Incident Packed Unofficial WorldSBK Test Ends

February 15, 2013
Byron Wilson
Byron Wilson
Associate Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

Byron's sure to be hunched over a laptop after the checkers are flown, caught in his own little version of heaven. Whether on dirt, street or a combination of both, MotoUSA's newest addition knows the only thing better than actually riding is telling the story of how things went down.

A number of World Superbike teams wrapped a two-day unofficial test at Phillip Island Friday with varied results. The circuit was recently resurfaced and on the first day remained quite slick, causing problems for a number of riders. Some, like FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier, reached record highs, while others, like Team Ducati Alstare’s Ayrton Badovini, may have been better off staying in the garage.

Camier posted the second-fastest lap on the first day of testing, and then on Friday logged an unofficial best lap of 1’32.2, beating the current circuit record by a half-second. He went out in the morning and set the pace on race tires, then went on to complete a full race simulation. Later in the day he lost the front end at high speed, on the final turn of his final lap, but was able to walk away unharmed. His teammate, Jules Cluzel, didn’t participate in the second day of testing following a big crash on Day 1 that forced him to seek medical treatment at a hospital in Melbourne to repair an injury sustained to his left elbow.

“The day started off really well and we got down to some good times,” said Camier. “The bike felt really comfortable, we improved it a little bit chassis wise and the electronics are slowly getting better. We also did a race run, I was not really pushing it, but just trying to be comfortable and the keep the lap-times consistent. We can still improve the race pace and I think I can do a bit of that through my riding. At the end of the day we had a massive crash when I was pushing for a really fast lap – I just got caught out by the wind. The bike was absolutely totaled, so the boys have got a lot of work to do tonight!”

The FIXI squad wasn’t the only to suffer from bad luck during the proceedings. Team SBK Ducati Alstare had some of the worst luck of all; Carlos Checa was unable to participate in either day of testing after stomach pain and nausea sent him to a local hospital where he was eventually treated for a blocked intestine. His teammate, Ayrton Badovini, avoided issue the first day of the test, but on the second day he high-sided on Turn 9 and also went to the hospital to treat what was thought to be a broken rib. Upon further examination it was determined that he’d sustained no serious injury, but the team is still awaiting official confirmation of that fact from the hospital.

Team SBK Ducati Alstare owner, Francis Battia, offered these comments in an official team press release.

“It is unfortunate that Carlos couldn’t ride at all. He suffered some sort of stomach problem the day after he arrived in Australia. Possibly it was something to do with jet-lag, the air-conditioning on the plane and the change of temperature. He went to hospital, but there are no big problems and we expect him to be back for the tests next week and then the race afterwards. Ayrton made a good start. He took things steadily, but used his head and kept improving. He gave the team a lot of information, so it was a shame that he crashed and couldn’t ride for the rest of the day. He has also gone to hospital (a different one to Carlos). We don’t think there are any problems but await the hospital’s confirmation. I’m a little frustrated because we couldn’t do as much development work as we wanted, but I am very happy about how well the collaboration with Ducati has been going over these days and we’re all looking forward to getting back on track next week.”

Kawasaki Racing Team was also on hand for the unofficial test, but their time was cut short by crashes as well. The 2012 SBK runner-up, Tom Sykes, went down on the first day before completing 10 laps, falling at high speed and injuring his left hand. Loris Baz, riding the track for the first time, also crashed on Day 1 and it was decided that he should sit out the remaining time to rest and recuperate.

“I hurt my left hand in a crash after less than 10 laps of the circuit, so we decided to rest up afterwards so I can be ready for the official tests in a few days,” said Sykes. “I do not do much crashing but I got caught out and these things happen in racing. Now we just have to react in the best way to be ready for the next test and then the race.”

“It was my first time here and I like the track a lot. I was going very well for a time but I crashed on corner two after 30 laps,” said Baz. “It was a big crash and I want to say sorry to Pere, the team and KHI, and I made the mistake. I felt some pain in my back and the team decided not to carry on and to use the time to repair all material to make preparations for the two official test days. I’m really motivated to go again so let’s see how we go.”

BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team fared better than many of the other teams, but persistent shoulder pain made pushing difficult for Marco Melandri. His teammate, Chaz Davies, continued his development on the S1000RR and though he had some close calls during the first day, he was able to avoid hitting the pavement over the course of the two days.

“Regarding our work with the bike, I am happy with this test,” said Melandri. “We have worked on a few different areas, including setting up the front end of the RR and trying several geometries and solutions. We have achieved some good results. We also tested different engine specifications. Physically though I am not happy as my shoulder was causing difficulties again. I could do some laps but then I struggled and had a lot of pain. I thought it would be much better. We now have to wait and see how I will feel next week.”

“It was a productive test again and it was good to ride here in Phillip Island, a track quite different to the circuits we have tested at before,” said Davies. “It was also very useful to have two quality days of dry track time. We kept on improving and got closer and closer to the group that I should be with. I feel more and more comfortable on the bike and we improved our understanding of setting up the RR. At the moment I am struggling a little bit to do really fast lap times but I think consistently we are not too far away.”

Teams will begin official testing on Monday February 18 at the circuit ahead of the season opener which is scheduled for February 24.

Want to get in on the 2013 World Superbike action? Play Motorcycle USA’s Fantasy Superbike for a chance to win prizes like a VIP trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and $50 gift cards from Get in on the action before it’s too late, Round 1 at Phillip Island is set for February 24th!

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