WSBK: Phillip Island test session two

Corser survives collision with bird

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Feb. 23, 2009
Jonathan Rea and Michel Fabrizio both claimed the fastest time in the final pre-season World Superbike test session, Feb. 21-22 at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia.

Initial reports had Ducati Xerox’s Fabrizio on top with a time of 1:32.19 while Ten Kate Honda’s Rea was seventh at 1:32.96 with a minor crash on the second day of testing.

Ten Kate Honda released a statement however denying that Rea had crashed and claiming a best time of 1:31.8.

“Well, according to some websites, I crashed today and was like seventh quickest. I’m happy to report, however, that I didn’t crash and did a 1:31.8 lap which we think was the fastest today!” says Rea. “What matters is that we were able to find a setting that allows some tire life at the end of the race and that I’m getting to grips with the traction control. We did two full race simulations today and the bike felt great. We know what we have to do next weekend but I’m really excited at the potential we’ve shown here.”

No official timing was kept during the test and teams recorded their own times, so it is debatable who truly had the fastest time.

Despite initial reports, Jonathan Rea claims to have the top time at 1:31.8.Fabrizio’s teammate Noriyuki Haga was also near the top of the timesheets with a time of 1:32.30 despite crashing on both days of the test. Both crashes occurred on the circuit’s “Southern Loop” second turn.

“I rode race distance which was a useful exercise and I was quite happy with the wear of the tyres, especially the front. On Friday we want to test some different suspension settings as I am not yet totally comfortable with the front,” says Haga. “I’m sorry that I crashed again in exactly the same way and place as yesterday but accidents happen and overall I’m happy with the work we’ve done here.”

Ben Spies recorded the next fastest time at 1:32.36, a second quicker than his day one best. Spies has been near the top of the timesheets at every WSBK test, and his day two improvement shows he is quickly getting familiar with the track which will host the season opener March 1.

“It was a good test for me. We worked on a lot of race stuff, we had some tires to test and get through for Pirelli then we got up to speed on the track and did some longer stints getting the bike to work on race setup,” says Spies. “We were looking good for race pace, we did a race simulation and it felt really good. For sure we only got two days testing on the track and the whole race weekend is going to add some adrenaline. I’m extremely happy with the bike and the team is working really well so I can’t wait to get started.”

Ben Spies has scored among the leaders in every winter test.The Alstare Suzuki pair of Max Neukirchner and Yukio Kagayama took a step backward on the second day. Neukirchner had the fastest time on day one with Kagayama third, but both riders were slower on day two as the team struggled with tire wear.

“I’m happy, because I did not crash and many other riders did!  I rode quite safely during these days because I knew there was a lot of work to do and I did not want to make any mistakes so close to the first race,” says Kagayama. “We tried many things and many different set-ups and the biggest problem for me was the variations in tire level performance. But we found a good set-up for next week’s race and I hope I can start the season with a good result and keep up a good level throughout the year.”

Australian native Troy Corser had a scare on day two, after being struck by a plover while travelling at 143 mph. The bird struck Corser on the left bicep, taking his hand off the handlebar but the former World and AMA Superbike champion managed to keep control of his BMW S1000RR.

“The tests went very well, though it's a real shame that I had to finish early because we still had lots more to try out. But, I guess I'm lucky that I didn’t crash and hurt myself badly when I hit the bird,” says Corser. “I’m really not sure how I managed to stay on the bike, because it’s not easy when you’ve only got one hand on the bars, but somehow I was able to recover. I had seen the bird on the track and tried to avoid it by going up the inside.”

Troy Corser's day ended early after he hit a bird while riding over 140 mph.Corser’s arm was bruised in the collision and he was treated by medical staff to limit the swelling.

“Hitting a one kilo or so bird at over 230 kph (143 mph) is like hitting a brick wall, so I’m lucky that my injury isn’t any worse,” says Corser. “We have learnt a lot in these two days and I've been able to get a better idea of how the bike works in different conditions and set-ups. What I can say though, is that my S1000RR feels as good as any other bike I've ever ridden round here.”

Ten Kate Honda’s Carlos Checa sat out the second day because of a concussion suffered in a crash on day one.

“My shoulder is still a little sore and my head, well, that’s always had some problems!” says Checa. “No, I am really OK and will be fit for next weekend’s first round after some rest this week.”

2009 WSBK Phillip Island test session two results (unofficial)
Pos. Rider Team Time
1st Jonathan Rea Ten Kate Honda 1:31.8
2nd Michel Fabrizio Ducati Xerox 1:32.19
3rd Noriyuki Haga Ducati Xerox 1:32.30
4th Ben Spies Yamaha WSBK 1:32.36
5th Max Neukirchner Suzuki Alstare 1:32.59
6th Yukio Kagayama Suzuki Alstare 1:32.78
7th Troy Corser BMW Motorrad 1:32.93
8th Tom Sykes Yamaha WSBK 1:33.10
9th Ruben Xaus BMW Motorrad 1:33.53