On a day when the temperatures rose on track, after two days of cooler conditions in practice, Baz put in a good first race to go fifth after the full 22-lap distance. He upped his game once more in race two after some set-up changes and finished only 0.238 seconds from eventual race winner Sylvain Guintoli.
The second race was halted because of an oil leak, and the results counted back to lap 14 of the planned 22. Reigning SBK champion Tom Sykes experienced some grip issues in race one and finished seventh, but changes to his set-up arrived at by his team allowed him to fight back through the field in race two and he took a strong third place. He could have challenged for the win had the race not been cut short by the red flag, but he was still only 1.103 seconds from the winner.
In the new Evo category David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team SBK Evo) made a clean sweep of the two top places on offer on his Ninja ZX-10R, finishing ninth in race one overall and then tenth in race two. He is ranked ninth in the overall championship standings after two races, and clearly leads the Evo class.
Baz is a brilliant second in the overall SBK points, on 31, while Sykes’ recovery from seventh in race one puts him sixth overall, but very close to the top positions after one round.
Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India SBK Evo) scored two 12th places and Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki SBK Evo) was also in the points, for 14th in race one. Sheridan Morais (Iron Brain Kawasaki SBK Evo) scored 15th and then 14th places.
Loris Baz: “We changed just a little thing on the bike for race two and then opted for a new front tyre. So to score second place and then leave here second in the world championship is really good. In race one I was really happy with a top five and it felt like a podium. When I crashed again on Friday I really did not think I could make it this week but it worked out well on race day.
I wanted to go really fast in the beginning of race two and I saw that my pace was really good. I was even faster than Sylvain in the lead, but I always rode with the idea to save the tyres. My bike was feeling great. Tom was coming back and I am sure the end of the race would have been a great fight if it had gone full distance.”
Tom Sykes: “We had some issues in race one but in the second race we changed the set-up. I really do have to say a big thanks to the team. I have a real good set of guys working for me and their knowledge is incredible. We went back to some basics and it was so nice. Although Sylvain rode well to win the race I felt race two would have been our race, but unfortunately it was cut short.
That is how racing goes sometimes. I am very happy with how things have gone finally. For track temperatures to be so hot on race day here in Phillip Island, and a little bit of wind blowing around, these are usually the worst conditions for us. So it was great to come back so strong at the end. We reeled in the Aprilia and that never usually happens here, so I felt the next second laps of the second race would have been my part of the race.
Now I can head back to Europe knowing that we have been so competitive at our worst circuit. We’re off to a steady start but I am only six points off second in the championship and 16 points off the
David Salom: “I can add this Evo class win to the one from race one. The second race was hotter and I did not have as much grip. Marco Melandri passed me so I followed him and he helped me to push forward. On the last laps I took a lead over Canepa and I was going faster every lap. The team and I worked well in the winter tests to arrive here in Australia 100% ready".
Tipped as race winner in the 600cc Supersport race, Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Mahi Racing Team India) looked set to convert his pre-race domination to a race win but a crash in the final running of the race left him out of the points.
Kenan was in the fight at the front of the first attempted race, but after less than ten laps of the scheduled 18 the red flags came out to stop the action after another rider’s machine lost its oil.
After a long delay to clean up the oil a complete new race, over only five laps, was called by the race organisers.
Kenan, who was anxious to get away from the hordes of riders who felt this very short race
format would give them a greater opportunity to win, fell while leading. He was unable to restart and now looks to the next round in Aragon to score his first points of 2014.
The highest placed Kawasaki rider in the final five-lap race was Florian Marino (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) in fourth place, with Roberto Tamburini (Kawasaki San Carlo Puccetti Racing) only one place behind.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “You cannot come to Australia to race for five laps. I crashed because I wanted to get away from everybody in the restarted race because five laps is an exciting gift to everyone in the field.
Anyway, I am so disappointed because I was the fastest in practice after all the good work we did. I could have won the first race but then they stopped it and called for a five lap race, so everybody went on full attack. I crashed and it is very disappointing after doing so well in practice and qualifying. Now we go to Aragon for the second round.”
David Salom: “Things went well and it was a little too hot in the afternoon to improve the lap time again. But in all the sessions we have worked well and the team has improved many aspects of our set-up. We have done a very good job so far. We need some more work on Friday to make the bike a bit better again. We tried front fork setting changes, rear suspension changes, so we know we can still find improvements. I am ready to go into race weekend now.”
Marcel Duinker, Tom Sykes’ Crew Chief: “We had a good two days of work and I am happy how it went. This is not our preferred track but we are one of the fastest and most consistent, so we have to be pleased with that. We are ready to race and made all our final confirmations in these tests.”
Pere Riba, Loris Baz’s Crew Chief: “On the first day Loris was very fast straightaway, for pure pace and for rhythm. We found some wear on the tyres so we had to concentrate to help the tyre life. We made some changes to the bike to help the rear but then Loris lost the front. This final afternoon was OK, but we have to keep working. The lap time is there and his pace is not so bad, so I am confident and happy for the weekend and we will keep working hard.
Toni Alfosea, David Salom’s Crew Chief: “Our tests were good and although we were not the fastest Evo bike so far, we were second fastest. We worked very well and have been setting consistently good lap times. I think we have a very good set-up already and a strong base to start official practice with. David has really started to understand what is a good style of riding for this kind of bike after riding a smaller bike last year.”
Thanks to Kawasaki Racing Team news for the report.