The American is back to his best as he topped a session for the first time in 2022, whilst Bautista and Rea were only third and sixth respectively
Round three of the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is underway with the opening Free Practice session from the Circuito Estoril in Portugal. Back for the third consecutive year, the Estoril Round hosts the next chapter of a dramatic season thus far, and it was Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who topped FP1. The session was red-flagged after five minutes with a crash on the exit of Turn 10 for Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). Van der Mark got himself to the side of the track but was later declared unfit and was transported to hospital in Lisbon with a hip injury.
It was a Yamaha 1-2 at the top of the times, with three Yamahas inside the top four. Garrett Gerloff fired in a lap time in the final five minutes of the session and to top a session for the first time this season. He was just two tenths ahead of reigning World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK), with the Turkish rider on the pace right from the start. Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) completed the top three, more than half a second behind Gerloff. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) took fourth as he follows up on his career-best result from Assen last time out. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) made it two independent riders inside the top five.
The first of the Kawasakis was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), with the six-time World Champion and double winner from Estoril in 2021 taking sixth, one place ahead of the first BMW, Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW). The Irishman was just less than a tenth and a half away from Rea, whilst making it five manufacturers inside the top eight was Xavi Vierge (Team HRC), with the rookie looking strong and back to something of full fitness. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) took ninth, whilst Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was tenth, just ahead of Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who had a new front wheel in the front of his BMW M1000RR.
Other notable headlines from the first session of the weekend included Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) taking 14th, a slow start for the Italian. He was one place ahead of Iker Lecuona (Team HRC), with the Spanish rookie taking 15th on his Estoril debut. Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) crashed in the closing stages of the session at Turn 1 but remounted. On his return to action, Isaac Vinales (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) was 18th, one place ahead of Marvin Fritz (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team), who replaces regular rider Roberto Tamburini who is out with right foot fracture.
Top six after FP1 at Estoril, full results here:
1 Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’36.572
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.204s
3. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.583s
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.804s
5. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +1.049s
6. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +1.170s
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