Round One – Phillip Island
Superbike Race One
With Chris Plumridge
During pre-season testing Jonathan Rea looked to have the race pace covered here this weekend. The KRT man was fast during testing early in the week, but once the race weekend got underway on Friday the reigning world champion had looked to perhaps be keeping his powder somewhat dry…
Tom Sykes (BMW) had taken a record breaking Superpole ahead of Scott Redding (Ducati), who had topped all the previous sessions, while Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) had finished P3 to make it an all UK front row.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) has also shown good pace all week and headed the second row alongside Leon Haslam (Honda) on the all-new Fireblade. That made for five different manufacturers filling the top five positions on the grid.
Michael van der Mark (Yamaha) rounded out that second row ahead of Loris Baz (Yamaha), Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) and Sandro Cortese (Kawasaki) while Xavi Fores (Kawasaki) rounded out the top ten qualifiers.
Tom Sykes looked very relaxed on the grid. The BMW pole-sitter choosing the Pirelli ‘B’ SC2 option front and rear, the only one in the top 15 to do so… Redding was on ‘A’ SC1 at both ends while Rea had a mix of the two, a ‘B’ front and ‘A’ rear, a combination also favoured by Toprak Razgatlioglu.
We are away!
Jonathan Rea led the field through turn one and Southern Loop. Sykes went up the inside of Rea at Turn Four but then ran wide on exit, allowing Rea to sweep back under him to move back up to P1.
Rea and Sykes clash!
Sykes then had a look up the inside of Rea on change of direction at Hayshed, the two touched and Rea was sent wide and off on to the grass before Lukey Heights, the defending champion rejoining the race at the back of the field.
Tom Sykes the race leader from Scott Redding and Michael van der Mark. The recovering Rea though the fastest man on track, a 1m30.501 on his first flying lap through clear air behind the field. Rea was eight-seconds behind the race leaders…
Sykes lifted the front of the S 1000 RR on to the main straight and continued to hold sway over Redding. The Pata Yamaha pairing of Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu were right behind in third and fourth while Leon Haslam was giving the all-new Fireblade a great debut in a strong fifth position ahead of Alex Lowes, Loris Baz and Garrett Gerloff.
Redding made a thrust towards turn one but pulled out of the move and Sykes remained in the lead with 16 laps to run.
Meanwhile Jonathan Rea was slicing and dicing his way through the field, even making contact with Caricasulo on his way forward. His closing speed on the others making it look as though he was in a different race…
Jonathan Rea goes down
It all came to an end for Rea though after getting a little off-line at Hayshed, the front suspension pattering over bumps before unceremoniously dumping the Northern Irishman on his bum and sliding across the track and into the kitty litter.
Alex Lowes sneaked past Leon Haslam to take fifth place on lap eight. That pair had lost touch a little with the leading quartet and were now being chased hard by American Garrett Gerloff who was using all of his Pirelli rear, smoking his way across Lukey Heights.
Alvaro Bautista has done plenty of laps this week chasing set-up but despite not putting in any stunning laps during testing, practice or qualifying, it seemed the Spaniard had a reasonable race package. Bautista was up to eighth as the race approached half-way distance but he had Loris Baz and Xavi Fores in close company. Fores though crashed out of the race a lap later.
Leon Haslam put in his new best lap of the race just before that half-way marker and was in sixth place behind Lowes. That entire top six were still covered only by a single second.
Bautista then moved up to seventh place after getting the better of Gerloff, but the Spaniard was five-seconds behind the leading pack.
Scott Redding had looked happy to follow Sykes but the BMW rider had slowed a little on the last lap, his ‘B’ option rear toasted… Redding went through to the lead as Van der Mark went to P2 and Razgatlioglu then pushed Sykes further back to P4.
Two laps later Alex Lowes pushed Sykes wide at turn four which sent the BMW man to the back of that six-rider pack. That tussle had allowed the top three, Redding, van der Mark and Razgatlioglu to break away a little for the first time, only three-tenths covering that trio, fourth placed Lowes a further full-second behind.
Sykes was now struggling to maintain enough pace to stay in touch with that leading group. His tyres done, he was the only rider in the field running SC2 rubber at both ends.
Redding then ran wide into turn four which allowed Razgatlioglu and van der Mark through as we reached two-thirds race distance. Alex Lowes and Leon Haslam had now joined that trio to turn it back into a five-way battle up front.
Haslam then up the inside of Lowes to take fourth place on lap 16. The Pata Yamaha duo were still keeping Redding at bay up front.
Further back Alvaro Bautista had managed to reel in Tom Sykes to take sixth place and was now less than four-seconds behind the leaders.
Lowes took fourth place back from Haslam with less than five laps to run. Only half-a-second covered that top five in what was turning out to be a brilliant race.
Alex Lowes up the inside of Redding into turn one but the Ducati man came back at him on entry to Southern Loop. Lowes made the move stick though a few turns later to move up to P3, just as Michael van der Mark moved past his Pata Yamaha team-mate to take the lead for the first time.
Lowes started to challenge Razgatlioglu for second place with three laps to run. Nothing covered the leading four, but fifth placed Haslam was now out of grip and out of podium contention.
Lowes took the lead into turn one, but was then sandwiched by the two Pata Yamaha men as they tipped into Southern Loop, pushing the KRT man back to P3 again. Redding was still right there in P4 and most definitely had his hand in the game…
Absolutely nothing separated the top four as they got the last lap board. Razgatlioglu the leader at turn four, van der Mark second, Redding passes Lowes but then that pair swap positions once again…
The Turk leads around the Hayshed, holds on to it over Lukey and into MG… Toprak wound it up through turns 11 and 12 as Lowes challenged van der Mark between those two fast bends… The leading four all head onto the main straight swapping lines and tactics… Razgatlioglu holds on though and does it!
Toprak Razgatlioglu the race winner from Alex Lowes while Scott Redding stole that final podium position on the line from Michael van der Mark.
Leon Haslam was nearly caught by his Honda team-mate on the final lap, the pair crossing the line fifth and sixth in a highly creditable debut for the all-new Fireblade.
New Fireblade smashes WSBK speed record
The Honda duo both broke the previous top speed record at Phillip Island for a World Superbike. The previous benchmark was set by Max Biaggi in 2012 when there was no engine RPM restrictions in WorldSBK, and no limit on the amount of engines a rider could use in a season. Biaggi is rumoured to have gone through 35 engines that season in the Aprilia RSV4. Restrictions on the number of engines allowed to be used were then introduced to counter this situation and last year only seven engines were allowed to be used by each rider over the course of the season. In today’s race Bautista raised the speed marker to 327.3 km/h. Ducati’s Chaz Davies also broke the previous record, hitting 326.3 km/h in that race while Haslam was third fastest on 325.3 km/h.
Top speeds are recorded near the 200 metre board heading towards turn one. There are two timing loops set 30 metres apart, the time taken to cross that 30 metres is what is used to calculate the official speed trap figures.
Toprak Razgatlioglu – P1
“I am really happy today, last lap too much sliding because tyre was destroyed, tomorrow we work to save the tyre.”
Alex Lowes – P2
“My first race on the green machine, slow start to the week but just been building up confidence throughout and getting closer and closer. Really enjoyed that and look forward to tomorrow.”
Scott Redding – P3
“Didn’t know what to expect really from my first race… I had the pace to lead, but it is then easy for the others to follow, so I thought just go back into the pack and try to fight to the end. To be on the podium in my first WorldSBK race I am very happy.”
Round One – Phillip Island
Superbike Race One Result
|1||T. Razgatlioglu||YZF R1||/||317,6|
|3||S. Redding||V4 R||+0.041||317,6|
|4||M. Van Der Mark||YZF R1||+0.137||316,7|
|7||L. Baz||YZF R1||+4.493||312,1|
|8||C. Davies||V4 R||+11.849||326,3|
|9||T. Sykes||S1000 RR||+11.910||313,0|
|10||M. Rinaldi||V4 R||+11.922||320,5|
|11||E. Laverty||S1000 RR||+11.949||320,5|
|12||F. Caricasulo||YZF R1||+20.720||314,9|
|14||G. Gerloff||YZF R1||+26.039||314,0|
|16||13 T. Takahashi||CBR1000RR-R||+8 Laps||305,1|
|17||12 X. Fores||ZX-10RR||+12 Laps||316,7|
|18||1 J. Rea||ZX-10RR||+17 Laps||316,7|
|4||Michael Van Der Mark||13||0|
|10||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||6||0|