The first opening WorldSBK round of 2018 saw Marco Melandri took home a double win for both races in Australia.
Melandri managed to fend off both Kawasaki Racing Team riders in Race 1 and Race 2 for the wins.
Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies completed the podium in Race 1 whereas Jonathan Rea together with Xavi Fores completed Race 2.
Those who say that “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” obviously are not into the world of motorcycle racing as 35-year-old Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) won both races in the 2018 WorldSBK opening round at Phillip Island, Australia this past weekend.
On board his 2018 Ducati Panigale R, the Italian rider surged pass through even with the mandatory pit stop presented in Race 2 due to the stresses presented on the tyres thanks to the unique asphalt characteristics at Phillip Island. Melandri managed to fend off both Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea of Kawasaki Racing Team in Race 1 and Race 2 respectively to take home the win.
In Race 1, Tom Sykes finished second behind Melandri with a considerable gap of 1.180 seconds. With his new 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, Sykes started from pole position but Melandri was able to take home the win for the Italian manufacturer this time around.
Melandri’s teammate Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) completed the podium in Race 1 with a third-place finish. Surprisingly, last year’s WorldSBK world champion missed out on a podium finish in P5 with quite a gap behind fourth-place finisher, Xavi Fores (Bami Racing Team).
Yesterday’s Race 2 saw Jonathan Rea redeemed himself by proving to his doubters that he still has what it takes to be competitive at the highest level. Although Melandri took the win, it was a photo finish at the chequered flag as he was only managed to squeeze in a gap of 0.021 seconds in front of Jonathan Rea.
Xavi Fores who missed out on a podium in Race 1 managed to get the third podium spot which is a good indicator for 2018 as it shows a more even-level playing field for other riders to bring the fight against both Kawasaki and Ducati factory teams.
It was a good first round for WorldSBK 2018 and the action will continue on 23 March 2018 as the FIM Superbike World Championship heads to Thailand for Round 2. Stay tuned to Bikes Republic for more updates.