Aprilia RX 50

WSBK Phillip Island: Laverty, Suzuki almost steal the show


For better and for worse, Eugene Laverty was the protagonist in the WSBK season opener in Phillip Island . In Race 1, the Suzuki rider stole the show with a spectacular comeback from seventh position to interrupt a win-less streak of 94 races for the Japanese constructor (the last win for the GSX-R dated back to 2010, in Kyalami, South Africa) and win back-to- back races on the different bikes (after switching from Aprilia). In Race 2, his engine blew up with seven laps to go while he was fighting at the top against polesitter Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) and Loris Baz (Kawasaki), prompting the marshals to wave the red flags and stop the race, which did not restart as the lap count was above 66 percent of the total distance.

It certainly wasn’t ideal, said the Irishman. After a perfect race, I thought I could win another. The track was a little slippery, Guintoli had the pace, and the Kawasakis were taking advantage of rear grip to get out of the corners really fast, but my bike was really agile and I felt I could have really made up for the top-speed deficit and get first place again.

Still, Laverty made a rather strong statement when he preceded Aprilia’s factory duo comprised of Marco Melandri (the rider who replaced him on the RSV4 . despite finishing behind him in the championship) and Sylvain Guintoli. The latter redeemed the Italian manufacturer with a win in Race 2, confirming his fondness for the Australian track, where he took a first and a second place last year.

After having two surgeries during the winter break to heal my shoulder, and not being able to ride a bike for four months, this is the end of a nightmare for me, the new championship leader said. I had fun out there, and boosted my confidence lap after lap. In Race 1, I just got greedy.

I was the fastest during the warm-up session, and thought I could keep the same pace in the race. Unfortunately, the track conditions proved to be different and I didn’t have much tire left in the final phases.

With Laverty and Guintoli in top form, the other riders had to settle for points. Melandri took second place in Race 1, but went wide at turn 4 in Race 2, losing his podium chances and finishing in eighth position. A mistake that the Italian, formerly with BMW, blamed on lack of racing experience with the new bike, whose potential is a lot higher.

Tom Sykes enjoyed opposite destinies. After struggling with a blistered rear tire in Race 1, the Brit experimented successfully with the setup of his ZX- 10R to take third place in Race 2. In his first outing as the reigning world champion, however, he had more issues than simply those related with his Kawasaki. Baz made a really aggressive move on me in turn 4, which triggered a bad chain of events in the first race, Sykes observed.

I then found myself on the blind side of Davies, and nearly crashed. I understand that a lot of riders get really excited in the first race of the season, but I hope that being a champion doesn’t put a target on my back. Anyway, Phillip Island has never been my best track, so I’m happy to leave with quite a few points before heading back to more suitable circuits in Europe.

His allegedly aggressive teammate Baz clinched second place in Race 2 to regain confidence after a crash-marred week. I really needed this podium, as I crashed three times and gave my mechanics some extra work, the Frenchman said. It wasn’t easy to get back in the groove, but I managed to do so.

The choice of a harder compound for the front tire in race two really helped.

Davide Giugliano led the way for Ducati . taking two solid fourth place finishes on the Panigale . which has confirmed the steady improvements made during the off-season (although Phillip Island has been good for the Panigale in the past). The same can be said for Honda . as Jonathan Rea was fifth and sixth respectively on the CBR1000RR . The bike still needs to iron out some electronic details, and the team scheduled two extra tests in Spain toward the end of March, one in Jerez and the other in Cartagena.

David Salom (Kawasaki) led the EVO class with ninth and tenth place finishes, while Aaron Yates missed the points zone at his debut on the world stage with the EBR 1190 RX. The bike was the best that it’s been all weekend, the American said. We found something in the warm-up session, which has helped us massively.

Towards the end of the race I was thinking about not getting in the way of leaders, but we did what we set out to achieve, and that was to finish both races and get a lot more data. We can go to Aragon proud of what we have achieved here.

The championship will now enjoy a six-week break before heading back to Aragon (Spain), which will host the second round on April 13.

World Superbike Phillip Island Race 1 results:

1- Eugene Laverty (IRL) Suzuki

2- Marco Melandri (ITA) Aprilia

3- Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia

4- Davide Giugliano (ITA) Ducati

5- Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki

6- Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda

7- Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki

8- Chaz Davies (GBR) Ducati

9- David Salom (SPA) Kawasaki EVO

10- Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Ducati EVO

11- Glenn Allerton (AUS) BMW EVO

12- Fabian Foret (FRA) Kawasaki EVO

13- Claudio Corti (ITA) MV Agusta

14- Jeremy Guarnoni (FRA) Kawasaki EVO

15- Sheridan Morais (RSA) Kawasaki EVO

16- Imre Toth (HUN) BMW

17- Aaron Yates (USA) EBR

Aprilia RX 50

DNF Allesandro Andreozzi (ITA) Kawasaki

DNF Leon Haslam (GBR) Honda

DNF Alex Lowes (GBR) Suzuki

DNF Toni Elias (SPA) Aprilia

World Superbike Phillip Island Race 2 results:

1- Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia

2- Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki

3- Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki

4- Davide Giugliano (ITA) Ducati

5- Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda

6- Leon Haslam (GBR) Honda

7- Chaz Davies (GBR) Ducati

8- Marco Melandri (ITA) Aprilia

9- Toni Elias (SPA) Aprilia

10- David Salom (SPA) Kawasaki EVO

11- Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Ducati EVO

12- Fabian Foret (FRA) Kawasaki EVO

13- Alex Lowes (GBR) Suzuki

Aprilia RX 50
Aprilia RX 50
Aprilia RX 50
Aprilia RX 50
Aprilia RX 50

  • Test Ride: 2009 Aprilia Mana850
  • 2007 Aprilia Tuono 1000 R Factory motorcycle review @ Top Speed
  • Aprilia RSV4 Stuntbike Build StuntBums
  • 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice…
  • Sport-Tourer Comparison- Aprilia RST1000 Futura vs. BMW R1150RS…