Su­per­bikes on the grid

Phillip Is­land is brac­ing for a big race week­end, writes CRAIG DUFF

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THIRTY-TWO rid­ers on seven brands take to Phillip Is­land to­day to launch what prom­ises to be the most com­pet­i­tive world su­per­bike cham­pi­onship.

The re­tire­ment of cham­pion Troy Bayliss means there is no stand­out favourite.

BMW and Aprilia join the su­per­bike ranks this sea­son, headed by Aus­tralia’s Troy Corser and for­mer Mo­toGP racer Max Bi­aggi re­spec­tively.

Amer­i­can su­per­bike champ Ben Spies has grad­u­ated to the world ranks with Yamaha and Brit Johnny Rea has been con­sis­tently quick in prac­tice.

Nori Haga on the fac­tory Du­cati and Shane Byrne on a pri­va­teer unit have also been in the lead­ing bunch dur­ing pre­sea­son test­ing.

Corser has won at Phillip Is­land seven times on a su­per­bike and be­lieves the BMW has the speed and bal­ance to be a threat in its first out­ing.

Join­ing Corser are fel­low Aus­tralians Broc Parkes, Karl Mug­geridge and Bren­dan Roberts.

Parkes has moved up from world su­pers­port to world su­per­bike with the fac­tory Kawasaki team and should get good sup­port given Team Green has pulled out of Mo­toGP.

Mug­geridge will ride a satel­lite Suzuki and Roberts, the 2008 Su­per­stock World Cup cham­pion, will ride a pri­va­teer Du­cati.

It’s a dif­fer­ent story in the world su­pers­port class, where Aus­tralia’s An­drew Pitt is the pre­sea­son favourite, cour­tesy of last year’s se­ries victory.

Pitt’s great­est threat could come from team­mate and 2007 champ Ke­nan So­fuoglu.

Pitt’s fel­low Aussies in su­per- sport in­clude the Honda-rid­ing trio of An­thony West, Mark Aitchi­son and Rus­sell Hol­land and Tri­umph racer Garry McCoy.

McCoy was equal-sec­ond fastest with Pitt in pri­vate prac­tice at the Is­land last week­end and the Day­tona 675 could be the dark horse this sea­son.

Both classes will have prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing ses­sions to­day, ahead of fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing to­mor­row and the races on Sun­day. Satur­day will be the first test of the new Su­per­pole for­mat, in which the top 20 qual­i­fiers en­ter elim­i­na­tion bouts to de­cide grid po­si­tions. The six slow­est in the first two ses­sions are elim­i­nated.

Do­mes­tic sup­port events in­clude the na­tional su­per­bike and su­pers­port races and the crowd­pleas­ing his­toric bikes.

Su­per­biker:

seven-time win­ner Troy Corser tries out his new BMW at Phillip Is­land.

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