Melbourne, Australia - The 2014 World Superbike season gets underway this weekend at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia.
The new season sees the introduction of several changes on both the technical and sporting sides of the series, along with new manufacturers, teams and riders.
Running alongside the highly modified Superbike machines is a new and more road-based Superbike Evo class with strictly regulated chassis and engine rules. Ten riders will be using Evo bikes this year, while in 2015 all machines will be Evo-spec.
A new Superpole format and revised race times will also add some fresh challenge for riders and teams. From the second round onwards, World Superbike Race 1 and Race 2 will run at 10.30am and 1.10pm respectively.
This Sunday’s Phillip Island races will be televised at 1am and 2am South African time, but don’t worry, if you don’t want to stay up that late (or get up that early), SuperSport will rebroadcast them at 11.50am and 12.50pm.
Reigning champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) will begin his title defence after an encouraging winter testing schedule, and he will have Loris Baz as a team-mate, while David Salom will race an Evo version of the ZX-10R.
Sykes has never won at Phillip Island, and in 2013 he was fifth in the two races in a weekend dominated by Aprilia. The Aprilia Racing Team has changed half of its rider line-up with the arrival of World Superbike multiple race winner and former 250cc World Champion Marco Melandri, who joins Sylvain Guintoli.
Suzuki is back with two new riders in Eugene Laverty (last year’s runner up) and Alex Lowes. Ducati has Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano in the hot seat of the 1199 Panigale R World Superbike machines, while the Italian firm will be represented in the Evo class by Althea Racing Team and its sole rider Niccolò Canepa.
Honda will continue to field two bikes ridden by Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, riding new CBR1000RR SPs which the team hopes will bring a drastic change in results after a difficult 2013.
Following BMW quitting as an official works team, the BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team will field an Evo-spec BMW S 1000 RR for double and reigning Superstock 1000 champion Sylvain Barrier.
Two new manufacturers enter the series in 2014: MV Agusta, winner of the 2013 World Supersport title, is back in World Superbike with former MotoGP rider Claudio Corti aboard an MV Agusta F4 RR; and the Hero EBR Team lands on the international stage with all-American rider line-up of Geoff May and Aaron Yates, riding the brand-new Erik Buell Racing 1190RX machines.