WorldSBK: Breaking down WorldSBK – Round 1: Australia
A quick overview of each rider’s performance from the Australian round of WorldSBK
Jonathan Rea (Superpole: 3, Race 1: DNF, SP Race: 1, Race 2: 1)
A big crash in Race 1 came afer the red mist descended following an opening lap clash with Sykes. Rea did well to keep the bike upright when he ran through the gravel trap but from that point onwards he was a man on a mission and when he crashed it was from over riding the bike to make amends immediately. Sunday was a hard day for the champion following the news from Northern Ireland but he bounced back well with a win and a second. Being beaten in a fight with his teammate is unusual for Rea but he said all the right things in the aftermath and is focused on winning more races.
Leon Camier (Withdrawn after practice)
Shoulder injury still holding back Camier and he was forced to sit out the weekend. He’s aiming to be back for the next round of the championship but Australia was just a bridge too far for the former BSB champion.
Chaz Davies (16, 8, 13, 5)
Found some solutions as the weekend wore on but said after Superpole that he couldn’t get the Ducati to work with a fresh tyre. The added grip should improve the bike but he couldn’t get it to turn. In the races we saw a big step on Sunday by running in the lead group but how much of that was down to improving the bike and how much was down to the pace being so slow at the front? Australia was always likely to be the toughest weekend for Davies and we should get a clearer picture of what to expect from Round 2.
Sandro Cortese (9, 13, 11, 9)
A silly crash in Sunday’s warm-up saw Cortese clash with Garrett Gerloff and rule the American out of action. Cortese adapted well to the Kawasaki but it will be a work in progress in the early rounds.
Xavi Fores (10, DNF, 12, 11)
It can be tough to readapt to WorldSBK after a year in BSB. For Fores the struggle was trying o regain trust in the electronics that they can answer your demands. This was also exaggerated by switching to the Kawasaki and still trying to learn a new bike. A Race 1 crash put him on the back foot.
Takumi Takahashi (18, DNF, 15, DNF)
The MIE Honda rider was always going to have a tough time this weekend. The team were still stripping road bikes in the garage on Sunday and after an engine failure during the test it didn’t get much better for the Japanese rider. It will take time for this team to understand the bike but Round 1 is now in the books at least.
Alvaro Bautista (15, 6, 16, 6)
Two crashes showed the struggle for Bautista. In both cases they were fast-the exit of the Hayshed and the entrance to Siberia-but as the weekend progressed he improved. How much of this was due to the slow pace at the front?You’d have to think quite a lot because in Race 2 Bautista was in the lead group. Tyre management was always a big advantage for him last year on the Ducati and seems to have carried forward to the Honda. He’ll need to make a step in Round 2 but at least he has some good feeling with the bike now.
Michael Rinaldi (14, 10, 9, DNF)
He looked competitive during the test and seems much happier with the GoEleven Ducati than he did twelve months ago. Clashing with Leon Haslam in Race 2 robbed him of the chance of battling inside the lead group.
Alex Lowes (8, 2, 4, 1)
Three races, two podiums, one win and the championship lead. Job done for Lowes on his first weekend with Kawasaki but he’ll know that not every weekend will be like this. He’ll need to find a step with fresh tyres on the Kawasai and getting the most out of the qualifying tyre but this is a fantastic foundation for his relationship with a new team.
Garrett Gerloff (17, 14, Withdrawn)
The Texan made a great start in Race 1 and pushed to get to the front of the second group. He pushed far too hard on his Pirelli tyres and paid the price in the second half of the race as he fell from the top ten to the lower points paying position. This was a mistake of inexperience on the world stage and by half distance his tyre was already show and his race was run. As a rider with two years of Superbike experience a cooler head would have been expected. because with his pace dropping off he was up to the four seconds slower than the race leaders as he sank like a stone. Being able to claim some points was a positive and it would have been interesting to see how he approached the rest of the weekend but the crash with Cortese ruled him out of action.
Scott Redding (2, 3, 3, 3)
Three podiums on his debut weekend marked a job well done for Scott Redding. He impressed with his mature riding and not trying to win it all in the opening round to try and assert himself as a former MotoGP rider. He’s taking the long approach and even though he felt that he could have been able to take a wi he was pleased to have three solid races and be close to the battle. Redding should be strong all season.
Eugene Laverty (13, 11, Withdrawn)
This weekend was a struggle for Laverty. Friday and Saturday left him scratching his head but a bang to his headup in warmup ruled him out. Saying after that he just over rode and crashed trying to make a change to the bike summed up his weekend. During testing he was optimistic of improvements with the BMW but after Round 1 the team will be going back to the drawing boad. Phillip Island is a very unique challenge but it’s one that Laverty has won races at with two different bikes in the past.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (4, 1, 2, DNF)
What a debut weekend for Yamaha! Winning Race 1 was impressive and he nearly backed it up in the Superpole race. In Race 2 a fuel issue ruled him out of contention from what looked to be another podium spot. He’s looking very strong with his new package.
Michael van der Mark (6, 4, 5, 4)
If you’d said after the test that van der Mark wouldn’t stand on the podium this weekend you’d have been marched down to the doctor’s office. His pace was so impressive in the test but in the races he got boxd out. In Race 1 he was focussed solely on winning the race that he didn’t defend the over from Lowes on the last lap. This was the approach of a rider out to win rather than pick up points and therefore we shouldn’t be critical of the Dutchman. Struggling for grip in the Superpole race he did well to finish inside the top five and then battled hard in Race 2 to miss out on the podium.
Federico Carricasulo (12, 12, 14, DNF)
Qualified well to line up on the fourth row of the grid but it was an up and down weekend for the Italian. Such was the contact during his clash with Rea in Race 1 that it deployed his air bag so he did well to recover and score points. A solid if far from spectacular debut weekend.
Tom Sykes (1, 9, 6, 10)
The 50th pole position of WorlSBK career was unfortunately backed up by what we’ve seen so often; a failure to mange his tyres during the races. Sykes is so fast and so difficult to beat when he has grip in his tyres that if BMW can solve this he’ll be a weapon all year.
Loris Baz (7, 7, 7, 8)
Down on power but with a very good bike underneath him Baz was strong all week. During the races his struggle for top speed made him incredible aggressive at times and he’ll definitely incur the wrath of some of his rivals throughout the year if he continues to make so many aggressive moves. The Ten Kate bike certainly looks complete though and once it gets a 2020 engine, likely at Assen, he’ll be even stronger.
Max Scheib (11, 15, 10, 7)
A great performance on his full-time WorldSBK debut in Race 2 saw Scheib collect nine points for a top ten finish. The Chilean, who raced for MV Agusta at the 2018 Argentine round, kept is nose clean and picked up points. Qualifying inside the top 12 was also impressive.
Leon Haslam(5, 5, 8, 12)
Phillip Island is Haslam’s favourite track and so it’s never a surprise to see the Englishman at the front Down Under but the speed of the Honda was impressive. Qualifying inside the top five was a very strong start and until his tyre dropped, due to the aggressive power delivery in the faster corners, he looked well placed in Race 1. A bad start in the Superpole race led to a clash with Chaz Davies and then a bad grid slot from finishing in eighth position. This mean he was in the mid-pace and trying to make up ground when he outbraked himself into MG and clashed with Rinaldi. He rejoined to score some points.
Picture Credit: WorldSBK