At the conclusion of World Superbike Championship (WSBK) pre-season testing at Philip Island in Australia, Alvaro Bautista of Racing, riding a Ducati Panigale V4 R, topped out the leader board with a fastest lap of 1’30.303. Ahead of the season opening race of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, competition is keen between incumbent four-time WSBK champion Jonathan Rea of Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) and the rest of field.

During testing on the wind-swept island circuit, Tom Sykes – previously Rea’s team mate in KRT and now riding for BMW Motorrad – came in second with a time of 1’30.539 on his BMW Motorrad S 1000 RR. Coming in third is Rea’s current KRT team mate rookie Leon Haslam – son of famed 500 cc Grand Prix racer “Rocket Ron” Haslam – with a time of 1’30.668.

Reigning champion Rea is still top of the heap with his current 11 race winning streak and four world titles under his belt, despite coming in fourth in testing with a time of 1’30.722 on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR. Marco Melandri of GRT Yamaha rounded out the top five with a time of 1’30.762 on his Yamaha YZF-R1.

The 2019 season looks to be shaping to be a duel between Bautista and Rea, with Rea riding a much developed ZX-10RR, while Bautista’s V4 R has had a year’s development done and dusted. Meanwhile, Haslam has taken to the ZX-10RR like a duck to water, with only some minor tweaks having to be done to the Kawasaki superbike to make it suit his particular riding style.

First WSBK race of 2019 happens 22 to 24 February at 4.445 km long Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit before moving to Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand. The 2019 WSBK runs across 13 races in Asia, Europe, US, South America and the Middle East, which the last race of the year happening in Qatar on 24 to 26 October.

Here’s a gallery of images from the WSBK pre-season test, courtesy of Half Light Photographic.