World Superbike organisers have confirmed race two and the sole World Supersport race at the 2018 season opener at Phillip Island will be made flag-to-flag races with mandatory pit stops after a series of tyre failures.

Both the pre-season test and Friday practice saw a number of tyres issues in both championships but race direction were confident the Pirelli rubber would be able to endure a full race distance which saw the opening 22-lap race completed on Saturday.

But a handful of riders saw a dramatic drop off in tyre life and performance in the closing stages of Saturday’s 2018 curtain-raiser, including Jonathan Rea who sunk out of podium contention and Michael van der Mark who limped to the finish in ninth place, which has enforced race rule changes for Sunday’s World Superbike race two and the sole World Supersport race.

World Superbike riders will be forced into a pit stop for a tyre changes on either lap 10, 11 or 12 of the 22-lap race, while World Supersport riders will come in on lap nine of the already-shortened 16-lap race. Any riders who fail to adhere to the rule will be black-flagged and disqualified.

“Unfortunately we had some issues regarding the tyre life,” World Superbike sporting director Gregorio Lavilla said. “Following a meeting with the teams to discuss the possible options, we decided the best way was to do a flag to flag, which luckily our rules comply with. We normally use it for climatic purposes, but now we are using it for other purposes, unless its rains.”

In 2013, former MotoGP tyre supplier Bridgestone suffered similar problems with tyre blowouts and were forced into requesting a flag-to-flag race at the Australian circuit. That year the MotoGP race was shortened from 27 laps to 19 laps with riders forced into a pit stop by lap 10 at Phillip Island, which saw Marc Marquez and Bryan Staring disqualified for pitting on lap 11.


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