In a tight first practice session of the opening round of the FIM Superbike World Championship Tom Sykes (KRT) led the all-new Pata Yamaha of Sylvain Guintoli to sit top of the 24 riders on show.
Third quickest was Jonathan Rea, Sykes teammate, on another new model for 2016, the Ninja ZX-10R.
The first session was a revelation for lone MV Agusta Reparto Corse rider Leon Camier, as the English rider found himself fourth, despite losing pace and power from his bike’s pre-session armoury to preserve engine and transmission life.
Said Camier,“We had a few difficulties in the tests coming to here, some problems. Basically we have had to preserve everything. I do not understand how we have gone faster. The thing that has changed massively is the wind and I think it has made me understand a little bit more with the chassis to get the best out of it.
“But the problems we have had meant we have calmed everything down with the engine lowered the power and made the gearing longer to make everything calmer. The speed is really down but the bike was not aggressive before. For me it is more of a chassis thing.
“I have followed some other riders out there and it seemed to be working a lot better. We have less speed and the acceleration was not great but somehow the lap time was not bad. Consistently, we were getting faster and faster and faster on the same tyre, which is positive.”
Fifth fastest was Chaz Davies on the first Aruba.it Racing – Ducati WSBK Panigale.
In a varied first hour – under the new schedule of WSBK competition – Nicky Hayden started his WSBK career sixth fastest and the first BMW rider was double IDM Champion, Markus Reiterberger (Althea Racing BMW) was seventh.
The top seven riders finished within a quarter of a second of each other around the fast 4.445km Phillip Island layout.
Six different machines filled the top seven places, with one more Friday practice session to go.
The leading Ioda Racing Aprilia was in 12th place, ridden by Lorenzo Savadori, in his team’s first contact in the championship.
A late replacement for the injured Josh Hook in the Grillini Kawasaki team, Toprak Razgatlioglu, went 19th fastest, just one place behind reigning BSB champion Josh Brookes (Milwaukee BMW).
Wildcard rider Mike Jones (Desmo Sport Ducati) was an impressive 15th in his first outing.