Riders reflect on Phillip Island WorldSBK season opener

2020 WorldSBK
Round One – Phillip Island
Superbike Riders Reflect


Alex Lowes

“Honestly I really enjoyed this weekend, I was quite a way off the pace in the test, and nervous coming into the weekend. What a weekend I couldn’t have asked for more. The battle was fantastic in that race, I tried to control myself as I kept getting punted wide and dropping back to sixth or seven, but I kept it alive and knew it would come down to the end. I just kept it smooth and luckily for me today I had a bit more grip than the other guys, so hopefully a sign of the season ahead. This track is a little bit strange, when it gets hot the tyres drop off, but I’m interested to get to a few different tracks… this man [Rea] is still the man to beat…”

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday LowesGB

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday LowesGB

Alex Lowes the victor in WorldSBK Race Two at Phillip Island

Jonathan Rea

“Huge kudos to this guy [Lowes], that’s no means feat, so enjoy the moment – what I mean by that is that when you arrive at a new team, I know what it means to win your first race. It’s huge. He set the pace today, at the end, very clever, and I felt like I was hung out to dry a bit. I sat out in the front thinking, when will someone come through…. It felt like I was just riding…. hanging out in the wind. Super happy to be standing here, yesterday I went down at 220 km/h at Hay Shed, and I was hurting. So to win that Superpole race this morning was incredible. I had horrible news this morning, my Nana passed away, my mum called this morning to tell me, so I wanted to win that race for her, she’s in a better place for now. I’m looking forward to getting home and hanging out with my family now. We head to Qatar in a few weeks time and I hope to carry that momentum forward. At the end of the day good work Alex.”

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday LowesGB

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday LowesGB

Lowes leads Rea

Scott Redding

“First of all, it was a bit bloody hot (crowd laughed), I had a year out in BSB riding around in the cold so that was a bit of a shock to the system today trying to prepare for the heat. Third again, in contention for the win, to start a World Superbike season like that is good. These guys have a lot of experience, I was trying to learn as much as possible while being attacked by guys behind, banging bars, and trying to think of a strategy, conserve the tyre…. I had a great time, not happy with third, don’t get me wrong. I do want to win and think I have a bike that can win. I feel very confident. This weekend was a massive learning experience to me, I think this circuit wasn’t the easiest one for me to start on as far as getting used to tyre wear, but I learnt a lot so thanks to these guys being in front for most of the race, even though they beat me, congratulations. It’s good to be back on the world scene. I tried to keep it clean even though we did bang bars quite a lot, but hopefully we can have good racing like this for the rest of the year.”

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday Lowes

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday Lowes

WorldSBK Race Two Podium

Toprak Razgatlioglu

“We have made an incredible start to the season. At Phillip Island in the last two seasons I was not fast, but we were at the top this time on the R1. The sprint race today was not bad – quite good really – but there was just too much spinning on the last lap and Johnny passed me inside on the last corner. In the second race, the long race, I just waited patiently, and then with four laps to go I passed Loris Baz and started to go for a podium finish, but then my race was over. Overall, it has been a very nice, very good race weekend and we were just unlucky after the second race. Maybe I could not have won that one but I am sure I could have again been in the fight.”

Toprak ..tops the podium

Toprak ..tops the podium

Toprak Razgatlioglu won the opening race of the season

Michael van der Mark

“It has been a bit of a weird raceday. This morning in the Superpole race I did not have the confidence or feeling with the bike that I had yesterday, so it was a real ten-lap struggle. I was really upset because yesterday everything went so well, and I was just a bit unlucky to miss out in the last corner. For the final race we found a set-up solution and I had a really good start. To be honest my plan worked out and again we planned not to take the lead and try to slow it down a bit, not stress the tyre. It went well until two laps before the end when the guys around me started to push. I pushed as well but I just did not have enough grip to attack again. It is a shame but I think we must be quite happy with the pace that we have had and how quick we have been from the first moment on this track.”

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday vdMarkGB

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday vdMarkGB

WorldSBK Race Two

Chaz Davies

“It was a pretty tough weekend, but all in all, things didn’t go badly in Race 2. It was good to be able to get closer to the front group even though the starting position was very complicated. Of course I can’t be super happy about this weekend but it was very important to finish in a positive way. We still have a lot of work to do and I can’t wait to be in Qatar, a track that I really like”.

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday Lowes

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday Lowes

WorldSBK 2020

Tom Sykes

“It’s just been one of those weekends where we have been a bit unlucky. We had an unbelievable qualifying and the pace of the BMW S 1000 RR was really impressive and I felt very comfortable on the bike. In the Superpole Race, I felt really good. There were a few incidents on track which meant I lost around 1.6 seconds which coincidentally was the same gap to the leader at the end of the race, but this was a good step forward for us. Going into the final race, we stuck to our game plan, we got a good start and I just tried a preserve the tyre a little bit. But unfortunately had a little technical issue which lost us a bit of time. It was a disappointment but I tried my best, the team tried their best and we will continue to do so for Qatar.”

WorldSBK Rnd Superpole Sykes

WorldSBK Rnd Superpole Sykes

Sykes took pole

Eugene Laverty

“Unfortunately I had a crash in warm-up and suffered concussion so the doctors did not allow me to race. I understand their decision, even if it is not easy to accept as a rider but ultimately it is the correct one. I am very disappointed with myself for the crash as the bike was fantastic. It was the first lap of warm-up, I should have been more tentative and I was on course to take first position. I’d needed to take my time and be calmer because I missed a big opportunity for the races today. I’m sorry to the team.”

WSBK TBG WSBK Round Phillip Island Eugene Laverty TBG

WSBK TBG WSBK Round Phillip Island Eugene Laverty TBG

Eugene Laverty – TBG Image

Alvaro Bautista

“Today (Sunday) was more difficult than yesterday also because I started from the back in Race 2 following this morning’s crash in the sprint race. A pity because I think I could have fought in the top five in the Superpole race. We made another little change to the bike today and that was definitely an improvement, but I tried too hard and lost the front. Track conditions in the afternoon were really tricky, as I had no grip or sufficient corner speed. Considering that one of the areas we are working on is acceleration, Race 2 was honestly quite tough. All in all though, we are not too far from the fastest riders and I’m happy with our weekend. I think it has been positive for us because we’ve taken some small steps forward and collected a lot of data during these three races to be able to continue with bike development. I want to say thank you to Honda because it’s not easy to win right away with a new bike, especially with a rider like me, used to another engine configuration. Everyone is really supportive and helping me, trying to give me everything I ask for, and we have real margin for improvement with our bike”.

WSBK Rnd Pits TH Fireblade Bautista

WSBK Rnd Pits TH Fireblade Bautista

Alvaro Bautista

Leon Haslam

“A false neutral, my mistake, caused me to crash in Race 2. I’m a little disappointed with the weekend’s results because I felt we had the pace to be on the podium. But we all know that, at this track, it is key to put everything together, saving the tyre, engine management etc. and so I think that’s why we did how we did today, with no previous references to use either of course. In Race 1, we were there until four laps from the end, so the weekend has had its positives of course, while today was a little more difficult. Essentially, I’m fairly happy with our speed, but we need to manage it better. We’re still testing fundamental things and strategies and that work will continue at the next round of Qatar”.

WSBK TBG WSBK Round Phillip Island Haslam Fireblade TBG

WSBK TBG WSBK Round Phillip Island Haslam Fireblade TBG

Leon Haslam – TBG Image

Takumi Takahashi

“This track is not an easy one to learn, but I feel I’ve made a few small steps forward in terms of my feeling with the bike, particularly between the sprint race and the second SBK race. Various issues have slowed us down this weekend, but this is not surprising considering my limited experience and the fact that this is a new project, but overall I’d say we’ve made some progress and continue to gain experience working together as a team. We will take what we have learned and turn our attention to the next round in Qatar.”


Marc Bongers – BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director

“It has been a disappointing day. Eugene felt extremely comfortable on the bike. So he maybe was a bit over enthusiastic and unfortunately he crashed while being on a very fast lap. The positive aspect, however, is the fact that he clearly has developed a good feeling for the bike. What happened is a pity, but we are glad that he did not sustain any severe injuries apart from concussion. Tom started the morning’s race from pole position. Here we could see that power is still an issue as we are still losing on the straight. Sixth place however was not bad, especially only 1.6 seconds behind the top. The field is extremely close together this year. In race two, he unfortunately suffered a minor technical issue that forced him to quickly restart the bike. It seems, however, that in this race we also could not have maintained the pace in the final stages so we focus on the combination of riding style, chassis and tyre durability. You have to see though that Phillip Island is a challenge in this regard and this could improve at the next races.”

Polesitter and early leader Tom Sykes on the BMW

Polesitter and early leader Tom Sykes on the BMW

Sykes leads race one

Shaun Muir – Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

“First of all, on Eugene’s side I feel really disappointed for him because he certainly turned a corner this morning. He felt as though we had given him a good bike and unfortunately during this morning’s warm up got caught out on a fast lap at T10 and crashed. The crash was a big impact crash and as a result he was left concussed and could not continue further in the two remaining races. To Eugene’s own admission he was a little exuberant to crash but we don’t hold that against him, he was trying his best and we are glad he is relatively okay and will be back for Qatar. Tom really struggled today. The Superpole Race I think was a fair reflection of his speed to get P6, but he was still lacking that top speed which hurts us here. Going into the final race from sixth on the grid, he got a good start and kept in the group but unfortunately had a technical issue mid pack and was lucky not to be collected. He then reset the bike and finished tenth to take a couple of points, but the damage had been done by then as the tyre was too worn to try and catch the front group. We will build on our qualifying and free practice pace which has always been top 6 and try to convert it into good race positions in Qatar.”

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday Rea

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday Rea

2020 WorldSBK

Paul Denning – Pata Yamaha Team Principal

“After yesterday’s victory and Michael being so close to the win we were obviously hoping to replicate that, but with the full understanding that when the racing is this close it can go in the other direction! Unfortunately Michael was restricted in the Superpole race due to a settings imbalance, and this is something we have to improve upon. Toprak looked like he was going to double up on yesterday’s win but got very narrowly beaten to the flag by Jonathan Rea, after another outstanding performance on his new Yamaha. In Race two, Michael’s bike was much improved but it was a strange race. Unfortunately at the end when it was time to “go” we had just used a bit more of the tyre than the podium finishers. That was disappointing but again it was a really solid, fighting ride by Michael that has put us in a decent position after the first round of the championship. Unfortunately we have to apologise to Toprak and to Yamaha as the bike had a problem that could and should have been avoided, which is extremely disappointing. Despite that, if we reflect on this Phillip Island weekend, being so competitive, having won the first race and ran at the front all weekend, we have to be happy with the confirmation that the R1 has taken a good step forward into 2020. With a very strong bike and two incredibly talented riders, we can look forward positively to the rest of the season.”

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday ReaGB

WorldSBK Rnd R R Phillip Island WorldSBK Sunday ReaGB

WorldSBK 2020


Source: MCNews.com.au

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