The final test before the World Superbikes season commences wrapped up at Phillip Island today, and it was the turn of the Ducatis to take a step forward. After losing their near iconic leader Troy Bayliss to retirement last year, Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga stepped in to show that they are ready to defend Bayliss' crown in his absence. Fabrizio ended the day fastest, his 1'32.19 the fastest lap of all of the tests done here over the past couple of weeks, and well under Bayliss' winning lap time from last year's race. Team mate Haga was not far behind, just fractionally ahead of new boy Ben Spies. The American took a second off his time from yesterday, on only the second day of riding at the track.
Yesterday's fastest man Max Neukirchner could not improve his time, and dropped to 4th on the timesheet. The day also saw more crashes, with both Britons Johnny Rea and Tom Sykes hitting the dirt, both fortunately uninjured. Yesterday's victim Carlos Checa chose to sit out today, in order to recover for the race here due to start next weekend. But the big victim on Saturday was BMW's Troy Corser. The Australian hit a seagull, not an unusual occurrence at the racetrack at the edge of the sea, but the force was such that he was advised by medical staff not to take any further part in the session. Up until that point, Corser had been making good progress on the BMW, closing the gap on the front runners. In the end, he finished the day with the 6th fastest time.
In the Supersport class, it was the turn of the Ten Kate riders to make progress. 2007 champion Kenan Sofuoglu finished the day on top, clearly in form for the season, ahead of Garry McCoy on the Triumph 675. The Triumph has made progress since last year, and with McCoy being competitive last year at Phillip Island, it could throw up a surprise next weekend. McCoy finished ahead of fellow Australian Andrew Pitt. Best of all for the Ten Kate Honda riders, they finished ahead of the Yamaha Supersport riders Cal Crutchlow and Fabien Foret. That rivalry looks ready to run and run again this season.
Testing is now finished for the World Superbike and World Supersport riders. The next time they hit the track, in just 5 days time, it's in earnest, and the seemingly endless wait of motorcycle racing fans will finally come to an end.
Fastest lap in previous test set by Max Biaggi on an Aprilia RSV4, with a time of 1'32.59 seconds.
|7||Doni Tata Pradita||Yamaha||1'37.3.|
Fastest lap in the previous test last week set by Ant West on the Stiggy Honda, with a time of 1'35.9.