As is the custom with World Supebike racing and with Race 1 out of the way, the WSBK grid lined up to it all again. Treating fans to a double-dose of motorcycle racing, you would think that the second race would be a repeat of the previous, but it was anything but that. Exciting from the first lap to the very last, the 2012 World Superbike Championship was off to a great start with its season-opener at Phillip Island, Australia. Continue on for results.
Despite a tragic beginning to the first race of the season, World Superbike racing returned to our lives today with the season-opener at Phillip Island. With cloudy skies and strong winds, Tom Sykes and the factory Kawasaki WSBK team took their place on the starting line at the pole position. Showing a marked improvement over last year’s measure, Kawasaki would still have to contend with the Ducati of Carlos Checa, the Aprilia of Max Biaggi, and the ever improving Honda of Johnny Rea.
It is our displeasure to report that Saturday’s World Superbike Superpole qualifying event at Phillip Island was cancelled after a fatality occurred during the Australian Superstock 600 support race. In an incident very similar to the one that took Marco Simoncelli’s life last year, 17-year-old Oscar McIntyre collided with fellow ASTK racers Luke Burgess and Michael Lockhart on the second lap of Saturday’s support race. Though McIntyre received immediate medical attention, he succumbed to his injuries, and event organizers eventually cancelled the Superpole sessions. The last time a World Superbike sessions was cancelled was at Donington in 1998 and due to the snow.
Accordingly, this means that Sunday’s racing grid will be determined by the best lap times from the Qualifying Practice 2 session, which puts Tom Sykes at the pole position, followed by Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa. Look for a strong showing from the Kawasaki contingency on Sunday, but the smart bets are still on the Aprilia of Biaggi and the Ducati of Checa, which have been consistently fast all week. Get excited race fans, the first race of the 2012 World Superbike Championship is about to be underway.
Although Ducati will not be racing the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale in World Superbike this year, the new offering from Bologna found itself unsurprisingly on a revised homologation list this week for the World Superstock 1000 FIM Cup. While there will not be an official factory-backed WSTCK effort, taking up the cause to develop the Panigale on the track will be Effenbert-Liberty Racing, who will campaign two Ducati 1199 superbikes, with Brett McCormick and Federico Sandi at the helms of those machines.
Bad fortune continues to follow John Hopkins, as the Anglo-American rider broke his hand today during a high-speed crash at the Phillip Island World Superbike test. Again breaking his right hand, Hopkins tweeted the following after the incident: “Well I’m absolutely devastated to announce that after a high speed crash I’ve broke a bone in my R/ hand ! Severity is yet to be determined.” Hopper would continue, saying that he would fly back to the United States today, where he will have his hand examined and treated.
On his way to recovery, in more than one way, John Hopkins may not be the man he used to be after this weekend. Having a number of surgeries and complications with his right hand after his MotoGP wild card crash at Brno, Hopper finally resorted to having the top of his right ring finger amputated on Friday. Set to start physiotherapy in about a week and to back on the bike in three weeks, Hopkins hopes to be ready in time for World Superbike’s season-opener at Phillip Island in six weeks’ time.
Consulting with physicians before the surgery on Thursday, the amputation of part of Hopper’s finger was viewed as the best way to resolve his continuing problems with his hand, and ensure that his 2012 WSBK season would remain intact. Hopkins has a lot riding on this season, as he and Crescent Suzuki are hoping to continue the momentum from the 2011 British Superbike Championship. With Hopper hoping to return to MotoGP in 2013, we don’t think the Anglo-American’s resolve to accomplish that goal can be questioned at this point.
Yamaha has released a statement saying that factory MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo underwent successful surgery to his left ring finger in Melbourne after Sunday’s Australian GP. Lorenzo injured his hand during a violent tankslapper coming out of Turn 12 during the race warm-up session at Phillip Island. The tragic incident caused the Spanish rider to miss racing in Australia, effectively handing the 2011 MotoGP Championship to Casey Stoner. Thankfully however, early reports indicate the injury will not be career-threatening, and Yamaha is reporting that as a result of the surgery, no functionality will be lost in either Lorenzo’s finger or his hand.
Despite multiple showers, MotoGP managed to dodge having wet any sessions for the Australian GP. With the weather always unpredictable at Phillip Island, concern on what was above quickly turned to concern on the track, as Jorge Lorenzo suffered a weekend-ending finger injury after a violent tankslapper sent the Spaniard to the tarmac in Turn 12. Out of the Australian GP, the incident all but assures Casey Stoner of clinching the 2011 MotoGP Championship at his home GP, and on his birthday no less.
The bad news continued for Yamaha, as Ben Spies announced that he would not race at Phillip Island as well, too battered and concussed from yesterday’s 167 mph get-off. Also a scratch was Australia’s own Damian Cudlin, who was filling-in for the injured Hector Barbera in the Mapfire Aspar Ducati squad. Cudlin’s second chance at riding a Ducati in a MotoGP race, the Australian also had to sit this race out because of injuries sustained during a T4 high-side on Saturday morning.
With the grid down to just 14 riders, the new front row consisted of Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, and Alvaro Baustista. Lorenzo’s misfortune is an obvious boon to the Rizla Suzuki squad, who have found a new intensity these past few races. With Spie’s, and subsequently Yamaha’s, withdrawal from the Australian GP, Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa also got a boost, moving from the middle of the third row, to the outside of the second row. Teammate, and rival for third in the Championship, Andrea Dovizioso certainly can’t be pleased with that circumstance of that situation.
With all eyes on the picturesque island track, MotoGP fans eagerly awaited to see if a new World Champion would be crowned today. Continue reading to find out more.
Within an hour of the news that Jorge Lorenzo had been medically ruled out of competing at Phillip Island, Ben Spies has also said he won’t compete because of his injuries from his crash on Saturday. Going off the track at 167 mph, Spies suffered injuries to his chest and head in the high-speed off. Likely bruising and possibly cracking his ribs, Spies valiantly took part in the Australian GP’s warm-up session this morning, though lapped at a considerable slower pace and complained of concentration problems. In too much pain to ride in this afternoon’s race, Spies’ retirement for the weekend means that Yamaha Racing is out for the GP down under.
Jorge Lorenzo has been deemed unfit to compete in the Australian GP, after injuring his finger during the Warm-Up session at Phillip Island. Encounter a major headshake, Lorenzo hit the ground hard as his Yamaha YZR-M1 rounded the corner onto the front straight. Grasping his left hand afterwards, it has become apparent that Lorenzo has injured his ring finger in the crash.
Early reports state Lorenzo severed the tip of his finger, while reporters outside the Phillip Island Medical Center were briefed that the tip of his finger had been lacerated and split open. Regardless of the extent of Lorenzo’s unfortunate injury, the impact for this weekend is that the still reigning-World Champion will not compete in the Australian GP this week, effectively handing Casey Stoner the 2011 MotoGP Championship if the Australian can finish 6th or better in this afternoon’s race.