Superbike - Race facts: Phillip Island

A look at some key facts and figures ahead of this weekend's season opening World Superbike race at Phillip Island.

PHILLIP ISLAND PERSONAL SCOREBOARD

Out of six races run in Phillip Island, Leon Camier managed to finish inside the top 10 only once, in race two, 2011, when he was able to overtake both Haga and Fabrizio on the last lap.

Carlos Checa is the most successful winner in Phillip Island, considering only the non-Aussie riders, with four wins in the last five races run here. The absolute record here belongs to Troy Corser (7), followed by Troy Bayliss (6) and Anthony Gobert (5). Checa is also the only rider, with the aforementioned three, to have won more than twice in Phillip Island. He started from the front row four times out of five (missing out only in 2009, seventh), and scored pole here in 2011.

Chaz Davies last year was forced to miss the Phillip Island round after he injured his left wrist in qualifying. He raced here in Supersport in 2010 and 2011: he qualified inside the top 10, but wasn’t lucky in the races, finishing 12th in 2010, while in 2011 he was fighting for the win until three laps to the end, when he punctured.

Marco Melandri always finishes his Phillip Island races between second and sixth spot. Two podiums for him: third in race two, 2011 (his maiden Superbike podium) after a fierce fight with Biaggi, and second last year in race one (behind Biaggi), at the time the best result for a BMW bike in the World Championship.

Sylvain Guintoli last year scored his only Phillip Island podium, a third in race one, passed by Melandri after 17 laps. The Frenchman qualified here twice in fifth and once in third, but he was often struck by bad luck in the races: he fell in race one, 2011 and had to withdraw from race two due to pain in his right hand and left ankle, and also fell last year in race two, when he took to the grass on the second corner after nine laps.

The best result for Eugene Laverty in this track came in his first race here: race one, 2011, when he was fourth after having led the first two laps. An off-track excursion in race two put him in 15th. Last year he retired in race one due to physical exhaustion.

Jonathan Rea has finished all his eight Phillip Island races, seven times among the first nine and ending up outside the top 10 (12th) only in race one in 2011 due to pain in his wrist, following a fall in the tests ran here in February.

Last year Tom Sykes was able to score pole, the first of nine season poles. Tom has six top-10 placements out of eight races run: only one podium, third in race two last year, thanks to a last-lap pass on Jonathan Rea.

Leon Haslam has had some good showings at Phillip Island: he won the closest ever finish in the Championship history in 2010 race one (his maiden career win), when the final margin over Fabrizio was only 0.004 seconds, and was able to reach the podium in three out of 10 races run here. His only finish outside the top 10 came last year in race one (12th), when he raced with two screws in his right leg, injured only five days before. In 2010 he posted his maiden - and to date only - career pole.

TEAMS

Aprilia won twice in Phillip Island: first in 2000 with Troy Corser, and second with Max Biaggi, last year in race one. Since their comeback in 2009, Max has been the only Aprilia rider able to score podiums at this track, four times: he adds to the aforementioned win three second places.

Two podiums for BMW at Phillip Island: the first with Leon Haslam in race one, 2011 (third) and last year with Marco Melandri in race one (second).

Ducati dominates the charts in Phillip Island, having won in more than half of the races run here: 22 wins out of 43 races. It’s easier to count the races when they didn’t win: in the last five years they have missed the top step of the podium only in 2009 in race two, in 2010 in race one and last year in race one.

Four wins for Honda in Phillip Island, however in recent times they have endured a slump in performances in Australia. Their last win came in 2007, race two (Toseland) and the last podium came in 2009 in race two (Haslam). Since then they have racked up three fourths out of six races run here as their best result. The last Honda pole in Phillip Island came in 2002 (Colin Edwards).

Last year Kawasaki fought back from a series of below-par performances in Phillip Island: thanks to Tom Sykes they scored pole after a wait which lasted since 1995 (Anthony Gobert) and they climbed on the podium for the first time since 1997 (Simon Crafar). Kawasaki have won five times here, most recently in 1996 with Anthony Gobert (a double).

Time stopped in 2010 for Suzuki in Phillip Island: that year they were able to start from pole and win in race one and score a second win in race two with Leon Haslam. Since then they have not climbed on the podium here and their best qualifying spot was sixth (Camier, 2010).

In the last four years four different manufacturers started from pole in Phillip Island: Yamaha (2009), Suzuki (2010), Ducati (2011) and Kawasaki (2012).

LAST YEAR AT PHILLIP ISLAND

The first race in Australia didn’t start well for some riders: three of them, Chaz Davies, John Hopkins and Leandro Mercado, were forced to miss out the opening weekend due to injuries sustained during the winter or in the pre-season tests. Also Haslam took part at the Phillip Island races with screws inserted in his right leg after breaking it only five days before.

The situation got worse on Saturday: in the Australian Superstock series, Oscar McIntyre lost his life, and after this tragedy all track activities were halted, Superpole was cancelled and the grid was formed with the combined qualifying times.

Pole went to Tom Sykes, followed by Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa and Jakub Smrz: BMW riders suffered in this first qualifying round, with Fabrizio in 10th, and Haslam and Melandri further back in 12th and 13th.

At the start of race one the first three spots remained unchanged, but soon afterwards Checa looked like the man to beat, passing Biaggi at the Honda turn during the opening lap and, after a brief fight with Biaggi, catching Sykes and taking the lead on the third lap, in the same spot where ha had passed the Italian.

Biaggi at this stage tried not to lose contact with Carlos and passed Sykes on the fourth lap and set the fastest race time, going after the Spaniard. The two pulled away from the rest, but on the sixth lap Checa lost control of his Ducati, highsided on the last turn, leaving Biaggi alone in the lead.

His advantage was already a couple of seconds, but the Aprilia rider kept on pushing, going on to a solitary win.

The fight for second was among Sykes, Guintoli and Melandri: Sykes wasn’t able to keep the same pace of his rivals and slid back towards mid-race, while Guintoli managed to keep second until the eighteenth lap, when a firm move by Melandri on the first turn gave the BMW rider the second final spot.

Race two was settled on the first turn: Biaggi tried to overtake Sykes, but went wide and touched the Kawasaki with his brake lever, resulting in a trip on the grass for Biaggi, who was dead last at the end of the lap.

Out in front, Sykes was able to keep the lead for a couple of laps, before being passed by Jonathan Rea, then the Kawasaki rider had to fight with Checa: the battle was settled on the fourth lap, when Carlos took second and, on the following lap, hit the front.

Once in clean air, the Ducati rider was unreachable and went on to a solitary win. Behind him, at first Rea managed to keep second, and, further back, the two Kawasakis of Sykes and Lascorz were third and fourth. Joan however went wide on the eleventh lap, just as Biaggi, with a great comeback, was reaching the leading riders.

Max went up to fifth on the 13th lap, then passed Melandri on the following one and finished his great ride passing Sykes on the 18th lap and Rea on the following one, securing a sensational second place.

The last step of the podium was decided on the last lap, when Sykes managed to have the better of Rea, coming out of the last corner.

MILESTONES AT PHILLIP ISLAND

1990, race 2: first win for Rob Phillis. In the same weekend Peter Goddard recorded his only pole position;

1991, race one: first win for Kevin Magee;

1994: first win and first podium for Anthony Gobert in race 1, the Australian went on winning his first race in race 2;

2000: first win and first fastest lap for Aprilia by Troy Corser in race 2;

2004: first win for Garry McCoy (in race 2), first podium for Chris Vermeulen (in race 1);

2005: first pole for Yukio Kagayama, first podium for Max Neukirchner in race 2;

2008: 250th fastest race lap for Ducati, scored by Max Biaggi (race two);

2009: Ben Spies scored his maiden pole in his debut race (seventh in history) and won race two. Maiden fastest lap for BMW. Excluding the first race of the Championship (Donington 1988), it was the first time a manufacturer was able to set the fastest lap in its maiden race. Win number 275 for Ducati in race two by Noriyuki Haga.

2010: first pole, win and fastest lap for Leon Haslam, maiden fastest lap for Sylvain Guintoli;

2011: first podium for Marco Melandri.

2012: 80th win for an Italian rider in Superbike, thanks to Max Biaggi. Max, at his seventeenth win, reached Frankie Chili as the most successful Italian rider in history, a record he will eventually improved, closing his career with twenty-one wins.