The 2018 WorldSBK grid has been unveiled boasting a crack field of world champions, multiple race winners and lighting fast privateers on machinery across eight different manufacturers. All will debut at Australia’s Phillip Island from February 23-25 for the Yamaha Finance round – the opening meet of the 2018 FIM Motul Superbike World Championship
The 21-rider field will be headlined by three-time world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki), who will begin his title defence with not only teammate Tom Sykes, Aruba.it Racing Ducati stars Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri and Pata Yamaha pair Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes to deal with, but also the return of Loris Baz.
The flying Frenchman is making a return to the production-based series after three years in MotoGP, but won’t be heading back to his old seat at Kawasaki – Rea’s well and truly made that one his own – but instead replacing Spaniard Jordi Torres at Althea BMW.
Baz was a two-time WorldSBK winner, and finished fifth in the 2015 championship – with a few niggles with then teammate Sykes thrown into the mix.
After three years of racing in the cauldron that is MotoGP, Baz’s competitive instincts, speed and guile should be red-hot from the opening bounce in the 2018 WorldSBK title – and he’s already impressed in early testing on the BMW.
Meanwhile, Torres has replaced Briton Leon Camier at MV Agusta, with Camier switching to Red Bull Honda. Camier’s teammate will be American Jake Gagne, who competed in a number of rounds for the team in 2017, including his home race at Laguna Seca.
At Milwaukee Aprilia, Eugene Laverty remains in the fold, as does Italian Lorenzo Savadori.
Aprilia and Honda both had tough 2017 campaigns, but are expected to push much further up the grid in 2018 after solid pre-seasons behind them.
Yamaha also started to come on really strong at the end of 2017, and will fancy getting on equal terms with Kawasaki and Ducati on a more regular basis.
Xavi Fores (Barni Ducati) again looks to be the pick of the privateers, while American Patrick “PJ” Jacobsen graduates to WorldSBK with the TripleM satellite Honda team after four years in WorldSSP.
Jacobsen, 24, also has previous superbike experience, and was Aussie Josh Brookes’ teammate in the 2013 British title where he finished ninth overall.
Meanwhile, former MotoGP and Moto2 rider, Columbian Jonny Hernandez, makes the switch from grand prix racing to join WorldSBK, where he will ride a Pedercini Kawasaki.
Suzuki will also be back in the championship, with the Italian Grillini squad announcing it’s utilising the GSX-R1000R in 2018 – the bike which has won both the American and Aussie superbike titles in 2017. Veteran Italian Robert Rolfo is one of its riders.
Kawasaki will be the most represented manufacturer on the grid with six bikes, followed by Ducati, Yamaha and Honda with three apiece. Aprilia and Suzuki are next with two each, and then MV Agusta and BMW with the single entries.
There will be seven WorldSBK race winners on the Philip Island grid from February 23-25 next year: Rea, Sykes, Davies, Melandri, Laverty, Baz and Torres.
WorldSSP & WorldSSP300
There will still be an Aussie presence in the WorldSBK paddock in 2018, with Anthony West and Lachlan Epis competing in WorldSSP, and youngster Tom Edwards in Supersport 300.
West will ride a self-funded Kawasaki ZX-6R, while Epis has moved to the Team GoEleven Kawasaki squad alongside Italian Michael Canducci.
There are 31 riders in WorldSSP spread across five marques, including defending champion Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha) and his teammate Federico Caricasulo, multiple champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Team GoEleven Kawasaki), Jules Cluzel (NRT Yamaha) and Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros Yamaha), who returns after a year in WorldSBK.
Edwards will ride for Benjan – Kawasaki in the massive 36-bike Supersport 300 grid.
All fields will make their 2018 season debut at Australia’s Phillip Island
Nothing Beats World Superbikes Live At The Island
From the flying fast Gardner Straight, to the high speed Stoner Corner, the climb out of Siberia to the thrill of Lukey Heights, being live at the Island is the best way to experience the World Superbikes.
World Superbikes is super affordable with a 3 Day General Admission ticket just $120*. In an absolute first for World Superbikes at the Island, all 3 Day ticket holders in 2018 gain FREE Paddock access.
Step it up a notch in Bar SBK for only $260 and capture all of the exhilarating action from the circuit’s optimum viewing locations or opt for a VIP Hospitality package.
And as always with World Superbikes Kids 15 & under are FREE**
Nothing beats World Superbikes…Live At The Island.
Book your tickets for the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, Yamaha Finance Round, Phillip Island, February 23 – 25 2018.
For more information contact the circuit on the toll free World Superbike Hotline 1300 728 007 or www.worldsbk.com.au
*All ticket prices quoted purchased in advance and subject to Ticketek processing fee.
**Children 15 and under are free and must be accompanied by a paying adult.