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Pit stops will feature at Phillip Island in both WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes due to track resurfacing which has resulted in accentuated tyre degradation.

Due to recent resurfacing of the track, pit stops will feature at Phillip Island this weekend in both the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes.

According to a press release from official tyre supplier Pirelli, “Based on the evidence that emerged over the two days of testing, and to protect the safety of the riders, Dorna, FIM, Race Direction and Pirelli have agreed to carry out races with mandatory pit stops.

“Over the two days of testing carried out at the Australian circuit of Phillip Island, which will host the first round of the 2024 FIM Superbike World Championship over the weekend, several riders significantly improved on the lap records in both classes: Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was the fastest in WorldSBK, setting an absolute best time of 1m28.511s at the end of FP2 on Tuesday afternoon, while in WorldSSP it was Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) who set a best time of 1m31.881s during FP2 on Monday.

“The new asphalt provides much more grip than the previous surface and has played a key role in obtaining these results. On the other hand, it has proven to be extremely aggressive on the tyres, bringing the tread compound to operating temperatures never recorded before and significantly accentuating tyre degradation,” according to Pirelli.

In both classes the riders will have a three-lap window in which to change tyres, with a fixed time in the pit lane. In WorldSBK the window will be between laps 9 and 11 while in WorldSSP between laps 8 and 10. It is mandatory for all riders to change the rear tyre while they will be able to decide whether or not to replace the front tyre also based on the tyres each rider has remaining.

In addition to the pit stops, race distances will be reduced from 22 to 20 laps for both WorldSBK Race 1 and Race 2, while the Superpole Race will be 10 laps.

The WorldSSP races will take place as originally scheduled over 18 laps.

Pirelli Motorcycle Racing Director Giogio Barbier emphasised that the safety of the riders must always be a priority.

“We know this track very well, nevertheless every year it’s a whole other story because at Phillip Island the variables that can influence tyre behaviour are many and often unpredictable,” said Barbier. “This year the most critical element is represented by the new asphalt which has almost completely reset the references we had. I remind everyone that the tyres for this race were shipped from Europe at the end of November while the resurfacing of the circuit was completed only a few weeks ago. Therefore, in the absence of data on which to base ourselves, we thought it appropriate to rely on the racing solutions used successfully in the last two seasons.

“We have seen in the tests that the asphalt offers a lot of grip, to the advantage of the flying lap time, but on the other hand it is very aggressive with the tyres, especially at high temperatures, causing unusual peaks in tread compound temperature on the left side with consequent tyre degradation: we detected up to 160 degrees Celsius in pit lane which we estimate could reach operative peaks of more than 200 degrees.

“Considering this evidence, in agreement with Dorna, FIM and Race Direction, we have decided that for the races of both classes it will be mandatory to make a pit stop to change tyres.”

“It was a difficult decision to take, also because, as always happens in these cases, some teams would have wanted to try racing over the full distance. However, Pirelli believes that the safety of the riders must be the absolute priority in such circumstances,” continued Barbier.

The changes are sure to make it an exciting weekend of racing. If you’re heading to The Island, make sure you check out AMCN’s Guide and WorldSBK Season Preview. If you can’t make it down to Phillip Island, you’ll be able to catch all of the WorldSBK action on Kayo or through the WorldSBK Videopass.

The weekend also marks the opening round of the mi-bike Motorcycle Insurance Australian Superbike Championship, with coverage from the Australian Superbike and Michelin Supersport classes streaming live and free on SBS On Demand and on SBS Viceland on Sunday, February from 1pm-3pm. A full replay of all the action will be available on SBS On Demand.