New World Superbikes season is officially here. After the tests earlier this week the season has started with the first race weekend at Phillip Island in Australia.
Friday was typicially a day for free practise sessions and the combined times decided who would go straightly to Superpole 2 and who would fight in Superpole 1.
On Saturday there were both Superpole sessions and then also race 1 of the season in 2017.
Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri started from the front row into the first race. Chaz Davies, Alex Lowes and Lorenzo Savadori then occupied the second row.
Marco Melandri with his Ducati Panigale was the one who was leading the field in first few laps. But the other favourites were there around him. The group contained of Sykes, Rea, Davies, Forés, Lowes.
Later also van der Mark, Laverty, Hayden, Camier were able to come close to the group in the front. Lorenzo Savadori, Stefan Bradl, Jordi Torres, Markus Reiterberger, Roman Ramos and Alex de Aneglis were part of the group as well for a few laps. In the middle stage of the race there were 14 riders in one group!
Meanwhile on the front, things were changing pretty quickly. Fans could see really breathtaking show full of great overtakes.
Unfortunately, Lorenzo Savadori had a crash and wasn’t able to continue in the race. Later also Josh Brookes had to give the race up. The Australian who does this race weekend as wild card rider had some technical problems with his bike.
How the race was going on a group of five riders made a small gap ahead of the other riders. There were Melandri, Davies, Rea, Sykes, Lowes in the group. Also Camier and Forés tried to keep the pace.
In a lap number 15 (out of 22) Marco Melandri did a small mistake and dropped a lot of positions back. Later he even crashed. He continued in the race but then he went to the pits and retired from the race.
In the final few laps there could be seen a fight among Lowes (who even was leading for a while), Sykes, Rea and Davies. Rea seemed to take some advantage but his rivals were there to chase him. Then Sykes went into the lead.
Also Leon Camier did great race and got himself into the group.
But in the end they were Rea, Davies and Sykes who was the best ones again. In the final lap it looked like Davies maybe could try to overtake Rea but he was strong enough on his bike to keep it and take the first victory of the season.
Davies finished second, Sykes completed the podium.
So it may look like it finished exactly how we were used to in the last few seasons. But it was a race full of action and great show. Fans at the circuit and also people around the world who were waking up early for the race or stayed up late in the night had to be happy to see such a great start to the season.
Alex Lowes then finished 4th which is prominig start to the season for him. With the new starting grid rules his position in the finish means that he will start from pole position into the Sunday’s race.
Leon Camier finished 5th and after all his problems on Friday it is really great achievement. On Sunday he will start from the 2nd position.
Xavi Forés also did a great performace and finished 6th. It means 3rd position on the grid for race 2.
Jordi Torres was 7th, Eugene Laverty 8th, Michael van der Mark 9th, Randy Krummenacher 10. Great achievement for the Swiss rider to be in top 10 in his first ever race in this category.
The best Honda racer was Nicky Hayden on 11th place, followed by Markus Reiterberger who was 12th. Some points were able to score 13th Ramos, 14th de Angelis and 15th Bradl. Stefan Bradl takes his first ever point in the World Superbikes.
Riccardo Russo was 16th, and last two places fell on the Grillini Team riders as Ayrton Badovini finished 17th and Ondřej Ježek 18th.
The Championship standings is of course same as the race result. So Rea has 25 points, Davies 20, Sykes 16.
Kawasaki takes the lead in the Manufacturers standings.
As I already mentioned, with the new starting grid rules it all can be very interesting for the race 2. Alex Lowes with Yamaha will be on pole position, Leon Camier with MV Agusta will be next to him and Xavi Forés with Barni Racing’s Ducati will complete the front row.
Second row will contain of Jordi Torres (BMW), Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) and Michael van der Mark (Yamaha).
The ones who finishes on the podium in race 1 are now moved to row number 3 with winner Rea starting as P9. Davies will be 8th and Sykes 7th.
As the provisional starting grid is already published there you can see that Marco Melandri will start from 10th place, Lorenzo Savadori will be 11th and Nicky Hayden 12th.
Race 2 starts at 3pm local time (5am CET).
Photo: World Superbikes