WorldSBK: Phillip Island testing draws to a close as race weekend beckons
Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea set the fastest lap of the second and final day of testing in Phillip Island, after teammate and number one rival Tom Sykes had done the same on Day 1. Rea, who used the morning of the second day to focus on longer runs and race simulations due to doubt about the weather later in the afternoon, posted a best of 1’31.249, one and a half tenths back on Sykes’ fastest of Day 1. With consistently impressive lap times throughout his longer runs, Rea is looking imperious as he tries to defend his crown.
Fastest during the afternoon session was 2014 Champion Sylvain Guintoli, with the Frenchman taking his new YZF R1 to the top of the timesheets and keeping it there, despite an earlier small crash. With defending champion Rea just behind him, it was Yamaha teammate Alex Lowes who then put in the third fastest lap, with the returning Japanese manufacturer therefore achieving two of the three fastest laps of the afternoon.
The rate of attrition remained high on Day 2 in both WorldSBK and WorldSSP, and red flags interrupted track time on several occasions. Crashes for Torres, Hook and Menghi saw the riders transported to the medical center and the red flag deployed. Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres escaped any fractures but injured his elbow; a small surgery is planned for tomorrow in Melbourne. Hook crashed at the Southern Loop and subsequent oil on track caused another red flag, with the Aussie suffering a left shoulder dislocation with greater tubercle fracture, and VFT rider Fabio Menghi then crashed at T11 close to the end of the session. The red flag was deployed once again and WorldSSP delayed slightly as the Italian was airlifted to Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, initially diagnosed at the circuit Medical Center before confirmation then came of an acetabular fracture (pelvis).
After two full days of action in WorldSBK, Tom Sykes’ fastest lap from Day 1 remains the fastest of the test. With one Kawasaki blistering over one lap and one showing more consistency, who will come out on top in Round 1? Find out as the lights go out for the new era of WorldSBK on Saturday at 04:00 GMT, 3pm local time.
Kenan Sofuoglu has laid down another marker in the second and final WorldSSP test session ahead of the first Round of the season. Setting his fastest lap in the final session, the Turkish rider managed a 1’33.786, keeping himself 0.669 seconds clear of nearest challenger Lorenzo Zanetti. The third fastest in the final session was Sofuoglu´s teammate Randy Krummenacher, who was fastest on Day 1, ahead of Wahr and Baldolini. Jules Cluzel, although finishing the day in third on the combined times, ended FP2 in eighth position.
Red flags and rain again interrupted proceedings, with big crashes for Jezek and Stapleford. The test sessions for both WorldSBK and WorldSSP at Phillip Island have seen high rates of attrition and injury, with several riders finding themselves in doubt for the first races of the season.
Sofuoglu however seems to have found a consistent margin above the pace of his rivals, with the 4 time Champion looking supremely confident on the final approach to the first round of the WorldSSP Championship this weekend. However, rookie teammate Randy Krummenacher did outpace him with a lap on Day 1, which remains the fastest overall.
Will it be a season of old rivals or one of new nemeses? Testing is now over and WorldSSP kicks off this weekend, with lights out for the first time at 2.30 GMT, 13.30 local time.