World Superbike season off to a stunning start in Australia
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season got off to a thrilling start at Australia’s Phillip Island circuit this weekend (24-26 February), with the first two races of the year settled by less than five hundredths of a second!
Reigning double champion Jonathan Rea took the win on both occasions, but the new rules spiced up the racing action with both races delivering classic racing and epic duels for the lead.
Rea clinched the first encounter by just 0.042s after a race long battle with Chaz Davies and team mate Tom Sykes. The lead changed hands several times, with Donington-local Alex Lowes also taking a turn at the front for a while, before Rea hit the front once more on lap 19, by passing Sykes. Davies followed him through, and the pair contested the lead until the end, with Rea claiming victory by the narrowest of margins.
It was even closer in Sunday’s race, with the top four finishers covered by less than a second. Rea clinched the 40th win of his World Superbike career, with Davies second again, but this time just 0.025s behind at the flag, with team mate Marco Melandri making up for a mistake in the first round to take a spot on the podium in third, just a quarter of a second away from Rea. Lowes showed that fourth place in the opening event was no fluke, with a repeat performance in race two.
This race was the first run under the new regulations, which saw the podium finishers from the opening encounter sent back to the third row of the grid. This meant that Lowes started from pole, but the rules worked as desired and saw the podium finishers from the first race fight their way through the pack, with Rea battling from ninth to take his milestone win, with the lead changing hands 10 times throughout the contest.
The next World Superbike rounds take place in Thailand on 10-12 March, with British riders filling the first four spaces in the championship standings after the first weekend of action. The only British round of the championship takes place at Donington Park on 26-28 May, with tickets available to purchase by clicking here.