The magnificent environs of the Phillip Island Circuit will be the sometimes interactive backdrop for the second round of the 2005 World Superbike Championship this weekend.
One of the most popular tracks and destinations in World Superbike, Phillip Island boasts an outstanding layout, undulations aplenty, and some of the biggest rider challenges on the whole WSBK tour. Situated on the coast of the gorgeous holiday destination of Phillip Island, two hours south of Melbourne, the circuit has played a pivotal role in many a World Superbike title race of yesteryear.
Ducati ruled the roost in 2004, with first Regis Laconi and then Garry McCoy winning races. Laconi continues in the factory Ducati squad for 2005, now running Xerox sponsorship, but McCoy has embarked on a new adventure for 2005, in conjunction with the Foggy Petronas squad.
"Last year things went quite well for me here but I only won one of the races, while in the other I crashed out," admitted Laconi. "For me Phillip Island is a track where the rider can change a lot of things on the bike to improve the settings and performance and for this reason our rider motivation is always high at this circuit.
"Maybe maximum engine performance isn't the thing that counts the most at Phillip Island because it's more important to get the bike set up right, in particular for the last part. As the track is difficult, the racing is always fantastic and I've always gone well here. Hopefully I will have a good result and maybe even get my first win of the year this weekend!"
James Toseland is the reigning World Champion, and continues his 2004 partnership into a new season with Laconi at the factory squd. Out of luck and suffering crashes in testing during the opening Losail event in 2005, Toseland nonetheless scored two good finishes under race conditions in Qatar, underlining the tough character and determination that earned him the 2004 crown at the very last race of the season.
"I had a difficult round at the first race in Qatar, where I had a massive crash. I wasn't injured but I did feel a bit battered about," declared Toseland. "Now I've had a chance to go back home and sort my head out a bit, I'm now looking forward to this second round at Phillip Island, where you'll see me as determined as ever.
"We had a good race here last year although hopefully you won't see as much tyre-smoking from me! Phillip Island always produces exciting racing and those last two curves are quite demanding on the tyres. I've been fast round there in the past, and after the Valencia testing we have found a decent setting on the bike, so I will go out there and hopefully have a bit more luck than we had have so far this season."
After an excellent start to the 2005 campaign at Losail, the factory Alstare Corona Extra Suzuki team are best placed of all on the eve of round two. Current championship leader, after a superb win and a second place, is WSBK new regular rider, Yukio Kagayama.