Phillip Island WSBK 2009 Preview

ImagePreview of the 2009 Superbike World Championship which kicks off this weekend at Phillip Island.


World Superbike 2009 Phillip Island Preview

The 2009 FIM Superbike World Championship will get underway this weekend at Phillip Island.

One of the biggest changes will be the absense of Troy Bayliss, who bowed out at the end of the 2008 season with 3 championships and 54 race wins in the Superbike category. The series however is looking healthier than ever, with a record number of 32 riders and a series high of seven different manufacturers gridding up for a shot at the 2009 title.

Ducati, Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha will again contest, with Aprilia returning after a layoff, and BMW entering the series for the first time. The 2009 champion may come from any one of the teams. Ducati Xerox signed hard charging Noriyuki Haga alongside Michel Fabrizio. Hannspree Ten Kate Honda will again field Carlos Checa, with Ryuichi Kyonari and Jonathan Rea both capable of pulling of big results. Yamaha have multiple AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies and Britain’s Tom Sykes. Suzuki Alstare have German Max Neukirchner, along with Yukio Kagayama. The Kawasaki Team combines Makoto Tamada with Aussie Broc Parkes. Aprilia returns with Mad Max Biaggi, and veteran ex GP star Shinya Nakano. BMW have signed dual world champion Troy Corser and wild man Ruben Xaus. Both of these teams are eyeing a championship, despite the freshness of the teams.

Other contenders for good results include Team Sterilgarda privateer Shane "Shakey" Byrne along with Roberto Rolfo, Leon Haslam, Jakub Smrz, Regis Laconi, and Australians Brendan Roberts on the Guandalini Racing Ducati, and the fourth Australian in the series, Suzuki GSX-R mounted Karl Muggeridge. The 2009 championship will also see a changes from the one-lap Superpole, with the new new formula for the top 20 qualifiers, the knocked out from 20 to 16, then from 16 down to 8, who will then slug it out for the first two rows on the grid. The 2009 Superbike championship will also feature a ‘flag to flag’ procedure, with a change of bikes in the event of rain.


World Supersport 2009

Phillip Island will also see the opening round of the Supersport World Championship. Defending champions Ten Kate Honda will front riders Andrew Pitt and team-mate Kenan Sofuoglu, who picked up the championship in 2007. Yamaha have a strong pairing in Brit Cal Crutchlow teamed with Fabien Foret.

Ex MotoGP winner Garry McCoy and Gianluca Nannelli will fly the flag for Triumph, but others to watch include Spanish rider Joan Lascorz on a Kawasaki and Dutchman Barry Veneman Suzuki mounted. Stiggy Racing Honda’s Ant West will be hoping to repeat the success he briefly enjoyed in Supersport before switching to MotoGP. Along with Aussies Pitt, McCoy and West, three more of their countrymen will join them this year with Mark Aitchison, Russell Holland and Shaun Geronimi joining the fray.

Phillip Island

The 4.44 km Phillip Island circuit is one of the most spectacular tracks on the calendar. Situated on the Phillip Island (obviously), a few hours drive south of Melbourne. A riders favorite, it offers a blend of fast and slow corners, which together  produce a very high average lap speed. It has a total of 12 corners, 7 left and 5 right handers. Turn One is legendary as a test of skill and bravado, while the last corner, Turn 11 is long fast left-hander that requires riders to be hard on the throttle early to win the drag race over the line at speeds in excess of 300km/h.

LAP RECORDS: Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 1’31.493 (2008)  Race – Troy Corser (Yamaha) 1’31.826 (2007).

The Australian Round of the HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship runs from Friday 27th February to Sunday 1st March. World Supersport and World Superbike free practice and qualifying are scheduled the first two days, followed by the Superbike Superpole on Saturday at 3.00pm.

The two 22 lap Superbike races are on Sunday at 12.00pm and 3.30pm, with the Supersport race in between at 1.25 PM AEST.

Fox Sports 2 will televise the event starting at 11.30am AEST.

World Superbike official website is here

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