McPhee didn’t know intermediate tyres ‘was such a thing’, started to ‘panic’

Despite feeling underprepared and as though more time on a WorldSSP bike was needed before challenging for podiums, John McPhee achieved just that in his first-ever Supersport race.
John McPhee, Kawasaki WorldSSP Phillip Island 2023
John McPhee, Kawasaki WorldSSP Phillip Island 2023

As most of the grid elected for intermediate tyres when Race 1 restarted following an early red flag due to a crash involving Adrian Huertas and Yari Montella, the WorldSSP rookie instead gambled on full wets.

Up from 20th to third prior to the red flag coming out, McPhee managed to hold onto his position once the race restarted as he finished third behind Nicolo Bulega and Nicholas Spinelli. 

Discussing his first-ever Supersport podium, McPhee told "It’s going to take a little while to sink in! Honestly, I felt underprepared for the race with the amount of track time I’ve had on this bike. 

"Coming from ten years with a very small and stiff Moto3 bike to the WorldSSP machine, I knew it was going to take laps and time to adapt. My expectation or my target was to try and squeeze some points. 

"When the rain came, I thought this was my time to take some risks. The first few laps when it was dry tyres was really exciting. When the race restarted and we had to put the rain tyres on, I thought I might struggle now as I’ve never ridden this bike in the rain. 

"It was wet tyres but a dry suspension setup and I didn’t know where we were going to be at but let’s just dig in and see what we can do. 

"Lap by lap, I had a few moments, but started to understand it and feel my way through. I thought, in the end, if I keep calm it was possible to get a top five or even a podium. Absolutely buzzing to finish top three."

WorldSSP debut not without ‘panic’ for McPhee

John McPhee Australian WorldSBK, 25 February
John McPhee Australian WorldSBK, 25 February

Wanting to keep the slick tyres initially, McPhee was in two minds about what to do in what was his first major decision with the team on a race weekend.

But with only ten laps left to run and the rain persisting, McPhee knew wet tyres were the way to go despite seeing others fit the intermediates, a tyre he didn’t know existed. 

McPhee added: "It was a funny story actually. I told my team to keep the slicks. Then I thought it’s only 10 laps, it’s not going to be long enough to become dry. It was only 10 laps, so I said to put the rain tyres on. 

"When everyone left the grid, I looked around and saw some riders had intermediate tyres. I didn’t even know that was such a thing! In the past, I’ve only used slicks or rain. 

"I started to panic thinking intermediate would’ve been the tyre of choice but let’s go with it. The rain was the one that paid off because five laps from the end, there was another dump and that helped us."

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