News 22 Feb 2012

Sykes stuns with fastest lap of Island test, Aussies continue struggle

Tom Sykes was ultimately the man of the moment in two days of Superbike testing at Phillip Island.

Tom Sykes was ultimately the man of the moment in two days of Superbike testing at Phillip Island, the Kawasaki man holding onto the top slot in today’s warmer afternoon session that saw only two riders improve. Sykes’s time of 1 minute 31.648 seconds remains the benchmark as the riders now gear up for the opening round of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship this coming weekend.

Second place overall went to 2011 champion Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati), who ended up just a whisker behind. The Spaniard set the quickest time of the warmer afternoon session and then packed up for the rest of the day. Jakub Smrz (Liberty Racing Team Effenbert) was third on another Ducati 1098R, not far off the pace of the top 2, while Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike) was the only other rider to get into the 1 minute 32 seconds bracket despite crashing at Lukey Heights this morning (with no harm to rider).

Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing) showed remarkable consistency as he took the fifth slot, while Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad) failed to improve on day 2 and his time set yesterday was good enough for sixth. Superbike rookie Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati) crashed harmlessly for the fourth time in this test but was impressive enough for seventh, while Leon Camier (Crescent Suzuki) completed the top 8.

The three Australians in the field struggled to sort their bikes with 2010 Australian superbike champion Bryan Staring 20th on the time sheet on the Pedercini Kawasaki; Sydney’s Josh Brookes 21st aboard on the Crescent Suzuki; and Gosford’s Mark Aitchison sitting at 22nd on the 23 strong time sheet on the Grillini BMW. All Australian riders are new to their bikes and teams, with Aitchison campaigning the BMW for the year, but Staring and Brookes deputising for injured riders at the Australian round only.

Meanwhile Leon Haslam, who crashed yesterday, has returned to hospital: the doctors are deciding if and how to operate on his right leg tibia fracture.

The riders in the world superbike and world supersport categories have enjoyed two days of perfect test conditions at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit with pace setter Sykes making the most of the sunny conditions and clocking the most laps – over 156 laps over the two days.