The last international motorsport event held in Australia before the pandemic is expected to return early next year at the Phillip Island circuit.
The Australian round of the Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island is expected to get the green light soon for the start of next year thanks to its high vaccination rate of riders and teams and strict Covid protocols.
The three-day event, typically held in late February or early March as the series’ first round, is expected to gain approval from the sport’s governing body and the Victorian government within days.
More than 54,000 fans attended the 2020 races which ended on March 1, the last international motorsport event in Australia before the borders closed.
It follows confirmation last month that the island circuit will host MotoGP in October.
The island round would give Oli Bayliss a home start in the World Supersport support category. The 18-year-old son of former champion Troy will race next year for the Italy-based Barni Ducati team.
Superbikes and MotoGP events provide a multi-million dollar boost to Phillip Island’s economy.
Superbikes have a global audience of 100 million people.
The expected announcement will come amid uncertainty over the vaccination status of tennis players arriving for the Australian Open in January.
The Superbikes series took place in seven countries this year, including Argentina, and the final will take place in Indonesia from November 19-21.
The paddock has been strictly controlled with Covid security measures. Public access to the Phillip Island paddock is likely to be severely restricted.
The Superbike category was once dominated by Australians Troys – Bayliss and Corser – who won three and two world titles respectively between 1996 and 2008.
Current champion Jonathan Rea, who has won six championships since 2015, has an affinity with the island because his wife Tatia grew up in Cowes.
The Northern Irishman describes Phillip Island as his second home.
Australia could have a new world champion in a few days
Remy Gardner can clinch the Moto2 title this weekend in Portimao and become Australia’s first world champion at all levels since Casey Stoner in 2011.
The 23-year-old holds an 18-point lead over his KTM teammate Raul Fernandez before the penultimate round in Portugal.
Gardner claimed his first victory at the Algarve circuit last November and has won four races this year for the Red Bull KTM team.
The Barcelona-based Australian admitted there were still two races to consider.
“We have to face them the same way we have faced them in previous rounds without giving too much thought to what is at stake,” he said.
“We have to continue on the same path as so far, working hard and trying not to make mistakes.”
If Gardner wins Monday morning (AEST), he claims the title if Fernandez doesn’t finish better than third. Among a myriad of mathematical possibilities, Gardner must secure at least 25 points ahead of the final tournament in Valencia on November 14.
The 21-year-old Spanish rider was having a solid second half of the year, narrowing Gardner’s lead in the championship until his crash in the last race in Misano a fortnight ago.
The teammates will switch to MotoGP next year and stay together for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing.
Gardner races with the number 87 on his motorcycle, a nod to 1987 – the year his father Wayne won the 500cc world championship.
Meanwhile, six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez will miss the Portimao race with a concussion.
Marquez fell off his bike during an off-road workout last Saturday and medics ruled him out. The Spaniard is slowly recovering from a broken right arm he injured in Jerez at the start of 2020. He missed most of last year, hasn’t returned to great shape this year and was unable to recover his physical form than in the last races. Marquez won the last two rounds in Texas and Misano.
His seat on the factory Honda will be occupied by Stefan Bradl.