Haslam pips Rea for WSBK Race Two win at Phillip Island
Words by Trevor Hedge – Images by Russell Colvin
Jonathan Rea got again well once again from pole position to lead from Leon Haslam and Chaz Davies once again. Michael Van Der Mark and Tom Sykes a much better start this time around in fourth and fifth followed by Jordi Torres, Sylvain Guintoli and another good start for Troy Bayliss in eighth.
Davies made a few changes to the Ducati for the second race and it appeared to be paying dividends as the Briton put in a 1m31.725 on his first flying lap.
A terrible start to the season for Alex Lowes, his excellent pre-season testing form not being converted into results come race weekend, the Suzuki rider retiring from the race on lap two.
There was no breaking away for the leading trio in this second encounter as after seven laps there was still only 6-tenths of a second covering the top six. Michael Van Der Mark the new race leader from Haslam, Rea, Davies, Sykes and Torres.
By half race distance that leading group had narrowed to four riders with Haslam leading Rea, Davies and Van Der Mark while Torres and Sykes had lost touch with the leaders.
Troy Bayliss entered the pits on lap 14 for new tyres.
Jordi Torres was battling hard for Tom Sykes for fifth place but threw the Aprilia down the road at turn one with five laps to run.
Michael Van Der Mark fell at turn ten with three laps to run out of a certain top-four finish. The leading group now reduced to three led by race one victor Jonathan Rea and chased hard by Chaz Davies and Leon Haslam.
That top three traded places numerous times a lap as the race wound towards an exciting conclusion. Haslam leading Rea and Davies at the last lap board. Rea took the lead at The Hayshed for the final time, hung on over Lukey Heights and MG Hairpin, Haslam was all over the back of the Kawasaki through turn 12 and the Aprilia pipped the Kawasaki on the line by 0.010 of a second on the line despite Rea putting in his fastest lap of the race on that final circuit. Haslam’s first World Superbike race win for five years.
Chaz Davies brought home third place just three-tenths of a second behind that aforementioned duo.
Wildcard entrant Jed Metcher had a radiator fail which the team did a fantastic job to change on the grid but unfortunately the damage had been done and the engine called it a day.
Jed Metcher’s Race Center Team – “Whilst the result in the final race is disappointing, we’re still stoked with what we’ve achieved as a bunch of blokes from Brunswick with a crazy idea to race a World Superbike against the worlds best. We did it, we scored points and did better than many other professional teams, but fortune today just wasn’t on our side. Thanks to everyone for their support throughout the project, the sponsors, the fans & the team that helped make our crazy plan a reality. Don’t think we’re done with yet.. We’re thinking now that we’ve ticked off Superbike.. next on the list is Supersport.”
Leon Haslam: “This race brings back great memories. My last win was at Kyalami in 2010 after a great battle with Rea. My compliments to my team. They did a great job all weekend. In Race 1 I unfortunately made a mistake, but luckily I felt like I had a wide enough margin and I was able to rejoin the pack and finish second in the final dash by just a few thousandths. I started Race 2 even more motivated to win. Despite feeling like I had less “reserve” after the halfway point, everything went according to plan. In the last turn I opened up the throttle at the right time and I realised that I had overtaken Rea straight away right on the finish line. I am truly happy to finally be back on the top step of the podium!”
Jonathan Rea: “I could not have had a better weekend. The team were not so optimistic about winning races or being on the podium here with the pace of some other bikes but together with Pere, Paolo, Javier, all the guys from Showa, all my mechanics, we worked really hard and never lost sight of our goal, which was not be strong for 22-laps each time. Leon just had more pace today in each race, so race one fell in my hands a little, but I am so happy to be getting out of here with 45 points and starting the season strongly. I did not expect these results at all. We were not the most optimistic so to be just pipped by a small margin in race two, and by my old team-mate Leon, I am happy for him. We did the maximum we could and came away with the maximum points we could have had. I am happy and excited to move on from here with 45 points.”
Chaz Davies, 3rd – “I gave it all I had, tried to put a wheel around Leon or Jonny on the final lap but couldn’t manage it, just a few limitations keeping me from being right there. This is one of our weaker tracks so I think we did great here and the guys did a great job with the bike.”
Tom Sykes: “In race one I was given no room going into turn one and had to run wide. It was one of those things and he could have easily left me some room, but he didn’t. It changed the outlook of my race but we have come away with some points on the board. In race two we made some changes to the bike set-up and I was able to be with the leaders in the beginning of the race but unfortunately we had some limitation with the front feeling. I was not quite able to put the bike where I wanted it and suffered a little but in the middle to exit of the corners. Jonathan did a great job for Kawasaki and that was good to see. Now we will leave Phillip Island with a lot more information and I hope we can use this to be stronger in the next rounds.”
Sylvain Guintoli – 7th and 5th -“I tried everything I could and we did both races with very different set-ups, although the results were much the same. But at least we’ve got some good data that we can work on now. After missing so much winter testing, I’ve really been treating this weekend as another live test session because I’m still not quite yet clicking with the bike. We’ll just keep working though and come back strong in Thailand. To be honest, I’ve never felt so physically drained after two races. I think the injury from Jerez must have somehow added to the dehydration because I felt really ill during both the races. I’ll focus on recovering as much as possible before the next races now. But one of the highlights of the weekend for me was being on the track with Troy Bayliss. He had already retired when I came to SBK but we had a few laps scrapping out there in race two which was a bit special!”
Michael van der Mark – 5th and DNF – “Friday morning started as a bit of a nightmare really because we changed the bike a lot compared to the test earlier in the week. It was just not working but from the second free practice we started getting faster and faster and when the temperatures went really high yesterday we were still fast and managed the tyres well. I had a good feeling for the races but we were a bit unlucky that the weather was not as hot as yesterday. I had quite a good start to the first race and was aggressive in the first couple of laps, but I couldn’t stay with the front guys. I had a big drop in the tyre as well, so I had to focus on the guy behind me and save some tyre to bring it back in fifth. We made a couple of small electronics changes for the second race but I was hoping for a bit more hot weather. The start wasn’t really great but I was really aggressive and could stay with the front guys this time. I even led the race for a few laps which felt really good before I had another big, big drop in the tyre. I tried to follow the guys but just pushed a bit too hard and lost it. But my guys did an amazing job this weekend and to be fifth in my first Superbike race was incredible. To be leading in my second Superbike race was just too good to be true! “
Jordi Torres: “This was a Sunday where I learned a lot. In the first race we performed well. I was fast from the start and I learned a lot about tyre wear and what sort of riding style to use to conserve it. You have to avoid leaning all the way over and be very careful on the gas – a lesson that I was putting to good use in Race 2. Unfortunately Sykes really brakes hard, so I struggled to overtake him and just when I thought I could do it I pushed to hard and crashed. I need to take away all the good we did this weekend and stay calm. I can be fast but I need to improve the way I manage the race.”
Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager had this to say about the 2015 opening round: “After a long winter where the guys in the racing department worked hard we arrived here at Phillip Island with a lot of question marks. These were all erased by this fantastic Sunday where Leon came so close to bringing home a double win, in any case putting in an excellent result in his first races with the RSV4. This promises to be a very well balanced season, with several riders in contention for the win, but I believe that our performance today once again confirms our competitiveness. Leon showed incredible courage and determination today, while Torres continues to improve and has already reached an enviable level for a rookie in this category.”
Forty-five-year-old Bayliss was as high as seventh in both races, but faded to finish 13th in the opener and had to enter the pits in race two to change a blistered rear tyre and was out of the points in 16th.
He said he felt like a “boxer coming out of retirement” over the past few days.
“It’s been a strange one to come back after so many years. I did this comeback for a lot of reasons, and in the end I made some really good progress — but still I am actually a little bit pissed off, which proves that I am still a racer!
“To run with the guys I felt really good, but we had some problems with the tyre; Phillip Island can really do that.”
Bayliss said he found it difficult to retire at the top.
“I was basically depressed for two years,” said Bayliss after he downed tools in 2008. “But now, after today, I know I can still be fast!”
Bayliss set a best lap of 1m32.117s after only three days on the Panigale R, which was only 0.4 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the day set by his Ducati sidekick, Davies.
“I was pushing hard, but maybe not enough time on the bike to find a set-up that really suits me. Chaz had the same tyre as me and did a great job on it, but in the end it’s all swings and roundabouts.
“Overall, I had a great time riding with everyone and I congratulate the top guys on riding so well.”
World Superbike 2015 Round One Phillip Island Race Two Results
- Rea 0.010
- Davies 0.296
- Sykes 5.242
- Guintoli 14.649
- Terol 16.025
- De Puniet 22.300
- Camier 23.606
- Baiocco 23.818
- Ramos 35.775
- Mercado 39.929
- Barrier 46.267
- Barragan 57.893
- Pegram 62.676
- Ponsson 65.262
- Bayliss 1-lap
- Toth 1-lap
World Superbike 2015 Round One Phillip Island Championship Points
- Haslam 45
- Rea 45
- Davies 32
- Sykes 23
- Guintoli 20
- Terol 18
- Camier 14
- Torres 13
- Baiocco 12
- Van Der Mark 11
- De Puniet 9
- Mercado 9
- Lowes 7
- Ramos 6
- Barrier 5
- Barragan 3
- Bayliss 3
- Pegram 2
- Metcher 2