Ten Australian riders likely set for WorldSBK WSS 2016 season opener at Phillip Island
‘Team Australia’ will be out in force during the opening round of the 2016 Motul FIM Superbike and Supersport World Championships, Yamaha Finance round, at Phillip Island from February 26-28.
A total of 10 local riders, five full-timers and five wildcards, will line up across the two production-based world classes, with Mike Jones (Ducati) and Jed Metcher (Kawasaki) making one-off appearances in WorldSBK alongside the two Josh’s, Brookes (BMW Motorrad) and Hook (Kawasaki).
In world supersport, former Moto2 winner Anthony West (Yamaha), Kane Burns (Suzuki) and Mitch Levy (Yamaha) will join full-timers Glenn Scott (Honda), Aiden Wagner (MV Agusta) and Lachlan Epis (Kawaski) in WorldSSP.
Metcher was also a wildcard at the 2015 WorldSBK round, and he’s banking on a local test at Phillip Island on February 8-9 to ignite his 2016 assault.
Meanwhile, Jones will be making his debut in the category following a breakout 2015 which saw him clinch the Australian Superbike Championship and also win races in the Australasian Superbike Championship against much tougher opposition.
Moreover, Jones will also be making his debut for the all-new DesmoSport Ducati team co-managed by three-time WorldSBK champion Troy Bayliss, so the attention will squarely be focussed on the extremely talented 21-year-old.
“The wildcard ride is awesome – but also a slightly scary proposition at the same time,” said Jones. “When I first got the ride with DesmoSport to compete in the Australian Superbike Championship the WorldSBK wildcard wasn’t really on the agenda, but then Troy (Bayliss) got the idea and it’s just snowballed from there.
“The exposure for the team at Phillip Island will be great, especially with Troy’s massive presence in the paddock, and my goal is to learn as much as I can from the other riders and see where the results take me. Top 15 is always a goal, and a top 10 finish would be awesome.”
West’s return to WorldSSP comes after a six-year break, in a class where he won races on Yamaha machinery way back in 2007. The Queenslander has also produced some stirring rides at Phillip Island in the past, especially in the Moto2 ranks, and in 2015 was a substitute rider in the Marc Marquez-won MotoGP race.
West’s Yamaha will race under the ‘Green Tea X50’ banner in a team owned by Steve Trinder Jnr, the son of former Aussie road racing star Steve Trinder.
“I am looking forward to getting on a bike that has all the potential to win the WorldSSP race at Phillip Island,” said West. “The whole team is committed to making it a successful outing, and it’s extra special because I’ll be riding a machine that is Aussie built with a major Aussie sponsor.”
In the 2009 WorldSSP race at Phillip Island, West finished third, just 0.153secs behind race winner Kenan Sofuoglu.
Meanwhile, Burns and Levy impressed in separate national supersport titles in 2015, and the former also showed sizzling form in the support races at the 2015 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
“World supersport is my dream and it’s coming true, so I’msuper excited to get out there to give it my best shot,” said Levy.
The WorldSSP race will be held over 18 laps on February 28, while the traditional double-header Sunday format for WorldSBK has been jettisoned in favour of one race each day, with both 22-lappers to be held at 3:00pm on February 27 and 28 respectively.
WorldSBK will still practice and qualify Friday and Saturday, but Superpole has been moved up to Saturday to run from 12.30pm prior to the 3:00pm Saturday race.
The WorldSSP race at Phillip Island will be held over 21 laps at 1:20pm on Sunday, while the two 22-lap WorldSBK races are scheduled for 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Phillip Island WorldSBK will cost $115* for a three-day pass, $80* for a Sunday only pass, while kids 15 and under are free**.On circuit camping is just $100* for four nights, with kids 15 and under free** Visit www.ticketek.com.au for tickets; or www.worldsbk.com.au for info.
* Advance ticket prices only, delivery and processing fees may apply.
**Children must be accompanied by a paying adult
Phillip Island 2016 – Australian entry for WorldSBK and World Supersport, February 26-28, 2016
Josh Brookes – Milwaukee BMW – Sydney
Josh Hook – Grillini Kawasaki – 22 – Taree
Jed Metcher – Race Center, Kawasaki – 25 – Melbourne
Mike Jones – DesmoSport Ducati – 21 – Brisbane
Aiden Wagner – MV Agusta – 21 – Wamuran, QLD
Glenn Scott – Lorini Honda – 24 – Mangrove Mountain, NSW Central Coast
Lachlan Epis – Kawasaki – 16 – Dural, Sydney
Ant West – X50 Yamaha – 35 – Bilmbua, Brisbane / born Maryborough
Mitch Levy – Landbridge Racing Yamaha – 21 – Sydney
Kane Burns – Burns Racing Suzuki – 19 – Hat Head, NSW (near Kempsey)
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