eni SBK RACE REPORT: PHILLIP ISLAND 2013

The opening round of the 2013 eni FIM Superbike World Championship took place at Phillip Island, Australia, one of the revered circuits in motorcycle racing.

Two test sessions occurred at the circuit before the race weekend got underway and a number of riders had heavy falls getting used to the new surface.  While all the riders entered began the weekend, a number of them were riding injured.  Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) had another fall on Friday (following an accident earlier in the week which resulted in a haematoma on his liver), resulting in the Italian having to withdraw with a broken bone in his foot.

While Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) claimed pole position, he failed to remain at the front as his machine struggled with straight-line speed.  It was Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) who blasted to the front, chased by team mate Sylvain Guintoli, Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia), Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike), Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) and Checa.  The Spaniard was working hard to reel in his rivals by braking later, but all his hard work was undone when he couldn’t stop his machine in time at Honda corner and he skittled Melandri off his machine (while in fourth place), despite trying to take avoiding action.  Checa hit the deck hard, knocking himself unconscious in the fall, and was subsequently diagnosed with concussion.

Laverty continued to race in the lead, but he soon had company as Guintoli and Fabrizio joined him.  Guintoli sailed past into a lead he would not relinquish, while Laverty had to deal with Fabrizio’s intentions.  Haslam slipped behind and got caught up in a battle with Tom Sykes, Loris Baz (both Kawasaki Racing Team pilots) and Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK). While Guintoli drew first blood by taking the chequered flag first, Laverty kept Fabrizio at bay by a mere seven thousandths of a second!  Davies edged Sykes, Baz and Haslam to claim fourth position.

Sykes made a brilliant start to get the holeshot in Race 2, but it was short-lived as Guintoli, Laverty, Melandri and Fabrizio sailed past and broke away from the chasing pack.  While Guintoli appeared to have the upper hand, Laverty and Melandri sized each other up for second place, with Fabrizio keeping a watching brief.  Laverty upped the pace dramatically in the closing stages of the race, making short work of Melandri and Guintoli to lead with two laps to go, shattering the lap record in the process.  The Irishman managed to keep his team mate at bay to win by less than half a second, with Melandri chasing them to the chequered flag.  Fabrizio produced another strong performance to finish fourth, well ahead of Sykes and Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia).  Baz and Davies had an unfortunate incident on lap 1, with Davies losing the rear end of his mount and tagging Baz’s machine at MG hairpin, putting them both out of contention.

SBK Race 1 result

SBK Race 2 result

Rider standings

Constructor standings

1.  Guintoli (Aprilia)

1.  Laverty (Aprilia)

1.  Laverty              45

1.  Aprilia                  50

2.  Laverty (Aprilia)

2.  Guintoli (Aprilia)

2.  Guintoli             45

2.  BMW                   29

3.  Fabrizio (Aprilia)

3.  Melandri (BMW)

3.  Fabrizio             29

3.  Kawasaki             22

4.  Davies (BMW)

4.  Fabrizio (Aprilia)

4.  Sykes                  22

4.  Honda                  17

5.  Sykes (Kawasaki)

5.  Sykes (Kawasaki)

5.  Melandri           16

5.  Suzuki                  16

Kenan Sofuoglu (MAHI Racing Team India Kawasaki) took a fine victory at Phillip Island to begin his title defence in the World Supersport category.  Grabbing the holeshot at the start, the Turk had a race-long duel with polesitter Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha), with the two swapping places virtually every lap.  Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) showed strongly on his debut, shadowing the two frontrunners and pulling away from the chasing pack.

A monumental struggle for fourth place ensued between Roberto Rolfo (ParkinGo MV Agusta Corse), Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpress team mates Luca Scassa and David Salom, as well as Fabien Foret (MAHI Racing Team India Kawasaki) who fluffed his start and dropped to 20th position on the first lap!

Sofuoglu put the race beyond doubt on lap 12 of 15, as the lead swapped for the final time, with the Turk closing proceedings by posting blistering laps, shattering the lap record on the final lap.  Lowes was disgruntled with second position after dominating the timesheets all week, while van der Mark sauntered home in what was an eventual lonely third place.  Rolfo parked his machine on the penultimate lap, leaving Foret to sprint to the chequered flag in fourth place ahead of Salom and Scassa.

Sheridan “Shez Show” Morais (PTR Honda) had a torrid week, only managing to get a few qualifying laps in on Saturday after being plagued with engine maladies since testing five days earlier.  The diminutive rider had to endure more frustration as he pulled into the pits at the end of the first lap (from his 24th grid position) with a rear wheel speed sensor failure.  He used the rest of the race as a test session, finishing four laps behind the race winner.  Fellow South African Mathew Scholtz (Suriano Suzuki) worked hard from his 25th starting position to finish in 14th place, giving himself and his team much confidence for the next event.

Supersport results

Rider standings

Constructor standings

1.  Sofuoglu (Kawasaki)

1.  Sofuoglu                              25

1.  Kawasaki                              25

2.  Lowes (Yamaha)

2.  Lowes                                   20

2.  Yamaha                                20

3.  van der Mark (Honda)

3.  van der Mark                      16

3.  Honda                                   16

4.  Foret (Kawasaki)

4.  Foret                                     13

4.  Suzuki                                     3

5.  Salom (Kawasaki)

5.  Salom                                   11

 

The second round of the 2013 eni FIM Superbike World Championship takes place at Aragon, Spain, on 12 to 14 April, where the Superstock 1000 and 600 categories begin their season.

Nick van der Meulen

Aprilia dominated the Race1 SBK podium, with Sylvain Guintoli winning ahead of team mate Eugene Laverty, while Michel Fabrizio finished a fine third.  Laverty turned the tables in Race 2 with a late charge to victory ahead of Guintoli, while Marco Melandri recovered from a Race 1 tumble to finish strongly in third position.  Carlos Checa fell from his machine in Race 1, collecting Melandri in the process, but the Spaniard got concussed in the incident and was unable to take further part in the day’s proceedings.  Kenan Sofuoglu started his World Supersport campaign on a strong note, beating Sam Lowes to the chequered flag after a race-long duel.  Michael van der Mark impressed on his debut with a remarkable ride to third position.