Melandri doubles down in Australia, also winning WorldSBK Race 2, victory to Lucas Mahias in WorldSSP
The Italian starts off the season giving Ducati a fantastic one-two and in both classes, thanks to the top shelf performance of the tyres, new lap records are set; Pirelli emphasises the importance of observing minimum tyre pressure
The 2018 MOTUL FIM World Superbike Championshipseason could not have begun any better for Italian Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) who rode his Ducati to the top step of the podium twice in Australia on the Phillip Island circuit, crowing a perfect weekend.
Behind the Italian in the race today were defending World Champion Jonathan Rea and, with a textbook performance, privateer Ducati rider Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team).
In the Supersport World Championship, on the other hand, French Yamaha rider Lucas Mahias confirmed his status as the man to beat while the manufacturer from Iwata monopolised the podium thanks to the performance of the other factory rider, Federico Caricasulo and privateer Randy Krummenacher.
In both classes, thanks in part to the top shelf performance of the Pirelli tyres, new track lap records were set by Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese.
Race 2 of WorldSBK and the WorldSSP race were held today with a pit stop. On this topic Pirelli Moto Racing Director, Giorgio Barbier, made this statement: “Pirelli has taken note of the decision to conduct two races with the introduction of the flag to flag rule and relative compulsory pit stop, taken by Dorna and FIM after hearing the opinions of the riders and team representatives. I would like to point out how, in reality, there was no unanimous consensus in the meetings with participants from all the classes, but some riders were in favour of riding full race distance or simply reducing the number of laps. However, in these situations it is fair that the majority should prevail, therefore this decision was taken. It is certainly disappointing for those riders who worked well setting up their bikes in the days ahead of the race weekend, succeeding in managing tyre wear well. The topic of tyre pressure remains a crucial point for us, because it is clear that if a tyre is not inflated properly, it cannot work well and this, lap after lap, can trigger problems, especially on a particularly critical and sensitive track like Phillip Island. For this reason, Dorna and FIM, in agreement with Pirelli and starting from this round, have implemented a pressure control procedure a few minutes prior to the start, selecting a few riders at random. The first data collected gives pause for reflection: out of nine riders checked in the three races of the weekend, four were below the minimum 1.60 bar pressure recommended by Pirelli. The Championship organiser announced that from the Aragón round, riders who do not observe the minimum tyre pressure will be sanctioned.”
In Race 2 of WorldSBK, the privateer Ducati ridden by Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team) started from pole position, but that was not enough to hold off Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), who started from the fifth spot on the grid, and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who managed to overtake him already on the first lap.
During the second lap, Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team)also got into the mix, moving into second position behind Laverty as Forés slid back to fifth. Unfortunately, on the third lap Laverty slid into the gravel, leaving the race lead to Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) ahead of Xavi Forés and Jonathan Rea with Michael Van Der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) fourth and Race 1 winner Marco Melandri fifth. In the meantime, Rea overtook the two Ducati riders for the lead, but on the final straight Davies and Forés managed to take back the positions they had lost.
The lead group was very compact with six riders all within one second of one another. At the head of the group, Chaz Davies and Xavi Forés alternated ahead of Jonathan Rea, Marco Melandri and Michael Van Der Mark.
During the tenth lap, the first to enter pit lane were Forés, Rea and Van Der Mark, followed by the other riders a lap later.
On the thirteenth lap, Chaz Davies went down and was forced to abandon the race and in the meantime, Xavi Forés continued to lead after the pit stop, shadowed closely by Jonathan Rea, Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes.
During the fifteenth lap, Marco Melandri set the new track record with a time of 1’30.848, improving on the one set in 2014 by teammate Chaz Davies by a tenth of a second.
On the twentieth lap, Jonathan Rea took the race lead, overtaking Xavi Forés who was also overtaken by Marco Melandri shortly thereafter.
The finale was a nail-biter: Marco Melandri's Ducati was faster than Jonathan Rea's Kawasaki on the straight and the Italian exploited the advantage, managing to cross under the chequered flag first, beating out the Northern Irishman by just 21 thousandths of a second. It was an outstanding third place for Xavi Forés, the first of the private team riders.
WorldSBK Race 2 standings:
1) M. Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
2) J. Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
3) X. Forés (Barni Racing Team)
4) T. Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
5) A. Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
6) L. Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team)
7) M. Van Der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
8) J. Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)
9) L. Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team)
10) T. Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
11) R. Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki)
12) L. Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura)
13) J. Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team)
14) P. Jacobsen (TripleM Honda World Superbike Team)
15) E. Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia)
RT) C. Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
RT) O. Jezek (Guandalini Racing)
RT) D. Falzon (Yamaha Racing Team) (wild card)
At 1:30 PM local time, the opening race of the FIM Supersport World Championship season was held with Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP team) in pole position. The French Yamaha rider started well straight away, maintaining the lead in the group ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and teammate Federico Caricasulo, followed by Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team). During the first lap, the race lost Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) due to an accident, whereas on the third lap Anthony West retired. In the meantime, Caricasulo overtook Sofuoglu to move into second place.
During the fourth lap the red flag came out due to an accident involving Soomer and Canducci. There were nine laps left to race at the restart without any pit stop procedure and with the grid order based on the Superpole® results.
Lucas Mahias started well once again ahead of his teammate, Federico Caricasulo, and Randy Krummenacher in third, but managing to snatch second from the Italian a bit later, only to relinquish it again. However, during the seventh lap, the Swiss rider overtook the Italian and made it stick this time to take back second place. Finishing fourth was Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) and Luke Stapleford was fifth.
In the end, the podium was dominated by Yamaha with defending World Champion Lucas Mahias finishing first ahead of Randy Krummenacher and Sandro Cortese who, after setting the new track lap record with a time of 1’33.072, managed to snatch the podium from Federico Caricasulo at the finish line.
1) L. Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP team)
2) R. Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)
3) S. Cortese (Kallio Racing)
4) F. Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP team)
5) L. Stapleford (Profile Racing)
6) R. De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag)
7) J. Cluzel (NRT)
8) K. Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini)
9) A. Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag)
10) T. Gradinger (NRT)
11) N. Tuuli (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda)
12) L. Cresson (Kallio Racing)
13) K. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
14) H. Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
15) T. Toparis (Cube Racing)
16) J. Van Sikkelerus (GEMAR Team Lorini)
17) M. Di Meglio (GMT94 Yamaha)
18) N. Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura)
RT) L. Epis (Team GoEleven Kawasaki)
RT) M. Canducci (Team GoEleven Kawasaki)
RT) H. Soomer (Racedays)
RT) A. West (EAB antwest Racing)
The Pirelli solutions chosen by the riders for WorldSBK Race 2 and WorldSSP:
In Race 2 of WorldSBK, few changes were made compared to Race 1. On the front, practically all the riders opted for the V0952 SC1 development solution (option C) which had already been the most popular in Race 1.
As for the rear, the solution chosen by most was the V0965 SC1 development tyre (option A), already used as a race tyre in 2017.
Between Race 1 and Race 2, the only riders who made changes were Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team),who switch from the V0952 SC1 development solution (option C) to the standard SC1 (option B) on the front, and Patrick Jacobsen (TripleM Honda World Superbike Team) who opted for the W1049 development tyre (option B) on the rear.
In the WorldSSP race, all the riders used the U1149 SC1 development solution (option A) on the rear, whereas on the front, 16 of the 22 riders on the grid opted for the standard SC1 (option A).
Pirelli statistics for WorldSBK Race 2:
• Winner of the PIRELLI BEST LAP AWARD: Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati),in 1'30.848 at the 15th lap
• Most used front solution: development SC2 V0952 (16 out of 18 riders)
• Most used rear solution: devolpment SC1 V0965 (10 out of 18 riders)
• Maximum race speed reached by Pirelli DIABLO™ Superbike tyres: 317.6 km/h, achieved by Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) in the 2nd lap
• Number of solutions (dry, intermediate and wet) for the WorldSBK class: 6 front and 6 rear
• Number of tyres available for each Superbike rider: 75, including 40 front and 35 rear
• Air temperature: 20° C
• Asphalt temperature: 33° C
Pirelli statistics for WorldSSP race:
• Winner of the PIRELLI BEST LAP AWARD: Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing), in 1'33.072 in the 5th lap
• Most used front solution: standard SC1 (16 out of 22 riders)
• Most used rear solution: development SC1 U1149 (22 out of 22 riders)
• Maximum race speed reached by Pirelli DIABLO™ Supercorsa tyres: 277.6 km/h, achieved by Jules Cluzel (NRT) in the 5th lap
• Number of solutions (dry, intermediate and wet) for the WorldSSP class: 6 front and 5 rear
Number of tyres available for each WorldSSP rider: 60, including 33 front and 27 rear
• Air temperature: 18° C
• Asphalt temperature: 34° C