Top Independent Team by some margin, Race 2 was the Spaniard’s second ever podium – and his first in the dry
Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) put in an impressive performance over both races at Phillip Island, heading into parc ferme on Saturday as top Independent Team rider and again on Sunday as both the third place man and top Independent. Fores, who took his first rostrum in 2016 at the Lausitzring, fought it out with some of the biggest names in the sport at #AusWorldSBK– and had to push hard.
“It was an amazing race for me,” begins the Spaniard. “I was able to enjoy it at the front. Especially when I changed tyres, I was able to do a good restart. It was a tricky moment when I decided to stop on the first lap I was able to, and after that I was pushing so hard to lead as much as I did!”
As he says, Fores was one of the first to pit in the mandatory flag to flag, heading in alongside reigning World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team’s Michael van der Mark. But somewhat incredibly, the huge fight for the lead resumed after everyone had stopped, with the second group headed by Aruba.it Racing – Ducati’s Chaz Davies just slotting into the lead.
As the end of the race approached, however, it was a three-man fight for the win between Ducati and Kawasaki, with Fores, Rea and Melandri all in line. Leading for much of the latter stages, Barni Racing Team rider Fores eventually came home third at the flag – but fought it out to the end after one small mistake.
“At the end, I made a small mistake in T4,” explains the Spaniard. “Jonny and Marco overtook me, and I wasn’t able to recover that position. But anyway, it’s a very good result for us. To start the championship in this way is more than positive, being a private, Independent Team. And it’s positive I was fighting for the victory to the end - that means we’re working well.”
So after that stunner of a season opener it’s now time for Buriram and Thailand, where Fores expects a tough race once again. But he’ll be pushing to both protect his lead and extend it in the Independent Team classification, with 2018 marking the introduction of the title and Fores so far in the driving seat.