WorldSBK: Things like that…Round 1 Australia
Over the winter everyone in the WorldSBK paddock has spoken and written about the optimism of a potentially great season. In Australia this hope was met with a resounding confirmation. Three races with three different winners, all five manufacturers have reasons to be excited for the coming year and we saw three races that went down to the wire. It will be hard for WorldSBK to match the heights of the opening round this year but it certainly gave itself a great starting point. Here are a few thoughts post Australia….
Change is in the air
Phillip Island certainly would imply that change is in the air. The form of Razgatlioglu and Lowes on new bikes, van der Mark’s pace when he had grip underneath him, BMW taking a pole position, Honda being strong. Everywhere you looked there were reasons for being positive. Lets wait and see what happens after this round but it certainly leaves us well placed for a great season of racing.
A missed opportunity for van der Mark?
In testing van der Mark looked to have the edge. He was certainly the bookies dark horse but it never truly materialised for him in the races. Three top five finishes was a solid start but left him disappointed. The Dutchman certainly felt that he could have won races in Australia. Hampered by a lack of grip in the Superpole race he had to settle for fifth. In Race 1 and Race 2 he was somewhat boxed out but still able to finish fourth in both. The improvements for Yamaha though are clear to see with good top speed matched by improved drive from corners. Making sure they are kind on tyres will be key.
Going all out for glory…
The refusal of riders to accept a safe podium was great to see. No-one was acting in anything other than a need to win. They attacked tooth and nail when they felt there was a chance of winning the race and after Race 1, in particular, the top four came away all feeling they had a chance of winning. Caution was thrown to the win to give themselves the best chance of winning rather than taking the safe podium. This was what made for a fantastic weekend.
The importance of striking when the iron’s hot
If you’ve got a chance of strong results in 2020 you’re going to have to take them. If your bike works well at any particular you need to come away with three strong results. Over the course of the season we’ll see fortunes ebb and flow for riders but it’s going to be about maximising your potential at any given round and minimising the losses at the tracks you struggle on. That’s why Toprak’s retirement in Race 2 will haunt Yamaha. It was a chance of another big points haul and to miss out because of human error will be hard.
Are we set for a classic Superbike season?
WorldSBK gave everyone watching a reminder of what the series can achieve and the racing that we can see. This 2020 grid is a world class field and the bikes are closer than ever. The balancing rules are working and while it’s unlikely we’ll see it as competitive as Phillip Island throughout the year we can certainly believe that at any given circuit two or three bikes will all be closely matched. After Australia the only feeling within the paddock was excitement.
Picture Credits: WorldSBK