FINALLY! Nothing could have ruined Saturday for me. Nothing!
Not the fact that I couldn’t get the WSBK and WSS Superpole sessions live on television.
Not the fact that I couldn’t get it either on my WSBK VideoPass (yes, it seems like I am only eligible for OnDemand. Oh ye Gods!)
Not even the fact that my solace lay in watching instead the Live Timing.
The racing season is back, and HOW! And that was cause enough for me to make motorcycle noises throughout the house, the whole day.
Add to that the new colors this season – all metallic and glinty in the sun, and my day was absolutely phenomenal. But more on the colors later, in fact, I think they deserve a separate article altogether.
After all, this post can take only that many squeals as I ecstatically pontificate on the grid and the Superpole.
So, first up, there are the new riders…Bryan Staring being the last-minute addition. The Australian who was racing for Gresini Honda in MotoGP last year, is now with Rivamoto Honda, a Russian outfit. We will be seeing him in WSS – Kenan Sofuoglu, watch out.
Then there is Alex Lowes, the 2013 BSB champion who gave Shane Byrne heartburn. He has been busy creating waves at the Phillip Island circuit, both during the tests and then today at the Superpole. It would have been cool to see him race his twin – Sam – who was scheduled to be in SBK. But the 2013 WSS champion is heading to Moto2 this season.
Of course, then there is the new EVO class. Hmmm.
Speaking of new entrants, I squealed in absolute delight when I heard the news last year. And if I am truly honest, I squealed again this morning, and just now, while writing this. One of the new bikes making their presence felt this season is MV Agusta (I squealed again).
Oh my god. What can I say about their F4? How can I say it? And in how many words? Add racing history into the mix and I am one delighted motorsports fangirl. I mean tell me, do you, or don’t you, still get the shivers (of ecstasy) when you hear the name Giacomo Agostini? Do you? Or Don’t you? Mike Hailwood? Are you squealing yet? For me, MV Agusta F4 is just about the most beautiful motorcycle in the world.
So no points for guessing whom I am going to be watching with an eagle eye this season.
Anyway, the season began with Lowes suprising everyone by topping the practice session on Friday. But the Superpole was a different story. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) took the first Superpole of the season with a stunning 1’30.038s, breaking the 2013 record. This, despite a scare during his flying lap! The second place on the grid went to Davide Giugliano (Ducati) with Marco Melandri (now with Aprilia) completing the first row.
SBK world champion Tom Sykes suffered a touch of bad luck after a crash at Turn 10, and ended up with an 8th. Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) racing in the EVO class, will start 15th on the grid.
Teammate Kenan Sofuoglu, who is continuing in the WSS class and is seeking the world champion crown this year, had a brilliant start. The three-time champion clocked in a breathtaking lap and grabbed the pole, closely followed by Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) and Roberto Tamburini (San Carlo Puccetti Racing). This is a battle to watch, because it does seem like competition, and a tough one at that, will be coming from van der Mark. The 21-year-old Dutchman clocked in a stunning 1’33.021s.
Meanwhile, the beginning for the MV Agustas hasn’t been very pretty – Claudio Corti (MV Agusta RC-Yakhnich Motorsport) starts from 14 on the grid. Though, the team fared better in WSS with Vladimir Leonov placing 6th on the grid. Teammate Jules Cluzel though suffered a fall and finished 14th.
And so it is that we now troop into racing day. What will Sunday bring us? Excitement. Lots of nails bitten to the quick. Hoarse throats. Hearts that skip a bit. And of course, the sweet growl of superbikes, ready to roll out, and give us some much-needed racing.
Phillip Island Starting Grid (top 10 only)
- Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia)
- Davide Giugliano (Ducati)
- Marco Melandri (Aprilia)
- Eugene Laverty (Suzuki)
- Alex Lowes (Suzuki)
- Jonathan Rea (Honda)
- Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
- Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
- Leon Haslam (Honda)
- Niccolo Canepa (Ducati, EVO)
P.S. Have you had a chance to head over to this season’s first post and leave a comment? If you haven’t…do. You may just win a supercool giveaway! Just one more week to go before we announce a winner.