As the reigning World Champion dazzled at the front, his title contenders weren’t inside the top three, whilst BMW were mightily impressive
The opening day of action at the Autodrom Most has come to a close for the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field, as the Prosecco DOC Czech Round fires up. Setting a new lap record on the opening day of action in FP2, double race winner from 2021 and reigning World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) was in fine form, whilst there were plenty of shocks and surprises throughout the top ten.
RAZGATLIOGLU VS REDDING, PART 2: Yamaha and BMW lead the way
Fresh from a triple at Donington Park and a double winner at Most in 2021, Toprak Razgatlioglu was on a mission at Most on Friday. The Turk was spectacular as ever and having finished the opening session of the weekend in second place – having led most of it before he was toppled right at the end – he went on to storm to a new lap record on a race tyre in FP2, setting a 1’31.506. Remaining unbeaten until the chequered flag, Razgatlioglu leads the way into the weekend, whilst teammate Andrea Locatelli moved forwards in the closing stages, finishing seventh in FP2 and overall.
It was a very fruitful showing in the Czech Republic at Most for BMW, with the German manufacturer flourishing as their improvements continue to shine through. Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had periods at the top of the timesheets in FP2 and the British rider banged in a stunning 1’31.733 to go second fastest come the end of the day, although he set a long first stint in FP2 with some good pace. Whilst his teammate for this round Peter Hickman was 23rd, the second-fastest BMW and fastest Independent rider was Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), as BMW enjoyed one of their most promising Friday’s of the 2022 season so far.
DUCATI’S CHARGE AHEAD OF KAWASAKI: Rinaldi ahead of Bautista, Rea fifth
Spending much of the afternoon in first and second were Ducati, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) initially leading FP2 ahead of his Championship-leading teammate Alvaro Bautista. Rinaldi missed the first ten minutes of FP1 but that didn’t stop him finishing in fourth, whilst in the afternoon, he led the way for much of the session before finishing in third place overall, with his best time coming in a longer final stint. For Bautista, he is at Most for the first time aboard Ducati machinery and he spent Friday getting acclimatised to the circuit with the Ducati Panigale V4 R and was in third place for most of the afternoon. At the end of the day, it was fourth for him, Ducati the only manufacturer with two bikes inside the top four after day one in the Czech Republic.
It really was a day of two halves for Kawasaki, as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) went fastest in the morning session with a 1’31.8 seeing him at the front. However, come FP2, Rea, who signed a new deal to remain with KRT until the end of 2024 ahead of the round, was down in fifth with five minutes to go before he headed back out for a time attack run. Teammate Alex Lowes likewise didn’t feature to strongly in FP1 but was a solid seventh, whilst he was also seventh in FP2 into the closing stages. Come the end of the day and after long race runs had been finished, it was Rea in fifth whilst Lowes secured eighth on the combined times. Both were losing time in the final sector, so perhaps that will be focal area for Saturday’s FP3.
HARD DAY FOR HONDA: Vierge tenth as Lecuona tumbles
For a second round on the bounce, it was a new circuit to get their head around for Team HRC, with Xavi Vierge finishing inside the top ten in tenth place come the end of the day. Vierge was down in 13th in the morning but improved considerably in the afternoon to go top Honda, although his teammate had a slightly more difficult end to his day. A big crash at Turn 6 at the start of the session, Iker Lecuona didn’t get back out, losing vital track time on his Most debut, leaving him 11th on the combined timesheets going into Saturday.
INDEPENDENT BATTLES: who can cause a MOST wonderful surprise?
With Baz as top Independent rider in fifth, the next best was Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who after finishing third in FP1, could only manage ninth come the close of Friday action. The next best Independent was Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in 12th place, ahead of Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven), Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW), who had the new swingarm at his disposal for FP2. Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was a late improver in FP2 to go 16th, ahead of Luca Bernardi (BARNI Spark Racing Team), with the rookie Sammarinese looking stronger than at Donington Park.
In what was one of the best days of his season so far, Hafizh Syahrin (MIE Racing Honda Team) was up in 11th in FP1 but finished 18th on the overall times at the end and suffered a Turn 1 crash, whilst Roberto Tamburini (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was 19th, ahead of Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team). Home-hero Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was 21st ahead of Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha), whilst Peter Hickman was 23rd ahead of Ryan Vickers (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) who had a crash in the final stages of FP2 but walked away, whilst wildcard Michal Prasek (Rohac & Fejta Motoracing) was 25th.
Top six after day one at Most in WorldSBK, full results here:
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 1’31.506s
2. Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.227s
3. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.314s
4. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.365s
5. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.387s
6. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) +0.533s
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