WorldSBK 2020 launches at Phillip Island
With Chris Plumridge
Five time World Champion Jonathan Rea has emphasised that consistency will be key to netting a sixth FIM Superbike World Championship, speaking at the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship Season Launch at an overcast Phillip Island today.
Speaking at the launch, which also marked the 30th year of World Superbike at Phillip Island, Rea said he was happy to be back at the Island with Kawasaki.
“I’m super excited, I think the biggest thing for me is the continuity with the Kawasaki Racing Team. It’s a long championship in Superbike now, with the addition of the Superpole race we have 39 races per year, so it means consistency is even more key than ever.”
As dominant as the Northern Irishman has been in recent seasons, he’s still acutely aware of the need to stay one step ahead of his championship rivals, “It’s always exciting because there’s so many fast guys here, so many guys can step up on any given weekend and we’ve got to be ready for that.”
Championship rival Alvaro Bautista led Aruba.IT Ducati to a clean-sweep of race wins on his WorldSBK debut in Phillip Island last year. Now having moved across to HRC, he has played down chances of repeating his early 2019 season success, saying there is more work to do to get the Honda to the front of the WSBK field.
“Last season was a new challenge, it was a new championship, new tyres, new tracks, so I enjoyed it a lot. It was incredible to start a new era (joining WorldSBK) winning the races. But this is a different situation. Everything is brand new and we have a lot of work to do. I will try to do my best, but I don’t think that will be like last season.”
At PATA Yamaha, Michael van der Mark will be coming to grips with his new 2020-spec steed.
Michael van der Mark
“It’s not a massive change, when we tested in Jerez and in Portimao we improved a lot, and it was good to see on this track which is completely different the bike was working well again. We just keep making small steps so I’m really happy so far.”
Moving up from winning the British Superbike Championship last year, Aruba.IT Ducati’s Scott Redding was quickly comfortable in the WSBK paddock.
“It feels really good to be honest. We’ve had a couple of tests now so I’ve had time to settle with the team and my bike. Now going into a race weekend everything’s new to me for a race weekend so I just need to take it a step at a time.”
One adaptation that Redding will have to make is getting used to the Tissot Superpole race, with the sprint format still a bit of an unknown for the Ducati rider.
“I’ve kind of no strategy whatsoever! Just try and go behind somebody that’s going fast and see what happens! Here I think it’s more difficult because tyre wear is quite a big factor, so going from the long race to the short race I’m not so sure. I’ll just go on the moment and see and try and battle it down to the last lap.”
BMW’s Eugene Laverty has been encouraged by the performance of the BMW so far but says there’s still a little bit of work to do to bridge the gap to the front runners.
“I’m really pleased with the work we did in the Winter. I can see last year the bike with the chassis was steering really well. Especially at a track like this with fast flowing corners it’s really nice. During the winter they worked a lot on the power delivery and the electronic strategy. I think a big step forward was made. It’s nice to have that factory involvement again, it’s a proper effort.”
In Supersport, Australian Wild Card Oli Bayliss will make his World Supersport debut with Cube Racing this weekend, in addition to his regular ASBK duties. Bayliss Junior will have a busy weekend ahead, but he’s confident of a good showing in his first World Championship appearance.
“So far it’s been really good, we’ve only had two days testing and all the riders are going so fast. If we can keep on improving then hopefully we can go a bit better. A top 15 would be really good, we’re not fighting for the podium or anything.”
The 2020 event marks 30 years of World Superbike at Phillip Island, with the circuit is locked in to continue hosting the event until 2027.
Practice for the Yamaha Finance Round of the 2020 Yamaha Finance Round begins tomorrow (28 Feb) from Phillip Island.
|Thursday 27th February 2020|
|*Thursday session not open to public*|
|13:10||Oceania Junior Cup||FP1|
|14:40||Australian Supersport 300||FP1|
|15:15||Oceania Junior Cup||FP2|
|Friday 28th February 2020|
|8:25||Oceania Junior Cup||Qualifying|
|9:50||FIM Medical Inspection|
|10:00||FIM Track Inspection|
|12:25||Pit Walk 1|
|13:50||Oceania Junior Cup||R1 | 6 Laps|
|Saturday 29th February 2020|
|8:25||ASBK Oceania Junior Cup||R2 | 6 Laps|
|8:50||ASBK Supersport||R1 |10 Laps|
|9:30||FIM Medical Inspection|
|9:40||FIM Track Inspection|
|11:05||Australian Superbike||R1 | 12 Laps|
|11:30||ASBK SS300||R1 | 8 Laps|
|13:40||Pit Walk 2 & Safety Car Laps|
|15:00||WorldSBK||R1 | 22 Laps|
|16:15||Australian Superbike||R2 | 12 Laps|
|16:50||ASBK SS300||R2 | 8 Laps|
|17:15||ASBK Supersport||R2 | 10 Laps|
|17:50||Hyundai N Experience (Test Drive)|
|Sunday 1st March 2020|
|8:20||Oceania Junior Cup||R3 | 6 Laps|
|8:50||FIM Medical Inspection|
|9:00||FIM Track Inspection|
|10:30||Australian Superbike||R3 | 12 Laps|
|11:05||Pit Walk 3 & Safety Car Laps|
|12:00||WorldSBK||SP Race | 10 Laps|
|13:15||WorldSSP||RACE |16 Laps|
|15:00||WorldSBK||R2 | 22 Laps|
|16:15||ASBK SS300||R3 | 8 Laps|
|16:45||ASBK Supersport||R3 |10 Laps|
|17:20||Hyundai N Experience (Test Drive)|