The reigning World Champion set a relentless pace at the front of the field but it was a WorldSBK rookie who was stole the FP2 limelight
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is back underway with round five and the Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round from the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”, and a frenetic Friday has come to a close with plenty of reason for the Ducatisti to be cheering. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was on fire throughout the day and despite P3 in the morning, he was the only rider to dip into the 1’33s in the whole day with a strong afternoon session.
BAUTISTA HEADS THE FIELD: the Ducatisti are cheering into the weekend
Just down the road from where they’re based, Ducati were on a mission and Alvaro Bautista was keen to demonstrate his prowess at Misano. The Championship leader was third in the morning and led most of FP2 as he finished top overall. With three wins for Ducati at the track and a frighteningly consistent race pace after a stunning 12-lap run at the start of the session, Bautista remains the favourite for the weekend ahead, but perhaps a big threat will come from the other side of the garage. Teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi has been in formidable form on Friday with second in FP1 after leading the majority of the session, whilst he was second for most of FP2 behind teammate Bautista, being pushed down to P4 at the end. Come the end of the day, the #21 finished fourth and has put himself in a prime position for the races to come.
YAMAHA STRUGGLE IN THE HEAT: Razgatlioglu relies on FP1 time
In Yamaha blue – for the rest of this year anyway – Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) came out the blocks fighting on Friday and topped the opening session of the weekend, and it stood until Bautista beat it in FP2 at the end of his first run. Razgatlioglu was a little bit adrift when the temperatures came up in the afternoon and was outside the top three for most of it, but nonetheless finished the day in second. Teammate Andrea Locatelli was mired down in P14 in the afternoon for most of the session and couldn’t improve on his final run. He finished day one in tenth, two places behind Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), although the rookie suffered an early fall at Turn 1 and lost valuable track running in the hotter afternoon. He, Razgatlioglu and Locatelli were the only riders in the top ten not to improve their time from FP1.
PETRUCCI SPARKLES: P3 for Petrux whilst Bassani shows strength on Friday
Taking third at the end of the day and second in FP2, Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) is planning to be a star at home. His first outing at Misano in WorldSBK has proved to be a positive one as he blasted up the order on his final flying run, going nearly a second quicker than his FP1 time. Yet to take a podium in WorldSBK, can Petrucci repeat his 2017 MotoGP™ podium heroics at the very same circuit? He wasn’t the only Independent Ducati rider inside the top ten, as Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) came strong in P7, one of his better Fridays, as he gets set for a podium charge.
KAWASAKI VS BMW: Lowes ahead of Rea, Gerloff top BMW again
In green, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was in good form too and was top Kawasaki across both sessions on Friday. The #22 was up in third and demonstrated a strong pace from the start, even if he couldn’t get within half a second of Bautista’s top time. He improved in FP2 and finished fourth overall, as did teammate Jonathan Rea but the six-time World Champion was down in eighth position for most of the session and despite a time attack at the end of the session, the #65 wasn’t able to improve and will have a little bit of work to do for Saturday and Sunday, with ninth at the end of day one. It could also be seen as Misano data acquisition for Rea, as he and Lowes didn’t participate in the Misano Test at the start of May. and Rea was ninth.
For BMW, their top rider was the Independent star Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), also the top BMW in the Championship standings. He was up in sixth, as he continues to make steps aboard the M1000RR, less than a second from Bautista on top and just over a tenth slower than Yamaha’s Razgatlioglu. Over in the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team garage, Scott Redding continued to work on refining his setup for the weekend ahead. He was ninth at the end of the session but was two places ahead of his teammate Tom Sykes. Sykes is back in action this weekend as a replacement for the injured Michael van der Mark, and just 0.041s separated Redding and Sykes at the end of the day. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) suffered a technical issue in FP1 and was 16th overall.
HONDA STRUGGLE: new swingarm doesn’t elevate Team HRC’s position… so far
Despite a step being made at the Misano Test with regards to the swingarm, Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) could only manage P12 on the combined times at the end of the day. He was ahead of his teammate Iker Lecuona however, with the Valencian rider suffering a late fall at Turn 14 and then, because he didn’t come into pitlane as per the regulations, was given a black flag, although he did manage to return to the track for a practice start. With the new overslung swingarm, Vierge has been much happier with it, whilst Lecuona’s struggle to find a setup that works.
INDEPENDENTS: big names with work to do
Elsewhere, Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) was 14th, whilst Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) could only manage 17th and like the three Yamahas ahead of him, was relying on his morning time. Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was right behind the Australian in 18th, ahead of Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha). Returning to action, Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was only 21st, ahead of Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team), stand-in rider Luca Vitali (Orelac Racing MOVISIO), Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing) and substitute rider Ryo Mizuno (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team).
Top six combined after Friday at Misano in WorldSBK, full results here:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’33.825s
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.329s
3. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.451s
4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.458s
5. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.652s
6. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) +0.785s
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