2012 World Superbike
The 2012 World Superbike Championship got underway this past weekend at Phillip Island, Australia, with two champions taking a win apiece – Aprilia Racing Team’s Max Biaggi and Althea Ducati’s Carlos Checa.
In Race 1, Biaggi and Checa got pass pole-man Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) early, and began battling for the lead. But while chasing down Biaggi, the Spaniard Checa suffered a huge high side on lap six.
Checa was able to rejoin the grid, amazingly, and get some additional laps, although he suffered a DNF. Once Checa crashed, though, Biaggi ran up front alone, eventually finishing 7.104 seconds over BMW Motorrad’s Marco Melandri and Effenbert-Liberty Ducati’s Jakub Smrz.
In Race 2, Checa found quick redemption. The reigning World SBK champ took the lead from Sykes on the fourth lap, and was never challenged again. Joining him on the podium was Biaggi and Sykes.
Following are what the riders were saying following the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island (for a race review, click here).
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati 1198 Superbike) says: “In race one I had the worst crash that I’ve ever had with the Ducati. I was under pressure and pushed a little too hard. It’s extremely difficult to find the exact limit with the bike, the track, and with myself and today I exceeded that limit and fell.
“The team made a fantastic job of preparing a bike that allowed me to win in race two. In that race, I started strong and when I saw that Max had gone off track, I pushed hard to get ahead and win the race. Max made a good recovery but I was able to maintain a strong pace and bring home what is a very important win for me and for the team.”
Davide Giugliano (Althea Ducati 1198 Superbike) says: “Race 1 I used to gain experience, not knowing exactly how it would go. It went quite well and I was able to use what I learned in this race to go on the attack in the second. I started strong in the second race and was up with the front group.
“I was able to pass those a little slower than me and was, I think, seventh. I planned to race behind Melandri and Haslam and conserve the tires as best I could and that seemed to be working but unfortunately, five laps from the end, I started to suffer pain in my left arm and had to slow down in the final laps. It was a pity because if it hadn’t been for that, I could have finished in the front group which wouldn’t have been at all bad! I have to solve this problem before Imola where I am sure I can do better.”
Max Biaggi (Aprilia RSV4 Superbike) says: “After such a difficult winter this is extremely satisfying for me. I worked without sparing myself and during the testing here at Phillip Island we truly tried a lot of things and the results prove us right.
“The first weekend with my new Team puts us out front and I have to thank both my guys and Aprilia for that. Race 1 was great, and the second one maybe even better. After running off the track I only thought about focusing and giving my all, because coming back from last place is always risky. We succeeded. We’re taking home two good results and now there is nothing left to do but keep the tension high to confirm our strength at Imola. I am leaving for Montecarlo so Monday I’ll be home and I’ll begin to prepare for the next round.”
Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 Superbike) says: “In the end, if we think about what has happened, I’m not disappointed. I would have been happy with two placings among the first 10. It’s a shame that the bike went into neutral in the first race which forced me to run on. Race 2 was just as difficult due to my condition after the crashes, but all in all eight points can prove to be important for such a long and difficult championship”.
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR Superbike) says: “We’ve still got a bagful of points to go on to Imola with but we wanted to be on the podium in both races. I honestly feel like we got a bad tire in race one and in race two we didn’t want to run in the same situation, so we were thinking about changing the tire, but all our logic and race runs throughout the weekend told us to keep this [harder] tire in the heat.
“Directly, I had more grip – OK, the temperature was even hotter, which would go against our logic – but the tire felt like it should feel and I was able to ride strong and consistent until probably five laps to go when durability fell off and I was going backwards. I felt fresh and strong in both races and the guys have worked well all weekend. We had a little crash on Saturday and the boys worked so good with the one-bike rule to get us back out there. You have to think that this circuit is a bit unique with the tire character, how long you’re on the side and the heat generated in the tire.
“Now we move on to some tracks that are good for us and there’s a lot of work to do back at base. The guys need to find some speed, so that’s on the agenda; I’ve just done a de-brief and everything feels OK. I want to say thanks to everyone for all their help this weekend – it feels good to get to the start of the season fit and healthy and I’m looking forward to round two now.”
Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR Superbike) says: “I think it’s not so bad for my first Superbike weekend. We had a not-so-easy start on Friday when I had one crash and we had a lot of problems.
“That didn’t help us to go much faster and we tried many things but couldn’t improve. In the races we managed to finish in the top ten with eighth and ninth and I want to say thanks to all the guys who worked for me. It was a tough weekend but ended up not too bad. I’m looking forward to the next race in Imola – of course I’ve never ridden there, so it’s going to be tough for Friday. We have month to improve the bike a little bit and, if I can find a better feeling, I can push a little bit more and this is what I am looking for. Anyway, considering the situation now, it’s not so bad!”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R Superbike) says: “In race one I got a good start and over race distance I had been feeling really strong all week. It was a very difficult race with the wind blowing me and the bike around but to be honest I had to use my head a bit and not get sucked into too much fighting.
“I was just trying to manage the gap behind, but to come away with a fourth, on a track like this, using the same tires as the guys on the podium, is a bit of a first for us. It shows the progress Kawasaki has made over the winter.
“To take the podium on the last lap was really satisfying and the bike has been working really well in winter testing so big thanks to the team; they were very focused. Race two was even more windy than race one but my crew chief and team changed the balance of the bike and compensated for some things. For sure we arrived at the limit but we were able to maintain a consistent pace right to the end. I had a good fight with Max for a couple of laps and a few corners. So to come away with pole position, third and fourth in the races? I am over the moon, because this circuit has never been a strong one for us in the past.”
Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R Superbike) says: “It was difficult with the settings in the first race. In the first part it was not so bad, then we had a lot of problems with vibration. The wind was also pushing me around in the fast corners. I eventually lost the front in race two but it was much better for the machine set-up. Congratulations to Tom, he rode a nice race, and congratulations to the team and Kawasaki too. I crashed out of race two but I think we were just unlucky, and it was good to find our true pace in race two for a few laps.
Leon Camier (Crescent Fixi Suzuki GSX-R 1000 Superbike) says: “I wanted better results today but we’ve gathered masses of information in the team’s first-ever WSBK race and I’m positive that we’ll see a big improvement in Imola.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am with the GSX-R’s chassis – for me it has the potential to win races. The bike brakes really well, is stable in mid-corner; and I’m perfectly happy with its character. If we can get a bit more power, we’ll be contenders for sure. In race one, I got pushed off the track by Giugliano and lost ground. I started chasing back to catch up, but as the race went on the tire wore out completely and I couldn’t push any harder.
“In the second race, I got hemmed-in going into turn one, lost ground and was 14th at the end of lap one. I was able to pass a lot of people on the brakes, but lost out on acceleration and top speed and again the way I had to ride to compensate destroyed the tyre at the end. This was a tough day but the potential is huge.”
Josh Brookes (Crescent Fixi Suzuki GSX-R 1000 Superbike) says: “I feel better about today than the rest of the weekend. For race two, we went back to front-end ride height we used yesterday plus some softer springs. The changes made a huge difference to how the front end felt and the bike braked and turned better.
“We turned down the traction control for race two and although I was happier with the feel of the bike, it resulted in destroying the tires more quickly. I’d like to thank Crescent Fixi Suzuki for giving me the chance to ride the bike. I have learnt a lot this weekend and my mind has been opened as to the potential of the Suzuki I’ll be riding in the British Superbike Championship.”
Bryan Staring (Pedercinin Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike) says: “All in all, I guess we had a good Sunday, meaning that we had a good first race. I found the second race very hard, I think maybe I was a little fatigued from race one and had trouble finding grip and finding my rhythm. I can’t really explain what the problem was, and I’m disappointed with that result, but I have to be happy with how race 1 went, and the fact that I earned some important points.”
David Salom (Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike) says: “In race one my start was not so bad but I was really worried about my injured right wrist. I experienced a lot of pain, mainly because I had decided against using an anesthetic. I don’t know how I was able to finish race one but I came home in fourteenth place, obtaining two points.
“In race two I again opted out of using an anesthetic but towards the middle of the race I started to feel a lot of pain and so decided to come into the pits. Now I have one month to improve my poor physical condition in order to be ready for the next races in Imola. I want to thank my team for all of their hard work during the weekend.”
Maime Berger (Effenbert-Liberty Ducati 1198 Superbike) says: “After race one, where I was off track and had to recover, race two was much better. The team is fantastic and my guys did a great job. It was a successful weekend.
Sylvain Guintoli (Effenbert-Liberty Ducati 1198 Superbike) says: “I was confident for another podium and as I was battling with Melandri, I went wide to avoid crashing but then on the field I wasn’t able to handle the bike.”
Jakub Smrz (Effenbert-Liberty Ducati 1198 Superbike) says: “After a good first race, we decided to change a few things on the bike for race 2. I didn’t have a good start and although the bike was good, and so was my lap time and speed, I wasn’t able to recover for better than 11th place. It’s a shame, but we did a great job on the bike anyway and I’m grateful for the amazing job that my team did.”