Phillip Island (Australia), Thursday 20 February 2014 – The traditional and inaugural press conference of the year took place today at Phillip Island involving some of the protagonists of this year’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship. The event was a chance for the riders to talk about the official test performed early this week and their thoughts about the upcoming weekend, as well as the 2014 season. The riders then moved onto the spectacular Australian track for a special photo shoot with surfboards and then hopped onto their respective bikes to pose for pictures for the attending media. Here are a selection of quotes from some of the riders who attended.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team): “It’s been a good start for sure but now we need to work on race performance. I like the new qualifying format and I think it will level the playing field as we won’t need to worry about who is holding back on tyres for example.”
Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team): “It’s been good so far. It’s kind of a familiar surroundings with the Feel Racing crew, I feel at home and I got comfortable on the bike reasonably quickly. Judging by Carlos’ lap from last year in Superpole it’s obvious that the bike works pretty good around here. We made improvements, not quite as quick as I was hoping over the couple of days of testing, but I think we know what to do.”
Aaron Yates (Team Hero EBR): “It’s a really big step for EBR, we are really excited to be part of World Superbike and to bring the Hero EBR Team onto the international scene. We will try to do the best we can but we know it’s going to be a big task. We will figure out what we need to make it go.”
Claudio Corti (MV Agusta RC – Yakhnich Motorsport): “I’m really happy because I never had a full season in World Superbike. I’m happy also to race with a brand like MV Agusta, an iconic marque both in Italy and worldwide. Being the sole rider is a difficult task and I also crashed at turn 11 during the test, which cost us some important track time. It will be hard but the guys believe in this project and so do I.”
Sylvain Gunitoli (Aprilia Racing Team): “Surprisingly I feel good and this put a smile back on my face. Being back on a bike after 4 months is great and straight away I felt at home on the Aprilia – I’m a happy man.”
Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki): “We have definitely made progress since the first test in November and it’s nice to see how far we have already come. I didn’t expect to be as quick as we were on Monday. Having won the last 2 races of 2013 it would be a dream come true to win on the Suzuki in race one and make it 3 in a row but I’m not getting ahead of myself.”
Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike): “Last year we tested from zero with all new electronics but in the last test in Jerez we left with our heads held high as we were right on the pace. I am so proud of my team, they have all worked so hard. On Monday and Tuesday it was encouraging to be so close but the field is so tightly stacked this year anyone of ten guys could win.”
Bryan Staring (Rivamoto Honda, WSS): “(The deal) was set at the last minute. I’m really happy to be in World Supersport with Rivamoto and to be back inside the WSBK paddock. The adaptation to the bike has been really good. It is a lot fun to ride and to be back on a 600cc again, the test was certainly a bit of a challenge to work out the little tricks to make a lap time out of it.”
Other riders attending the press conference were Aussie riders Ryan Taylor (Oz Wildcard Racing Team Yamaha) and Billy McConnell (Smiths Triumph) who are both wildcarding this weekend. Despite not contesting the round following his testing crash Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team) took to the stage through the pain much to the appreciation of those gathered. His position within the BMW Motorrad Italia squad will be taken by Australian Glenn Allerton, who also made an appearance explaining to everyone about the 6am call he received asking him to ride.
On track action resumes tomorrow with the first free practice sessions for both World Superbike and Supersport Championships.