The 2014 World Superbike Season opener at Phillip Island saw Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty take the win in his first race aboard the GSX-R1000 in Race 1 and Aprilia Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli take the checkers in Race 2. The stakes are high after just two races, and there are a handful of riders that showed they are capable of challenging for podiums. It should be an exciting season…
Laverty put the ‘Zook on the top step at Phillip Island, giving Suzuki its first World Superbike Race win since 2010. Aprilia Racing’s Marco Melandri and Guintoli finished in second and third respectively.
Off the start the Aprilia riders took control with Guintoli in the lead followed by Melandri and Factory Ducati’s Davide Giugliano. Trailing the lead pack were Giugliano’s teammate Chaz Davies, Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes and his teammate Loris Baz. Laverty was back in seventh through Lap 1 and early in the race was nearly five seconds behind the leader.
Guintoli, Melandri and GIugliano broke away from the field through the initial laps. The battle for fourth was packed though, with Laverty weaving his way up the ranks while Sykes and Baz fought to keep hold of Rea and Davies. Laverty’s teammate, Alex Lowes, was part of the fray as well but on Lap 4 the World Superbike rookie took a spill, ending his race. He was able to stand and walk, albeit with some difficulty.
Laverty made it up to fourth-place by Lap 6 and had a multi-second gap to cut in order to catch the lead pack. Up front Giugliano was pressing Melandri wherever possible for second and finally made the pass eight laps into the contest. Soon after Laverty, who had reached top-three riders, moved ahead of Melandri. Two laps later Laverty got past Giugliano as well and set his sights on Guintoli out front.
The lead position changed hands early in Lap 17 when Laverty found a way past Guintoli. Once out front the Suzuki ace quickly opened a gap, stretching his lead to almost three seconds ahead of Guintoli through the final five laps. Melandri made a late race push and got past his teamamte with just two laps remaining.
Behind the leaders, Sykes, Baz and Rea shuffled positions numerous times in the battle for fifth. Davies had slipped back in the ranks and was no longer a factor and nearing the end of the race Sykes lost time too, finishing seventh over four seconds behind Baz and Rea.
Kawasaki Racing Team’s EVO entry, David Salom, finished fastest among riders in the new EVO class in ninth. He was over 12 seconds adrift of Davies in eighth by the checkers. Althea Racing’s EVO Ducati piloted by Niccolo Canepa took 10th followed by Glen Allerton of BMW Motorrad Italia SBK.
Team Hero EBR's Aaron Yates was unable to break the top-15 in his World Superbike debut, but gathered valuable data for the development of the 1190RX.
The international debut of Erik Buell Racing’s 1190RX saw Aaron Yates finish at the back of the pack in 17th. His teammate, Geoff May, suffered an injury earlier in the day and was unable to compete.
World Superbike Phillip Island Race 1 Results 2014
1. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki)
2. Marco Melandri (Aprilia)
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia)
4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati)
5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
6. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
7. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
8. Chaz Davies (Ducati)
9. David Salom (Kawasaki EVO)
10. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati EVO)
11. Glen Allerton (BMW EVO)
12. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki EVO)
13. Claudio Corti (MV Agusta)
14. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki EVO)
15. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki EVO)
16. Imre Toth (BMW)
17. Aaron Yates (EBR)
Guintoli scored the win in Race 2 after officials’ red flagged the race during the final laps. Baz finished in second followed by Sykes in third. The red flag came after Laverty’s engine blew, ending the Suzuki rider’s chance of a perfect start to the season.
Melandri was quickest off the start followed by Giugliano in second and Guintoli in third. Positions changed many times through the opening laps as the top-seven remained a tight pack through the initial portion of the race.
By Lap 2 Melandri had slipped to third as Guintoli and Baz worked into the number one and two spots, respectively. Rea challenged Melandri hard during the following laps, and eventually both he and Laverty moved past the Aprilia ace into third and fourth-place. Laverty continued his charge, getting past Rea soon after into third.
Out front Baz was pressuring Guintoli and on Lap 7 the Kawasaki rider took over the lead. Laverty wasted no time and pushed ahead of Guintoli as well and on Lap 8 the Suzuki rider bested Baz too for the lead. Guintoli dropped one more position back as Rea moved into third. Guintoli answered back, however, and soon Sykes and Giugliano would do the same relegating Rea back to fifth by the finish.
Guintoli maintained his charge, dispatching Baz halfway into the race and then on Lap 13 was able to throttle past Laverty on the start/finish straight into the lead.
) Loris Baz celebrates a second-place finish in Race 2. (Below
) World Superbike Race 2 podium with Sylvain Guintoli (center) in first, Loris Baz (left) in second and Tom Sykes (right) in third.
Behind the front runners, Sykes was making a charge and had caught the three riders out front, but he didn’t have time to challenge for a higher step on the podium as soon after Laverty’s engine started billowing smoke.
Giugliano earned fourth and Rea’s teammate, Leon Haslam, finished in sixth. Davies scored seventh ahead of Melandri in eighth and Red Devils Roma’s Toni Elias in ninth.
Salom was again the fastest EVO bike in 10th followed by Canepa in 11th.
Lowes had a better start in Race 2 but got pushed wide into the grass early on, forcing him well outside the top-10. He battled back up the ranks and was up to ninth but then went wide again and slipped back to 14th, gaining just one position before the finish.
Yates finished at the back of the pack a second time in 20th but was undaunted since the new machine is still in development.
"“The bike was the best that it’s been all weekend," explained Yates. "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.”
Guintoli leaves Australia with the overall points lead, 10 points ahead of Baz in second. Melandri sits third followed by Giugliano in fourth and Sykes in fifth.
World Superbike Phillip Island Race 2 Results 2014
1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia)
2. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati)
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
6. Leon Haslam (Honda)
7. Chaz Davies (Ducati)
8. Marco Melandri (Aprilia)
9. Toni Elias (Aprilia)
10. David Salom (Kawasaki EVO)
11. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati EVO)
12. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki EVO0
13. Alex Lowes (Suzuki)
14. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki EVO)
15. Glen Allerton (BMW EVO)
16. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki EVO)
17. A Andreozzi (Kawasaki EVO)
18. Claudio Corti (MV Agusta)
19. Imre Toth (BMW)
20. Aaron Yates (EBR)
World Superbike Championship Points 2014
1. Sylvain Guintoli, 41
2. Loris Baz, 31
3. Marco Melandri, 28
4. Davide Giugliano, 26
5. Tom Sykes, 25
6. Eugene Laverty, 25
7. Jonathan Rea, 21
8. Chaz Davies, 17
9. David Salom, 13
10. Niccolo Canepa, 11