Old boys up front and where are the new 600 Gixers?Mon, 28 Feb 2011
As I’ve been gagging for the new race season to kick off so it was almost a pleasure getting up at stupid 0 clock to watch the World Superbike Championship opener at Phillip Island last weekend.
I have to say Messrs Burnicle and Whitham were on form although I was disappointed there were none of the usual verbal attacks on each other that always add to the entertainment.
I’m sure they will put things right soon but the world superbike regulars must have been disheartened that Moto GP veterans nailed five of the six available rostrum slots. Ok, we know Checa’s 'privateer 1198R Ducati' was always going to work well at the Island and Biaggi’s RSV4 Aprilia would blitz everything in a straight line but these two old boys still had to out fox the others. Marco Melandri’s 3rd place in race two shouldn’t really have been a surprise either as his last Moto GP victory was at this very circuit in 2006. I have no doubt our six factory backed Brits will muscle their way up the pecking order when WSB returns to Europe.
The battle for the lead in the Supersport race was much better for the bleary eyed UK viewers with Lincolnshire rider Sam Lowes immediately letting the opposition know he will be a serious title threat. Sam lead on to the start finish on the last lap but Luca Scassa (on a two year old Yamaha) easily out dragged him to the line. Unfortunately Broc Parkes was also perfectly placed for a good slipstream on his Kawasaki so Lowes finished 3rd. Sam's riding isn’t in question but it appears the Honda could do with a little more grunt.
On that note there has been very little development with 600s recently so I was surprised that out of the twenty six starters there were no new GSXR 600s on the grid. I haven’t ridden one myself yet but I’ve been reading in other publications that this new Suzuki has raised the bar to a new level in this class.
The little Gixer has all but disappeared from both Supersport and Superstock grids around the world over the past three years so let’s hope we see some out there by round two at Donington.
By Niall Mackenzie
See also: Flaming World Superbike Crash at 130mph [Video], Ducati 749R Turbo. 214bhp. , Japanese Motocompo Anime .