Everyone was concerned about the weather at Philip Island for Race 1 of the Australian round of the SBK. The sky was as grey as lead with rain falling intermittently and the unpredictable weather forced the race officials to declare Race 1 a Wet Race at the end of the warm-up laps, despite the fact that the track was still dry. Fortunately it didn’t rain and the Japanese driver, Haga, on the Xerox team’s Factory Ducati, sprinted to the lead with a 32 thousandths of a second advantage over Neukichner, Suzuki Alstare, and Kagayama’s other Suzuki at 5:347.
Max Biaggi finished in eleventh place at 12:609. After a good start the Roman driver fell behind the leaders because of contact during the third lap that forced him into ninth position. He then fell back one more spot when Checa managed to pass him. Max began to find a good pace and recover during the ninth lap, along with Skykes, moving up from the rear against his competitors who were in the lead up until the last lap, when four drivers battled it out for eighth place in a sprint that saw Corser manage to maintain position against Smrz, Skyes and Biaggi himself.
Instead, after a rough start Nakano came in at number fifteen, never managing to find the right pace, conducting the entire race on the edge of the points zone.
“We can confirm the same feeling we had during the test runs,” declared Biaggi. “In fact, with the hard racing tyres, where you need a very stable bike when you enter the curves, we suffer from strong vibrations at the back end of the bike; therefore I have a hard time going into the curve and consequently opening up the gas when I need it. The motorcycle is still very nervous and I have to work hard to maintain the rhythm of the first ones and in any case, I face a lot more risks than the others. Eleventh place is a bit disappointing for us and we’re going to make some changes to the bike now. I’m not certain that we’ll do any better in the second round.”
“I didn’t start off well,” said Nakano. “And I fell back quite a few spots. I tried to recover, but the bike had a lot of chattering at the back and this prevented me from pushing the limit. Moreover, during the final laps it became very difficult to manage to control the motorcycle, so I was forced to lose a point. The colder weather with respect to the last few days penalized me a bit because I couldn’t choose the tire I wanted. I hope the track has warmed up a bit now and that the changes we’ll make to the bike will improve the situation, at least in part.”