If the opening Swann Insurance Australian Round of the 2015 World Superbike Championship is any indication, it’s going to be a great year in WSBK. Both races were competitive from start to finish, with both in doubt to the last heartbeat – truly exciting. Let’s see who had an Upside race, and who landed on the Downside.

UPSIDE

Leon Haslam – Aprilia Racing Team and Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team: These two were mirror images of each other at Phillip Island. Both on new teams for 2015, the two Brits each won a race and narrowly missed making it a double. Tied at 45 points leaving Australia for Thailand, Haslam (RSV4 RF) and Rea (ZX-10R) had a great weekend to start the 2015 World Superbike Season. As Rea put it, “I could not have had a better weekend.” Haslam, who ran off track during Race 1 before winning the afternoon battle, added, “I am truly happy to finally be back on the top step of the podium.

Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing Ducati: Davies gave it a great shot at trying to get Ducati its first Panigale-era World Superbike win, but he couldn’t quite hang with Haslam and Rea. He did find himself in the lead at various times, however, and two trips to the podium made for a great weekend for the Panigale R racer. “I’m finally on the podium at Phillip Island, and twice over,” Davies said. “Having tried every year to get here, I’ve finally done it. The results obtained here are a good base on which to build.”

Michael van der Mark – Pata Honda World Superbike Team: He was magical in World Supersport last year, taking the title, and his World Superbike debut was impressive. A 5th in Race 1 was backed up by running up front for a few laps of Race 2. Although he lost the front end and crashed out of Race 2, it was a rookie shot across the bow of the class veterans. “To be fifth in my first Superbike race was incredible,” van der Mark said. “To be leading in my second Superbike race was just too good to be true!”

Troy Bayliss – Aruba.it Racing Ducati: The three-time Champion retired in 2008, but a serious injury to Davide Giugliano tempted Bayliss back to Phillip Island. Some of the pre-race hype that Bayliss could challenge for a Top 5 finish was just that – hype. However, Bayliss wasn’t the source. Before the race, he said, “I know it’s going to be a very difficult weekend, also because it’s a while since I’ve ridden the Superbike but I do know the track well and so hope to get back into it after a few laps. I’ll try to enjoy myself and will, of course, be doing my best to score a good result and put on a good show for the public.” Still, Bayliss rode the Panigale R credibly and, most importantly, didn’t crash or get injured. He was obviously a local fan favorite, and helped make it a special weekend.

Larry Pegram – Team Hero EBR: Although he finished out of the points in Race 1 due to a chunking front tire, Pegram took a 17th place start in Race 2 and turned it into a 14th place finish, giving him two championship points. For the still-developing American/Indian EBR team – and Pegram who was ill – that’s a great thing.

WSBK Fans: We got two highly competitive races that weren’t decided until the final tenth of a second. Not only that, we had people leading that had never been in the lead in a World Superbike race, and the crop of rookies is looking good!

DOWNSIDE

Sylvain Guintoli – Pata Honda World Superbike Team: Running the #1 plate, Guintoli did not look like a reigning champion, or even the best rider on the Pata team. He never threatened for a podium, and his results of 7th and 5th put him 5th in the standings, already a full race behind the two leaders.

Niccolò Canepa – Team Hero EBR: Running as high as 13th place, Canepa looked like he was going to pick up some points for EBR. But, by Lap 15 he was out of the points, and a crash put him out of Race 1, and he was unable to start Race 2. Canepa does expect to be back for Thailand.

Alex Lowes – Voltcom Crescent Suzuki: He looked good coming into Sunday, but it never panned out. A 15th place start in Race 1 ended up in a 9th place finish. He never even got rolling in Race 2 due to a technical issue, so he’s already 38 points out of the lead. “Me and the team have put in so much work all week to have a strong package for today,” Lowes said, “and from the very start of the warm up session to the end of my second race, everything that could go wrong, did.”

UPSIDE/DOWNSIDE…literally

David Salom – Team Pedercini Kawasaki: Salom tumbled through a hugely frightening crash in Superpole 2, and it could have been a career-ender. That’s definitely a downside. As it was, a concussion and broken finger rendered him unfit to race at Phillip Island, but he expects to be back in Thailand. That is a huge upside.

2015 Phillip Island World Superbike Results, Race 1:
1. Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team
2. Leon Haslam, Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils
3. Chaz Davies, Aruba.it Racing-Ducati Superbike Team
4. Jordi Torres, Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils
5. Michael van der Mark, HONDA Pata Honda World Superbike Team
6. Tom Sykes, Kawasaki Racing Team
7. Sylvain Guintoli, Pata Honda World Superbike Team
8. Nicolas Terol, Althea Racing Ducati
9. Alex Lowes, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
10. Leon Camier, MV Agusta Reparto Corse

2015 Phillip Island World Superbike Results, Race 2:
1. Leon Haslam, Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils
2. Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team
3. Chaz Davies, Aruba.it Racing-Ducati Superbike Team
4. Tom Sykes, Kawasaki Racing Team
5. Sylvain Guintoli, Pata Honda World Superbike Team
6. Nicolas Terol, Althea Racing Ducati
7. Randy de Puniet, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
8. Leon Camier, MV Agusta Reparto Corse
9. Matteo Baiocco, Althea Racing Ducati
10. Roman Ramos, Team GO Eleven Kawasaki

2015 World Superbike Standings after 1 of 13 Rounds:
1. Jonathan Rea, 45 points
1. Leon Haslam, 45 points
3. Chaz Davies, 32
4. Tom Sykes, 23
5. Sylvain Guintoli, 20
6. Nicolas Terol, 18
7. Leon Haslam, 14
8. Jordi Torres, 13
9. Matteo Baiocco,
10. Michael van der Mark, 11