Jonathan Rea takes WSBK Superpole at Phillip Island

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) will start the opening races of the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship from Pole Position after setting a time 0.026 faster than the opposition in Tissot-Superpole at Phillip Island this afternoon.

With temperatures soaring towards 60-degrees celsius, today’s Pole setting time was 1m31.212,  a little slower than last year when the conditions were considerably cooler.

Superpole 1 was red flagged after nine minutes giving a welcome break to proceedings to the riders as the track temperature reached 56-degrees before Matteo Baiocco (Althea Racing) and current FIM Superstock 1000cc Champion Leandro ‘tati’ Mercado (Barni Racing) progressed into the final 15 minute shoot-out. The pair narrowly edging Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) who just missed out. All three were experiencing their first Tissot-Superpole.

Troy Bayliss (Aruba Ducati SBK) recovered from an FP4 crash to ensure that he lines up on the grid tomorrow in 14th, an incredible achievement considering he hasn’t raced competitively since 2008. Wildcard Jed Metcher (Race Center – Demolition Plus) will start 16th, with the third of the Australian entries Matt Walters (Team Pedercini) qualifying 19th after a huge crash into turn one as Superpole 1 was only a few minutes old. He escaped any serious injury.

Superpole 2 was action all the way with several riders taking their turn at the top before Rea came out on top ahead of Chaz Davies (Aruba Ducati SBK) and Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) who will line up alongside the x for tomorrow’s 22 lap races.

David Salom, the current EVO winner (Team Pedercini) crashed heavily entering the start and finish straight with 4 minutes to go causing a red flag, the Spaniard had been on a lap that could have seen him easily inside the top six.

Chaz Davies and Nico Terol had posted times to elevate themselves to Pole and 2nd respectively only for them to be delighted owing them to have crossed the line after the red flag following Salom’s incident.

Row two comprises with Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda WSBK), Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) and WorldSBK rookie Nico Terol (Althea Racing).

Leon Haslam: “Superpole is all about getting used to the flying lap quickly. All the work on the race tyre doesn’t count for much, so using one to take the third best time is a good sign. I’m sorry about David’s bad accident. Fortunately I heard that he is conscious and moving. For the race we have made some progress, especially improving in the third sector. I’m sure the high temperatures will force us to change a lot in terms of setup, but my team has been working very well and I’m confident. The conditions will be the same for everyone in any case, and I’m pleased with my race pace. Tomorrow should be fun.”

Chaz Davies – “A fair improvement from last year, kind of strange that came about, I thought the opportunity had gone away from me, as I had used my Q up and saw the red flag just before I came across the line so lost my best lap, but got a little bit lucky with the session being cancelled.”

Jonathan Rea: “It was a strange way to end the session. From my point of view we did a good job with a race tyre in the high temperatures and the Kawasaki is working very well. We made a good set-up breakthrough in free practice four. I am really happy with pole position because it is the best possible result from qualifying. I also wanted the chance to use the qualifying tyre, however, because I know the Kawasaki uses the Q tyres very well too. So the lap time could have been quite good. But, this is still the best possible result for me after Superpole.”

Michael van der Mark – P4, 1m31.613s – “This morning was really good and we improved the lap time as well as making a really good run. I was also happy with FP4, not just because I was fastest, but because of the bike and the tyres. I was really looking forward to qualifying but I got to the first corner with the Q and the red flags came out. I really watned to finish the lap but fourth place for my debut is not too bad. Of course, you want it to come in a different way, but I think we are ready for tomorrow.”

Alex Lowes:  “Not as easy today, but we’ve still ended up in a good grid position. I made a mistake in the warmer temperatures in FP4 and tucked the front at turn one and enjoyed a 200kph body-slide but I’m 100% ok, and have to say a big thanks to the guys at RST for making me such strong leathers – the bike wasn’t as lucky! The boys did a great job getting the spare bike set up for Superpole but it was the first time I’d ever ridden it and didn’t go as fast as I would have liked on the race tyres but needed to play my way back into it after the crash. The target for tonight is to see how we can improve the GSX-R for today’s hot conditions which have completely changed the character of the track. Thanks to all the team for doing a great job, whatever the conditions tomorrow I’ll be giving it everything and looking for two really good finishes.”

Nico Terol: “I’m pleased because we have done and are doing a great job. I’m getting on great with the Ducati Panigale R, I made a fast lap with the qualifying tyre and although I made some small mistakes I was very fast. When I saw the red flag along the straight due to Salom’s crash I knew that my lap wouldn’t be valid but I’m happy anyway. The team’s work on the bike has been fantastic, we’re making rapid progress, I’m continuing to build confidence and the second row is very positive anyway. Two races in one day will be new for me, let’s see how we go tomorrow, but I’m confident because we’re working in the right direction.”

Jordi Torres: “This morning we did a good job and we were fast. Maybe in the last free practice I should have taken a few less risks. I actually still need to better understand how the rear tyre slides. The slide that made me crash took me completely by surprise and I didn’t have time to react, most likely because we are still in the first round and I don’t have the right feeling yet with the bike, but I’m getting there. Obviously I was banking on Superpole to improve, in spite of the fact that I still have never tried the qualifier tyre. Looking toward tomorrow I’ll be expecting two hard races in this heat, but I have a good race pace and if I’m able to build some more confidence and look after my tyres we’ll be able to set our sights on a good result.”

Tom Sykes: “I feel very strong for the two races tomorrow but starting from this position on the third row of grid is obviously not what we wanted. I do not know about having a second chance to set a good time, it was just having a chance. I am a little bit speechless. I saw David have a very, very big crash and my first thoughts were with him but the final grid order is completely mixed up because everybody was building up to use a qualifying tyre. I am on the third row and this gives us a lot more work to do on our tyres. We will do the best we can tomorrow now.”

Sylvain Guintoli – P9, 1m32.446s – “The bike felt much better in the Superpole laps that I did on the race tyre and the lap time was coming really easily, even though I wasn’t pushing. I need to find the right balance between aggression and speed and it’s quite different from what I’m used to. I’m working on being more efficient on the CBR and because I didn’t really get proper track time before we came here I’ve been playing catch up a bit. Of course, I’m trying to go fast but I think maybe I’m trying a bit too much and need to chill out a bit and concentrate on enjoying myself. The more frustrated I get the slower I get and, as I said before, I need to get dialled in. We made a big change for Superpole that felt good and hopefully in the warm-up tomorrow we can keep chipping away at the race pace.”

Randy de Puniet: “It wasn’t easy, but we worked well to adjust the bike and FP4 was really good, I had a good pace, but I knew for me that Superpole would be difficult because I struggle with my injuries to push for a one-time attack, needing some time to warm-up on the GSX-R. I should have been able to move into Superpole 2 but one rider in front of me used two qualifying tyres, unfortunately they did not discover this until later so I finished in third and was out and I am disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to go out again in Superpole 2. I will start the race in 12th, it’s not the best place to start but I hope to feel good, I just need to wait for two or three laps to feel good on the bike and hope that I don’t lose too many positions, can stay with the group and keep a good rhythm. It will be two difficult races tomorrow for me but I am here, which is the most important thing, and I will try to take as many points as I can.”

World Superbike 2015 Round One Phillip Island
Superbike Free Practices + Superpole Combined Results

  1. Rea 1m31.212
  2. Davies 1m31.238
  3. Haslam 1m31.507
  4. Van Der Mark 1m31.613
  5. Lowes 1m32.042
  6. Terol 1m32.081
  7. Torres 1m32.243
  8. Sykes 1m32.265
  9. Guintoli 1m32.446
  10. Baiocco 1m32.841
  11. Salom 1m31.488 (FP3)
  12. Mercado 1m32.219 (FP3)
  13. De Puniet 1m31.885
  14. Bayliss 1m32.201
  15. Camier 1m32.668
  16. Metcher 1m32.727
  17. Canepa 1m32.998
  18. Barrier 1m33.057
  19. Walters 1m33.477
  20. Ramos 1m33.716
  21. Barragan 1m33.960
  22. Pegram 1m34.323
  23. Ponsson 1m34.324
  24. Rizmayer 1m34.633
  25. Toth 1m36.699

World Superbike 2015 – Round One – Phillip Island
Free Practice 3 Combined Times FP1- FP2 – FP3 – Not including Superpole

  1. Haslam 30.79
  2. Torres 30.83
  3. Lowes 30.85 (FP1)
  4. Rea 31.07
  5. Terol 31.26
  6. Davies 31.32
  7. Sykes 31.40 (FP1)
  8. Salom 31.48
  9. Guintoli 31.54
  10. Vd Mark 31.59
  11. De Puniet 31.88 (FP1)
  12. Camier 32.13 (FP1)
  13. Baiocco 32.15
  14. Mercado 32.21
  15. Barrier 32.39 (FP1)
  16. Metcher 32.42
  17. Bayliss 32.52
  18. Canepa 32.54
  19. Walters 33.09 (FP1)
  20. Ramos 33.19 (FP1)
  21. Barragan 33.96
  22. Pegram 34.32
  23. Ponsson 34.32
  24. Rizmayer 34.63 (FP1)
  25. Toth 36.69 (FP1)

 

Jonathan Rea take the first Superpole of season 2015
Jonathan Rea take the first Superpole of season 2015