2018 Philip Island World Superbike Race Two Results: Zero Tyre Strategy Required

The tyre problems of Saturday brought in a mandatory flag-to-flag race, with riders having to change tyres in the middle of the twenty-two lap race, on lap ten, eleven or twelve. The reverse grid is still being used, for some inexplicable reason as it had no effect last year, putting the fourth-placed rider from race one into pole position. 

Race Two didn't introduce any changes to the rev limits, the limits aren't introduced until three weekends have taken place, so everyone is still on 3.3% above the rev limit of the road bike. Georgia Flood, the anthem singer, served as a windsock as she sang, showing the wind was still coursing along the start/finish straight as a headwind, increasing the advantage of a slipstream. 

Jonathan Rea led Xavi Fores from the lights out, but Eugene Laverty took the lead from third place at turn four. Laverty started to build a lead, thanks to the in-fighting for second place between Leon Camier, Jonathan Rea, Chaz Davies and Xavi Fores, but he crashed on lap three from a comfortable lead which caused a bit of a shuffle as Rea slowed to avoid any danger.

Lap four was led by Chaz Davies ahead of the independent Ducati of Xavi Fores, Michael van der Mark and Jonathan Rea. The front fourteen bikes were still in a group as everyone's tyre strategy was zero tyre strategy, go flat out to the sixty-three second pitstop. Davies took turn four wide and Fores followed him enough for Rea to elbow his way to the lead, but as they came on to the straight, the Ducatis dealt with the wind better and drove past Rea to push him to third behind Davies and Fores. The top nine were still a single homogenous unit for a couple of laps as Marco Melandri bounced his funny tyre into fourth place, past Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes set the fastest lap climbing to eighth place. 

On lap seven, Fores took the lead from Davies into turn one only for Davies to take it back on turn four. A lap later, Fores took it back on turn one, using Davies again as a windbreak down the straight. The human centipede of nine riders became just eight as Toprak Razgatlioglu dropped off the lead.

And then it was time.

With flag-to-flag races, there is a minimum time you must spend in the pits, sixty-three seconds, which is designed for both safety and to even out the differences in bikes. A couple of bikes have single-sided swingarms, notably the Ducati Panigale and the MV Agusta F4, and this design was originally fitted to endurance bikes to make tyre changes quicker, even though a regular swing arm, while looking a lot less pretty, is potentially more stable and lighter. However, as evidenced by the fake headlight stickers, this championship doesn't reward aesthetics and levels the field of swingarms by mandating the minimum time. This minimum time meant that some riders were finished quicker and had to wait for their time to elapse before they could leave, leading in a couple of bikes looking like they were far ahead of the rest until they reached the end of the pits and had to wait. 

The first into the pits were Fores, Rea, Van der Mark, Razgatlioglu and, a lap back, Laverty. Chaz Davies stayed out, over a second ahead of Melandri and Sykes, but without anyone to slipstream. As Jonathan Rea took a drink while his tyre was being changed, like a dad hanging out at a tyre and exhaust centre, Xavi Fores waited to be let out on track. 

Lap eleven, Davies, Melandri, Lowes, Sykes, Camier and five others pitted in, leaving PJ Jacobsen in the honorary lead ahead of Australian wildcard Daniel Falzon. Fores and Rea were in third and fourth place until they were joined by Davies, Sykes, Melandri and the rest from the second group. 

As the last group pitted in, Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri led until turn four, where Chaz Davies overestimated the amount of grip a fresh tyre has and crashed out. Melandri was put off a little and both Fores and Rea piled past him.

Once again, the strategy was not one of tyre conservation but was rather another flat out twelve-lap sprint, to the victor the spoils. 

Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea fought behind Xavi Fores, with Marco Melandri, Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowed behind them. Leon Camier then joined them to make it a seven-way battle at the front. On lap fifteen, Melandri hopscotched his hilariously unstable bike to fourth place and set a new lap record in the process. Two laps later, the front four, Fores, Rea, Sykes and Melandri, started to put a gap behind them and when Sykes went wide at a corner, Melandri took third place off him and he fell off the front pack. Fores, Rea and Melandri led, with Rea sniffing at the tail of Fores, looking for a way past. The strategy of just going as fast as possible was still the most popular.

Lap nineteen, and Rea found a way. Breaking out of Fores's clean air, he lunged into the lead in turn one, but Fores took the lead back into turn two. Lap twenty, and Rea tried the same thing, closing the door into turn two this time, and making the pass take hold. Turn four, and Marco Melandri pushed past Fores for second place behind Rea.

Rea kept up his pace, but the crackerjack Panigale of Melandri wouldn't let him get away and, as they started the last lap, Melandri tucked in behind Rea as they exited the last corner and led by the line in an ominous trial for the last corner of the race. Rea took the lead back by turn one, going slightly wide, but holding the tight defensive line into turn two, like he did for Xavi Fores. Throughout the lap, as Tom Sykes caught back up with Xavi Fores, Melandri was trying much tighter lines than Rea but he still couldn't get past. 

As they came to the glorious last corner, Rea had the lead but Melandri knew where to be and applied his comedy tyre's grip to the tarmac and tucked in behind Rea. As they approached the line, Melandri broke free and the pair charged the paint side-by-side.

Marco Melandri won only his second World Superbike race at Phillip Island, two hundredths of a second from reigning world champion Jonathan Rea. Xavi Fores took his best dry weather result of this career in third place while Tom Sykes took fourth. Lowes, Camier and van der Mark took fifth to seventh places ten seconds clear of the riders behind.

Marco Melandri leads the championship by seventeen points from Tom Sykes, with Rea a further two points behind. Xavi Fores unsurprisingly leads the independant riders championship.


Pos No. Rider Bike Gap
1 33 M. MELANDRI Ducati Panigale R  
2 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10RR 0.021
3 12 X. FORES Ducati Panigale R 0.304
4 66 T. SYKES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1.488
5 22 A. LOWES Yamaha YZF R1 2.474
6 2 L. CAMIER Honda CBR1000RR 2.745
7 60 M. VAN DER MARK Yamaha YZF R1 3.098
8 81 J. TORRES MV Agusta 1000 F4 14.301
9 76 L. BAZ BMW S 1000 RR 14.361
10 54 T. RAZGATLIOGLU Kawasaki ZX-10RR 19.785
11 40 R. RAMOS Kawasaki ZX-10RR 25.237
12 36 L. MERCADO Kawasaki ZX-10RR 40.504
13 45 J. GAGNE Honda CBR1000RR 58.923
14 99 P. JACOBSEN Honda CBR1000RR 1'00.084
15 50 E. LAVERTY Aprilia RSV4 RF 2 Laps
RET 7 C. DAVIES Ducati Panigale R 11 Laps
RET 37 O. JEZEK Yamaha YZF R1  
DSQ 25 D. FALZON Yamaha YZF R1 10 Laps
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Was gutted for Chaz, hope you can manage to stay on this year and put together a strong challenge.  The Panigale seems to be a real knife edge bike, Chaz has been over-riding it to get the results he has previously.  Melandri's bike looked totally unstable but he seemed happy that way.  Nice riding by Marco, right to the flag.  The mix of brands up front was refreshing and perhaps vindication of the massaging of the rules.  Then again, Phillip Island is a real leveller, we will know a lot more after the polar opposite style of dreadful Tilke-o-drome next round.

This race report and the one from yesterday seemed to report that Melandri's tyre was different from the tyres used by the other riders. In the above report the reporter mentions that Melandri "bounced his funny tyre" and then at the end of the report the tyre is referred to as a "comedy" tyre. Is there some bit of racing insider gossip that I'm missing? Is one of the choices offered to the teams a "comedy" tyre? WTF??? If anyone has an explanation, please share it with me.

In race one the commentators mentions that the alternative tire (the comedy tire) had a different profile than the normal tires they use, which allowed for different handling characteristics.

I referred to it as a comedy tyre because Melandri's bike looked like it was having fun. The high-profile tyre Melandri used is a new offering from Pirelli this year and it's a slightly taller tyre that requires a change in ride height which, on the Ducati, explains a little as to why Melandri's bike, with a superleggera rider like Marco, had a lot less rear stability at speed. 

I watched the US broadcast yesterday, the announcers mentioned it.

They said something to the effect of, there was a tire option that was a taller tire but Melandri was the only one using it (kinda like how the 899 Panigale road bike uses a 180/60-R17 when most middleweights are spec’d with a 180/55-R17).

He was visibly unstable the whole race at the end of the front straight, not surprised that he was the only one using it, although he had great midcorner speed the whole race, especially coming out of the last corner.  

He wasn't the only one using it, but he was the only one using it to great effect. Van der Mark used it in race one, I believe, but it didn't work for him.

Melandri's bike's antics where highly visible. Anyone could observe the dancing, wobbles, hops & skips. Is that a clown car tyre on the Ducati? I heard that MM33 was running a low pressure in the rear tyre. Didn't slow Marco any.

We got a good look at the MV after Jordi Torres plowed some pasture with it.

Got a source on that?  I used to always wonder why the lightweight motogp riders didn't play more with the tyre pressure - since they have so much trouble getting heat into them (eg Pedrosa), then I found out that they don't really get a choice, they run the pressure that single tyre manufacturer tells them to run.

I did not expect much, but that was not a good showing? Both riders have proven track records. But PJ's bike was abysmal. And though I was impressed Gagne was within a second of the super fast Camier much of the weekend, he did not look to be a factor at all.

You hear alot when the Americans race in Europe etc about " just gonna try and learn". I  feel when Spies went over he was ready to own. I hope we see big gains by them in the next round. Like Hayden said, "Americans love winners". If WSBK wants more of a USA following, these guys better get it done. I don't see the door opening to Baubier, Gerloff, Beach etc without some serious results.... thoughts?

agree... kinda wonder what the hell they are doing in US ? what is the current quality of local SBK race in US.. for sure nowhere near BSB, no wonder the talent flow is trickle, if any. Nowadays it seems american crowd prefer more on the "entertainment sport" rather than real, hard, competitive racing.. they know to be serious in racing must move to Europe as early age as possible -like Stoner did and we witness the rest of history.. if there is no real racing battlegrounds in US we wont see any talent like Ben Spies emerge in future.

to Daytona Motorsports Group (yes, the NA$CAR people), and they ran off the manufacturers, cut the number of racers, and called false start penalties based on "pixel movement" on riders/teams who criticized them.  It almost seemed if DMG wanted to kill off motorcycle racing to eliminate competition.

Now DMG has thankfully been replaced by MotoAmerica run by Wayne Rainey, but they have a very deep hole to climb out of to get back to the days of riders such as KRSR, Spencer, Lawson, Rainey, and Schwantz, much less KRJR, Kocinski, Polen, N. Hayden, Spies, and Edwards.

But before being too hard on Gagne, remember just how experienced and good Camier is - he would win races on a factory Kawasaki or Ducati.