MotoGP this week…World SBK next week
The world’s motorcycling elite descend on Australia’s Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit over the next two weeks, with MotoGP teams checking in Wednesday for three days of testing, followed by the World Superbikes – with final pre-season testing for the production boys next Monday and Tuesday before the championship kicks off with round one next weekend (February 24-26).
All 12 MotoGP teams will assemble on the thrilling 4.445km circuit with their permanent riders (and some test pilots in the case of the factory teams), including Aussie Jack Miller (Honda) who will be looking to continue the positive gains he made in 2017's first hitout at Sepang less than three weeks ago.
All the other stars of MotoGP will be on location at the world's motorcycle racing mecca, including world champion Marc Marquez (Honda), Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati), Dani Pedrosa (Honda), Cal Crutchlow (Honda), Maverick Vinales (Yamaha), Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati).
Over the weekend, the track converts to a WorldSBK paddock with the final shakedown Monday and Tuesday February 20-21.
It will provide the factory and satellite teams from Kawasaki, Ducati, Yamaha, Aprilia and MV Agusta the chance to fine-tune their machines ahead of the Yamaha Finance-backed round one (Feb 24-26), while Honda has a little bit more work to do with its all-new CBR1000RR SP2 – but has some supreme talent at its disposal in the form of Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl.
Kawasaki's world champion Jonathan Rea has already been ultra-impressive in WorldSBK pre-season testing, while Chaz Davies (Ducati), Tom Sykes (Kawasaki), Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia), Marco Melandri (Ducati), Alex Lowes (Yamaha), Xavi Fores (Ducati), Leon Camier (MV Agusta) and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) have also produced some impressive performances.
Aussie WorldSBK wildcard Josh Brookes will also be present at the test session, riding the Yamaha which took him to 2015 British superbike glory, while the WorldSSP riders will also take to the circuit with Aussies Aiden Wagner (Honda), teenager Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki) and wildcard Anthony West (Yamaha) and Matt Edwards (Triumph) among the throng.
Three days later, the world superbike and world supersport boys get down to business for 2017 with round one; backed by the season kick off for the seven round 2017 championship for Australian superbike, supersport and supersport 300. Grids are packed for action packed qualifying Friday (Feb 24); racing and final qualifying Saturday (Feb 25); and back to back racing Sunday (Feb 26).