Press releases from some of the teams after the final test of the preseason at Phillip Island:
Testing concludes with Bautista the man to beat in Australia
Spaniard cuts nearly half a second off his Monday lap time to command final pre-season sessions
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) stormed to the top of the timesheets again on Tuesday at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit with a best lap of 1’30.303, a whole 0.440 seconds faster than his best from the previous day and nearly half a second quicker than four-time world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), fourth fastest at the Aussie racetrack.
Tuesday morning saw kinder winds and warmer conditions than the opening day of testing. Despite this, the bar that Ducati’s Spaniard had set on Monday remained unsurpassed by all but three riders. Bautista has emerged as the early and clear frontrunner for the opening race of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, and it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, can match the hairsplitting pace he’s put on display here.
Nonetheless, six more men did manage to set sub 1’31 laps, with second-placed Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and fifth-placed Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) split by two tenths of a second.
In between them in fourth sat Jonathan Rea, who had previously topped nearly every pre-season testing session in 2018 and 2019. No one will be disregarding the reigning World Champion any time soon however. It bears repeating that Rea is still on an 11-race winning streak and when he is on his game there are few, if any riders capable of going the distance with the four-time champion. But for now, the gap between the two men has been striking: just in the first Tuesday session, Bautista recorded seven laps faster than Rea’s then best of 1’30.761.
Testing is much more than setting fast lap times however, and there was again much work to be done on Tuesday in Australia. Rea’s teammate Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made great strides on the ZX-10RR, putting in more laps (74) than anyone out on track. The Englishman’s base setup is very similar to the reigning champion’s, with Haslam’s crew now focused on tweaking it to his own style. It seems to be working well, as a late flurry of times pushed the 35-year-old above Rea on the timesheets.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) meanwhile managed to cut down his best lap time from Monday by a full second, as he continues to find his feet on the Panigale V4 R, although the Welshman was still nearly 1.5s behind his teammate’s pace.
2018 double Aussie winner Marco Melandri closed Tuesday as fifth best after hard work was put in to the front of his Yamaha YZF R1. With an optimal setup now in place, attention veered towards finetuning in the afternoon. Ditto for the rookie Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), eighth at Phillip Island.
A big midday crash down Turn 1 and a late tumble across turn 4 for Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) were the main setbacks on Tuesday for the Crescent Racing squad. Neither the Brit – ninth – nor Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) – seventh – were far off the pace, however, with their attention focused on finding a good balance for the always treacherous Aussie track.
A series of red flags in the morning hindered many a race simulation around the paddock, but it was still a good day’s work for the BMW Motorrad squad as both Sykes and Markus Reiterberger – struggling yesterday with a small shoulder injury – tested different chassis solutions, with both men meeting expectations.
A tricky opening day for Moriwaki Althea Honda Team led to improved performances on Tuesday, as they fight against the clock to find a good base setup for Phillip Island. Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) crept into the top 10 throughout most of the day with a best lap of 1’31.443 (eventually falling to 13th), while Ryuichi Kiyonari ended in 15th position.
A late fastest lap pushed Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) up to a fantastic sixth in the Tuesday standings. The Turkish starlet is still going through the 2019 updates on the ZX-10RR, as was the case for Jordi Torres and Team Pedercini Racing, while Tati Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) focused on improving tyre preservation. Steps forward were also taken by Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), although the former suffered a technical problem close to the end of session one. Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) and wildcard Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda Racing) closed the timesheets.
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) dominates second and final day of pre-championship testing at Phillip Island, while Davies is in 14th place
The final two days of testing have concluded at the Phillip Island track for all the teams and riders who will be tackling the opening round of the Superbike World Championship this coming weekend at the Australian circuit.
Today again saw the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team’s new signing - Álvaro Bautista - keep his firm grip over the timesheets, as the Spanish rider dominated both two-hour sessions, confirming the progress he has made and his feeling on the Superbike-spec Ducati Panigale V4 R machine. In this morning’s first session, Bautista shaved off another four-tenths from the time he set yesterday, ending up with a best lap of 1’30.303, while in the afternoon he focussed on doing a race simulation, covering the entire distance with excellent results. Bautista is about to embark upon his debut season in Superbike, fully aware now that he can fight for the top positions with a competitive bike like the Panigale V4 R, which is also making its world debut in the category.
His team-mate Chaz Davies finds himself in a slightly different situation. Unfortunately, the Welsh rider has been unable to tackle the winter tests in the right frame of mind due to a muscle twinge he picked up during Jerez testing. As a result, Chaz is a bit behind schedule in his preparation, so today he tried to finalize the best possible base set-up, and despite these difficulties he remains confident for the start of the championship.
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 1’30.303 – 1st
“Today was another very positive day. This morning we made a change to the bike’s geometry but we didn’t find what we were looking for so we went back to yesterday’s setting. In the afternoon the aim was to do a long-run, to see how the tyres behaved after a number of laps in race trim. I’m pleased because I kept a very good pace throughout the entire long-run. These have been two very positive days, and I’d like to thank the whole team, which did a perfect job. We’re ready to tackle the first race, and I can’t wait to start!”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1’31.796 – 14th
“We’re not quite there yet to be honest. We made some strides this morning and I was quite happy with that. In the afternoon we wanted to change a few things but we ended up going back to this morning’s setting because everything we tried didn’t give me the right feeling. We have to put all the data together in the next two days and hopefully on Friday we’ll turn up with a better setting. The good news is that last year we also had a difficult test, but then I raced a lot better than I did at the tests. We’ll take the weekend as it comes and prepare for the race in the best possible way.”
The 32nd edition of the World Championship gets underway this weekend at Phillip Island, which hosts Superbike for the twenty-ninth time. This year, the race weekend format has undergone several changes, the most important of which is the introduction of a ten-lap Superpole race. This will always start at 12.00 CET on Sunday and it replaces the two Superpole 1 and Superpole 2 qualifying sessions. The result of the Superpole race will determine the starting grid for Race 2 and will assign points for the championship standings. In addition, the number of free practice sessions has also been changed to two on Friday and one on Saturday morning. The Saturday and Sunday races will remain unchanged, but the starting time in Europe will now be at 14.00 CET.
Ready for the series debut with the new BMW S 1000 RR: BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team looking forward to the 2019 opener in Australia.
Team and riders Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger kick off the 2019 WorldSBK season after two further days of testing at Phillip Island.
Marc Bongers: “We are very proud of the collaboration within the team”.
Team presentation on Friday evening at Phillip Island.
Phillip Island. After months of preparation, things are getting serious: next weekend, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and the brand new BMW S 1000 RR will start the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). The first races of the year will be held on 23rd and 24th February at the “Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit” in southern Australia. The race machines used by the two riders Tom Sykes (GBR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER) in WorldSBK are based on the new BMW S 1000 RR, which was presented to the world in November. Over winter, engineers at BMW Motorrad Motorsport have developed the necessary racing components for use in the world championship.
In preparation for the new BMW S 1000 RR race debut, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team completed two further days of testing on Monday and Tuesday at Phillip Island. The focus was on evaluating more new components and setting up the machines for the first race.
The season opener starts with two free practice sessions on Friday. On Saturday, Superpole qualification takes place, with the first race scheduled for 15:00 local time. The ten lap “Superpole Race”, a new introduction in WorldSBK, will start on Sunday at 12:00. This sprint will decide the starting grid for race two that afternoon at 15.00.
As part of the season opener, all media representatives are invited to the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team presentation on Friday evening in the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit paddock. There, Dr. Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers, Team Principal Shaun Muir, the two riders and Andreas Lundgren, BMW Motorrad Australia General Manager, will be available for interviews.
Quotes ahead of the season opener at Phillip Island.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “The results of the two days of testing at Phillip Island are very positive. They confirmed the performance at the test days that we had over winter. We are very proud of the collaboration within the team, which first had to gel in this new configuration. We have all pulled together over the past few months, and we now can see the result of this good teamwork. That’s motivating! But we have to stay realistic and look ahead to the first race. That will be the first time for us to see where we really stand in race trim. We also know that we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but the base of the new BMW S 1000 RR offers a lot of potential. We are happy to be back and we really can’t wait to start the first race.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “We left the European tests in a very good position and a lot of hard work was carried out to make further improvements at Phillip Island. At the two days of testing here we could clearly see the benefits of the small but very significant improvements to the chassis. Tom went through all the things he wanted to test and had his best package which he ran on Tuesday afternoon in its final configuration. That is a very good base setting for him now to start the season. Markus has taken a big step forward after Portimão and is in a very strong position where we feel he can definitely compete for the top ten in the races at the coming weekend.”
Tom Sykes: “Testing has gone really well and after these two test days here at Phillip Island, I want to thank the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team because we worked very well, we worked through a comprehensive list of items and possibilities and certainly boxed off a lot of things. So I am very happy and I really feel that given the limited time on the project everyone has been doing an incredible job. I don’t think that we could have asked for anything more during this testing period. Going into the race weekend now we know that it’s not going to be easy, obviously we need to work a little bit more in some areas, but I really do feel that we are heading in the right direction. We will go out on track, work on further improving the package on our BMW S 1000 RR and enjoy the racing. I feel that the potential is higher than we could have expected when starting the project.”
Markus Reiterberger: “I am pretty satisfied with the two test days in Australia. I immediately had a good feeling on the bike, and we worked well through our testing programme, so we can soon focus on fine-tuning the performance. The anticipation for the first race weekend is of course huge, because racing is always something special. On the other hand, I would not mind having a few more test laps to really get the maximum out of myself and the BMW S 1000 RR. We just need a little bit of time to understand the whole package, but I’m pretty happy so far, and I feel great in the team. The guys really give everything and work extremely hard. We also continuously get new options and things from Munich that we can test. You can really see how things are progressing well. Personally, I worked intensively on my fitness during the winter, and I am ready to kick off the season.”
Final Pre-Season Tests Complete For KRT
Kawasaki Racing Team riders Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea finished third and fourth fastest respectively after two days of official DWO testing at Phillip Island, the venue for the first round of the championship this coming weekend.
With a dry track surface to work with each day, but often high winds to deal with at the same time, four-time WorldSBK champion Rea and reigning BSB Champion Haslam set about making real preparations for the first round of the championship.
With several red flags being shown to halt the on-track action, frequently due to wild birds wandering onto the 4.445km long circuit, the tests were often halted, sometimes at key moments for the KRT team riders.
The all-new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR took Haslam to the third best time of the two-day tests, thanks to a 1’30.668 lap time. Rea was fourth fastest with his 1’30.722. All the best times were set on race tyres, with no qualifying options at this test.
Now the refreshed KRT riding line up, and the new Ninja ZX-10RR have the opportunity to work toward podium finishes in what will be a new-look WorldSBK weekend.
As well as the two regular full distance WorldSBK races of the past seasons, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, there will be a third ‘sprint race’ at each event this year, to be held over ten laps each time. This Tissot Superpole Race will not only score championship points, if a reduced number compared to a full race total, but will also determine the final race staring grid.
The first practice sessions of the new-look 13-round, 39-race season will take place on Friday the 22nd of February, with race one on Saturday the 23rd and the two other races on Sunday the 24th.
Leon Haslam, stated: “Up until today we probably used the least amount of tyres compared to anyone else. We were just looking at race set-up and looking at a real specific plan of what we wanted to do, hence we were not posting really good one-off lap times and putting new tyres in. Our race times have been pretty competitive over both days. I had a bit of a go for a lap time at the end there but I got traffic on my first two laps and I think it was my fourth flying lap I did the 1’30.6. I think if we could have maximised the early laps, like everyone else seemed to be doing, we could have been a little closer. The biggest thing about this test for me was the average of the base pace, looking after the tyres, and managing that side of things. We are in a good place, I think. I am not looking to the races just yet; I am looking to the practice session on Friday, because there are still a few things we want to try. I feel good and we are making the steps.”
Jonathan Rea, stated: “This has been a really positive test and we have been able to analyse a lot of items and changing things in the bike to see exactly what the track requests. This track is so unique because of the energy and load we put into the rear tyre, because of those fourth and fifth gear corners. Now we have a lot of data but unfortunately today there were a lot of red flags and we were not able to complete a long run or maximise a time attack. So this has been a huge data gathering two day test and it will prove very valuable for race weekend. With three races this year we need to be clever with the timetable and Sunday will be very a tight day for many reasons. The racing itself, trying to take on board food and - being in a factory team - the media commitments. So Sunday will be busy. From a racing point of view, I am quite happy.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Leon Haslam, stated: “We had a very good winter test programme and this final test was all about preparation for race weekend. We wanted to give Leon as many laps as possible to give him more time to adjust to this bike. We made an agreement together that in every session we needed to improve our pace and that is what we did. I think we were the only riders to improve the lap time and the pace, session-by-session. To be third right now makes me very confident but I am more convinced about our consistency. We have no problems with rear tyre endurance. We are, after ten or 12 laps, at least as fast or faster than our competition so I am looking forward to the weekend. With three races the weekend will be as busy as usual, but more exciting.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “The test has been the same as each previous year in Phillip Island. This is a unique track, completely different and we have been preparing the base bike and the starting point for 2019. In the winter tests it has been very good and then when we arrived here, as we expected from previous years, everything has been different. So we started to focus on the base setup for this track and then focus with the tyres. This is one of the main things we have to focus on here, especially the rear tyre. This has been the target to try to find a good balance for Johnny and also for durability for the rear tyre. As for race weekend we have to analyse everything, and I already have some ideas. On Friday we still want to try something to give Johnny a little bit more confidence and understanding.”
Pre-season tests are over; now... let’s the season starts!
The last pre-season tests are over... from now on it will be a race time, the run-up for the 2019 world title starts!
The official tests just ended have reserved pleasant surprises, which increase the suspense and the interest about the beginning of the championship!
Team Go Eleven went on track in the two days pre-race with an experimental configuration trying to understand the feedback of his Ducati V4-R on this beautiful and particular track. Several components arrived only on Sunday night and the guys of the team worked almost continuously to make everything fit perfectly.
On Monday, Eugene did many laps, testing many different solutions, and constantly improving his time with used tires. The work of the team focused mainly on chattering, very annoying problem while riding, and on the balance of the bike.
The V4-R immediately gave a lot of confidence to the rider and the information he collected was fundamental for the team, who worked until late at night to make the changes planned.
On Tuesday, the keeptimer showed off the goodness of the work done on the first day of testing; Eugene improved the race pace and managed to set a good lap time, stopping the lap time on 1.31.986 just 1.6 seconds from the first!
Unfortunately, however, the whole test program could not be completed because of a technical problem, which stopped him at the box in the afternoon.
Friday 22 February officially begins the first race weekend of the year, it’s time to enter in race mode, trying to put together all the good things found in the tests, with eyes focused on the final goal!
World Superbike pre-season officially concludes at Phillip Island with today’s second and final day of testing
Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari have completed their second and final day of testing at Phillip Island, thus concluding their pre-season preparation ahead of the upcoming 2019 World Superbike Championship. On Friday the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team’s riders will be back out on the same track for the first free practice sessions of the opening round.
Leon and Ryuichi rounded out the two-day session in 13th and 15th place respectively, having significantly closed the gap to the leaders with respect to yesterday. During today’s sessions, both had better feeling with their bikes and, although they have not yet reached the positions they are looking for, both are confident that they will be able to keep improving step by step.
Leon Camier 2
13th (Combined) 1'31.443 (morning session)
“We are working really hard on different aspects of the bike, from the electronics to the chassis’ setup. The feeling on the bike is not at all bad but we need to keep working hard on the setup. It’s important to work methodically because we want to be sure that every change we make is taking us in the right direction. The bike has a lot of strong points and is very nice to ride, very stable. The team is working really hard and I’m sure things will improve though it may take a little time”.
Ryuichi Kiyonari 23
15th (Combined) 1'31.860 (morning session)
“Today I feel better compared to yesterday. This morning especially, we worked well on the suspension and electronic settings and I immediately had better feeling. Of course, we are still a bit far from the front, but all in all I’m happy with the progress we’ve made. During the afternoon session, we had some grip issues to deal with but in the end, we were able to sort that out, even if we did not improve on the morning’s best time. I’m highly motivated to improve and know that I am asking a lot of my team, so I wish to thank everyone for their effort and all their hard work”.
The Althea MIE Racing team concludes official testing at Phillip Island
Phillip Island (Australia), Tuesday 19 February 2019
After two days of intense work, the Althea MIE Racing team has concluded the final test sessions prior to the start of the 2019 Superbike World Championship.
On track at Phillip Island in Australia both today and yesterday, the Italian team has worked methodically with rider Alessandro Delbianco, who had never visited the circuit before now. The Althea MIE rider therefore used the first sessions to get to grips with the layout of the Australian track, while the team's technicians started working to adapt the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 to the characteristics of the track.
The stable weather conditions allowed the team to work systematically and without interruption on day one, Delbianco completing a total of 45 laps and setting a best time of 1’33.949. Back on track this morning, the team continued their set-up work. Alessandro was immediately able to improve on yesterday’s time, by over a second in fact, to set a 1’32.979 but shortly afterwards, the young Italian unfortunately suffered a crash at turn 2. Although not seriously hurt, as a precautionary measure the team took the decision to have the rider sit out the final session, in order for him to rest up and be in top shape for the upcoming race weekend.
The Althea MIE Racing team will be back at the Phillip Island track come Friday, when the curtain officially goes up on the 2019 Superbike World Championship.
“I’m pleased with the work we’ve done here, despite finishing up the test a little earlier than everyone else. I feel as if I’ve got on much better than I did during the Portimao and Jerez tests. This is one of those tracks that requires courage and I feel comfortable riding here, I find the wide turns really help me. Compared to the last tests, I’m closer to my rivals and know that I can only improve, so I’m feeling optimistic about the upcoming race weekend.”
WorldSSP: Krummenacher and Caricasulo lead charge on final day of testing
BARDAHL Evan Bros duo set pace in World Supersport class again on Tuesday
Pre-season testing for the FIM Supersport World Championship has officially concluded after another two sessions at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit led by Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros WorldSSP Team). The yellow and black-clad racers were followed in the timesheets by Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), with the top six seemingly a cut above the rest.
With a lap time of 1’33.111, seven tenths of a second faster than his personal best on Monday, Krummenacher managed to open a gap at the top of the leaderboard over his teammate, who nonetheless also set several faster lap times than the day prior. The pair led or remained near the top of the timesheets in each of the Aussie track's sectors and have emerged as the early frontrunners to win Sunday’s inaugural race.
A crash in yesterday’s opening session conditioned Cluzel and GMT94’s preparations on Monday, as the French squad adapt to their full season return to WorldSSP. Tuesday was smoother for the 30-year-old, as he finished 0.524s off Krummenacher and leapt below 1’34.000 for the first time this week. Fellow Frenchman Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) also continued his adaptation to the Australian track, ending fifth in the standings, a position that the GMT94 squad would deem very satisfactory if it were to be repeated on Sunday.
Meanwhile, MV Agusta Reparto Corse continue moving slowly up to the level of the leading Yamahas, as Raffaele De Rosa moved into third on Tuesday (fastest in the second session). While the bike remains similar, the former STK1000 champion’s crew has moved to the WorldSSP class for the first time after working last season on the WorldSBK side of things. Focus on Tuesday went on engine configurations, while teammate Federico Fuligni (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), eleventh, continued adapting to the WorldSSP bike.
Closing out the top six was Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), focused on finding the right setup for Phillip Island as well as well as learning how to tame the ZX-6R. On the other side of the garage, Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) concluded his pre-season testing in seventh position.
Eighth fastest on the day was Hector Barberà (Team Toth by Willirace), who seems to be adapting swiftly to the Yamaha YZF R6. Kallio Racing’s Austrian recruit Thomas Gradinger was the Finnish team’s fastest rider on the day in ninth, just over a second behind the frontrunners, while Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) and Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) ended the day twelfth and fifteenth, respectively. Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport by Racedays), tenth on Tuesday, was the fastest Honda, while newcomer Jules Danilo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), sixteenth, clocked in the most laps of the day at 70.
Mahias And Okubo Ready For Opening Weekend
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders Lucas Mahias and Hikari Okubo completed their final pre-season test today, at Phillip island in Australia, with Lucas sixth quickest and Hikari seventh overall.
Still in the relatively early stages of his relationship with his 2019 racebike Mahias, the 2017 World Champion, earned a sixth place overall. He was the last of the leading riders to get under the 1’34 barrier, setting a 1’33.872 best lap time.
With some issues of tyre wear already developing, due to the heavily left-handed and fast nature of the Phillip Island track layout, Mahias hopes a solution will be found before race weekend.
For Okubo, his 2019 testing pace is already faster than his early 2018 pace, as he approaches his second season riding with the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing squad.
After the tests, which were completed in dry and windy conditions, Mahias and Okubo are now planning their race weekend preparations, which will culminate in a scheduled 18-lap race at the 4.445km long Phillip Island circuit on Sunday the 24th of February.
Lucas Mahias stated: “A difficult day for me and I worked a lot during the test to improve the bike and to understand it more. Again, it is early for me in this project but I am very happy with my team and my crew because they are working a lot. I am a little bit sorry because I am not in the top position or the top three. It is a test, so no points for this. I think the bike is maybe not best suited to Phillip Island but I am confident for the race because it will be really different to the test.”
Hikari Okubo, stated: “I am not happy because I am in seventh position but my lap time is not so bad. It was 1’34.8 last year and now I set a 1’34.1, so that is a big step, I think. I expect a hard race on Sunday because the tyre is spinning a lot after five or six laps. My best lap with a new tyre was a 1’34.1 and my second best lap was 1’34.2. I feel happy in my consistency. I wanted to make more of a step but I could not during this two-day test. With two days off I will push hard again on race weekend. My feeling right now is that things are not perfect, but I feel very positive.”