The Honda rider topped his first session of the year and looks good with one lap pace and race distance – is a surprise brewing?
FP3 for the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s opening round of the season at Phillip Island is in the history books and it was a session with plenty of talking points. Despite riders making their way out to the circuit straight away, rain soon marked the return to pitlane. However, it was only light rain and soon enough, with 14 minutes to go, track action was aplenty, and it was Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) who finished as top dog, with all but two riders improving their lap times from Friday, with time attack mode fully enabled.
Finishing on top, Lecuona was one of the stand-out riders in the session and despite stating ahead of the round that he wasn’t sure if there was one-lap pace with the Honda, he set a stunning time of a 1’29.764, just half a second away from the outright WorldSBK lap record. The Honda rider was the fastest rider in sector one and sector four. Second position went to Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), the first time the Spaniard hasn’t topped a session this weekend. Third and top Independent was Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven), with the German rider impressing again. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was fourth overall with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in fifth.
Home-hero Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was sixth as he slithered his way around Phillip Island in dramatic style, whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) was seventh, and top rider in the second session. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took eighth ahead of Independent Ducati duo Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), with the top ten riders covered by a second. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) was top BMW in P11, whilst Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), who had been top Yamaha throughout the week of testing and Friday practice, was only 12th.
Top six after WorldSBK FP3, full results here:
1. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) 1’29.764s
2. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.179s
3. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) +0.353s
4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.397s
5. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.456s
6. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.676s
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