The Reigning Champion set the pace and was the only one under 1’31s. Alvaro Bautista was able to improve his time in FP2 to put him 0.446s clear of Yamaha’s Andrea Locatelli. A best time of 1’31.069s gives second place to Locatelli beating Lecuona by just 0.060s. Third place in the combined results goes to Honda’s Iker Lecuona who set a 1’31.129s.
Sunny skies greeted the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship for their first day of action at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia, for the season-opening Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round.
A mighty start to the season saw more domination from Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) as he eased clear by nearly half a second over his rivals. Setting more laps than anyone else in the entire week of Phillip Island track action, Bautista has been able to set outright lap times as well as consistent pace, making him one of the favourites for the remainder of the weekend, hoping to add to his tally of five Phillip Island race wins.
Leading Yamaha’s charge once again was Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), who continues to shine as he goes for gold in his third season in the team. Locatelli’s day was almost perfect, but he suffered a tumble at Turn 10 in the closing stages, but was able to get up and walk away without issue to take second place in the combined standings. Third place honours belonged to Honda and Iker Lecuona (Team HRC), with the Spaniard relying on his morning time but nonetheless settled in well in his first competitive weekend at Phillip Island in World Superbike.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was second in FP2 and fourth overall on the combined classification, but he did have a technical problem with ten minutes to go at the end of pitlane. It was a tricky day for Kawasaki too, who lost valuable running with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at the start of FP2. With work being done frantically on the front of the bike, Rea returned to the circuit and whilst he improved his session time, it wasn’t enough to improve on from the morning, staying fifth. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), he suffered a crash in FP1 but rallied to put in the sixth-fastest time of the day, making sure all five manufacturers were represented in the top six.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), struggled in the afternoon and couldn’t crack the top ten in what is turning out to be a bit of a bogey circuit for the Turkish star. Returning to the #54 and finishing in tenth overall, it’s not been an easy start for Razgatlioglu, who was the last Yamaha in FP2.
WorldSBK Combined Results after FP2
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’30.623s
2. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.446s
3. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +0.506s
4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.534s
5. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.681s
6. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.787s
P1 | Alvaro Bautista | Aruba.it Racing Team | 1’30.623s
“I’m happy with today because I had a good feeling with the bike, similar to the tests but today, track conditions were a bit different, especially in the afternoon. It was slippery and you had to be very careful because the tyres were sliding everywhere, so you had to adapt to the track conditions. I understood the situation of the track and I could adapt my style to these conditions and, for sure, I had fun even if the track was not in perfect condition. I’m happy because the bike worked well and like in the test. It has been a positive part to the season.
“For sure, in the afternoon, we did a good pace but the conditions we found today will be different to tomorrow and Sunday. So, I think today is not valid to see how the other riders are and with such different conditions. Today, I felt strong but, in any case, I think many riders went quite fast in the conditions. I don’t feel like the favourite, I’m enjoying the bike and we’re doing a good job. We have to take the maximum in all conditions and when the track is difficult.”
Rea: “I felt very solid in the first session, our pace was good. As soon as the temperature crept up and I did my first out in FP2, I didn’t feel good with the bike at all. I had zero edge grip. We tried a small setup change to go back. We were trying something, and we were curious to go back and check our base setup. Even with our base setup, I had zero grip. We weren’t pushing the tyre, the tyre wasn’t in range of temperature or pressure. It’s also true that our bike isn’t working great on the edge of the tyre. We need to make the bike turn more naturally. That’s going to be a priority tomorrow. When I launch the bike into the corner, I need it to track around the corner and not to use the rear or to slide and correct the line. This is wasting the rear tyre. We’re looking for edge grip tomorrow and some turning.”
Razgatlioglu: “In the afternoon, it was unbelievably hot. The asphalt was 51, 52 degrees. We tried a race simulation. It looks like it wasn’t really fast but also it wasn’t bad. We tried some new setups for the race. Tomorrow looks like the weather will be cooler which will help for the grip. For me, today was not an easy day. I was just focused on my race simulation because this is really important. I need to understand the bike after ten laps and the feeling. We need to understand which tyres are better for the race and this is really important.”
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