SAVADORI 1st AND LAVERTY 3rd IN THE PRACTICE SESSIONS, THEN THINGS GO HAYWIRE: LORENZO FALLS IN SUPERPOLE, AND WITHDRAWS. EUGENE LAVERTY GETS AWAY FAST IN RACE 2, FALLS, BUT MANAGES TO COMPLETE THE RACE AND WIN ONE POINT. NEXT: ROUND 2 IN THAILAND, ON THE BURIRAM CIRCUIT, FROM 23 TO 25 MARCH 2018.
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, 25 February 2018 – Aprilia Milwaukee rider Eugene Laverty had to settle for a single consolation point at the end of Race 2 at Phillip Island, after losing the lead. The team had got off to a great start in the free practice sessions at Phillip Island, in Australia: Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty had ended the first day in 1st and 3rd positions, gaining entry to Superpole 2. Then Savadori fell in the Superpole and withdrew from the race, but he’ll be back to compete in Round 2 in Thailand.
RACE 2 REPORT. A fast start from P5 on the grid took Eugene Laverty into third place behind Fores and Rea by turn 2. Pushing hard before the mandatory pit window on lap 10, Eugene passed both riders at turn 4 to take first place before the first lap was over, stretching a gap of 1.119s over Rea. As the chasing pack battled for position, Eugene held his pace to end the second lap 1.227s ahead of Camier.
With promising speed, Eugene looked set for a strong finish before his rear tyre gave up its grip on lap 3 and high-sided him at turn 6. He was able to start his bike and rejoin the race, pitting for new tyres and bodywork repairs to see out the race in P15 and take one consolation point for the team.
Despite a disappointing points haul from Round 1, the team have demonstrated an excellent performance with the Aprilia this weekend, consistently challenging the traditional front-runners in every session at Phillip Island. With rider Lorenzo Savadori set to recover from injury and return to his duties at the next race, the team can look forward to another opportunity to challenge at the front. The World SBK season now heads to the Chang circuit in Buriram, Thailand, for Round 2 from 23-25 March 2018.
Shaun Muir, Team Principal: “We're really disappointed with how we finished overall after ten hard days, but we have to be positive. No one is more disappointed than our riders, Lorenzo of course who got bitten hard in his Superpole crash and for that we have to be thankful that it wasn't a worse injury. Eugene had a bad Race 1, but made some good setting changes overnight. He had a blinding start in Race 2, felt really comfortable on it and could have ridden it like that for the whole race. It was really pleasing to see him barge and elbow his way to the front. It was a bittersweet weekend overall. We've certainly shown our potential and that the whole Milwaukee Aprilia team with Aprilia Racing and SMR is working really well. We have many races left and I'm sure that the podium and first race win we're chasing hard are not far away.”
Eugene Laverty, bike no. 50, Aprilia RSV4-RF (Grid: P5. Race 2 result: P15 – 1 point). “I made a really good start to get into third, and then at turn 4 I passed two guys to take the lead. The bike was feeling amazing and really easy to ride, and I was pulling out a decent time gap. On lap 3 suddenly the rear lost grip and I high-sided, so I was really disappointed with that. I had a race-winning bike under me today and after testing and Superpole that's what we expected to have. The bike's been really good at turning at this track and that's an area we improved overnight, to allow me to change direction quicker and maintain a good speed. Race 1 was a big disappointment so today was a much stronger indication of our potential, which we can be pleased with. We've got to be optimistic for Round 2 at Chang after our performance at Phillip Island. The team is right in the mix now and it's very exciting for us all.”
FREE PRACTICE REPORT AND COMMENTS. Aprilia Milwaukee make a flying start at Phillip Island.
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, 23 February 2018. Aprilia Milwaukee made an impressive start in free practice at Phillip Island, as Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty ended the day first and third with an automatic Superpole 2 entry for both riders. Despite changeable conditions at the Australian track, they demonstrated solid pace in the dry and the wet. Both set their fastest times in free practice 2, Lorenzo's blistering 1'30.407 the fastest of the day putting him in P1, while Eugene's 1'30.746 took him to P3, separated by 0.339s.
Eugene's speed trap of 314 km/h was the fastest of the day, cementing the outright speed of the Aprilia. A damp free practice 1 was run on wet tyres, affording the riders the opportunity to gain experience with the RSV4 RF on wet tyres, with rain forecast at Phillip Island over the weekend. The riders rose to the challenge, Eugene's 1'43.384 leaving him in P1, with Lorenzo's 1'44.698 putting him in P13. A drying track allowed the riders to move on to slicks in FP2 where Lorenzo and Eugene set about lighting up the time sheets. Neither rider improved their times in FP3, electing to work on set-up, race pace and tyre life ahead of Saturday's Race 1. The team will next be on track in free practice 4 on Saturday at 9:40 local time, ahead of Superpole 2 (12:55-13:10) and the race at 15:00.
Shaun Muir, Team Principal: “It's been a positive Friday at our first race of the year. It's encouraging to see the lap times so close between all the teams, and clearly the rule changes are having some effect. Our comparative times from last year have improved, and we have halved the gap to the leading riders. Our free practice times are encouraging, but we must stay focused and ensure that we have good race pace that will keep us in a strong position up to the chequered flag. We all know that a single lap at Phillip Island doesn't guarantee anything over a race distance. That being said it was a fantastic performance from all the team, and it's great to see good morale and a real focus on both sides of the box. Hopefully we will wake up tomorrow morning to blue skies and a dry track.”
Lorenzo Salvadori, bike no. 32, Aprilia RSV4-RF. Combined free practice time: 1'30.407 - P1. P2 time: 1'30.722 (+0.315). “I'm happy to end the day in P1 and make Superpole 2. Of course we have more work to do for the race pace, but we have another session tomorrow morning to improve so that we are in an even better position. The weather today was quite difficult but it was the same for all. Aprilia Racing and SMR have worked really hard over the winter on the bike so we have good speed in all conditions. The top riders are still quick for sure, but we have made a lot of progress and I think today we have shown this. It is difficult to say now how the race will go tomorrow, we still have some more long run practice to do and Superpole. I know the team will work hard tonight, and I am really looking forward to racing again.”
Eugene Laverty, bike no. 50, Aprilia RSV4-RF. Combined free practice time: 1'30.746 - P3. P4 time: 1'30.882 (+0.136). "It was a great day all in all, the bike felt fantastic to ride even in the wet this morning. Then we went out on dry tyres and we were straight into the top of the times, which was really promising. To be top three has left me feeling really confident. We have a choice of rear tyre for tomorrow, which will be a big factor. We've used the data from testing and today, and looked closely at it, the grid seems to be split on the choice, which leaves things up in the air, but we'll be smart in our decision. Ahead of tomorrow's Superpole and the race I'm hoping for dry weather, like everybody is. That said the bike still felt great in the wet and it would make it more exciting for sure. Either way we have some more things to try in FP4 tomorrow.”
(Photos: Milwaukee Aprilia Racing).