Lecuona top overall, Bautista leads FP2 in Barcelona as 1 second covers top 14

Friday, 23 September 2022 14:23 GMT

WorldSBK FP2 saw a change in the order as riders got back out on track, where it was mighty close

The eighth round of the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is promising to be a thriller and if the opening day of action is an indicator of what’s to come, we may be in for a few surprises too. Having topped the opening session of the day, Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) took top honours overall, but it was Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) who came good to top FP2 with an impressive race pace.

HONDA TO THE TOP: Lecuona uses ‘SCQ style’ front tyre top lead the way

It was a mega first day of Barcelona action for Honda, with Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) going half a second quicker than anyone else in the morning to top his first session in WorldSBK, albeit using the soft front tyre that debuted last time out. His time was good enough to keep home on top for the remainder of the day. In the afternoon, Lecuona was slightly further down the field, but it was his teammate Xavi Vierge who was doing all of the time attacks towards the end of the second session. Vierge was third for a fair bit of the session as he did numerous fast laps and on one of their race tyre options, having finished tenth in the first session and with the highest top speed at 326km/h. Vierge finished seventh overall, courtesy of his FP2 time.

TITLE CONTENDERS BEHIND: Rinaldi next up as titanic trio complete top five

As expected ahead of the weekend, the factory Ducatis were in good form. Finishing fourth in FP1, Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) was quicker in the afternoon session, even if he wasn’t top overall. He spent most of the session on top and led a Ducati 1-2 with teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who was also impressive at the circuit at which he won at in 2021. It was Rinaldi who remained top Ducati from FP1, and he was fourth in FP2, whilst Bautista topped the FP2 session and looked like he had good race pace.

It was a solid opening day in Barcelona for the Yamaha outfit of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and teammate Andrea Locatelli. Razgatlioglu was third on the combined times but was reliant on his morning time, like Lecuona and Rinaldi ahead of him. He was only sixth in the afternoon session but three tenths from the top time and undoubtedly in the mix ahead of the two race days ahead. Locatelli on the other hand found a solid return to form, finishing sixth overall but third in FP2, just 0.067s from the top time. Can Locatelli play a key role in taking points off teammate Razgatlioglu’s rivals?

Blasting up the order having been hovering around the top five for a majority of the FP2 session, six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took second at the end of the session. The Ulsterman, eager to claw points back in the title race, set good laps at the end of the afternoon session and despite results being mixed there in the past, he has more Barcelona wins than anyone else; in FP1, he had a 325km/h top speed, not a huge deficit to his rivals. Rea took fifth overall whilst teammate Alex Lowes was only 14th in FP2 but had a lap time good enough for sixth; it was deleted for track limits, leaving him eighth on the combined times.

IN THE TOP TEN: a trickier weekend ahead for BMW?

It wasn’t the easiest day for BMW, with Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) not able to get on tabs with the top five like previous at circuits. Knowing that it will be a trickier round for the manufacturer given the testing programme that they’ve followed, Redding and the team will hope that they can challenge for the top six. Teammate Michael van der Mark had a technical issue in FP1 but following a change of engine for FP2, was able to get crucial laps under his belt but he could only finish 19th in FP2. Come the end of the day, Redding was tenth whilst van der Mark languished in 20th.

INDEPENDENT STARS: Bassani top again, ninth overall

With nine of the top ten places occupied by factory bikes, the only rider to squeeze his way in was the in-form Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), who followed Bautista in the early stages of the session. Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was next up but only 11th, whilst Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) was enjoying a stronger Friday in 12th. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) and Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) completed the top 15.

Luca Bernardi (BARNI Spark Racing Team) was 16th ahead of Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team); the Japanese rider crashed at Turn 10, but the Yamaha rider was OK. Oliver Konig was 18th ahead of Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team), whilst Christophe Ponsson was 21st, also suffering a crash. Oscar Gutierrez (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) and Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) completed the order, with Mercado’s teammate Hafizh Syahrin not taking part due to an upper respiratory tract infection; he’ll be reviewed on Saturday morning.

Top six at the end of Friday in WorldSBK, full results here:

1. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) 1’41.396s

2. Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) +0.535s

3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.595s

4. Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) +0.622s

5. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.662s

6. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.689s

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