The Italian has got his 2023 season off to a fine start, whilst it was a contrasting opening 1 hour and 50 minutes on the other side of the garage
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is just days away from the first racing action at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit but in the Official Test, the pre-season form book may have already been turned on its head. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) blasted to top spot with a late lap time, off the back of what team boss Paul Denning described as ‘one of the strongest test days’ at Portimao’s test last time out. He was nearly a tenth and a half clear of his opposition, whilst teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu crashed in the closing stages. There were two red flags – both for geese on track – but thankfully, action resumed without too much drama.
Starting off in fine style, Locatelli was on a mission throughout the first session and went top with just two minutes remaining on the clock. The #55 looked strong throughout the session of the test and was third for the majority of it. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) set over 40 laps and was putting in a time attack at the end of the session, although he couldn’t quite topple Locatelli’s time or improve on his own from earlier on in the session. The #1 was second after the first session, whilst Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was third. He was just 0.112s behind Bautista come the chequered flag and just fractionally over a quarter of a second from Locatelli. He also put in a run of fast laps right at the end.
Continuing his strong pre-season form, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) consolidated fourth, one place ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), who was only fifth and worked on rear grip, something he struggled with at Phillip Island in 2022 – he suffered a late crash at Turn 10 and was half-a-second off of his teammate.
It was an emphatic start to a week at home for Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who took top Independent honours in sixth, one place ahead of fellow rookie and teammate Dominique Aegerter. The reigning double WorldSSP Champion made it four Yamahas inside the top seven, one place ahead of German rider Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven). Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) took ninth and was the top BMW, whilst 2022 Phillip Island podium finisher Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was tenth.
Rookie Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) was 11th, ahead of top Honda Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) in 12th. His teammate, Xavi Vierge, suffered a fall at Turn 4. Headlining further down, Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was only 20th after the opening session, whilst returnee Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 17th.
Top six below from WorldSBK FP1 below, full results here:
1. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 1’31.008s
2. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.140s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.535s
4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.535s
5. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.536s
6. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.689s
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