Honda Pro Racing Press Release:
The Honda WorldSBK Team successfully started its 2016 World Superbike campaign today with a podium finish scored by Michael van der Mark, who crossed the line in third place at the end of a breath-taking, 22-lap opening race of the season at Phillip Island. Nicky Hayden finished today’s encounter – his first as full-time WorldSBK rider – in ninth position, after experiencing some front grip issues as the race reached its halfway point.
Both riders had a good launch from second and third row on the grid, respectively and rode within the top 5 in the opening laps. Van der Mark did not shy away from battle as he swapped positions several times with factory Ducati riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano. He ran as high as second and, as the race came down to the wire, he successfully defended third place from a recovering Giugliano.
Hayden spent the first part of the race learning his way around his new opponents and felt very comfortable aboard the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP. He made up some positions as the laps went by and set his sights on his teammate, before being forced to slow his pace down due to grip issues at the front of his bike. He eventually ended up ninth, collecting seven points and a lot of data ahead of this weekend’s second race, scheduled for tomorrow at 15:00 local time.
Michael van der Mark 60 – 3rd:
I’m really happy with this podium! This morning we were consistently fast and I felt great on the bike. I had a really good start to the race, managed to stay with the guys and keep their pace quite easily. I was basically trying to save the rear tyre. It was such a nice fight with the (Ducati) guys and a really great race. I was quicker in some corners but they were better in other and this meant there were a lot of overtakes. At the end I wanted to push more but the grip at the front was just not quite there, not as much as I would have loved at least. I struggled a little bit but did my best to stay with Johnny and Chaz, while the gap with fourth position stayed the same and so I was able to bring home this podium finish. For tomorrow we need to improve just a little bit more and then we’ll see how it goes.
Nicky Hayden 69 – 9th:
Superpole wasn’t too bad, we did a decent lap-time and I was hoping I could at least get a spot on the second row. I got a great start to the race and tried to stay smooth, in order to understand everything around me – where I was fast, where I wasn’t and how my opponents were riding. Unfortunately, at halfway through the race I started to lose grip at the front and from then on all I could do was just trying to stay on the bike and finish the race. We need if it was the tyre, the settings or my riding style. It was frustrating because at the beginning of the race I was feeling good and having fun. Congratulations to Michael and the team, he did a great race. Hopefully we can improve tomorrow morning and do a more consistent race.
Pieter Breddels- Technical Manager:
After just two short sessions, we had our first race of the season and it felt quite strange because of the new schedule. The guys did a good Superpole, then had a great start of the race. Michael fought hard for the podium for basically all 22 laps, especially with the two Ducatis. He was in the four-way pack that battled for the win until the closing stages; he hung in there and was just four tenths away from second place at the line. We’re very happy with third place and we’ll try to improve some more, with the goal to challenge for the win until the very end. Nicky also had a great start to the race and was making his way up, he definitely looked comfortable on the bike. Unfortunately, with ten laps to go his front-tire grip started to drop. He was forced to give up several positions and crossed the line in ninth place, which is a bit disappointing especially for him, as he felt very good in the first half. We need to take a look at the data, see what happened and eventually make some changes to the set up for tomorrow.
Race #2 Results:
1 Rea 65 GBR 25 Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki 33’48.377
2 van der Mark 60 NDL 20 Honda WorldSBK Honda +0.831
3 Giugliano 34 ITA 16 Aruba.it Racing Ducati +1.472
4 Hayden 69 USA 13 Honda WorldSBK Honda +1.511
5 Guintoli 50 FRA 11 Pata Yamaha Yamaha +2.439
6 Sykes 66 GBR 10 Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki +3.320
7 Torres 81 SPA 9 Althea BMW Racing Team BMW +13.744
8 Reiterberger 21 GER 8 Althea BMW Racing Team BMW +15.084
9 Brookes 25 AUS 7 Milwaukee BMW BMW +15.106
10 Davies 7 GBR 6 Aruba.it Racing Ducati +16.276
11 Abraham 17 CZE 5 Milwaukee BMW BMW +30.147
12 Ramos 40 SPA 4 Team Go Eleven Kawasaki +30.251
13 De Angelis 15 RSM 3 IodaRacing Team Aprilia +30.437
14 Lowes 22 GBR 2 Pata Yamaha Yamaha +39.946
15 Barrier 11 QAT 1 Team Pedercini Kawasaki +53.515
16 Schmitter 9 SWI 0 Grillini Racing Team Kawasaki +58.450
17 Al Sulaiti 11 QAT 0 Team Pedercini Kawasaki +1’01.836
18 Sebestyen 56 HUN 0 Team Toth Yamaha +1’30.672
19 Toth 10 HUN 0 Team Toth Yamaha +1 Lap
NC Jones 46 AUS 0 Desmo Sport Ducati Ducati DNF
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