2020 Phillip Island World Superbike Race One Result: Tyre Wear Matters

The opening race of 2020 took place on a try track that is notoriously punishing on tyres as riders are only upright down the straight, spending the remainder of the lap on the sides of their tyres. With the weather behaving, and no horrible geese invading the track, twenty two laps of close racing ensued.

Five time world champion Jonathan Rea hit turn one in first place, passing both Scott Redding and Tom Sykes. Toprak Razgatlioglu briefly held second place, but Tom Sykes took it from him. Michael van der Mark, Scott Redding, Leon Hallam and Loris Baz rounded out the top seven. Turn seven, Sykes carried a lot of corner speed and tried to get underneath Rea, but his front tyre hit the inside of Rea's Kawasaki and pushed him off his line. Rea tried to recover, but went off the track, wobbling through the gravel. Rea rejoined the race in last place.

Tom Sykes led lap two, ahead of Scott Redding, Michael van der Mark, Toprak Razgatlioglu, Loris Baz, Leon Haslam, Alex Lowes and Garrett Gerloff. Jonathan Rea, with empty track in front of him, set the fastest lap with a 1'30.501. The eight rider peloton trained together until lap five when Gerloff couldn't keep up with the seven riders in front of him. Loris Baz also dropped out of the leading group by overshooting turn one, losing several places when he returned to the race. 

At the start of lap six, Scott Redding tried to make a move into turn one, but Tom Sykes kept his lead, outbraving the Ducati. Jonathan Rea had caught the slower riders and was carving his way through them, barging Federico Caricasulo out of the way so hard out of turn four that he had to apologise. Rea was trying to get past Eugene Laverty outside turn eight, but he hit a rippled part of the track and his front wheel started skipping over the track, causing his bike to slide out and end Rea's race. 

The leading six riders split into two groups as Alex Lowes and Leon Haslam dropped off the back of the leading four as they fought their own fight, but on lap nine, they caught back up. At half race distance, as lap twelve started, Scott Redding made his move, passing Tom Sykes down the straight. Michael van der Mark followed Redding through and passed Sykes into turn one. Toprak Razgatlioglu made his move on Sykes into turn four, the favourite aggressive pass corner, and Sykes went from first to fourth in four corners. A lap later Alex Lowes made the same move as Razgatlioglu, passing Sykes. Leon Haslam followed Lowes through and Sykes ended up in sixth position. The leading trio held a brief gap from Lowes, but Lowes and Haslam caught up the next lap, dropping Sykes off the leading group as his tyres were not up for the pace at the front. 

On lap fifteen, there was a change at the front. Third-placed Toprak Razgatlioglu tried to pass his teammate into turn one, but he couldn't make it work. On turn four, however, he passed both Michael van der Mark and Scott Redding in one move, and van der Mark took the opportunity to keep Redding off his line and slotted into second place. Leon Haslam, a few bikes back, passed Alex Lowes at turn four, holding fourth place until a few laps later when Lowes took it back. 

The leading five bikes were still very close, with the Yamahas leading the Ducati at the front as the Kawasaki and Honda contested fourth place. On lap nineteen of twenty two, Alex Lowes started showing Scott Redding his wheel and made his move to pass him at turn four. After Michael van der Mark took the lead from Toprak Razgatlioglu, Lowes applied the same pressure to Razgatlioglu. At the beginning of lap twenty one, Lowes passed both van der Mark and Razgatlioglu into turn one, but by turn two, Razgatlioglu took the lead from him. Leon Haslam's tyres could no longer keep up and he dropped back, leaving the front four to contest the podium. 

The last lap started with Toprak Razgatlioglu leading Michael van der Mark, Alex Lowes and Scott Redding, with Lowes and Redding swapping back and forth down the straight and in turn one. Redding finally took third place at turn four, but Lowes took it back on the exit. Lowes then passed van der Mark directly before the final turn and the four bikes came howling rouhgd the last corner and onto the straight as one tight group. 

Toprak Razgatlioglu won the race, seven thousandths of a second ahead of Alex Lowes and just forty one thousandths from Alex Lowes. Michael van der Mark missed out on the podium just over an eighth of a second off the winner. All three podium finishers were new to their bikes for 2020 and were on three different bikes. 

Loris Baz was the leading independent rider in seventh place, behind Alvaro Bautista. 


Pos No. Rider Bike Gap
1 54 T. RAZGATLIOGLU Yamaha YZF R1  
2 22 A. LOWES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 0.007
3 45 S. REDDING Ducati Panigale V4 R 0.041
4 60 M. VAN DER MARK Yamaha YZF R1 0.137
5 91 L. HASLAM Honda CBR1000RR-R 3.910
6 19 A. BAUTISTA Honda CBR1000RR-R 4.426
7 76 L. BAZ Yamaha YZF R1 4.493
8 7 C. DAVIES Ducati Panigale V4 R 11.849
9 66 T. SYKES BMW S1000 RR 11.910
10 21 M. RINALDI Ducati Panigale V4 R 11.922
11 50 E. LAVERTY BMW S1000 RR 11.949
12 64 F. CARICASULO Yamaha YZF R1 20.720
13 11 S. CORTESE Kawasaki ZX-10RR 20.778
14 31 G. GERLOFF Yamaha YZF R1 26.039
RET 13 T. TAKAHASHI Honda CBR1000RR-R 14
RET 12 X. FORES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 10
RET 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10RR 17 Laps
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Rea had an easy top 5 beckoning. But fell victim to trying to do it all too fast. Tomorrow will be interesting. 

Great race. Honda immediately on the pace. Lowes looked good. Yamahas fantastic too. Looks like a great season, hopefully. 

Sykes is always over agressive around Rea. Desperate to prove something to himself.

Great race though. Lots of contenders. Even Honda showing some pace. What is wrong with Davies?

Jared, no comment on Bautista's race? From fifteenth to sixth, ending just over 4 seconds from the winner. I'd say he did pretty good. He benefitted from a couple of retirements but passed a whole lot of people, showed great pace, consistency, and determination--all on a brand new bike and the first time ever he raced an inline four.

Impressive ride by Bautista. His grid position penalized him 3 seconds by the end of the first lap. He then put up a relentless pace while carving his way through the field. He definitely had podium potential had he started closer to the front. 

Yeah, he did amazingly, but his achievement was overshadowed by the intense close racing four seconds ahead of him. 

Toprak's composure was superb throughout, I'm sure Yamaha is over the moon they've got someone on the R1 this capable. The Sykes/Rea contact was unfortunate, and totally unnecessary considering the 2020 season had only been officially "on" for what, maybe 45 seconds???

Just watched re crash at lukey heights. Could have been soooo much worse.

The commentators missed it but Toprak looked nearly half lock/full powerslide off turn3 like it was a flat tracker on the last lap. He is fun to watch with the super loose style, glad to see the win was so contested.

Great opening race. Welcome back Honda, impressive debut considering the lack of decent testing mileage with a brand new machine, due to mixed weather conditions.

I was seriously impressed with Bautusta's race through the field, that was class, and it was great to see Haslam and Lowes finally showing their speed. I thought Razgatioglu rode a beautiful race that belies his relatively short time in WSBK to date. 

Talking of speed, where have Yamaha found their extra ponnies? I know PI isn't necesserialy a true barometer of pace, but I really hope this is sign of things to come in WSBK 2020. I haven't followed for a while, but I hope this level of competition between 4 different manufacturers, can be maintained. 

Yamaha has done a big evolution. The suspension is more planted too, both ends are working better.

The engine:
The bulk of the work was done at the cylinder head, where the intake ports were shortened and intake volume reduced 12% after the throttle valve. The fuel injectors were moved on top of the throttle body instead of below, and are aimed with a straighter path towards the intake valve. The injectors themselves are now 10-hole instead of 12-hole.To help keep temps under control, cooling passages at the exhaust ports are increased. A tweak to the rocker arm shape gives it more stability at high rpm. This works in conjunction with a new camshaft profile with the same valve lift and overlap. After the air comes in to the engine and is then burned off and expelled, it moves to the exhaust side, where the catalyzers are positioned more forward so they can come to temperature quicker and burn off spent gasses sooner.

Inside the engine, the oil pump sees a 2mm reduction on rotor width to reduce the load required on the engine to drive it (apparently the engine is getting plenty of oil, especially at high rpm). Inside the crankcase, oil passages have been reduced in size slightly, and so has the piston cooler nozzle. At the crankshaft, the big end oil passage is reduced slightly by 0.5mm, but the journal plain bearing width is increased 3mm. Yamaha says the result is more lubrication to the crankshaft and less of a chance of oil starvation.

The engine’s character mimics the crossplane platform of MotoGP. The 2020 changes are subtle; they offer smoother delivery across the entire rev range rather than more raw power. This allows the CP4 powerplant’s 270-180-90-180 firing order to hook the tires up with more traction in a more finely tuned manner.

Electronics are better:
10x traction control settings
4x slide control
4x wheelie control
3x quickshifter (clutchless shifting)
3x launch control

It looks like the engine is more efficient in its burn. The outright power #'s on the dyno look down on several competitors, but (in true Yamaha fashion) outright peak power stats do not account sufficiently for what we see at trap speed.


Thank you for a great post on the Yamaha improvements Motoshrink. I think there might be fireworks between their two riders as the races progress.

Hi Steve! Just basic digging in the geeky wormholes of the interwebs. Happy to ablige, as I was curious as well.

Rumor has it the peak HP of the motor stock plus a pipe is ~200hp. But it keeps up w the 215hp bikes fine.

Impressive ride also by the WSBK rookie Gerloff, who started 17th or so, moved up to 8th—maybe even 7th for a bit?—and kept a solid hold on 8th until around half distance before dropping back pretty fast and pretty far. Would like to hear what put a stop to the strong showing—a shot tire?

That's how I understood it...torched the rear tire running that pace. Set up? Tire managment? It's probably real hard backing down from the lap times you're doing and the position your in for the sake of the tire in later laps, but he'll learn those things.

Garrett had a crash in morning warm up. He is semi OK. Has concussion apparently, that is the end of his weekend.

Leon Camier also not riding.

Eugene Laverty demolished a BMW this morning. Eugene will miss today's two races. More bad luck for the likable Irish rider.



I quite like the geese. But perhaps not on track.