Beautiful Phillip Island hosted the opening round of the 2017 Motul FIM World Superbike Championship this weekend just gone, and what a show it was. With the beautiful backdrop of the ocean, the action on the track was electric as both races were fought fiercely, which in turn put on some serious hard fought battles on the track. Saturdays SuperPole qualifying for race 1 saw the factory Kawasaki riders take the top 2 positions, with Jonathan Rea stopping the clock with a time of 1:29.573, which was just enough to beat team mate Tom Sykes who set a time of 1:29.605. While 3rd position was taken by Marco Melandri on his Ducati, with a time of 1:29.734, which put him on the front row as well.
Race 1 on Saturday saw last years defending champion Jonathan Rea on his factory Kawasaki take the opening race of the year in fine style indeed. Rea beat Chaz Davies from the Aruba.it Racing Ducati team by just 0.042 sec, as the pair battled tooth and nail into the last corner. Tom Sykes on his factory Kawasaki came home in 3rd place to take the final place on the podium, which saw Kawasaki have both their bikes on the podium. It was action from start to finish non-stop during the race, with Rea, Davies, Sykes, and Alex Lowes all taking their turn in sharing the race lead. Marco Melandri had the lead from the start line, and was running at the front for several laps, but crashed out at Southern Loop with only 8 laps to go.
The pit lane walk gets to see fans rub shoulders with the riders and crews, and is also a chance to see the machines up close as well. Getting to see this amazes me with the amount of work put into these bikes. Getting to see the bikes pulled apart, and then go out and race is well worth the walk down pit lane.
Race 2 on Sunday sees the new Reverse grid format. The top three finishers in race one will start from the third row of the grid, riders who finished in positions 4-6 will start from the front row, and riders who finished in positions 7-9 will start from the second row. So with race 2 under way it was an absolute cracker of a race, with Jonathan Rea taking the win from 9th place on the grid. Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team mates Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri would take 2nd and 3rd for race 2. On the last lap Rea managed to beat Davies to the finish line by just 0.025 sec!
P1 . Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team
“I’m so happy because to win a last lap battle here is hard, but to do it two times here and with tactical racing, it’s so hard. I just wanted to come here and start on my way, before yesterday I hadn’t won before the summer break in 2016 so it’s nice to start my campaign with 50 points and two wins.”
P2. Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
“It was tight in both races and this one was even closer I reckon. Everybody had a little go at taking the lead and tried to break away at the front, but it’s near-on impossible here at Phillip Island so I just ran my own race. I tried to break away with a couple of laps to go but it wasn’t going to happen. We gave away a lot of points here last year, so to take 40 points at what is not one of our favourite tracks is good and I look forward to the next one.”
P3. Marco Melandri – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
“It’s been a very good weekend, race one was difficult, race two was even more difficult because I came from the back, which meant I was pushing the tyre a bit too much. In the last few laps I didn’t have enough grip to try and fight for a win, but those two guys were a bit stronger than me today. To be back on the podium in my first Round after a year and a half off is good.”
Phillip Island had seen some really hard fought racing over the weekend, I must say it was a sight to behold. Such close racing… Wicked indeed.
Please enjoy pics below.