Bassani vs Locatelli in 2023? "The aim is the top three!"
A career-best start to a WorldSBK results in P4 in the standings for Bassani, but he’s knocking on the door of the heavy-hitting positions as Europe calls
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is off and running and it’s been a mighty start to the season for Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing). The Italian has been a front-runner at the end of the 2022 season, challenging for his first World Superbike win, but whilst that hasn’t yet been achieved, the 23-year-old is enjoying his best start to a campaign to-date. Two rounds in, we look at Bassani’s form so far.
The season started in Australia and at Phillip Island, a circuit that Bassani only visited for the first time back at the end of last year. He managed a seventh place in the flag-to-flag Race 1, the highlight of a tough weekend. After a difficult pre-season testing where he never really showed his true potential, it was hard for anyone to set a goal straight away for the happy-go-lucky Italian. However, with a Superpole result of 14th, it was going to be a charge through the field for the #47. Of course, he delivered; Bassani – in wet conditions – was up inside the top six right from the start, eventually taking P5. A ninth in the Superpole Race improved his position whilst a fourth in Race 2 saw him leave Phillip Island ahead of 2021 Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) in the standings. In Indonesia, a fourth, fifth and eighth across the three races saw Bassani in the battle at the front throughout and even leading Race 2.
Now fourth in the Championship and enjoying his best start to a season so far, Bassani has big goals for the year and wants a podium, reflecting on his Indonesian weekend: “I think we’re really near to a podium. We weren’t lucky in Race 2, so we need more luck for the future. I think at Assen or after, we’ll get the podium. We’re always P1 for Independent team and rider, and although today we didn’t win that battle in Race 2, we’ve had a good weekend. We also had a good weekend in Australia, so we’ve started the first two rounds of the season very well. I want to continue in this way at Assen and to get a podium; we need a podium to take more points in the Championship.”
In the Independent battle for 2023, Bassani holds a 15-point margin over fellow countryman and WorldSBK rookie, Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team). Behind them, rookie Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) has shown strength and will be strong back on European circuits, whilst the likes of Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) and Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) have all been battling with Bassani across the opening two rounds of the season. In the overall Championship, the three factory riders that are ahead of Bassani are Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Toprak Razgatlioglu and his teammate, Andrea Locatelli. He’s only 19 points adrift of Locatelli, who has three podiums in 2023. Both riders are the only ones on the WorldSBK grid to score points in every race so far.
Continuing about his Championship position, Bassani hopes to strengthen and build on it in the coming rounds, whilst also detailing his plan for the break between Indonesia and the Netherlands: “It’s OK, but now, the aim is the top three! In the first week off, I’ll relax because after the test and the first two rounds back-to-back, it’s really difficult! After, we’ll continue to work – me at home but also the team at home on the bike. We’ll do the test in Barcelona and we’ll see what happens, but I feel good and I want to continue to push hard in all the practices.”
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