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SBK, Phillip Island: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Alex Lowes makes Kawasaki dream in Australia, but Italy is really top class with Bulega, Iannone, Locatelli, Petrucci, and Montella

SBK: Phillip Island: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

One thing is certain: we couldn’t have imagined a more exciting start to the season. The inaugural stage at Phillip Island was really exciting among races, twists and turns, heart-pounding overtakes, and new faces that captured the spotlight.

There couldn’t have been a better business card for a weekend where the tricolor shone brightly. In the end, it was Alex Lowes who bid farewell to Australia as the leader of the World Championship, but the Italian riders were able to show what the Superbike and SuperSport are made of. 

The GOOD – Our guys deserve a mention: from Nicolò Bulega to Yari Montella, and also Danilo Petrucci, Andrea Iannone, and Andrea Locatelli, as we wait to soon see Michael Rinaldi and Axel Bassani. Yari’s success on Saturday was a prelude to an all-Italian podium a few hours later, which will remain etched in history. We’re only at the beginning of a long season, but a victory is more than possible for Italy. We obviously can’t forget about Alex Lowes, the star on Sunday, as well as a magician in tire management, to the extent that he won Race 2 and the Sprint, reaching the top of the World Championship.  

The UGLY – Even if the flag-to-flag race was entertaining and made the challenge more exciting, not everyone was happy with what happened during the Phillip Island weekend. Between tires that didn’t arrive, some that explode, and others that blistered, the riders ended up having to deal with a sort of roulette which had an unpredictable outcome. 

The BAD – Toprak is undoubtedly the rider who’s making the difference on this BMW. But, unfortunately, the German bike abandoned him after not even two laps from the start. Race 2 was a hard blow for the Turkish rider, who was forced to lay down his weapons. This was something we had already seen before, when Garrett Gerloff had to park his bike during Tuesday’s tests. The M 1000 RR certainly has great potential, but the pieces of the puzzle aren’t yet all in place. 

The CONFIRMATION – A Kawasaki at the helm of the World Championship, but the Ducati remains a certainty. Since the beginning of last year, there has always been at least one Panigale V4 on the podium.

The DISAPPOINTMENT – To describe Johnny Rea’s weekend, all we have to do is rely on his words after Race 1: “We have a big problem, and we don’t know how to solve it. We could send the crates directly to Barcelona.” We certainly don’t want to rub it in and,  in fact, we’re expecting Johnny in less than a month at Montmelò, stronger than before.  

The ERROR – Stefano Manzi dreamt of a rematch in Race 2, while Ten Kate had to deal with two falls in the Sprint on Sunday, and Alvaro Bautista sent everything into a tailspin during Race 1 after a super start with a slip up. But he made a comeback on Sunday.

The SURPRISE – One of the questions that accompanied the long Superbike winter was: “What’s Iannone going to do? And we finally got an answer. It might even be true that Phillip Island is a special track, and we’ll only find out the truth once we arrive in Europe, but Andrea has had an impact on the category beyond all expectations. The path has been traced. All he has to do now is follow it.   

The OVERTAKE – The prize goes to Alex Lowes who, with his all outside maneuver during the last round, secured Race 2, duping Alvaro Bautista. It was a great weekend for the Kawasaki rider. The star in what, until last year, was his circuit.

The ANECDOTE – Pole, victory, and record lap in the race. What more could we want from Nicolò Bulega? No rookie had ever done such a thing in a debut race.

The I TOLD YOU SO – Dedicated to all those who: “There’s no way they’ll race with a pit stop at Phillip Island.” ... You all know the rest!


Translated by Leila Myftija

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