Jonathan Rea leads the field after an incident-packed second day of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island. Warmer weather and intense testing saw several riders take some serious tumbles, with a couple of riders suffering significant injury.
Fabio Menghi fell and fractured a hip in the morning, while Josh Hook crashed in the afternoon and dislocated his shoulder, and fracturing his greater tubercle (top of the bone in the upper arm). The crashes and subsequent clean-up meant that much of the afternoon session was lost, as marshals tried to clear the track.
The second day of testing did throw up the intriguing prospect of a nicely mixed field. Rea topped the morning session on the Kawasaki, while Sylvain Guintoli was quickest in the afternoon, on the Pata Yamaha. The top four overall times were set on four different bikes, less than a quarter of a second separating them.
With the World Superbike season almost upon us, the WSBK grid is at Phillip Island for two days of testing, ahead of the first event of the year which starts this weekend.
Rain disrupted practice for WSBK, just as it had for MotoGP last week, though the consequences were less severe. The rain and track conditions saw a few people fall – some, such as Karel Abraham, quite hard – but everyone will be fit to start testing again tomorrow.
With the start of the season so close, most of the work being done was on set up for the weekend, and it was once again the Kawasakis who came out on top, especially during the afternoon session.
Tom Sykes ended up on top of the timesheets, much to the delight of the Kawasaki man, who has historically not fared well at the circuit.
The start of the 2016 World Superbike Championship is rapidly approaching, and while good money favors the Kawasaki Racing Team, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team is looking very strong this year, and is poised well to impress at the series-opener in Australia.
Three years now on the same platform, Chaz Davies looks especially strong this year, and should certainly be in the podium hunt on any race weekend. We wouldn’t count him out of winning the Championship outright either. Listen to the latest Paddock Pass Podcast for our further thoughts on this.
“Last year was full of satisfaction. To be the first rider to win a race with the Panigale R meant a lot, not only for me but also all of Ducati and the many Ducatisti all over the world. We improved all the time and gradually achieved a package that was competitive at all circuits.”
“This was exactly the same during the winter tests, where with the latest evolutions in suspension and electronics, we could focus on performance over the distance. I am optimistic and can’t wait to start the championship,” Davies concluded.
Both Davies and teammate Davide Giugliano look very comfortable on the Ducati Panigale R, which will start the season this year with the GP-styled Akrapovic exhaust that debuted last year.
“After a difficult season, we are now looking ahead with optimism. Many things have changed, both on the bike and in my team, and I’d like to thank Ducati for this opportunity.”
“I’m starting to work well with Aligi and Paolo, my new crew chief and electronics technician. In the last test I was once again as quick as the top guys. I’m optimistic and can’t wait to go to Australia,” added Davide Giugliano.
Any high-level race bike is sex on wheels, but there is something about Ducati’s World Superbike effort that seems to produce machines that are extra-worthy of our saliva. The official team debut photos are after the jump, for that very purpose. Enjoy!
The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast comes from the World Superbike paddock, as myself and Steve English attended the WSBK test in Jerez, Spain a couple week ago.
Getting a chance to talk to most of the top teams, Steve and I go through what we can expect to see this season, and how things are shaping up for the boys in the World Superbike.
We hope to be bringing you a number of episodes that will cover the World Superbike Championship throughout the year, so there is something to look forward to in that regard.
The WSBK season starts officially in the last week of February, and we plan on being there starting Race 1.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!
The Aruba.it Ducati World Superbike squad is to remain unchanged for the 2016 season. Today, Ducati announced that they will be retaining Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano as their riders for next year, making it three seasons in a row the Ducati line up has remained the same.
2015 has not been kind to Davide Giugliano. The factory Ducati rider was already forced to miss the first four rounds of the season after fracturing two lumbar vertebrae in testing crash at Phillip Island, a week before the season began.
Now he will be forced to miss the remainder of the season, after scans revealed a fracture of the thoracic vertebra T3, sustained in a crash at Laguna Seca.
The weather is often a large part of the story at Laguna Seca. Usually it’s either heat, like the dangerously hot 2006 MotoGP weekend, or morning fog that delays the start of a day’s sessions, like nearly every time an event is held at this circuit.
But today the weather was a sudden thunderstorm that started just before sunrise. As the paddock came awake, lightning was flashing to the south and rain was drenching the circuit, washing the rubber off the asphalt and soaking the Media Center, to name only a couple of moisture-related casualties.
Out came the rain tires for the morning warm-up, and away they went on a track that was drying but still wet. But by the time Race 1 arrived, it was back to slicks for two dry races.
It’s great to be back on Asphalt & Rubber again, sitting next to Jensen in a media center at a race track, preparing photos for the A&R readers.
It’s great to be back at a World Superbike race as well, where the atmosphere is more relaxed than MotoGP. The bikes are just as shiny, and apparently you can just mosey down to your local dealer and buy one!
The bike above rolled right off the show room floor, I’m told. It would look great in my garage.
There’s also a jovial family atmosphere. Here two generations of Haslam watch Superpole 1, which is more amusing to some than to others.
Chaz Davies took the honors in Superpole 2 on a day that featured two Ducatis at the top of the time sheet.
To paraphrase a little bit, Troy Bayliss is absolutely, positively, for reals this time, never going to race in World Superbikes again, or so said the 45-year-old Australian after he completed the second WSBK race in Thailand on Sunday.
Bayliss has been filling in for the injured Davide Giugliano on the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike factory squad, but it seems the three-time WSBK champion will call it quits here in Thailand.
The announcement also effectively squashes rumors that Bayliss would do a couple more races with Ducati, as Giugliano is pegged to be absent for two more rounds.