Press release previews from the series organizers and from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams ahead of this weekend's season opener at Phillip Island:
Phillip Island to set 2015 WSBK season in motion
Saturday, 14 February 2015 - The 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship is less than a week away from its first showing and the riders are already in Australia to prepare for the opening round, which will be preceded by a two-day official test starting next Monday.
This year’s edition of the Australian round, sponsored by leading insurance company Swann, will be the 25th in the history of the series, an all-time record in terms of most World Superbike events staged by a single circuit. The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit made its debut on the World Superbike calendar back in 1990 and, after a brief absence in 1993, has been hosting a round of the championship ever since. From 2010 onwards the Victorian venue has hosted the opening event of the season.
As well as being the fastest on the calendar - with a current fastest average speed for the series of 177.720 km/h - and a favourite for riders and fans alike, Phillip Island is generally regarded as one of most spectacular race tracks in the world. Located on the southerly most tip of Australia amid wonderful coastal scenery, the 4.445 km (2.762 mi) track features seven left-hand corners and five right-handers and many elevation changes up to almost 60 m.
The New Year comes with several changes on different levels. Seldom has the series has witnessed as many changes in the rider line-up as new partnerships, welcome returns and new arrivals have shaped the 2015 grid in a new way compared to the one seen last year.
With Reigning World Champion Sylvain Guintoli joining the Pata Honda squad with 2014 World Supersport title winner Michael van der Mark, former team members Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam have gone for a change and entered the Kawasaki Racing Team and the Aprilia Racing Team - Red Devils outfits, respectively. Both Britons will be in good company, as Rea will have 2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes as team-mate while Haslam will share his new garage with former Moto2 Grand Prix winner Jordi Torres from Spain.
Catalan Torres makes up just a quarter of the Spanish rookie contingent that will try to follow in the footsteps of Carlos Checa. The 125cc World Champion of 2011, Nicolas ‘Nico’ Terol (Althea Racing Ducati), Santiago Barragan (Team Grillini SBK) and Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) are eager to test their skills aboard superbike machines.
Former Grand Prix ace Randy de Puniet from France will be on double duty this year, tackling his maiden World Superbike season with the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team alongside 2013 British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes while retaining his job as Suzuki MotoGP test rider.
The newly-named Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team has kept things unchanged on the line-up side, with Chaz Davies and especially Davide Giugliano showing great speed aboard their Panigale R machines during the last European test of the pre-season at Jerez back in January. The latter is now looking to step atop the podium for the first time in his World Superbike career, an eventuality that could coincide with Italy’s 100th race win since the WorldSBK was inaugurated in 1988.
Elsewhere, there are welcome returns to the championship. Argentina’s Leandro ‘Tati’ Mercado steps up with the Barni Racing Team with which he claimed last year’s FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, while Matteo Baiocco partners the aforementioned Terol at Althea Racing. In single-rider teams are the likes of David Salom (Team Pedercini), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team), while the Hero EBR (Pegram Racing) outfit moves into its second season with Team Manager-rider Larry Pegram and Niccolò Canepa.
2015 also marks significant revisions to the technical regulations, not least in the areas of electronics (with a new price cap) and engines (with less tuning permitted for pistons and conrods especially). Not only are costs hoped to fall as a result, but the new rules are set to make the championship more attractive to privateer teams and are expected to result in a generally more competitive grid from the start of the new campaign.
The FIM Supersport World Championship is about to get started with – as usual – many potential title contenders. Three-time World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu is eager to return to winning ways after a tough 2014, which saw the 30-year-old Turk struggle in the first half of the season only to find himself without a ride after the summer break. Thanks to the efforts by Kawasaki, Sofuoglu was able to finish the season with the San Carlo Puccetti Racing team - the same outfit he is going to tackle the 2015 edition of the series with - which in the meantime has become the manufacturer’s factory team in World Supersport.
After finishing as runner-up for the second time in two years of participation in the category, Jules Cluzel is back to business aboard the F3 675 of the MV Agusta Reparto Corse team, joined this time by Lorenzo Zanetti.
Last year’s title-winning squad Pata Honda has recruited young Briton Kyle Smith as the team’s sole rider for the year, unlike CIA Landlords Insurance Honda which fields a significant four-rider line-up consisting of the returning Gino Rea, Martin Cardenas, Kieran Clarke and Riccardo Russo.
Frenchman Lucas Mahias will be alongside confirmed rider Patrick Jacobsen within the Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres Team, while last year’s FIM Europe Superstock 600 champion Marco Faccani steps up to the new World Supersport challenge as Sofuoglu’s team-mate in the San Carlo Puccetti Racing Team.
After taking part in selected rounds last year, Alex Baldolini is going to contest the whole 2015 season with his own ATK#25 MV Agusta team. Fellow Italians Roberto Rolfo and Christian Gamarino will race with Team Lorini and Team Go Eleven, respectively.
Pata Honda video news release
The Pata Honda team's two WSBK riders, Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark, summarise the two-day test at the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit and look ahead to the weekend's action.
APRILIA - RED DEVILS WORLD SUPERBIKE 2015
PHILLIP ISLAND: THE 2015 SBK SEASON KICKS OFF, APRILIA RSV4 REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION
FOLLOWING THE EXTRAORDINARY DOUBLE TITLE TAKEN AT DOHA IN 2014, LEON HASLAM AND JORDI TORRES AIM TO INCREASE APRILIA'S IMPRESSIVE COLLECTION OF WREATHS IN SUPERBIKE: 7 WORLD TITLES IN 5 YEARS OF WSBK
Phillip Island (Australia), 18 February 2015 – The 2015 World Superbike adventure for team Aprilia Racing - Red Devils kicks off on the Australian Phillip Island track.
The Italian brand - reigning world champion after winning the 2014 championship with the double Rider-Manufacturer world title, taken at the last round in Doha - is ready for the 2015 season with a revamped structure and two riders making their début on the Aprilia RSV4, the bike that has dominated WSBK in recent years.
Aprilia's world Superbike trophy case is quite impressive: 7 world titles won in just 5 seasons from 2010 to the present. This is an undisputed supremacy in the factory derivative segment that has contributed to enriching the global trophy case in the halls of Aprilia which, with 54 world titles in the various sport motorcycling disciplines (grand prix motorcycle racing, Superbike and Off-road) is one of the most victorious racing divisions of all time.
On the number 91 Aprilia RSV4, managed by Crew Chief Enrico Folegnani's team, is English rider Leon Haslam. The thirty-two year old from Ealing, runner-up world champion in 2010, has already had the chance to show his potential astride the V4 from Noale during the winter tests. On the other side of the garage, under the technical supervision of Lucio Gomes and making his début in World Superbike, is twenty-seven year old Spaniard Jordi Torres on the number 81 Aprilia RSV4.
Aprilia's new Superbike season gets underway, like last year, under the supervision of Romano Albesiano who manages all of the Piaggio Group's racing activities. In a year where Aprilia Racing's efforts will be doubled - after making their début in MotoGP a year ahead of the originally announced schedule - Paolo Bonora will be the Project Leader SBK, whereas the Aprilia SBK team management structure will be completed by Dario Raimondi as Team Coordinator, and Andrea Petricca.
Aprilia is taking on the 2015 World Superbike season with goals that its winning history in the factory derivative category demand. "We're the reigning World Champions and we have always played a key role in recent seasons" said Romano Albesiano. "There are some variables that could change things up on the playing field, especially in terms of regulations, but we have worked hard to adapt. We have a good mix of riders and I am pleased with these first test sessions. Leon is a solid and expert rider, runner-up in the 2010 season, and he has already proven to be fast astride the RSV4. For Jordi the first races will certainly be demanding since he'll be dealing with adapting to the new category, but I think he will be able to finish among the best within a reasonably short period.”
The two riders are particularly "fired up" after the first test sessions. "My goal for this season is to win, as it always is" said Leon Haslam, "and this year I'm pretty certain that I have the best possible technical package available to try and do just that. I fell in love with the Aprilia RSV4 from the very first laps. Performance is smooth and the electronics are my best weapon, plus I can count on a professional team that is accustomed to winning. Plus, I'm coming off my first winter break without any physical problems. I'm still not at 100% fitness but I'm improving day by day and I'm working with a highly skilled technical team."
"Being on a team that has won so often in Superbike is a guarantee. I'll need to work hard to take the best possible advantage of this opportunity" stated Jordi Torres. “This year everything is new for me: bike, team, category and even many of the circuits. I'm still working on adapting to all these changes, but I'm confident. My first sensations were very positive. My feeling is improving lap by lap and I can't wait to get down to business so I can show just what I am capable of."
Dario Raimondi is also of the opinion that the Aprilia RSV4s will be in the spotlight from the start: "We have won a lot in recent years. We are the reigning champions, but fortunately that is a 'positive' pressure that we have grown accustomed to dealing with. Even the extraordinary finale at Dona last year demonstrated that. During the winter we worked both on putting together the new structure in the best possible way and on creating the right atmosphere with the new entries. The two new riders have already demonstrated an excellent feeling with the bike and the team. Our rivals will not make life easy for us, but we have all our ducks in a row to play a prominent role again in the 2015 season.”
Andrea Petricca highlighted the two riders' strong motivation: "Leon and Jordi are both fired up and ambitious. They found the RSV4 to be formidable straight away and they know that they have the best possible technical package at their fingertips. In recent years Aprilia has demonstrated all their value among factory derivative bikes and they are one of the favourites, but that doesn't mean it will be a walk in the park. Hard work and concentration will be fundamental, as well as relying on partners who support our Superbike adventure.”
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team prepares for Phillip Island season opener. Three-times world champion Troy Bayliss will race alongside Chaz Davies in place of Davide Giugliano, injured in a crash on Monday
Phillip Island (Australia), Wednesday 18 February 2015 - The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team and factory rider Chaz Davies are almost set for the opening round of the 2015 Superbike World Championship, taking place this coming weekend at the Australian circuit of Phillip Island. The Italian squad, having not initially planned to substitute the Italian at the Australian round, has decided to accept Troy Bayliss’ request and fulfil his wish to compete at the Australian event, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of World Superbikes at Phillip Island.
Davide Giugliano left the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne yesterday evening. Unfortunately the final prognosis for the Italian rider, who has two micro-fractures of the L1 and L2 vertebrae, is that he won’t be able to return to racing his Panigale R for a period of 90 days. Davide will fly home to Italy as soon as possible, where he will undergo further checks and begin rehabilitation in order to return to full fitness as soon as possible.
Although the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team did not originally envisage replacing injured Giugliano, the squad is pleased to accept Troy Bayliss’ request to compete at Phillip Island in the year in which the Superbike championship celebrates its 25th anniversary at the Australian track, giving Bayliss the chance to see his many fans who supported him so enthusiastically throughout his career. The 45-year old Australian has not raced in World Superbikes since the end of 2008 when he won the world title, his third such title with Ducati, having also won in 2001 and 2006. The three-times world champion won 52 races during his Superbike career with Ducati – six of which at Phillip Island - and has since been a faithful Ducati brand ambassador as well as remaining an active part of the racing world, winning last year’s Australian Dirt Track title. The last time Bayliss rode the Panigale was during a test at the Italian circuit of Mugello in May 2014.
Having completed the last pre-season tests only yesterday, at the same Phillip Island circuit, Chaz Davies feels well prepared for the upcoming races at the Island, a track that the Welshman enjoys and that has, in the past, suited the Ducati Superbike very well. During testing, the Italian factory squad worked hard to identify the ideal set-up for the Ducati Panigale R bikes. Both Davies and Giugliano, prior to his incident, were able to set some impressive lap times during the latest test sessions, results that bode well for the upcoming races.
The weekend’s track activity will get underway on Friday with the first two Superbike timed practice sessions of Round 1 of the 2015 championship. The event also represents the 25th anniversary of World Superbikes at the spectacular track of Phillip Island, with various initiatives planned over the course of the weekend in celebration of this milestone.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7)
“Phillip Island is one of those tracks where I’d like to take two solid finishes but it’s not always so easy here. Right now I feel confident that we’ve worked well on our overall package and that we are more or less there where we need to be. Perhaps a couple of pieces of the puzzle are still missing but we still have time to work on those areas. I’m getting more and more comfortable with the bike and so overall, at this point in time, I’m feeling positive and looking forward to the race weekend.”
Troy Bayliss (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #21)
“I want to start by saying that I really feel for Davide and that it’s a real shame for his season to be starting in this way. The desire to be able to return to the track and see the home crowd and the Ducatisti has always been strong, ever since I last raced and then also Phillip Island, one of my favourite tracks, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of World Superbikes. This gave me the idea to compete as a wildcard and work with the Ducati Superbike technicians once again. I know it’s going to be a very difficult weekend, also because it’s a while since I’ve ridden the Superbike but I do know the track well and so hope to get back into it after a few laps. I’ll try to enjoy myself and will of course be doing my best to score a good result and put on a good show for the public.”
Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #34)
“My aim now is to do all I can to recover as quickly as possible. I will return to Italy as soon as possible to start my rehabilitation. I’m proud to know that it will be Troy to substitute for me this weekend. He’s a great champion and I’ve always admired him. I hope he gets on well with the set-up that my team and I have worked on in recent months.”
Alex Baldolini Returns To The World Supersport Championship
Despite suffering from flu, Alex Baldolini has kick-started his full time return to the World Supersport championship in positive style by posting the tenth fastest time aboard his Race Department ATK #25 MV Agusta in the official two day test at Phillip Island.
Baldolini, who finished 6th at Phillip Island on his Supersport debut in will contest the entire series this year after making several wildcard appearances last year.
The likeable Italian has one WSS podium under his belt (Misano 2012) and is optimistic of a strong 2015 season.
Alex Baldolini - “These two days of testing have been very useful especially considering my high temperature and fever since I arrived in Australia. We couldn’t manage all of the laps that we wanted as I was tiring very quickly but we completed enough to try many different things on the MV. I hope that my physical condition improves before the weekend proper begins but nevertheless we have a very competitive team and finally I feel really comfortable on the MV Agusta F3 so I cannot wait to start racing.”
In addition to running in WSS, his Race Department ATK #25 team are considering fielding an additional MV Agusta entry into the series as well as the European Superstock Championship. Any interested riders are asked to contact the team using the following email: email@example.com
Phillip Island celebrates 25th WorldSBK anniversary as new season begins
Friday 19 February - The 2015 eni FIM World Superbike Championship officially began with a series of events that also celebrated 25 years of WorldSBK competition at the iconic Phillip Island GP Circuit.
Kicking things off was a Welcome Press Conference during which Fergus Cameron, Phillip Island GP Circuit Managing Director received an FIM 25th WSBK Anniversary plate. The plate was presented to the circuit by FIM Jury President, Rudiger Merdes.
Following this was the Official Opening Round Rider Press Conference that included reigning World Champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team), Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and Chaz Davies (Aruba Ducati SBK), who each answered a series of questions about the opening round and the season ahead.
The latter part of the morning saw a unique “25 years of WorldSBK at Phillip Island” photo opportunity at the Southern Loop (turn 2) during which a helicopter swooped low over the assembled riders and team personnel providing some spectacular images.
Sylvain Guintoli, Alex Lowes, Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes, Leon Haslam, Niccolò Canepa and Leon Camier were then joined by Australian wildcards Jed Metcher, and Aiden Wagner for a visit to Cowes Primary School. The delighted local children surprised the riders with interesting questions about motorcycle safety and providing them with Vegemite filled sandwiches, before posing for photos and showing them their very own small off-road bikes that were brought into the school for the occasion.
The long awaited on track action will begin tomorrow with the Free Practice sessions for both World Superbike and World Supersport categories.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki looking forward to the 2015 season
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki is set to start the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island this weekend after a successful week of testing and preparation at the Australia circuit.
After a strong showing throughout the recent two-day test which saw him top the overall times, Alex Lowes is eager to return to the track to build on the somewhat untapped potential from his rookie race last season – after a dramatic high-side in qualifying curtailed what had promised to be a strong debut. Despite previous difficulties, the Victoria circuit remains a favourite of the British racer and he is looking forward to starting his 2015 season aboard his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R.
Randy de Puniet is equally excited about his inaugural race weekend both within the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team and the World SBK Championship. No stranger to the Phillip Island layout, the 34-year-old Frenchman has competed here consistently from 1999-2013 and is confident of his new Suzuki Superbike’s ability, in spite of his recent altercation with turn 11 during the opening day of testing.
The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is the fastest track on the Superbike calendar. Located around a two-hour drive from Victoria’s State Capital, Melbourne, the 4,445m layout switches direction and elevation throughout its seven left and five right-hand turns, with spectacular views due to its cliff-top position. Celebrations will be in full flow this weekend as the event marks, not just the opening race of the 2015 season, but the record-breaking 25th time a World SBK race has been held here.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki commences track action on Friday 20th February at 11:45hrs local time (00:45GMT) for the first of two qualifying free practice sessions. The final qualifying will be held at 09:45hrs local time on Saturday morning (22:45GMT Friday night) before Superpole at 15:00hrs (04:00GMT). Sunday’s two races are scheduled for 12:00hrs (01:00GMT) and 14:40hrs (03:40GMT) respectively.
“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season. I want to get a good first race weekend under my belt and get the season started with two solid races. I still have some things to work on with the bike after the test but pre-season has gone well and we have worked really hard. Now I’m ready to go out there and do our best this year.”
Randy de Puniet:
“I expect to be in a better physical condition after my crash on Monday, it was a big injury but I am recovering well. Unfortunately I didn’t achieve what I had planned before the race weekend, working on the bike and the race-simulation, as I only rode 25 laps but the initial feeling with the GSX-R was good and Alex had a really good test and proved the bike is competitive. I just need to relax and see how I feel on the bike on Friday, but I’m confident, I think every day it gets better and even if I can’t do the race weekend quite how I wanted, I think I can still be strong. The most important thing for me is to finish both the races on Sunday.”
Video: Talking Technical
19 February 2015
WSBK starts at Philip Island and the rules have changed for 2015. Take a look at the KRT suspension and braking set up then admire the quality of components and lubricants. Technically speaking, they are certainly impressive.