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19.02.12

Australia - Phillip Island

Category: World Superbike (WSBK)

Preview

24th– 26th February 2012

1 of 14 race weekends

 

 

Munich/Stephanskirchen, 19th February 2012. Green light for the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship: the new season will officially get underway in the upcoming week. Phillip Island (AUS), close to Melbourne, will host the first two races on 26th February. Before then, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport will take part in the official Infront tests, which are held in Phillip Island on 20th and 21st February. Last week the team completed a private, three-day test at the same venue.

 

Britain’s Leon Haslam will contest his second season as a BMW Motorrad factory rider in 2012. Last year he scored 224 points on his number 91 BMW S 1000 RR, finishing fifth in the Riders’ Championship. His new team-mate is Italian Marco Melandri, who lines up in his second year in the FIM Superbike World Championship and his first season for Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport. Melandri celebrated four victories in his debut season, ending 2011 as runner-up in the Riders’ Championship. The Italian’s RR will bear the start number 33.

 

Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport enters its fourth season in the FIM Superbike World Championship, and the team has set itself some clear goals: to close the gap to the top teams and challenge for the title. The 2012 race version of the RR has been the subject of comprehensive further development. Brought in line with the new production version of the bike, it features improvements to the aerodynamics and chassis. The team has also optimised the BMW electronics. With the new one-bike rule coming into force this season, the bike has also been made easier to service.

 

Since the start of the year, the team has had a new Head of Race Operations, in the form of Andrea Dosoli (ITA). The rest of the management structure around BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Bernhard Gobmeier remains unchanged: Stephan Fischer is Head of Development, while Josef Hofmann, the Managing Director of alpha Racing, assumes responsibility for the Stephanskirchen factory.

 

 

Phillip Island from the riders’ point of view:

Leon Haslam:

“I am looking forward to the official Infront test. It is another two full days. I feel that we now have a good base with the bike and we have a good understanding from the last test. We can now work on race runs and prepare for the race weekends. It is going to be quite an important test, as everyone is going to be there and we will all be on the same tyres. It will give us a good indication of where we need to improve.

 

On the race weekend itself we will, as always, be aiming to perform to the best of our ability. That is always our aim. Right now I am pretty confident that we can definitely challenge for the podium. Looking back to last year, all the BMWs were quite far behind at this stage and I was on the podium in the first race. Now, we are within a couple of tenths already and we still have a lot more to look forward to. So I am actually quite confident as we approach the weekend.”

 

 

Marco Melandri:

“At the moment, we haven’t yet started thinking about what we can expect at the race weekend. We are concentrating on what we need to do to improve my feeling for the bike. The rhythm will certainly be different, as will the lap times. At the moment I am not fast enough. However, we still have two more days of what will hopefully be positive testing to take steps forward and get faster for the season opener.

 

Generally speaking I like the Phillip Island circuit. I won there in 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP, and also claimed a podium finish there in the Superbike World Championship last year, so it has been a good track for me so far. I hope I will get the confidence that is lacking at the moment and take that next step forward.” 

 

 

Phillip Island from the technical point of view:

Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):

 “After the two tests held in Valencia and Phillip Island, we’re now looking forward to the official Infront test and the race weekend. The Infront test will be very interesting to really evaluate our potential compared to our competitors. Leon has already found a good base, he’ll use the next two test days to work on the fine tuning, while Marco and his crew will work hard to further improve his feeling for the front end of the bike. This is fundamental on a track with fast corners like Phillip Island.

 

It will be the first time to see in the garage only one bike per rider. This rule forces our team and our riders to approach the test and the race weekend in a different way compared to the past. On this track, with a severe tyre wear, variable weather condition and a bumpy surface it will be important to be consistent. We’ll work in this direction.”

 

 

Phillip Island from Pirelli’s point of view:

The Phillip Island track is always one of the most demanding for tyres on the Superbike schedule as they are subjected to heavy and constant thermal-mechanical stress, especially on the left hand side. Precisely for this reason, Pirelli is bringing two new solutions for the rear tyre, which will be available to the teams for the test sessions on 20th and 21st February. One of these is an SC1 compound and the other is a higher performance compound, midway between SC0 and SC1, which was custom created for the Australian asphalt and temperatures. The size of these tyres is also evolutionary compared to standard dimensions, being slightly larger in width and diameter, capable of providing a bigger contact surface. This helps reduce the stress this track places on the tyres.

 

 

Background:

Phillip Island is an island in the Australian state of Victoria, in the south-east of the continent, about 120 kilometres from Melbourne. It can easily be reached by car via a 640-metre bridge thank links the island to the mainland. One popular tourist attraction is the “Penguin Parade”: every morning countless little penguins leave their cliff caves and make their way over the beach to the sea, before returning in the evening.

 

Phillip Island may only have an area of 100km², but the island does boast a long tradition of motorsport. The first 100-mile race was held there in 1926 and is now recognised as the first Australian Grand Prix. Back then, the competitors still raced on public roads. An unsurfaced circuit soon came into being and was used until 1935. In the early 1950s the “Phillip Island Circuit” was built right on the coast. It was opened in 1956 and has been the subject of several modifications since then. Located amidst spectacular scenery, the circuit is a permanent fixture in the calendar of the FIM Superbike World Championship. With the exception of 1993, the track has hosted the series every year since 1990. Since 2008, Phillip Island has been the venue for the curtain-raiser to the new season. Former BMW Motorrad factory rider Troy Corser (AUS) is the most successful rider at Phillip Island with seven victories and still holds the lap record, which he set back in 2007. The island also hosts the MotoGP series.

 

The circuit blends into the hilly coastal scenery and consequently features big changes of elevation. Gusts of wind of varying strength also blow in from the sea. The track itself has several key spots: it is essential to find the racing line in the first turn, “Doohan Corner”, in order to be well positioned approaching the demanding “Southern Loop”. From there, the “Bass Straight” leads downhill into the “Honda” hairpin. The final turn is also crucial: it is taken in fourth gear and the rider must attempt to take as much speed as possible into the start/finish straight, the “Gardner Straight”. At the same time, however, the riders must avoid being too aggressive and spinning their wheels.

 

In 2010, BMW Motorrad factory rider Leon Haslam (GBR) picked up his first pole position and first victory in the Superbike World Championship in Phillip Island. In 2011 the circuit was the scene of his first race on the BMW S 1000 RR and he immediately claimed a podium finish. His new team-mate Marco Melandri (ITA) made his Superbike World Championship debut in Phillip Island last year and went on to claim his first podium finish in the series.


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