Contrasting starts to Saturday for both title contenders as the rollercoaster gets set for blockbuster first race day of the weekend
Saturday morning sun was beating down onto the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve and the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship paddock as FP3 at Portimao fired into life. The first race day of the weekend welcomed Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) to the fore with the first sub-1’40 lap of the round, whilst his main title rival Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) languished outside the top ten.
The final ten minutes of FP3 for WorldSBK on Saturday morning brought a flurry of action as times tumbled to the fastest we’ve seen all weekend. Alvaro Bautista was on a mission as he stormed to the first 1’39-lap of the weekend with a 1’39.811, just less than two tenths from the existing official WorldSBK lap record. He was fast in the final sector, where he’ll look to be strong again during the races. Teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi was second, whilst top Independent honours went the way of Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) with third. Behind the Ducati 1-2-3, Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was once again top Yamaha in fourth, ahead of a fine performance by Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) in fifth, 0.599s behind Bautista.
Sixth place went to the top BMW of Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), as he was able to put himself in contention and performed well on the SCX tyre in the closing moments of the session. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) took seventh ahead of FP1’s fastest rider Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), the American one of the first to put fresh and softer rubber. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) made it three BMWs inside the top ten, whilst Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) was in P10. ‘Loka’ has a back of the grid start for Race 2 for not following orders to stop with the black flag and orange disc back at Aragon in Race 2.
It was a disastrous session for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) as he struggled to just 15th place despite improving his best time of the weekend and getting into the 1’40s for the first time, although he didn’t seem to have the SCX tyre fitted. When he returned to pitlane, he was visibly unhappy as he sat down next to crew chief Phil Marron, as they seek the ideal setup, although discount the 2021 World Champion at your peril. One place ahead of him, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) likewise struggled, whilst behind both and in 19th, technical issues halted Axel Bassani’s (Motocorsa Racing) progress, although after ten minutes in the pits, he was back out.
Top six after WorldSBK FP3 at Portimao, full results here:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’39.811s
2. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.296s
3. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) +0.357s
4. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.490s
5. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +0.599s
6. Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.604s
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