lorini Honda) 15th. He was the only finisher in his team as Raffaele De Rosa (Team Lorini Honda) crashed with another rider on lap three.

Wildcard rider Josh Hook (Team Honda Racing Australia) was a fighting 17th at his home track. Only 17 years old, Matt Davies (Team Honda PTR) had a respectable start to his WSS career, going 20th in a field of 33 starters.

Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) was 22nd, and a tough weekend all round for Sheridan Morais (PTR Honda) saw him four laps down at the finish, the last finisher across the line in 24th. Technical issues had held him back in testing and qualifying and he had been 23rd off the new shape grid.

Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda) was unable to start the race after suffering an injury in practice.

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) Race result: 8th / 8th Championship position: 6th
“Our new electronics system was just a bit inconsistent so we still have a lot of work to do. It has been hard to set the electronics because from maximum lean angle to standing the bike up is quite a big difference. For the longer, faster, corners the system is working OK, but for the slower corners, like T4 or T6, it is holding me back a lot. For sure there is a quite a bit of time to be gained in that and I have to take some of the blame because that has a knock-on effect on my confidence, because you do not want to push until completely understanding the bike. We made big changes in the engine braking side for the race. We are learning all the time so this is probably not a true reflection of where we are. It is not all bad because I can see progress and I have it thank all the guys who have been working so hard to understand the system. We have to be realistic and understand we have only been working with this for a couple of months now.”

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) Race result: 7th / 10th Championship position: 7th
“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 mêlée 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 ifs and buts, and we’ve got a lot of work to do in this next month to try to resolve a few issues.”

Michael van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) Race result: 3rd Championship position: 3rd
“I am just so happy because we had a lot of stress about the tyres but we did a fantastic race with a perfect set-up and the team worked so hard. It is like a dream to be third in my first ever World Championship Supersport race so I want to thank the team, the complete team, because we could not have done it without them. I did not realise I had set the new lap record at one time before somebody else took it, but I was not watching the lap times, I had a good pace which felt good and easy and I just watched the guys in front of me and the guys in fourth position, because they didn’t close on me. That is why I decide to slow a little bit to save the tyre but at the end the tyre was still working well and I could not really have had a better start to my Supersport career.”

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) Race result: 8th Championship position: 8th
“Not so bad for my first race in World Supersport. Tenth position is good because I learned the method of the team, which was completely new for me. I have come, learned the bike and fighting for the podium will be necessary. This will be another step, especially in the last few laps when the tyre has gone down but now I have real race data and we have a test before the Aragon race. I was fighting for positions on the final lap and improved two places. Now I have to work because I know I can ride a bike and now we have to work to fight for podiums Congratulations to Mikey on his third place finish.”

Jack Kennedy (Rivamoto Honda) Race result: 10th Championship position: 10th
“We got a good start and got away well but I did not have a lot of grip at the end and that is something we can work on for the next round, but I do not think anywhere else we go can be as bad on tyres as here. I have to be happy enough with tenth position and brining it home safe. All good, some positives to take away and we can maybe be a bit stronger.”

Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) Race result: 22nd Championship position: NA
“We had a very hard weekend in the test and we changed the engine but from Friday we went one and a half seconds slower, we do not know why. We have to find a solution and when we do we will come back good in Aragon.”

Matt Davies (Team Honda PTR) Race result: 20th Championship position: NA
“I was happy to finish top twenty in the first time in a Supersport World Championship so I cannot complain, It could have been better of course so I will now take this and move on to the next round. I have ridden in more circuits in Europe than I have done in Australia more often so I feel I am going somewhere where many of the guys had an advantage over me here, and I think I am y have the advantage of them over there.”

—  Saturday….  —  Carlos Checa on pole position at Phillip Island WSBK

Spain’s Carlos Checa has produced a masterful double at Phillip Island this afternoon by claiming pole position for tomorrow’s two 22-lap World Superbike races, as well as reclaiming bragging rights with the best ever lap around the 4.445km circuit.

Checa, a four-time WSBK ace winner at Phillip Island, wound up his factory Ducati to set a sensational 1m30.234s time in his last flying lap in the three-stage Superpole session, and he will be joined on the front row of the grid tomorrow by Aprilia pair Eugene Laverty (1:30.429) and Michel Fabrizio (1:30.581). It was Checa’s 10th pole position in WSBK racing.

Earlier, Fabrizio had lowered Checa’s best lap around Phillip Island to 1:30.387 in final qualifying, but the 40-year-old’s counter claim was flawless as he looks to give the all-new Panigale 1199RS off to a wining start in the 2013 season.

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes and BMW’s Marco Melandri set the same Superpole time of 1:30.615 and will sit on row two alongside Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli (1:30.683), and row three will be an all-British affair: Leon Camier (Suzuki, 1:30.991) and Honda team-mates Leon Haslam (1:30.998) and Jonathan Rea (1:31.742).

The nine riders battled it out in the final Superpole session, while among those to be shed in the first two sessions were Australia’s Jamie Stauffer (Honda), who crashed, and Italian Davide Giugliano (Aprilia).

Australia’s second rider, Glenn Allerton (BMW), didn’t compete in Superpole as it was only restricted to the top 15 riders in regulation qualifying. Allerton qualified in 16th position.

The first WSBK race will be held at 12:00pm tomorrow, followed by the second 22-lapper at 3:30pm. Twenty-one riders will be in action.

1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’30.234 average 177.339 kph;
2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’30.429;
3. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1’30.581;
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’30.615;
5. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’30.615;
6. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’30.683;
7. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1’30.991;
8. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1’30.998;
9. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’31.742;
10. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’31.283;
11. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1’31.576;
12. Chaz Davies (BMW) 1’31.870;
13. Max Neukirchner (Ducati) 1’32.010;
14. Jamie Stauffer (Australia) (Honda) 1’32.353;
15. Ivan Clementi (BMW) 1’32.773;
16. Glenn Allerton (Australia) (BMW) 1’32.352;
17. Jules Cluzel (Suzuki);
18. Alexander Lundh (Kawasaki);
19. Ayrton Badovini (Ducati);
20. Federico Sandi (Kawasaki);
21. Vittorio Iannuzzo (BMW).

—  Audio (MP3) – Superpole – ChecaLavertyFabrizio

— Lowes dominates World Supersport Qualifying

In World Supersport, Briton Sam Lowes’ absolute grip on proceedings continued in final qualifying, and he will start tomorrow’s 15-lap race as the overwhelming favourite on his Russian-backed Yamaha YZF-R6.

Lowes’ best time in qualifying was 1m32.545s, nearly a second ahead of reigning world champion Kenan Sofouglu (Kawasaki, 1:33.404), while Frenchman Fabien Foret (Kawasaki, 1:33.721) gritted his teeth to rocket up the timesheets to complete the front row. Foret had a massive crash yesterday, which left the 40-year-old badly battered and bruised.

Sofuoglu won the 2012 WSS race at Phillip Island, ahead of Foret and Australia’s Broc Parkes, with Lowes in fifth position.

Meanwhile, Phillip Island rookies Michael Van der Mark (Honda, 1:33.802) and Jack Kennedy (Honda, 1:33.896) are on row two alongside David Salom (Kawasaki, 1:33.965), while Kevin Curtain (Yamaha, 1:34.557) is the leading Australian in 14th, ahead of Josh Hook (Honda, 1:34.944) in 22nd.

Hook and compatriot Mitchell Carr (Triumph, 1:35.23) crashed in final qualifying, with the latter to start from 26th position. West Wyalong 17-year-old Matt Davies (Honda, 1:35.380) will head off from 30th position in the massive 34-bike field.

The WSS race will be held at 1:30pm tomorrow.

Supersport Final Qualifying
Results: 1. Lowes (Yamaha) 1’32.545 average 172.910 kph;
2. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 1’33.157;
3. Foret (Kawasaki) 1’33.721;
4. Vd Mark (Honda) 1’33.802;
5. Kennedy (Honda) 1’33.896;
6. Salom (Kawasaki) 1’33.965;
7. Rolfo (MV Agusta) 1’34.081;
8. Antonelli (Kawasaki) 1’34.359;
9. Coghlan (Kawasaki) 1’34.393;
10. Zanetti (Honda) 1’34.465;
11. Roccoli (Yamaha) 1’34.466;
12. Leonov (Yamaha) 1’34.536;
13. Iddon (MV Agusta) 1’34.551;
14. Curtain (Yamaha) 1’34.557;
15. Ivanov (Kawasaki) 1’34.580;
16. Menghi (Yamaha) 1’34.620;
17. Linortner (Honda) 1’34.635;
18. Nemeth (Honda) 1’34.677;
19. De Rosa (Honda) 1’34.778;
20. Scassa (Kawasaki) 1’34.813;
21. Baldolini (Honda) 1’34.874;
22. Hook (Honda) 1’34.944;
23. Tamburini (Suzuki) 1’35.024;
24. Morais (Honda) 1’35.044;
25. Scholtz (Suzuki) 1’35.102;
26. Carr (Triumph) 1’35.320;
27. Marconi (Honda) 1’35.330;
28. Lombardi (Yamaha) 1’35.333;
29. Toth (Honda) 1’35.337;
30. Davies (Honda) 1’35.380;
31. Calero Perez (Honda) 1’35.393;
32. Salvadori (Yamaha) 1’35.566;
33. Schacht (Honda) 1’35.964;
34. Blokhin (Honda) 1’38.580.

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