The 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship is just days away from its first showing and the riders have already been testing in Australia in preparation for the opening round. Among them are BMW S 1000 RR riders Sylvain Barrier, Imre Toth Jr. and Gabor Rizmayer.
This year’s edition of the Australian round will be the 25th in the history of the series, an all-time record in terms of most World Superbike events staged by a single circuit. The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit made its debut on the World Superbike calendar back in 1990 and, after a brief absence in 1993, has been hosting a round of the championship ever since. From 2010 onwards the Victorian venue has hosted the opening event of the season.
As well as being the fastest on the calendar – with a current fastest average speed for the series of 177.720 km/h – and a favourite for riders and fans alike, Phillip Island is generally regarded as one of most spectacular racetracks in the world. Located on the southerly most tip of Australia amid wonderful coastal scenery, the 4.445 km (2.762 mile) track features seven left-hand corners and five right-handers, and many elevation changes up to almost 60 metres.
Once again it will be French rider Sylvain Barrier who brings the re-engineered S 1000 RR out onto the track for the BMW Motorrad Italia SBK Team. Despite his ill luck last season he has confirmed his place as one of the series’ most talented emerging riders. The new RR he will be riding is very different compared with the previous version; the engine power has been beefed up and the bike has been improved in every respect.
BMW Racing Team Toth will also be on the grid at Phillip Island with Imre Toth Jr. and Gabor Rizmayer as its riders. Toth Jr. heads into his second full season in the championship, while Rizmayer – described by the team as ‘super-sub’, having stepped in for both Toth and Peter Sebestyen last year – now makes his full-time debut.
2015 also marks significant revisions to the WSBK technical regulations, not least in the areas of electronics (with a new price cap) and engines (with less tuning permitted for pistons and conrods especially). Not only are costs hoped to fall as a result, but the new rules are set to make the championship more attractive to privateer teams and are expected to result in a generally more competitive grid from the start of the new campaign.
Two days of official testing took place at the Australian circuit on 16 and 17 February, which gave the teams and riders a final chance to prepare for the opening round of the championship, which begins this coming weekend (20-22 February).
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