When he signed with the team, Eugene Laverty said he would give all he possibly could to bring Suzuki back to the top of the podium once again. Well, it sure didn’t take the Northern Irishman long to accomplish that goal, winning the very first race of the 2014 season at Australia’s Phillip Island course.
The win was Laverty’s third in a row, including the final two races of the 2013 season when he raced for Aprilia. More importantly, the Phillip Island win was the first for Suzuki since May 2010 in South Africa.
Meanwhile in a red-flagged Race Two, Laverty’s former teammate Sylvain Guintoli scored his first win of the season to take the early lead in the 2014 season.
Aprilia’s Guintoli held the early advantage from Lap 1, starting from pole position and taking the lead with teammate Marco Melandri in second and Ducati‘s Davide Giugliano third. Guintoli led the first 16 laps before Laverty began his approach.
After starting the race seventh after the opening lap, Laverty urged his Suzuki GSX-R1000 back to the front, finally catching and passing Guintoli for the lead on Lap 17. Laverty was then able to pull away, crossing the finish line ahead by nearly three seconds ahead of Melandri with Guintoli finishing a close third.
|2014 WSBK Phillip Island Race One Top Five Results|
|1||Eugene Laverty||Suzuki GSX-R1000||–|
|2||Marco Melandri||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+2.959|
|3||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+3.034|
|4||Davide Giugliano||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||+6.972|
|5||Loris Baz||Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R||+11.132|
Melandri and Guintoli repeated their excellent start from Race One in the second race. Melandri led the opening lap but Guintoli took over on the second lap with Kawasaki‘s Loris Baz behind him. Honda’s Jonathan Rea, and Laverty were also in the mix for the first few laps, all within a half-second of the leader.
By Lap 8, three riders emerged ahead of the rest, with Laverty up front with Baz and Guintoli. Those three riders held that order until Lap 12 when Guintoli restored his lead. Laverty later moved up to second and began to challenge Guintoli for the final round when his engine blew, spilling oil onto the track.
Race officials brought out the red flag, ending the race on the 15th lap. Guintoli was awarded the win for leading the prior completed lap, with Baz promoted to second and his teammate Tom Sykes in third.
|2014 WSBK Phillip Island Race Two Top Five Results|
|1||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||–|
|2||Loris Baz||Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R||+0.283|
|3||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R||+1.103|
|4||Davide Giugliano||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||+2.052|
|5||Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR||+4.951|
After the opening round, Guintoli leads all riders with 41 points ahead of Baz and Melandri. Laverty was impressive in his debut with Suzuki, with an engine failure robbing us of what looked to be an exciting finish. Giugliano was also impressive with a pair of fourth-place finishes, already giving Ducati more top-five finishes than it had all of last season.
Of the two new manufacturers in the series, MV Agusta had the better weekend with a 13th and 18th result for Claudio Corti on the F4 RR. Erik Buell Racing had a more difficult weekend. Geoff May was sidelined after crashing in a practice session while Hero EBR teammate Aaron Yates was the final finisher in both races, placing 17th and 20th.
Kawasaki’s David Salom was the top EVO-category rider, finishing ninth in Race One and 10th in Race Two. Althea Racing‘s Niccolo Canepa wasn’t far behind, finishing 10th and 11th on an EVO Panigale. BMW, represented by its Italian subsidiary in a non-factory EVO effort, finished 11th and 15th with Glenn Allerton racing in place of the injured Sylvain Barrier.
|2014 WSBK Top Five Standings after One Round|