2014 Phillip Island SBK | Pre-Race Rider Talk from Press Conference

Kawasaki Racing's Tom Sykes leads teammate Loris Baz at last year's Phillip Island SBK round.

Kawasaki Racing’s Tom Sykes leads teammate Loris Baz at last year’s Phillip Island SBK round.

2014 Phillip Island World Superbike Pre-race Press Conference

The wait is over – the 2014 World Superbike Championship is officially here.  And it all got underway Thursday with the traditional pre-race press conference from Australia’s Phillip Island, which will host this weekend the opening round of 2014 SBK,

During the press conference, many of the series top riders discussed the upcoming season, along with the new rule changes. The riders have received much input from the two-day test at Phillip Island held earlier this week, and are hoping the testing helps deliver results this weekend. Taking the overall top time was the reigning World Superbike Champion, Tom Sykes.

Following are rider quotes from the conference, courtesy of World SBK:

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R Ninja Superbike) says: “It’s been a good start for sure but now we need to work on race performance. I like the new qualifying format and I think it will level the playing field as we won’t need to worry about who is holding back on tires for example.”

Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team 1199 Panigale R Superbike) says: “It’s been good so far. It’s kind of a familiar surroundings with the Feel Racing crew, I feel at home and I got comfortable on the bike reasonably quickly. Judging by Carlos’ lap from last year in Superpole it’s obvious that the bike works pretty good around here. We made improvements, not quite as quick as I was hoping over the couple of days of testing but I think we know what to do.”

Aaron Yates (Team Hero EBR 1190RX Superbike): says: “It’s a really big step for EBR, we are really excited to be part of World Superbike and to bring the Hero EBR Team onto the international scene. We will try to do the best we can but we know it’s going to be a big task. We will figure out what we need to make it go.”

Claudio Corti (MV Agusta RC – Yakhnich Motorsport F4RR Superbike) says: “I’m really happy because I never had a full season in World Superbike. I’m happy also to race with a brand like MV Agusta, an iconic marque both in Italy and worldwide. Being the sole rider is a difficult task  and  I also crashed at turn 11 during the test, which cost us some important track time. It will be hard but the guys believe in this project and so do I.”

Sylvain Gunitoli (Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 Superbike) says: “Surprisingly I feel good and its put a smile back on my face. Being back on a bike after 4 months is great and straight away I feel at home on the Aprilia – I’m a happy man.”

Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike) says: “We have definitely made progress since the first test in November and it’s nice to see how far we have already come. I didn’t expect to be as quick as we were on Monday. Having won the last 2 races of 2013 it would be a dream come to true to win on the Suzuki in race one and make it 3 in a row but I’m not getting ahead of myself.”

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR Superbike) says: “Last year we tested from zero with all new electronics but in the last test in Jerez we left with our heads held high as we were right on the pace. I am so proud of my team, they have all worked so hard. On Monday and Tuesday it was encouraging to be so close but the field is so tightly stacked this year anyone of ten guys could win.”

Bryan Staring (Rivamoto Honda CBR600RR), WSS rider says: “(The deal) was set at the last minute. I’m really happy to be in World Supersportwith Rivamotoand to be back inside the WSBK paddock. The adaptation to the bike has been really good. It is a lot fun to ride and to be back on a 600cc again,the test was certainly a bit of a challenge to work out the little tricks to make a lap time out of it.”

Other riders attending the press conference were Aussie riders Ryan Taylor (Oz Wildcard Racing Team Yamaha) and Billy McConnell (Smiths Triumph) who are both wildcarding this weekend. Despite not contesting the round following his testing crash Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team) took to the stage through the pain much to the appreciation of those gathered. His position within the BMW Motorrad Italia squad will be taken by Australian Glenn Allerton, who also made an appearance explaining to everyone about the 6am call he received asking him to ride.

On track action resumes tomorrow with the first free practice sessions for both World Superbike and Supersport Championships.

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