World Superbike Race One Report
Words By Trevor Hedge – Images by Russell Colvin
Jonathan Rea capitalised on his pole position to lead Leon Haslam through and Chaz Davies through Southern Loop for the first time. Another rider that had made a good start was the big news man of the World Superbike season opener, Troy Bayliss, the Australian veteran tenth through Southern Loop but up to eighth by The Hayshed and looking hot to trot.A 1m37.424 from a standard start for Jonathan Rea on the opening lap.
Bayliss then got Jordi Torres for seventh place through turn one as they started lap two, next target was Michael Van Der Mark on the Pata Honda Fireblade SP.
Leon Haslam was the fastest man on lap two with a 1m32.005 but Rea had also put in a 32.069 and maintained his lap one lead of four-tenths of a second. Davies a 32.019 on his first flying lap to gain a few tenths of a second over fourth placed Tom Sykes who was taking a little longer to get up to speed.
Torres regained seventh place from Bayliss on lap three.The top four all put in 1m32.0 laps on that third lap but it was still Rea with that slender lead at the front that he had amassed on the opening lap.Troy Bayliss was starting to come under attack from Sylvain Guintoli and Randy De Puniet over eighth place.
Chaz Davies on the other Aruba Ducati got the better of Haslam for second place on lap four. Tom Sykes was pushed wide while battling with Michael Van Der Mark on the entry to turn one and was lucky to remain upright and rejoined the field in tenth place, baulking Troy Bayliss as he rejoined the circuit.
Torres was the man on the move, setting the fastest lap of the race with a 1m31.832 to pass Guintoli and Terol on his way through to fifth place and started to challenge Michael Van Der Mark for fourth place on lap six. That battle for fourth place unfolding almost two-seconds behind race leader Jonathan Rea.
Michael Van Der Mark ran wide in Southern Loop which allowed Jordi Torres through to take fourth place.Randy De Puniet had pushed Bayliss back to ninth place as the race approached one-third race distance and Bayliss was fending off the advances of 2013 World Superbike Champion Tom Sykes.
Torres pulled away from Van Der Mark with apparent ease and started to close down the leading trio.Sykes had got the better of Bayliss and quickly gapped the Australian who was already looking to suffer from premature tyre wear.
Sylvain Guintoli got the better of Nice Terol for sixth place on lap ten while Bayliss was looking for a way back past Randy De Puniet to challenge for ninth place.
Leon Haslam made his move past Jonathan Rea as they started lap 12, slotting the Aprilia past the Kawasaki on the entry into turn one as the race entered the latter half of the 22-lap, 97.79km, race distance. Randy De Puniet then lost ninth place to Bayliss, the Frenchman nursing severe bruising from a practice crash earlier in the week. Alex Lowes then pushed De Puniet back to 11th place and started to attack Bayliss for that ninth place.
Haslam had slowed the race up front, the pace slackening off to a 1m32.9 after the leading trio had earlier been running consistent 1m32.3s almost every lap. This had the effect of closing the leading quartet right up together, Rea-Davies-Haslam-Torres virtually nose-to-tail.
Haslam then ran off on to the grass at turn three and ran on the grass all the way to turn four and lost touch with the leading trio, but amazingly lost only 1.5-seconds to the leading combatants and retained a 1.2-second gap over fifth placed Michael Van Der Mark.
Bayliss lost a lot of ground on lap 15 after drifting back with a 1m34.42m allowing Lowes past and was starting to be reeled in again by Randy De Puniet and a charging Leon Camier.
Haslam was keen to make up for that earlier error and put in a new fastest lap of the race on lap 17, a 1m31.826 almost a full second faster than the leading trio and right on to the back of third placed Jordi Torres.Rea and Davies had managed to break away a little from that battle for third place and the Ducati man was clambering all over the back of Rea’s Kawasaki all the way around the 4.45km Phillip Island circuit.
Haslam got the better of Torres with five laps to run but had a full second to make up to challenge the leading duo in the final stages of the race. Bayliss had been passed by Camier and Baiocco demoting the Australian to 12th place.
Rea really picking the Kawasaki up on to the fat part of the Pirelli rear slick in order to gain traction and try and preserve some edge grip for the final laps. Davies seemingly finding drive much easier on the Ducati.
Haslam dipped back into the 1m31s wih a 31.991 with three laps to run, pushing him right up on to the back of the leading duo.Haslam then got Davies at turn four but Davies stuck the Ducati back up the inside of his countryman on the next run down into MG Hairpin.
Haslam got Davies at turn three to move back up to second place, nothing between this leading trio over the penultimate lap.Haslam took the lead at turn one on the final lap but Rea got him back on the entry into turn two, almost side-by-side through turn three and Haslam takes the lead at turn four.Rea tries back up the inside at Siberia but Haslam held on, Rea gets him on the change of direction at The Hayshed and leads Haslam through MG Hairpin, they all wind up through turns 11 and 12, Davies right htere too…Haslam on the outside of Rea at turn 12 and they run side by side down the chute but Rea had his nose in front by 0.039 of a second of the stripe to take a win on debut for Kawasaki.Davies a very close third position while Jordi Torres marked his World Superbike debut with a fantastic fourth place.
Troy Bayliss finishing in 13th place, five-seconds ahead of Jed Metcher.
Jonathan Rea – Winner – “It was one of those races where I had talked with my crew chief not to lead the laps, but that is where I found myself so ran with it.It was a great fight with Leon on the last lap.Thanks to the team, we started off a little slow but they gave me a race package that could do the business today.”
Leon Haslam – Second – “I was playing a little too cool early on, letting Jonny lead and preserving the tyres, then when I hit the back of Chaz I thought it was race over, but managed to get it back. Hopefully next time around I won’t make any mistakes and can go one better.”
Chaz Davies – Third – “To be on the podium in my first race and for the first time at Phillip Island, a little disappointed that I couldn’t stick it in there on the last lap, was a matter of positioning for that final lap but we couldn’t quite get there, make some changes for race two and hopefully go a little better in race two.”
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