The 2023 World Superbike starts with the Australian Round at Phillip Island. Due to its location, characteristics, and historical relationship with WorldSBK, there is no better setting to start the season. Álvaro Bautista will start his first title defense. His rivals will not sit idly by: Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Jonathan Rea will be at the head of the contenders from the start.
An emblematic event to start the season, since it is a special route that is a joy for the visitor: we discover everything you need to know to go to Phillip Island SBK and enjoy the races and the southern lands.
Phillip Island SBK and the Australian Round
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is the track that has hosted WorldSBK on the most occasions. Until 2023, up to 32 WorldSBK Rounds have been held at Phillip Island.
Curiously, Phillip Island was not one of the nine tracks that made up the calendar for the inaugural WorldSBK season in 1988. That year the now-defunct Oran Park circuit hosted the first two Australian Rounds. We had to wait until 1990 to see the Superbike debut at Phillip Island, the penultimate event of the season. It was November 11 and the local riders were the main protagonists of that day: Peter Goddard with Yamaha and Rob Phillis with Kawasaki won.
Since then, Phillip Island has been a fixture on the calendar, failing only in 1993 and 2021 (the latter due to the global Covid-19 pandemic).
In the first years, the Australian Round was the event that closed the season, taking place in November, taking advantage of the southern spring. However, starting in 1997 it reversed its order to become the inaugural event or one of the first of each year; a 'forward' position that is maintained to this day.
Phillip Island: birthplace of the Australian motorsport
And the history of Phillip Island and racing is long. This small island, attached to the southern continent by a bridge, has been germinal in the development of motor sport in Australia.
In 1928, taking advantage of the island's roads, a competition was held for the first time on Phillip Island. Its name was '100 Miles Road Race', but the following year it was renamed Australian Grand Prix. The races gained momentum and in 1956 the current permanent route was built, with a length of 4,800 kilometers. In 1960, the first edition of the Armstrong 500 was held, the precursor race to the Bathurst 1000, the most important indigenous motor event in the country.
Phillip Island was completely renovated in 1988, reducing its length to the current 4.445 kilometres, by cutting the Turn 4 'Miller' section (there is still asphalt as a loophole in this corner). It was then that the track began its relationship with top-level motorcycling, hosting the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in 1989 and WorldSBK from 1990.
Phillip Island SBK: a circuit 'inside' the ocean
Phillip Island is a gem for any fan. The circuit provides an 'old school' experience to spectators: the entire circuit can be easily explored on foot and the pelouse is enabled throughout the layout, so we can set up anywhere. In addition, you can access the facility with your own motorcycle and park it inside the pelouse at numerous points. Watching the races sitting from your own motorcycle is a luxury that is hardly available on any other circuit in the world.
Due to its location, Phillip Island is one of the circuits in the world with the most “maritime flavor”. In fact, the distance to the sea at points such as curve 6 'Siberia' is barely 200 meters. And that means wind, a lot of wind. It is therefore advisable to wear appropriate protection, even if you expect good weather. This also leads to the famous saying that 'on Phillip Island you can have all four seasons in one day'. Get ready for it in our store.
What to do during Phillip Island SBK?
The Grand Prix Circuit Visitor Center has a small exhibition of racing vehicles, as well as a karting center. The track is a miniature version of Phillip Island itself.
This island is a tourist center, so there are various attractions, all of them related to nature. The famous one is, without a doubt, the Penguin Parade at the Nobbies Centre: Phillip Island is one of the few points in Australia that has a penguin population. There are also nature reserves for all types of animals: from wallabies and kangaroos to koalas (Koala Conservation Reserve and the Phillip Island Wildlife Park) even the largest concentration of seals in Australia on the rocks and cliffs of its beaches.
Speaking of beaches, there are numerous bays on the island that can be enjoyed for swimming and surfing. Many of them have urbanized areas that serve as a summer residence or tourist hostel; To find services we will have to go to its capital, Cowes. In short, Phillip Island is an ideal place to enjoy its splendid landscapes, its wildlife, the sea… and WorldSBK!
Visiting Melbourne during Phillip Island SBK
Those coming from afar will probably choose Melbourne airport as their arrival point. It is the closest airport to the circuit and the journey by vehicle is about two hours.
Melbourne is a metropolis that rivals Sydney as the largest on the island-continent. Therefore, we will find a multitude of tourist attractions and activities to do. Federation Square is the center of public events and a central place to take public transportation. The Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in the entire southern hemisphere. The State Library of Victoria, the oldest bookstore in all of Australia, is worth a visit.
The city's large gardens and parks also stand out. Carlton Gardens contains the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum. The Royal Botanic Garden is located on the banks of the Yarra River and includes the Shrine of Rembrance. Towards the south, very close to Melbourne and Middle Park Beach, we can find Albert Park and its lake, famous for being the venue for the F1 Australian Grand Prix.
Apart from the classic attractions, Melbourne stands out for having a large number of streets with street art. Most of these murals are concentrated in the pedestrian alleys, so they are easy to explore.
It is also worth visiting Chinatown, one of the oldest centers of Asian culture outside of China and with excellent gastronomy. Further from the center, we can find a large number of Italian and Greek restaurants on Lygon Street. And if we are looking for a more alternative atmosphere, Brunswick Street offers cafes, shops and nightclubs.
State of Victoria: Great Ocean Road and the Twelve Apostles
Phillip Island and Melbourne are part of the state of Victoria, the southernmost of the Australian territories (leaving aside the Island of Tasmania). If you go to Phillip Island SBK on your vacation, it is a good idea to route around the state.
Victoria contains perhaps the most famous road in Australia: the Great Ocean Road. This equivalent of California's Big Sur runs between the cities of Torquay and Allansford. There are 240 kilometers of coastal landscapes, with points of great beauty, such as the Great Otway National Park or its best-known area: the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.
The Twelve Apostles are a continuum of cliffs along the coast that create one of the best-known images of Australia in all tourist guides. These are not the only rock formations of this type that we will find on the Great Ocean Road, since along the route we can see more enclaves like this. It is worth the visit, since over the years they erode until they disappear!