What a weekend it turned out to be at Phillip Island in Australia. Who could have predicted that Ducati’s V4 R would be so dominant right from the off? The real worry though is that nobody wants a one horse race, which seems to have been the case in previous years, to some degree in any case. However, that doesn’t mean that the four-time world champion Jonathan Rea had it easy. On the contrary, his relentless pursuit of perfection was enviable, and he has set the benchmark for other riders to follow.
The serious stuff starts now, and all of the teams know what they are up against. The Ducati World Superbike team recruited Alvaro Bautista for the 2019 season, and what a sublime appointment that has proven to be. Reminiscent of John Kocinski’s debut in 1996, Alvaro has joined the elite by winning his maiden race. All eyes will be focussed on the next event at the Chang International Circuit, Buriram, Thailand, to see what the other riders and manufacturers can do about the combination of Bautista and Ducati’s straight-line advantage.
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The rider entry list is packed with experience and youth, but the burning question is where will the threat come from? The answer isn’t at all clear cut as at least 10 riders are in with a shout. Team Kawasaki won’t be hanging around to develop their machine after being caught with their pants down at Phillip Island. It’s early days yet, but the four factory Yamahas looked very stable and quick, and all four riders acquitted themselves admirably. Eugene Laverty onboard the Ducati Panigale V4 R is a very exciting prospect indeed. Laverty has a beautifully smooth riding style but has been a little underrated to some degree because of his team mate at Aprilia, the inimitable Max Biaggi. Tom Sykes is practically an unknown quantity on the all new BMW S1000 RR. However, the bike and riders looked fairly well balanced in Australia, and with team boss Shaun Muir at the helm, they should become contenders soon. The current British Superbike champion Leon Haslam looked quite at home on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR and was straight out of the blocks on it. It looks like Alvaro Bautista isn’t they only rider Jonny Rea has to worry about.