Phillip Island (Australia) - February 21st. The new era of WorldSBK begins as the Championship sets sail for Phillip Island. A few hours south of Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is a ribbon of tarmac standing alone by the sea. High speed, flowing and technical, it has been the stage for some of the greatest two-wheeled races in recent history. This weekend will see the track once more beckon the fastest and bravest to tackle the 12 corners and undulating layout on the way to the final push towards the finish line, reaching sixth gear as the track seems to disappear down the Gardner Straight and over the edge of the world.
2016 sees the dawn of a new era in WorldSBK: Race 1 will now be held on Saturday. To make the weekend of a WorldSBK Round as action-packed as possible, the top class will now face each other down on both Saturday and Sunday, with Friday times providing them with a shot at entry to the Tissot-Superpole 2 session to fight for the top positions on the grid. In addition, all other riders will now compete in Tissot-Superpole 1, ensuring that the fight for grid positions will be more exciting than ever.
Last year saw Jonathan Rea race a Kawasaki ZX-10R around Phillip Island for the first time. After a long record with Honda and no wins at the Island, Rea was nevertheless confident aboard his new Ninja. He knew victory was more than a possibility, telling his team he hadn’t joined the team to come fifth; he’d joined Kawasaki to win, and that he did. His first victory of 2015 was also the first in what would go on to prove a record-breaking run at the start of the season. This year, the target is less in front of the reigning Champion and more on his back.
Sporting the number 1 plate for the first time, Rea is the man to beat and wants it to stay that way. 2016, however, sees a new era in WorldSBK with a new weekend schedule and new rivals to boot: Nicky Hayden, 2006 MotoGP World Champion and MotoGP Legend, joins the WorldSBK paddock for a new challenge, hoping to do the double and further cement his place in history as a winner of both titles.
Year Zero: Let Battle Commence