Posted: 19 Feb 2014
The World Superbike Championship finally gets underway in Phillip Island this weekend and looking at times from the official test earlier this week, it’s set to be a corker.
The top ten riders in testing were covered by less than a second and reassuringly, champion Tom Sykes wasn’t miles ahead of anyone else like many had expected. For Phillip Island at least, it looks like Sykes may have a challenge on his hands from the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki squad of Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes.
With a month separating Phillip Island and the second round at Aragon, the happenings down under are often not representative of how a season will pan out. For example, Carlos Checa took pole position at the circuit last year, need we say more?
After Aprilias domination in Australia last year, Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli shouldn’t be ruled out, neither should Ducati’s pairing of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies, as Phillip Island has long favoured the grumbling twins.
The PATA Honda team will be looking to impress after a reasonably successful test season, both Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea shrugged off crashes earlier this week and both will be keen to make a mark this season after injury blighted campaigns last year.
Kawasaki’s Loris Baz will also be keen to put an injury-filled 2013 behind him; he’s been too far from team-mate Tom Sykes in testing and will be keen to perform in his second full year with the factory team.
In the EVO category, Niccolo Canepa will be a tough one to beat. Throughout testing he’s shown strong on the Althea Ducati. The EVO category takes quite a dent for the first round though, with Barrier, Fabrizio, Scassa and Guarnoni all injured during crashes during testing.
Sykes is set to be the man to beat but there are a number of hungry riders such as Lowes, Laverty and Melandri who’ll be keen to stop him.