PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA, FEB. 23 - For Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty there was no better way to make a statement to his former team than his World Superbike race-one win today at Phillip Island. Laverty, who was let go by Aprilia at the end of last season, rode like a man possessed to make up for a bad start and challenge the factory Aprilias - his replacement Marco Melandri and former teammate Sylvain Guintoli - to take the win. Completing the podium was the Aprilia duo of Melandri and Guintoli in second and third, respectively.
At the start of the race it looked to be a repeat of last year – Aprilia dominance and a Guintoli win as the Frenchman grabbed the holeshot and led convincingly for most of the race. He was followed by his teammate Melandri and Ducati’s Davide Giugliano.
On the other hand, Laverty had his work cut out for him and was caught up in a tight five-way battle for fourth with Loris Baz, Jonathan Rea, Chaz Davies, and Tom Sykes. It didn’t take long for Laverty get to the front of that group and start to put some distance on that pack in fourth.
It all started to go down just past the halfway mark when Laverty started to close the gap on the leaders. Giugliano had been biding his time in third and was ready to pounce on Melandri. On lap 13 Giugliano finally made the move with Laverty following suit, shuffling Melandri back to fourth.
A few laps later Laverty out-braked Giugliano off the front straight to take second place. Melandri would make the same move on Giugliano on the next lap.
Laverty had his sights set on Guintoli and with six laps to go he took the lead. Guintoli then had his hands full with his teammate and with two laps left of the race, Melandri took second leaving Guintoli third.
Giugliano brought his Ducati home in a solid fourth.
The fierce battle for fifth would go to Kawasaki’s Baz, followed by Rea on the Pata Honda, and Baz's teammate Sykes.
Eighth place went to Davies, the factory Ducati rider setting the fastest lap of the race with a 1:30.949. Following him in ninth was the EVO class winner, Kawasaki’s David Salom. And rounding out the top-10 was Ducati’s Niccolo Canepa, also campaigning an EVO machine.
American Aaron Yates kept his Team Hero EBR on two wheels to finish the race in 17th - just two points short of a points scoring race.
Laverty’s teammate Alex Lowes had more bad luck and crashed out early in the race. Lowes was able to get up and limp away on his already injured ankle from yesterday’s FP3 session crash.
2014 World Superbike Phillip Island Race One Results
1. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki)
2. Marco Melandri (Aprilia)
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia)
4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati)
5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
6. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
7. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
8. Chaz Davies (Ducati)
9. David Salom (Kawasaki)
10. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati)