World Superbikes head down under for Australian round. The World Superbike championship heads down under for round 2 of 12 at the Phillip Island circuit south of Melbourne this weekend. After their resounding double 1-2 victory in the Valencia...
World Superbikes head down under for Australian round.
The World Superbike championship heads down under for round 2 of 12 at the Phillip Island circuit south of Melbourne this weekend. After their resounding double 1-2 victory in the Valencia season opener, Team Ducati Fila riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus aim to continue their positive form at the Australian track.
The Australian round will mark the first appearance outside Europe for the brand-new Ducati 999 in the colours of globally-renowned Italian sportswear manufacturer Fila, whose partnership with Ducati was successfully inaugurated at Valencia. The twin-cylinder Factory '03 machine has already proved to be a worthy successor to the all-conquering Ducati 916-996-998 family of superbikes, winning straight out of the box in Spain.
Britain's Neil Hodgson, who picked up a fifth and a fourth in last year's two Island races, says that he enjoys the fast flowing nature of the track but will be approaching this weekend in his usual way. "I love Phillip Island. It's a real rider's circuit with great corners and a mega-fast straight", declared Neil. "I was fastest through the speed trap all weekend in Valencia and I think that Phillip Island will be good for the 999. If you can have a couple of k's advantage on the straight then you can get past in the easy places and reduce the risks in others. But the only thing that I'm predicting is that I'll do my best in every practice and every race. I'm just going to take this season one step at a time and then we'll see how it turns out."
Spanish rider Ruben Xaus is also enthusiastic about the 4.445 km track after twice finishing third behind Bayliss (Ducati) and Edwards (Honda) last year. "The Phillip Island circuit just has to be one of the very best circuits in the world and it is one I enjoy very much" said Ruben. "I think the Ducati 999 will be fantastic there. The chassis is very good and it has the power, but as we haven't tested there, then we are going to have to work very hard on getting a good set-up for the races."
World Superbike comes to Phillip Island for the thirteenth time since the championship started in 1988. The spectacular 4.445 km seaside circuit is 150 km south of Melbourne and can accommodate 150,000 spectators. Phillip Island is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar with an average speed of over 170 kph, 7 left and 5 right hand corners, and a finish line straight measuring almost 900 metres.
Lap record: Corser (Ducati) 1'33.019 (1999); Qualifying: Corser (Ducati) 1'32.623 (1999); Superpole: Corser (Ducati) 1'32.193 (1999). Race distance: 2 x 22 laps/97.790 km.
TV COVERAGE: Eurosport (Pan-European) - Sunday 30 March: Race 1 0600-0715 CET (delayed), Race 2 0715-0830 (live). RaiDue (Italy) - to be defined.