2022 is well-and-truly off and running, with a titanic trio at the front and a close challenge behind
The opening day of action from the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has come to a close as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) topped day one. The six-time World Champion’s aim to reclaim the title started well, as he fended off a late challenge from Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who topped FP2 but was second overall, whilst reigning World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) took third, making it three manufacturers inside the top three.
KAWASAKI VS DUCATI VS YAMAHA: a titanic battle awaits the titanic trio
Jonathan Rea was in magnificent form at MotorLand Aragon, the circuit at which he took a 100th victory of his career at in 2021. Topping FP1 and doing so once again in FP2, Rea is certainly the rider to beat. Decent runs and improving incrementally throughout the morning, Rea was also top for the majority of the session in the afternoon, albeit not quicker until later on, ultimately finishing second in the session but in-turn setting a long second run. Rea still led the way on the combined times whilst teammate Alex Lowes (had a more than solid day at the office, with fourth in the morning and was in the top five throughout the second session. He was sixth at the end of the day.
Alvaro Bautista (was one of the early improvers in FP2, going two tenths of a second quicker in the afternoon. The Spaniard, who is returning to Ducati for 2022, set 18 laps in the morning session but put in a good race simulation in FP2, using the SCX tyre to assess the tyres performance. Bautista, who was using the swingarm he had tried throughout testing, improved his time at the end with SCQ tyre, topping the session and finishing second overall. On the other side of the garage, Michael Ruben Rinaldi was also strong and inside the top five in the afternoon, finishing fifth on the combined times.
Second in the morning session and inside the top three for the majority of the afternoon, reigning World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu was looking good after day one at MotorLand Aragon. The Turkish rider was fractionally slower in the afternoon, but nonetheless, finished the session in third overall and got a long run in too. Teammate Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) had a rather unassuming session, finishing eighth overall after being eighth in FP1, it was a consistent start for 2021’s best rookie.
INDEPENDENT SENSATIONS: a familiar face and a huge surprise
Three Independent riders inside the top nine was one of the claims of the day as Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) finished fourth overall as he goes in search of a solid start to his campaign. The next Independent and top BMW on combined times, Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) was just over a second off Rea’s top time but over three tenths quicker than the next BMW. Ninth place went to one of day one’s revelations; eleventh-hour replacement at the Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team, Roberto Tamburini was a star on Friday, finishing FP2 in seventh after lapping with Jonathan Rea at the end, putting him a surprise ninth on the combined times for Sandro Carusi’s team.
HONDA AND BMW: mixed opening day of 2022
As for Honda and Team HRC, it was tenth overall for rookie Iker Lecuona and 13th for Xavi Vierge, although Lecuona could only place in 17th at the end of FP2. Seven tenths slower in FP2 than FP1, Lecuona will hope that the cooler temperatures in FP3 and Tissot Superpole allow him to improve once more. As for Vierge, he did improve his time in the afternoon session, putting him 11th in the session. Working away well, Team HRC will hope to put in a strong Saturday and Sunday.
For the factory BMW, it was a mixed day; Ukraine’s Illia Mykhalchyk (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was in fine form on his WorldSBK debut and finished 11th in FP1, whilst finishing FP2 in ninth place and top BMW, leaving him 12th overall. On the other side of the garage, one of 2022’s headline switches was not having the best day. Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was only 16th in FP1, 14th in FP2 and finished in 16th at the end of the day. Adapting from a V4 to an inline four engine configuration, Redding’s adaptation is in process.
COMPLETING THE ORDER: Independent riders and a rookie round-up
For the other Independent riders, Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) was a tenth away from the top ten as his first day of competitive action concluded in WorldSBK. Fellow Independent Ducati rider Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) had a quiet day and finished 14th overall, one place ahead of Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW).
After a fast crash in FP1, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) got back out on track halfway through FP2, finishing 17th on the combined times, ahead of Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), rookie Luca Bernardi (BARNI Spark Racing Team) and wildcard Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing). Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha) was 21st ahead of Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team), his rookie teammate Hafizh Syahrin and Belgium’s Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing), who suffered a broken chain in FP1.
Top six after day one in WorldSBK, full results here:
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’49.301s
2. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.305s
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.364s
4. Garrett Gerloff (GYRT GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.599s
5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.699s
6. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.709s
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