"Improvement with rear grip… more feeling in direction changes" – Bautista, Rinaldi buoyant after Portimao test

Wednesday, 1 February 2023 17:55 GMT

The Ducati duo ended Day 2 in first and third place after smashing lap record pace at Portimao with their new Panigale V4 R

The two-day test at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was the second test for Ducati with the Panigale V4 R machine introduced for 2023. Reigning World Champion Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) and teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi both showed strong pace throughout the test and ended Day 2 in first and third place respectively. The pair were separated by 0.109s, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) finishing in second place.

Bautista’s lap time was a 1’39.035s as he edged towards the 1’38s bracket, which would have been a first for WorldSBK machinery, but was still under the existing lap record. That time, a 1’39.610s, was set by six-time Champion Rea in last year’s Tissot Superpole session at the Portuguese Round, was beaten by more than half-a-second by Bautista while three other riders also went below it: Rea, Rinaldi and 2021 Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK).

Reigning Champion Bautista played down the importance of his rapid lap time and record-breaking pace due to it being set in testing but was left feeling positive following his second outing on the new Ducati machine. With gains to be found all the time in WorldSBK, Bautista was aiming to work on the setup of his bike with the goal of improving stability on corner exit as he looks to maximise the package at his disposal.

Reflecting on his record-breaking pace and the Portimao test, Bautista said: “In winter tests, you can see many good lap times but, in the end, the important thing is the feeling you have with the bike. We worked quite well during these two days. Today, we found a bit of improvement with rear grip, especially at maximum angle and first exit from the corner. I’m happy with that. In the end, lap times in winter tests aren’t really true. We have to wait until the first race to see everybody. Depending on when you go out on track here, you find better or worse conditions. I’m happy with the feeling and the work I did with my team so let’s keep going and I look forward to the next test and the first round. If you see the times, it looks like it’ll be more interesting than last season so far. Let’s see. I always say, when the season starts you can see the reality of every rider.”

Rinaldi came into Day 2 after setting the fastest lap time on the opening day of action and he backed that up with third place on Day 2, only a tenth behind his teammate. Like Bautista, he was faster than the existing lap record by around half-a-second and, while he described his lap times as “incredible”, he explained his main focus for the day was to work on having a consistent race pace.

Rinaldi added: “It has been a positive test. We improved today compared to yesterday. We did incredible lap times and my race pace was good as well. I tried a different kind of front of the bike, which allowed me to have more feeling with the bike in the change of direction. I really like it. In the end, I just tried to have consistent pace every lap, to improve a little bit the feeling with the bike. Nothing too big but we arrived with a really good feeling and now we have to keep working because Australia will be soon. For sure, it has been a positive two tests, but the rounds are another thing.”

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