Motorcycles

PICTORIAL: Round 1 World Superbike Championships - Phillip Island

PICTORIAL: Round 1 World Super...
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Honda's PATA World Superbike team below, and Honda corporate hospitality above
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Honda's PATA World Superbike team below, and Honda corporate hospitality above
Information display on superbikes these days is a far cry from the old analog tachometer of not all that long agao
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Information display on superbikes these days is a far cry from the old analog tachometer of not all that long agao
The Hero EBR team
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The Hero EBR team
Sylvain Barrier's BMW S1000RR
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Sylvain Barrier's BMW S1000RR
First race winner of the year, Eugene Laverty
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First race winner of the year, Eugene Laverty
The Smiths Triumph 675R
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The Smiths Triumph 675R
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The Smiths Triumph 675R
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The Smiths Triumph 675R
A team shot for the San Carlo Puccetti Racing Team with rider Roberto Tamburini
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A team shot for the San Carlo Puccetti Racing Team with rider Roberto Tamburini
Althea Racing's Niccolo Canepa awaits qualifying
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Althea Racing's Niccolo Canepa awaits qualifying
Inside the Ducati factory team pits with riders Chaz Davies centre at back and Davide Giugliano back left
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Inside the Ducati factory team pits with riders Chaz Davies centre at back and Davide Giugliano back left
The Hero EBR Superbike team
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The Hero EBR Superbike team
Imre Toth, rider and principal of BMW Team Toth
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Imre Toth, rider and principal of BMW Team Toth
Inside the BMW Team Toth pits with the BMW S1000RR
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Inside the BMW Team Toth pits with the BMW S1000RR
Local rider Glenn Allerton took the Silvain Barrier seat on the BMW Motorrad Italia team’s new EVO spec S1000RR
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Local rider Glenn Allerton took the Silvain Barrier seat on the BMW Motorrad Italia team’s new EVO spec S1000RR
Looking for ways to improve the pace - inside the Hero EBR Superbike team pits
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Looking for ways to improve the pace - inside the Hero EBR Superbike team pits
Marco Melandri deep in discussion in the Aprilia garage
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Marco Melandri deep in discussion in the Aprilia garage
Voltcom Suzuki's reigning British Superbike champ Alex Lowes and old mate Leon Haslam joke in the pits. This year Haslam is riding for Team Pata Honda
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Voltcom Suzuki's reigning British Superbike champ Alex Lowes and old mate Leon Haslam joke in the pits. This year Haslam is riding for Team Pata Honda
Inside the official Kawasaki Superbike Team garage, data was being shared and compared
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Inside the official Kawasaki Superbike Team garage, data was being shared and compared
Press conferences are now part of every rider's schedule.
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Press conferences are now part of every rider's schedule.
Former riders Steve Martin and Chris Vermeulen have made the transition from riders to media commentators - here they discuss the finer points in the press room.
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Former riders Steve Martin and Chris Vermeulen have made the transition from riders to media commentators - here they discuss the finer points in the press room.
Alex Lowes and Fabien Foret front a press conference
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Alex Lowes and Fabien Foret front a press conference
Press conferences are now part of every rider's schedule.
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Press conferences are now part of every rider's schedule.
Kawasaki fielded an EVO spec bike in the hands of David Salom
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Kawasaki fielded an EVO spec bike in the hands of David Salom
Inside the Ducati factory team pits with riders Davide Giugliano at left
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Inside the Ducati factory team pits with riders Davide Giugliano at left
Inside the Pata Honda garage
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Inside the Pata Honda garage
Every team has its own way of ensuring that nothing is left to chance
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Every team has its own way of ensuring that nothing is left to chance
Geoff May's seat on the EBR Team Hero 1190RX
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Geoff May's seat on the EBR Team Hero 1190RX
Peter Sebestyen watches on as his team readies his BMW S1000RR
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Peter Sebestyen watches on as his team readies his BMW S1000RR
Imre Toth oversees the final preparation for a wet practice session
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Imre Toth oversees the final preparation for a wet practice session
Team Pedercini Kawasaki's Alessandro Andreozzi stepped up to the Superbike class with an EVO spec Kawasaki ZX10R
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Team Pedercini Kawasaki's Alessandro Andreozzi stepped up to the Superbike class with an EVO spec Kawasaki ZX10R
Team Pedercini Kawasaki's Alessandro Andreozzi awaits the start of a practice session on a circuit he had not previously seen. After a priomising year in Superstock in 2013, Andreozzi rode an EVO spec ZX10R
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Team Pedercini Kawasaki's Alessandro Andreozzi awaits the start of a practice session on a circuit he had not previously seen. After a priomising year in Superstock in 2013, Andreozzi rode an EVO spec ZX10R
Checking the tire pressures on last time
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Checking the tire pressures on last time
Geoff May before he broke his collarbone
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Geoff May before he broke his collarbone
Leon Haslam in the PATA Honda pit
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Leon Haslam in the PATA Honda pit
Davide Giugliano stretching the musculature prior to practice
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Davide Giugliano stretching the musculature prior to practice
Davide Giugliano getting the soft tissue controls up to working temperature
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Davide Giugliano getting the soft tissue controls up to working temperature
After a season to forget in 2013, Ducati is aiming to redress the balance and defend its name in 2014
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After a season to forget in 2013, Ducati is aiming to redress the balance and defend its name in 2014
Riding a full factory Aprilia RSV4 in Red Devils Roma Team, Toni Elias has a full hand of talent and machinery. Readers may not remember Elias as the inaugural Moto2 champion in 2010, or for his MotoGP victory in 2006. Six podiums in MotoGP stamps him as a class act. Do not discount him as a race winner later this season.
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Riding a full factory Aprilia RSV4 in Red Devils Roma Team, Toni Elias has a full hand of talent and machinery. Readers may not remember Elias as the inaugural Moto2 champion in 2010, or for his MotoGP victory in 2006. Six podiums in MotoGP stamps him as a class act. Do not discount him as a race winner later this season.
There is no margin for error when you are a member of a race team. Everything has to be right.
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There is no margin for error when you are a member of a race team. Everything has to be right.
Leo Vince muffler with carbon cap - you can meditate on the combination of functionality and artistry on each of these machines.
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Leo Vince muffler with carbon cap - you can meditate on the combination of functionality and artistry on each of these machines.
Marco Melandri's bike in the Aprilia garage
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Marco Melandri's bike in the Aprilia garage
Paul Denning's Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Team looks very well placed to give the title a shake this year.
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Paul Denning's Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Team looks very well placed to give the title a shake this year.
Paul Denning's Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Team looks very well placed to give the title a shake this year.
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Paul Denning's Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Team looks very well placed to give the title a shake this year.
Double World Supersport Champion AND World Superbike race winner Andrew Pitt, wanders pit lane.
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Double World Supersport Champion AND World Superbike race winner Andrew Pitt, wanders pit lane.
Giugliano's factory Panigale
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Giugliano's factory Panigale
Chaz Davies factory Panigale
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Chaz Davies factory Panigale
Globalisation personified - the Mahi Racing Team India pits where a Frenchman and a Turk ride Japanese motorcycles.
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Globalisation personified - the Mahi Racing Team India pits where a Frenchman and a Turk ride Japanese motorcycles.
Billy McConnell warms his gloves on the tyre warmer prior to the next practice session on a cold Friday
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Billy McConnell warms his gloves on the tyre warmer prior to the next practice session on a cold Friday
The BMW S1000RR of Team Toth with the rear-sub-frame removed, looks ALL business
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The BMW S1000RR of Team Toth with the rear-sub-frame removed, looks ALL business
The DMC Panavto Yamaha supersport pits
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The DMC Panavto Yamaha supersport pits
Luca Scassa's Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO spec bike in the Team Pedercini garage
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Luca Scassa's Kawasaki ZX-10R EVO spec bike in the Team Pedercini garage
The EBR 1195RX
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The EBR 1195RX
Giugliano's Ducati Panigale showing some serious plumbing work to route the rear cylinder's exhaust
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Giugliano's Ducati Panigale showing some serious plumbing work to route the rear cylinder's exhaust
Fabian Foret's ZX-10R in the Mahi garage
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Fabian Foret's ZX-10R in the Mahi garage
Globalisation personified - the Mahi Racing Team India pits where a Frenchman and a Turk ride Japanese motorcycles.
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Globalisation personified - the Mahi Racing Team India pits where a Frenchman and a Turk ride Japanese motorcycles.
Getting the exam results for six months of off-season homework.
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Getting the exam results for six months of off-season homework.
Giugliano's factory Ducati Panigale R
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Giugliano's factory Ducati Panigale R
Firing up Guintoli's Aprilia works RSV4 - even the battery pack looks the business
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Firing up Guintoli's Aprilia works RSV4 - even the battery pack looks the business
Guintoli's factory Aprilia RSV4 gets pampered
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Guintoli's factory Aprilia RSV4 gets pampered
Nico Canepa's EVO Panigale in the Althea garage
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Nico Canepa's EVO Panigale in the Althea garage
The Phillip Island circuit sits atop cliffs adjoining one of the wildest stretches of ocean in the world - when it's wet and cold and blowing at the Island, the riders get an experience like no other.
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The Phillip Island circuit sits atop cliffs adjoining one of the wildest stretches of ocean in the world - when it's wet and cold and blowing at the Island, the riders get an experience like no other.
The Phillip Island circuit sits atop cliffs adjoining one of the wildest stretches of ocean in the world - when it's wet and cold and blowing at the Island, the riders get an experience like no other.
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The Phillip Island circuit sits atop cliffs adjoining one of the wildest stretches of ocean in the world - when it's wet and cold and blowing at the Island, the riders get an experience like no other.
In the press room
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In the press room
David Salom's EVO ZX-10R
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David Salom's EVO ZX-10R
Team Pedercini fielded two EVO spec ZX-10Rs
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Team Pedercini fielded two EVO spec ZX-10Rs
Chaz Davies on the factory Panigale R
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Chaz Davies on the factory Panigale R
Geoff May heads down pit lane on the Hero EBR
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Geoff May heads down pit lane on the Hero EBR
Peter Sebestyen on the Team BMW Toth EVO S1000RR BMW
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Peter Sebestyen on the Team BMW Toth EVO S1000RR BMW
Toni Elias arrives at the office
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Toni Elias arrives at the office
Jonathon Rea's CBR1000RR Honda
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Jonathon Rea's CBR1000RR Honda
In the accompanying Australian Motorcycle News Expo, Confederate Motorcycles made quite an impression. This is the Confederate Hellcat X132
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In the accompanying Australian Motorcycle News Expo, Confederate Motorcycles made quite an impression. This is the Confederate Hellcat X132
In the accompanying Australian Motorcycle News Expo, the 2014 Zero SR was rarely without curious bystanders. 276 kilometers for $1.60's worth of electricity makes for economical commuting
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In the accompanying Australian Motorcycle News Expo, the 2014 Zero SR was rarely without curious bystanders. 276 kilometers for $1.60's worth of electricity makes for economical commuting
A closer look at the Confederate Hellcat X132
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A closer look at the Confederate Hellcat X132
EBR had its first outing at the Island in more ways than one.
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EBR had its first outing at the Island in more ways than one.
The Bimota TESI 3D - biker porn
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The Bimota TESI 3D - biker porn
One of the best motorcycle racers in the world who has had a wretched run with just plain bad luck. Maybe 2014 will be his year. Marco Melandri.
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One of the best motorcycle racers in the world who has had a wretched run with just plain bad luck. Maybe 2014 will be his year. Marco Melandri.
Bimota rolled out a full range at the expo with the Ducati-engined DB8 the focus of the stand
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Bimota rolled out a full range at the expo with the Ducati-engined DB8 the focus of the stand
Memorabilia is still a massive business, particularly when it's authenticated. This signed pic of King Kenny will set you back AUD$295
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Memorabilia is still a massive business, particularly when it's authenticated. This signed pic of King Kenny will set you back AUD$295
Memorabilia is still a massive business, particularly when it's authenticated.
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Memorabilia is still a massive business, particularly when it's authenticated.
Confederate's R131 Fighter had me thinking about the wellbeing of my family tree.
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Confederate's R131 Fighter had me thinking about the wellbeing of my family tree.
Confederate's R132 Hellcat
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Confederate's R132 Hellcat
Confederate's R132 Hellcat
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Confederate's R132 Hellcat
Confederate's R132 Hellcat
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Confederate's R132 Hellcat
Erik Buell Racing's EBR 1190RX
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Erik Buell Racing's EBR 1190RX
T-shirt stand in the expo - some very funny stuff
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T-shirt stand in the expo - some very funny stuff
T-shirt stand in the expo - some very funny stuff
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T-shirt stand in the expo - some very funny stuff
T-shirt stand in the expo - some very funny stuff
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T-shirt stand in the expo - some very funny stuff
Michel Fabrizio's Iron Brain EVO ZX-10R
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Michel Fabrizio's Iron Brain EVO ZX-10R
It wasn't really Silvain Barrier on the bike - local Glenn Allerton stepped in when the reigning STK1000 Champion suffered a fractured pelvis on the Monday prior to the event. Ouch!
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It wasn't really Silvain Barrier on the bike - local Glenn Allerton stepped in when the reigning STK1000 Champion suffered a fractured pelvis on the Monday prior to the event. Ouch!
Calm before the storm - wets in place, and the clock is ticking down to another wet session
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Calm before the storm - wets in place, and the clock is ticking down to another wet session
Current world champ Tom Sykes prepares to launch the factory Kawasaki ZX-10R
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Current world champ Tom Sykes prepares to launch the factory Kawasaki ZX-10R
Current world champ Tom Sykes prepares to launch the factory Kawasaki ZX-10R
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Current world champ Tom Sykes prepares to launch the factory Kawasaki ZX-10R
David Salom and his EVO ZX-10R
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David Salom and his EVO ZX-10R
Alex Lowes on the Voltcom Crescent GSX-R1000
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Alex Lowes on the Voltcom Crescent GSX-R1000
Leon Haslam on the PATA Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR
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Leon Haslam on the PATA Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR
Jeremy Guarnoni on the EVO MRS Kawasaki ZX-10R
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Jeremy Guarnoni on the EVO MRS Kawasaki ZX-10R
Loris Baz on the KRT ZX-10R
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Loris Baz on the KRT ZX-10R
Loris Baz exits the pit-box
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Loris Baz exits the pit-box
The Voltcom suzuki garage
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The Voltcom suzuki garage
Niccola Canepa sits in the back of the Althea garage while the crew ready his EVO Panigale 1199R Ducati
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Niccola Canepa sits in the back of the Althea garage while the crew ready his EVO Panigale 1199R Ducati
Silvain Guintoli's Aprilia RSV4
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Silvain Guintoli's Aprilia RSV4
Robbie Phillis won the first race in the 1990 World Superbike Championship round at Phillip Island, one of four wins he took during his international career. Indeed, Robbie is still winning nearly every race he enters - the 57-year-old took the win in the historic events on the weekend.
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Robbie Phillis won the first race in the 1990 World Superbike Championship round at Phillip Island, one of four wins he took during his international career. Indeed, Robbie is still winning nearly every race he enters - the 57-year-old took the win in the historic events on the weekend.
The Pata Honda pits.
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The Pata Honda pits.
MV Agusta flew the flag off the track too
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MV Agusta flew the flag off the track too
BMW's R Nine T
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BMW's R Nine T
After battling through from the bottom half of the field in the first race, Eugene Laverty's Suzuki GSX-R1000 pulled out a clear margin for an encouraging win.
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After battling through from the bottom half of the field in the first race, Eugene Laverty's Suzuki GSX-R1000 pulled out a clear margin for an encouraging win.
Aaron Yates on the Hero EBR 1190RX demonstrates the camber of the Island circuit
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Aaron Yates on the Hero EBR 1190RX demonstrates the camber of the Island circuit
Niccolo Canepa on the Althea Ducati Panigale 1199R
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Niccolo Canepa on the Althea Ducati Panigale 1199R
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Many of the bikes outside the racetrack are works of art too - this Ducati being a prime example.
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Many of the bikes outside the racetrack are works of art too - this Ducati being a prime example.
EBR's 1190 caused a sensation at the expo - it seems that Aussie fans have been awaiting the resurrection of the Buell name.
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EBR's 1190 caused a sensation at the expo - it seems that Aussie fans have been awaiting the resurrection of the Buell name.
Sunday at the Island dawned clear and warm, no doubt to the delight of all the promotional girls who might have otherwise suffered hypothermia
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Sunday at the Island dawned clear and warm, no doubt to the delight of all the promotional girls who might have otherwise suffered hypothermia
Waddayreckon - time to sell the kids? Kawasaki's Z1000 ABS
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Waddayreckon - time to sell the kids? Kawasaki's Z1000 ABS
Scenes from the parking lot
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Scenes from the parking lot
Scenes from the parking lot
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Scenes from the parking lot
Aprilia's RSV4 in the expo
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Aprilia's RSV4 in the expo
Aprilia's RSV4 in the expo
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Aprilia's RSV4 in the expo
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Moto Guzzi had a significant stand at the expo, including a range of promotional activities
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Moto Guzzi had a significant stand at the expo, including a range of promotional activities
More t-shirts
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More t-shirts
More t-shirts
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More t-shirts
Benelli, once the pride of Italian workmanship and speed, is now Chinese-owned and although the Italian factory and development has been maintained, the Chinese production facilities have increased the size of the range, and reduced the costs.
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Benelli, once the pride of Italian workmanship and speed, is now Chinese-owned and although the Italian factory and development has been maintained, the Chinese production facilities have increased the size of the range, and reduced the costs.
Bimota's DB10 Motard werighs in at 168 kg and uses a 1078cc L-twin motor producing 98 hp
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Bimota's DB10 Motard werighs in at 168 kg and uses a 1078cc L-twin motor producing 98 hp
One of the more interesting products on display at the World Superbike Expo was this range of headsets from Noiseguard. Each set is custom moulded to the riders' ears, then wrapped around the electronics of your choice. I forked out for the Logitech 200vi with remote & microphone and Pro Musicians’ balanced armature single audio driver. An evaluation will follow a few weeks from now when the final products arrive.
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One of the more interesting products on display at the World Superbike Expo was this range of headsets from Noiseguard. Each set is custom moulded to the riders' ears, then wrapped around the electronics of your choice. I forked out for the Logitech 200vi with remote & microphone and Pro Musicians’ balanced armature single audio driver. An evaluation will follow a few weeks from now when the final products arrive.
Bimota's DB11 runs an 1198cc Ducati Testastretta engine producing 160 hp and weighing just 385 pounds (176 kg) dry.
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Bimota's DB11 runs an 1198cc Ducati Testastretta engine producing 160 hp and weighing just 385 pounds (176 kg) dry.
The Bimota DB5R Tri-colore
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The Bimota DB5R Tri-colore
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The Alfa Romeo 4C supercar got itself some serious global television exposure as the official safety car at Phillip Island this weekend.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C supercar got itself some serious global television exposure as the official safety car at Phillip Island this weekend.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The Alfa Romeo 4C was the official safety car at Phillip Island.
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The first round of the World Superbike Championships was held in Australia on the weekend at the Phillip Island racetrack with strong indications that the 2014 championship will be won on one of five bikes: an Aprilia RSV4 1000, a Kawasaki ZX-10R, a Ducati Panigale, a Suzuki GSX-R1000 or a Honda CBR1000RR.

"The Island" is a racetrack of majestic sweeping proportions and it is unquestionably the best riders' track in the world - when veteran race journalist Matt Oxley asked the world's leading MotoGP and WSBK riders to name their favourite corner on any racetrack anywhere in the world, four different Phillip Island corners were named among the favourites.

Only twelve riders were asked and the Phillip Island corners nominated were Turn 12 (chosen by Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl, and Jorge Lorenzo), Stoner Corner (Mick Doohan), Turn 1 (Colin Edwards) and Lukey Heights (Scott Redding). In total, six of twelve riders chose a corner from the Phillip Island circuit. Phillip Island is the best riders circuit in the world! QED.

The first round of any major championship is always worth watching - new riders, new bikes and new rules often portend a new order and this year is no exception.

The Riders

Most of the field is comprised of the usual suspects, with Tom Sykes, Sylvain Guintoli, Marco Melandri, Eugene Laverty and Davide Giugliano the most likely to take the championship at the end of the season, at least as divined by the bookmakers.

The table below represents the odds from odds aggregator Oddschecker, where if you decide you're going to back your judgement with hard-earned Baksheesh, you can find which bookies will give you the best odds for your money. I'm a longtime student of the odds, though I never wager a cent - across four decades of journalism, I have found the bookies are the most credible assessors of probability for just about anything, mainly because it's their job to get it right, and they lose money if they get it wrong.

Just below the most favoured contenders, you'll see the name of rookie Alex Lowes. Lowes was the 2013 British Superbike Champion, and certainly made a mark in his first race under the rejuvenated Suzuki team which will this year go under the name Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.

Lowes was the fastest rider in the first three timed sessions on the track, finishing sixth on the grid in superpole and showing enough promise to indicate that he's not lacking anything to compete at this level. Riding a racetrack at world championship pace is extremely difficult and only a handful of people in the world can do it at any given time - Lowes showed that he can do it when seeing a track for the first time, but in the end, he wasn't the fastest.

The Machinery

On the machinery side of things, this year is the beginning of a superbike renaissance, with nine marques competing: Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Ducati, BMW, Aprilia, Bimota, MV Agusta and EBR (Erik Buell Racing).

Bimota BB3

Bimota won't be joining the fray with its Bimota BB3 until the second round of the titles in Aragon (Spain), but the marque's long time hallmark, being extremely fine handling characteristsics, will no doubt play a role when the mock-up above becomes real a month from now. The engine in the BB3 is based on the BMW S1000RR and with a top flight rider in the form of Ayrton Badovini who has already ridden the BMW for two season's successfully, the Rimini-based manufacturer might surprise once the season proper gets underway.

Erik Buell Racing 1190RX

The EBR 1195RX
The EBR 1195RX

For the Hero - Erik Buell Racing team, the weekend showed that it will need more development to run at World Superbike pace, and the two-rider team finished the weekend one man down (Geoff May broke a collar bone) and a long way short of the pace on the fast Island circuit. The machinery has previously been competitive in the American Superbikes series, and can be expected to be competitive in WSBK too, given more time to develop the entirely new bikes.

Kawasaki ZX-10R

Current world champ Tom Sykes prepares to launch the factory Kawasaki ZX-10R
Current world champ Tom Sykes prepares to launch the factory Kawasaki ZX-10R

Kawasaki won its first major roadracing title for a long time last year when Tom Sykes finally got the monkey off the Japanese manufacturer's back. In 2012, he missed the world title by half a point (to Aprilia's Max Biaggi) and in 2013, the lanky Yorkshireman finally brought home the prize. Kawasaki likes the idea of winning the title again in 2014, as the ZX-10R creates the reputation that sells hundreds of thousands of similarly styled Ninjas of lesser capacity across the globe. Sykes is good enough, the Kawasaki will be better than last year, and the bookies have the combination as favourites for the title again, for good reason.

Aprilia RSV4 1000

Guintoli's factory Aprilia RSV4 gets pampered
Guintoli's factory Aprilia RSV4 gets pampered

The V4 Aprilia is the most fully-featured race bike on the road at present and since the factory got involved seriously with Superbikes again in 2010, its bikes have been at the forefront with the title in 2010 and 2012, third place in 2011, and second and third places behind Sykes' Kawasaki last year. Throw in two of the best riders in the field and you have a winning combination, as was demonstrated in the second race of the day. At Phillip Island Aprilia's bikes were consistently the fastest down the chute, and the RSV4 will again feature in results at every race in 2014.

Honda CBR1000RR

Jonathon Rea's CBR1000RR Honda
Jonathon Rea's CBR1000RR Honda

Honda last won the World Superbike title in 2007 in the hands of James Toseland, and its bikes have won races in every season since, though it has never really been a serious competitor for the title since Toseland's narrow 2007 win over Nitro Noriyuki Haga's Yamaha R1. The PATA Honda World Superbike Team lacks for nothing, with two stellar talents in Jonathon Rea and Leon Haslam - if luck runs its way, the CBR1000RR is capable of winning the title.

Ducati 1199Panigale R

After featuring strongly in World Superbikes since the beginning, Ducati had a season worth forgetting in 2013, failing to win a single race. This season the Ducati team looks more settled and with Giugliano continuing to improve every season, there's every chance the Panigale will return to the winners circle, though perhaps not enough to take the crown.

BMW S1000RR

Inside the BMW Team Toth pits with the BMW S1000RR
Inside the BMW Team Toth pits with the BMW S1000RR

The BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team lost Silvain Barrier to injury before the race, and local rider Glenn Allerton deputised at short notice to great effect, though never challenging for a podium. Barrier is a great natural talent, having won the Superstock title for the last two years. If he can regain fitness quickly, he can play a role in shaping the title, and though it's unlikely he can take the outright championship this year, he might well claw back the lead in the EVO class before the end of the series. That's the BMW Team Toth S1000RR undressed above.

MV Agusta 1000 F4

Claudio Corti's MV Agusta 1000 F4 brings back memories of the golden years for the Italian marque, and it's worth noting that the last MV Agusta to compete in a World Championship road race was the fire engine of Giacomo Agostini. After winning the World 500cc Championship (now MotoGP) for Yamaha in 1975, Agostini switched back to MV Agusta and took victory in the 1976 season finale at Nurburgring. The win was Agostini’s 122nd GP win, his last and the last for the once dominant MV Agusta marque. Corti cannot be expected to emulate those exploits just yet, though the MV Agusta Reparto Corse Yakhnich Motorsport Team has the talented Corti (runner-up in the last two Superstock titles) and the famous MV Agusta brand at its disposal, and Corti is confident he will be a contender in 2015 once the EVO rules are fully implemented.

Suzuki GSX-R1000

With a young bull (Alex Lowes) and an old bull (Eugene Laverty) sharing the riding duties, a completely new Yoshimura-infused K14 Gixxer and an old hand steering the rudder (Paul Denning), the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Team looks very well placed to give the title a shake this year. Laverty's first race win was a masterful display as he found himself well down in the field during the opening lap, crossing the line in seventh after the first full circuit.

From there, he had to fight his way into clear air and when he'd done that on lap six, he still had more than three seconds to make up just to get on the back of the Guintoli-Melandri-Giugliano freight train in the lead.

He slowly but surely hunted the breakaway trio down and six laps later had latched onto the rear of the lead group, taking another five laps to find his way through to the lead. From there, he quickly established a small lead, building it to a very convincing three second win at the chequered flag.

First race winner of the year, Eugene Laverty
First race winner of the year, Eugene Laverty

A mechanical failure whilst in the lead almost certainly cost the Irishman a double win, but he's as hard-as-nails, with racecraft to match, and will be amongst the leading points scorers at the business end of the season. Another title for Suzuki looks more than possible.

The Rule Changes

This year the biggest change in the rules is the introduction of the EVO class. EVO class bikes are much closer to the bikes everyone can buy in the showroom. It's a prelude to 2015 where the entire class of superbikes will follow EVO rules and become immediately more relevant to the man in the street. The EVO class follows superbike technical regulations for chassis, suspension and brakes, while the engines will follow the same tech regulations as the FIM Superstock rules.

Many other new regs came into force for the championships contenders for 2014, all of them designed to lower the cost of competing in the 13 event series, and all of them levelling the field so that electronics genii don't establish performance margins that teams of modest budgets can't overcome. There is now a limit of eight engines per season per rider in the superbike class and six engines for EVO riders, the number of gear ratios has been limited, and both suspension and brakes now have a price cap.

This will make for much closer racing in 2014, and even closer racing in 2015.

Just for the record, the results, fastest laps, ideal times and everything you could possibly ask for in terms of statistical performance, are all available at the official World Superbike site.

Our pictorial coverage of the Phillip Island event covers far more than who passed who on which lap - it's a wholistic look at the entire experience, both inside and outside the pits.

Please note: All of the images in our Phillip Island gallery are published under the CC BY 4.0 License. You are free to use in any way you wish, as long as you link to and acknowledge Gizmag.com as the source, whether you're a media outlet, advertiser, PR company or private citizen.

1 comment
Martin Hone
Looks like a great season coming up !