Wednesday, January 20

AUSSIES OUT IN FORCE FOR SUPERBIKE OPENER

'Team Australia' will be out in force for the opening round of the 2016 Motul FIM Superbike and Supersport World Championships at Phillip Island from February 26-28.

Jed Metcher will race a Kawasaki ZX-10R at Phillip Island. 

(Photo: Russell Colvin).
A total of 10 local riders - five full-timers and five wildcards - will line up across the two production-based world classes, with Mike Jones (Ducati) and Jed Metcher (Kawasaki) making one-off appearances in World Superbike alongside Josh Brookes (BMW Motorrad) and Josh Hook (Kawasaki).

In World Supersport, former Moto2 winner Anthony West (Yamaha), Kane Burns (Suzuki) and Mitch Levy (Yamaha) will join full-timers Glenn Scott (Honda), Aiden Wagner (MV Agusta) and Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki).

Metcher was also a wildcard at the 2015 World Superbike round, and he's banking on a local test at Phillip Island on February 8-9 to ignite his 2016 assault. 


Mike Jones will be Ducati-mounted at 

Phillip Island.

Kane Burns will line up on a GSX-R600 at 
Phillip Island.  (Photo: Russell Colvin).

Meanwhile, Jones will be making his debut in the category following a breakout 2015 which saw him clinch the Australian Superbike Championship and also win races in the Australasian Superbike Championship against much tougher opposition.

Moreover, Jones will also be making his debut for the all-new DesmoSport Ducati team co-managed by three-time Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss, so the attention will squarely be focussed on the extremely talented 21-year-old.

"The wildcard ride is awesome – but also a slightly scary proposition at the same time," said Jones. "When I first got the ride with DesmoSport to compete in the Australian Superbike Championship the WorldSBK wildcard wasn't really on the agenda, but then Troy (Bayliss) got the idea and it's just snowballed from there.

"The exposure for the team at Phillip Island will be great, especially with Troy's massive presence in the paddock, and my goal is to learn as much as I can from the other riders and see where the results take me. Top 15 is always a goal, and a top 10 finish would be awesome."

West's return to World SuperSport comes after a six-year break, in a class where he won races on Yamaha machinery way back in 2007.  The Queenslander has also produced some stirring rides at Phillip Island in the past, especially in the Moto2 ranks, and in 2015 was a substitute rider in the MotoGP race.

West's Yamaha will race under the 'Green Tea X50' banner in a team owned by Steve Trinder Jnr, the son of former Aussie road racing star Steve Trinder.

Ant West will be calming himself with Green Tea at Phillip Island.


"I am looking forward to getting on a bike that has all the potential to win the WorldSSP race at Phillip Island," said West.  "The whole team is committed to making it a successful outing, and it's extra special because I'll be riding a machine that is Aussie built with a major Aussie sponsor."

In the 2009 World SuperSport race at Phillip Island, West finished third, just 0.153secs behind race winner Kenan Sofuoglu.

Meanwhile, Burns and Levy impressed in separate national supersport titles in 2015, and the former also showed sizzling form in the support races at the 2015 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Mitch Levy first came to attention as a teenager
with some scintillating rides on Honda
classic bikes at Phiillip Island.

 “World SuperSport is my dream and it’s coming true, so I’m  super excited to get out there to give it my best shot,” said Levy who comes from the northern New South Wales coastal village of Hat Head, near Kempsey.

The World SuperSport race will be held over 18 laps on February 28, while the traditional double-header Sunday format for WorldSBK has been jettisoned in favour of one race each day, with both 22-lappers to be held at 3:00pm on February 27 and 28 respectively.

World Superbike will still practice and qualify Friday and Saturday, but Superpole has been moved up to Saturday to run from 12.30pm prior to the 3:00pm Saturday race.


The World SuperSPort race at Phillip Island will be held over 21 laps at 1:20pm on Sunday, while the two 22-lap WorldSBK races are scheduled for 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Kiwi Rider readers who wish to attend the Motul Superbike World Championship opening round should contact Michael Esdaile: 027 495 4510 or michael@takeme2.net