Baldassarri breakthrough at Misano Test? "We made a step in braking… we’ve done good work"

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 11:44 GMT

The 26-year-old Italian states that a ‘much-needed’ test has paid dividends as he edges closer to a first top ten of his rookie campaign

Whilst the racing action in the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship doesn’t resume until round five of the season at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” in June, the circuit has already hosted an all-important Supported-Test. Across two days, riders took to the track but there was one rider who particularly stood out: Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha). The Italian rider has always been strong across all classes at Misano, dating back to his time in the Moto2™ World Championship, but it could perhaps be the circuit where a breakthrough could come.

POSITIVE TESTING: Baldassarri shines on familiar territory

‘Iron Balda’ set a strong pace during day one and completed the day in 11th place, having been inside the top five for part of it. On the second day of action, the Italian was a mighty fourth, setting a 1’34.681 to finish as second Yamaha behind Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), impressively improving his time compared to the opening day, unlike many other riders, with day two being impacted by rain. The #34’s race pace was promising, with plenty of times in the 1’35s on the opening day, although they weren’t as consistent as he'd have liked. One the second day, the dry opening part of the action saw him start in a much better shape than day one and he also improved his consistency in comparison to the opening day. With the improved consistency also came an improvement in lap time, with a few laps set in the low-to-mid 1’35s, before he improved his lap time on his final flying lap of the test.

Speaking about his feeling after the test, Baldassarri was happy with two days of action at a circuit he goes well at: “We needed this test because we have to get the speed back from Barcelona, where we struggled a lot. We missed the test there so I needed to find the speed and understand the bike better at a circuit I know well. We focused in braking area as we knew from Barcelona that we needed to change something with the geometry of the bike. On the first day, we did this and I adapted my riding style and for sure, we have to continue pushing in that way and continue improving. We made a step in braking, so we turn better and I exit the corner with the bike in a better position. We started in Barcelona to work on the electronics, but we were missing something on the entry to the corner, so we struggled in the exit too. We’ve done good work on the electronics.”

BREAKTHROUGH FOR BALDA? Misano a circuit he’s gone well at before

Whilst matching his top four showing from the test in the race may be difficult and unlikely, Baldassarri will be searching for his personal best results of his rookie 2023 season thus far. After two podiums at the circuit last year in WorldSSP, Baldassarri also has a Moto2™ Grand Prix victory to his name from 2016. However, he’s yet to crack the top ten, with three points-scoring finishes to his name and a best of 13th in Race 2 at Assen, whilst a tricky Barcelona weekend resulted in no points. The GMT94 Yamaha team are also chasing a top ten, their first in WorldSBK since the 2005 with David Checa at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, when he was ninth in Race 2, which remains the team’s best result in WorldSBK.

“Talking about what he’s looking forward to at home, the 26-year-old said: “I think we can enjoy! Finally, we can be in the Superbike world and riding a Superbike like the strong riders. Sometimes, in the last races, I was strong but with more up and downs, so I hope that in a normal weekend to be consistent in every practice and growing after each one.”

ITALIANS AT HOME: magic in the air?

Misano has always been a place where Italian riders find extra performance; in recent years, Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) enjoyed a double win back in 2021, whilst that was also the year Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) took a first top ten in WorldSBK, with a sixth in the Superpole Race. On top of that, Marco Melandri won for Ducati in 2017 in his comeback season, whereas Max Biaggi achieved a double in 2012 and 2010 for Aprilia.

In 2004, an inspired tyre choice by Pierfrancesco Chili saw him storm through the field to hit the front on the final lap, taking his last race win. In 1995, Mauro Lucchiari took his only WorldSBK wins with a double, whilst it was the scene of his first podium with third in Race 2 the year before. In that very same race, Giancarlo Falappa took his final WorldSBK win in his last race before suffering a career-ending injury in testing at Albacete. In terms of manufacturer, it’s Ducati territory, with 34 wins and 89 podiums.

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