World Superbike Goes Aussie for the Day

Author: Kevin Eeles


Traditionally the Thursday of a big race weekend is "the calm before the storm", the day where everyone is still friends and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and riders take the time to enjoy each others company.

This year Woeld Superbike decided to be a little different and to introduce a little competition, albeit in a good natured spirit.

We were all taken to a farm near the Phillip Island Grand Prix track where we were presented with twelve of the top riders in Super Bike and Super Sport all now attired in the "typical" Aussie dress of Akubra and Drizabone coats.

(Still wearing yours?) As the riders stood there on the dais sweating in the "untypical" Phillip Island noon day sun you could not help but feel a little sorry for them having to just stand there and smile as though they were having the time of their lives.

After the milling pack had satiated themselves of the photo opportunities we were all herded into a very up market "Typical Aussie" woolshed where the riders were interviewed by a WSBK compere. (No real questions please.) Questions were riveting and responses monosyllabic;
Max Biaggi takes a Kiwi approach
Questions were fired out in rapid order and answered just as quickly; in fact it reminded me of a military inquiry;

"Name? Age? Best result at Phillip Island? How was Practice? What do you want to achieve this weekend?" As I said, riveting stuff.

But ‰Û_ this was just the entrÌ©e. The main course was coming and what a main course. The riders were split into four teams of three. Two Australian teams of Josh Brookes, Jed Metcher and Brock Parkes in team one, Bryan Staring, David Johnson and Mark Aitchison in Team two,

A UK team consisting of Tom Sykes, Sam Lowes and Johnny Rea and a European team of Carlos Checa, Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri. And what was this for? Well, you can't be real Aussies if you can't herd sheep can you?

The groups were teamed with a local farmer who then "coached" them in how to shift sheep from one pen to another and then they had to separate half the sheep that had red marks on their head from the other half that did not have any markings. Riveting stuff huh?

Well, surprise, surprise the Aussies won, the poms did ok coming second and the Europeans looked completely out of their depth. Did anyone expect any different?

Now the tone of this article may sound as though this reporter did not really enjoy the day.

On the contrary, it was a hell of a lot of fun and there were plenty of laughs to be had. The riders appeared to enjoy themselves immensely and the spectators seemed to like it just as much.
Josh Brookes takes the Australian angle of attack
From a WSBK viewpoint there did not appear to be any point to the day but maybe that was the point. Get it?

Maybe not, but in a world were riders lives can sit on a knife edge, and careers are decided in points of a second, a pointless day out experiencing something that some of them may have never experienced before with nothing at all riding on the result may be just what they all needed.

Johnny Rea in action

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