WorldSBK riders talk Phillip Island Race Two

Melandri takes the double – Rea second in race two


Marco Melandri – Race 1 1st – Race 2 1st – Standing 1st, 50p

“It’s been a crazy race. The tire change made it impossible to come up with a strategy, as many riders could be fast for 10 laps. It was a big fight, with many aggressive maneuvers. We still tried to look after the tires after the pit-stop, and in the last five laps we found our rhythm. Towards the end, it was difficult to pass Rea under braking so I decided to focus on the final sprint and catch the slipstream out of the last corner, in which we were particularly fast, and the plan worked. I’m super happy and can’t wait to race at Buriram.”

Marco Melandri - Image by GeeBee
Marco Melandri – Image by GeeBee
Jonathan Rea – Race 1 5th – Race 2 2nd – Standing 3rd, 31p

“My only chance to win the race was to try and be in the lead out of the last corner. On the penultimate lap and during the race they were passing me on the straight. When I got passed by Marco into T1 I just thought ‘I am going to let the brakes off and go right down the apex and see what happens!’ I wanted to put together the best last lap I could but all weekend we have been struggling with fourth gear. It was too long for that corner and we did not have enough drive on the exit. I could not get it done today and I made a bit of a mess of my pit exit. I completely forgot to change into second gear to release the pit rev limiter and both van der Mark and Fores came past me, so I lost track position. When we came round there were already a few riders ahead so I gave myself some work to do. I am happy to turn the page and start afresh in Thailand.”

Jonathan Rea - Image by GeeBee
Jonathan Rea – Image by GeeBee
Xavi Forés – Race 1 4th – Race 2 3rd – Standing 4th, 29p

“The most difficult moment was the stop. From then on I tried to push hard to the end. I thought I could win, but on the last lap I made a little mistake, Marco and Jonathan managed to take a few meters and I could not fight for the win, but now that does not matter. It was a fantastic race, I’m really happy to have started the season this way. For an independent team it is a great satisfaction to be able to get on the podium”

Xavi Fores - GeeBee Images
Xavi Fores – GeeBee Images
Tom Sykes – Race 1 2nd – Race 2 4th – Standing 2nd, 33p

“In one respect it has been very successful weekend and in another I am disappointed because I really felt that that race, potentially, was mine. I had such a good feeling with the bike but unfortunately on lap three we started to have a small technical issue and for some reason the power dropped off in some sectors of the track. Apart from that the general set-up of the bike was spot-on. In one respect we were lucky to get to the end of the race and take the championship points, but honestly I felt a better result was taken away from me. But, I have to be upbeat because it is Phillip Island in windy conditions. I had a good feeling with the Ninja ZX-10RR this weekend and there are lots of positives to take from this round. I am looking at going to Thailand now and making progress through the season.”

Tom Sykes - Image by GeeBee
Tom Sykes – Image by GeeBee
Alex Lowes – Race 1 6th – Race 2 5th – Standing 5th, 21p

“The second race was a lot better! Honestly, the bike was the best it had felt all week, which is promising to see how much progress we can make on a race weekend. After the pit stops, I felt really strong and thought I could challenge for the podium but I just had a couple of issues holding me back a little bit, which is unfortunate but that is racing. I felt really strong on the bike and I enjoyed the close nature of the racing. The pit stops did not make it easy but to get through the first round after struggling to feel comfortable during what has actually been quite a tough week for me, these results are not the end of the world. I am reasonably happy but I can’ t be completely satisfied with fifth and sixth-place finishes as I want to be fighting for podiums and winning races, which is what we will try and do in Thailand.”

Alex Lowes - Image by TBG
Alex Lowes – Image by TBG
Leon Camier – Race 1 7th – Race 2 6th – Standing 6th, 19p

“I gave as much as I could in Race 2, we were really strong in some areas and in other areas not so much but overall I felt very competitive. I could stick with the leading group before and after the pit stop and made some really good passes from a long way back. I had some good battles with Lowes and Sykes and between the two races this weekend I’m really happy with my first race weekend with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team. Now I just want to keep making progress and see what we can do at the next round in Thailand.”

Leon Camier - Image by GeeBee
Leon Camier – Image by GeeBee
Michael van der Mark – Race 1 9th – Race 2 7th – Standing 8th, 16p

“It was a really interesting race! I had quite a good start and, to be honest, I really enjoyed the first ten laps. It was a massive battle for the podium and was a really good race. We made a perfect pit stop, but I just didn’t have the same feeling or grip levels afterwards and I could not keep up with the leaders. It is a big shame as I felt really strong and was matching the guy’s in front lap times before the pit stop. I felt I could have battled for the podium, but anyway, it is important to take some points. It has been a really strange weekend with all the tyre issues, so I am looking forward to Thailand and hopefully there we can show our full potential.”

Michael van der Mark - Image by GeeBee
Michael van der Mark – Image by GeeBee
Loris Baz – Race 1 11th – Race 2 9th – Standing 9th, 12p

“Today’s race was fun. My shoulder was painful but not as bad as yesterday. I made a good start, though after five or six laps I started to struggle a little with both rear grip and my shoulder. With the second tyre things were a bit better and I was able to fight with Torres in the final stages. But I was limited in what I could do, especially when trying to pass and through the right-handers. I’m pleased I could finish both races and score a few points though. Now I will focus on recovering ahead of Thailand.”

Loris Baz
Loris Baz – Image by GeeBee
Jake Gagne – Race 1 12th – Race 2 13th – Standing 15th, 7p

“It was a bittersweet weekend for me; I made a lot of progress on the bike, but the crash today meant I couldn’t get the result me and the Fireblade were capable of. In warm up I was in the top ten and in Race 2 I felt even better, but I got caught up with some other riders and when trying to make a pass at turn four had the door closed on me and crashed. It was a real shame but at least I could recover to finish the race and score some points. Overall, I’ve improved my pace a lot over the weekend and got points in both races so its something to build on. I wish we were going to Thailand tomorrow!”

Jake Gagne - Image by TBG
Jake Gagne – Image by TBG
PJ Jacobsen – Race 1 16th – Race 2 14th – Standing 16th, 2p

“I am really happy with the team as they worked very hard. They were here in the pit box until one in the morning if they needed to be and we kept improving. It is a lot to take in for the team, with new parts and all the travel boxes. All the other teams have been here for a while now, so we just have to give ourselves some time and we will get there. I have tried to keep it cool all weekend and keep myself motivated for all the good things that are going to come out of this when we get it right.”

PJ Jacobsen
PJ Jacobsen
Eugene Laverty – Race 1 8th – Race 2 15th – Standing 11th, 9p

“I made a really good start to get into third, and then at Turn 4 I passed two guys to take the lead. The bike was feeling amazing and really easy to ride, and I was pulling out a decent time gap. On lap 3 suddenly the rear lost grip and I high-sided, so I was really disappointed with that. I had a race-winning bike under me today and after testing and Superpole that’s what we expected to have. The bike’s been really good at turning at this track and that’s an area we improved overnight, to allow me to change direction quicker and maintain a good speed. Race 1 was a big disappointment so today was a much stronger indication of our potential which we can be pleased with. We’ve got to be optimistic for Round 2 at Chang after the performance we’ve shown at Phillip Island. The team is right in the mix now and it’s very exciting for us all.”

Eugene Laverty - Image by GeeBee
Eugene Laverty – Image by GeeBee
Chaz Davies – Race 1 3rd – Race 2 DNF – Standing 7th, 16p

“Honestly, I felt great and I thought we had some margin in the first half of the race. Then, after we changed tires, I still thought we could go for the win. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever pushed so hard on a completely new tire, as we never leave the pits and go from zero to 100 percent like that, so maybe we took it just a bit too far and made a mistake even though it was quite late in the corner when I lost the front. This year there will be plenty of riders capable of fighting for the podium, like we’ve seen here, so it’ll be interesting. We’ll regroup and be ready to fight at Buriram.”

Chaz Davies was a DNF in Race
Chaz Davies was a DNF in Race

WorldSBK Standings following Round 1, 2018

  1. Marco Melandri 50 Ducati
  2. Tom Sykes 33 Kawasaki
  3. Jonathan Rea 31 Kawasaki
  4. Xavi Fores 29 Ducati
  5. Alex Lowes 21 Yamaha
  6. Leon Camier 19 Honda
  7. Chaz Davies 16 Ducati
  8. Michael Van Der Mark 16 Yamaha
  9. Loris Baz 12 Bmw
  10. Leandro Mercado 10 Kawasaki
  11. Eugene Laverty 9 Aprilia
  12. Toprak Razgatlioglu 9 Kawasaki
  13. Jordi Torres 8 Mv Agusta
  14. Román Ramos 7 Kawasaki
  15. Jake Gagne 7 Honda
  16. Pj Jacobsen 2 Honda
  17. Ondrej Jezek 1 Yamaha

Supersport

Lucas Mahias – Race 1 1st – Standing 1st, 25p

“Today’s race was amazing and I am very happy to have won! I was ready for the flag-to-flag race, so I was a bit gutted when the red flag came out as I already had a 2-second lead! I managed to keep calm and in the restarted race, I tried to do the same which was to push a lot at the beginning and then try and manage the tyre. I was a bit worried as I hadn’t managed to do many long runs this weekend, so I wasn’t sure how the tyre would hold up, but I was delighted to win the race! It was an incredible weekend for me. I won the last race of 2017 from pole position in Qatar, so to start 2018 in the same way was amazing. I am looking forward to Thailand although it can be tricky for the bike, as it is so hot. Last year I had to retire from the race but I am now feeling really relaxed and confident because the bike is good, we aren’t feeling any stress in the team, and I am very excited for Round 2!”

Lucas Mahias
Lucas Mahias
Federico Caricasulo – Race 1 4th – Standing 4th, 13p

“Today was not an easy race! I had a great start in the flag-to-flag race, but then the red flag meant I had to begin again. In the restarted race I got a good start and I thought I could battle for the victory. Unfortunately, after four laps I started to have a slight issue with my rear tyre and which made it impossible to fight for the win. Despite this, I managed to keep fighting to the line and while I am disappointed to miss out on the podium, I am happy because my team worked really well, as always, and I’m sure we will back on the podium in Thailand!”

Federico Caricasulo
Federico Caricasulo
Kenan Sofuoglu – Race 1 13th – Standing 13th, 3p

“It was a very difficult weekend. Before Superpole, with a tyre problem that made a very big crash, it did a lot of damage to my body. I still wanted to fight today but in the race I understood that the level was strong and the pace was very fast, faster than Superpole. I pushed very hard but with four or five laps to go the bike started to have a vibration. For that reason I slowed down, and lost positions. After my fall on Saturday I had no problems with my physical condition in the race.”

Kenan Sofuoglu
Kenan Sofuoglu
Hikari Okubo – Race 1 14th – Standing 14th, 2p

“I got a good start in the first race start but in turn two a lot of riders were moving and changing their line, hitting my bike, so I crashed. After two laps there was a red flag and a restart to I could get onto the grid again. The bike looked like it had no big damage and the mechanics worked well to change the damaged parts. A big thanks to them for that. I pushed hard in the restart but I had a different feeling. After three laps the rear tyre had a big drop and a vibration, so I could not push. A difficult first race but a little bit lucky as I got two championship points. Not so many but it is important to always score points.”

Hikari Okubo
Hikari Okubo

WorldSSP Standings following Round 1, 2018

  1. Lucas Mahias 25 Yamaha
  2. Randy Krummenacher 20 Yamaha
  3. Sandro Cortese 16 Yamaha
  4. Federico Caricasulo 13 Yamaha
  5. Luke Stapleford 11 Triumph
  6. Raffaele De Rosa 10 MV Agusta
  7. Jules Cluzel 9 Yamaha
  8. Kyle Smith 8 Honda
  9. Ayrton Badovini 7 MV Agusta
  10. Thomas Gradinger 6 Yamaha
  11. Niki Tuuli 5 Honda
  12. Loris Cresson 4 Yamaha
  13. Kenan Sofuoglu 3 Kawasaki
  14. Hikari Okubo 2 Kawasaki
  15. Tom Toparis 1 Kawasaki