A stunning session which had stories throughout, MotorLand Aragon is poised for a battle royale at the front whilst pole contender Petrucci goes from last after a costly crash
Frenetic, frantic and fascinating – not to mention fast – the Tissot Superpole session at the Tissot Aragon Round was enthralling, as MotorLand Aragon – the longest track on the calendar – hosts the tenth round of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. The 15-minute session flew by and eyes were needed everywhere to trace the stories, with the title fight, individual honour and the usual surprises all staking their claim. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) said in his Friday media debrief: “don’t write me off.” It turns out that there was a reason for that, as he blasted to a mesmerising pole and a new lap record.
STORY OF SUPERPOLE: familiar tactics as banker laps nailed, Petrucci crashes
Right from the start, the BMWs were all working together with both riders from both the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and the Bonovo Action BMW out on track together. Over the four, Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) went fastest ahead of teammate Garrett Gerloff but Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) all went ahead. For Razgatlioglu, a clear step had been found, as he went two seconds quicker than anything he’d managed before. There was a disaster elsewhere, as FP3’s fastest rider Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) crashed at Turn 8 without setting a lap time, leaving him at the back of the grid.
The second stint was already underway with just over five minutes on the clock remaining and unlike in FP3, the KRT duo of Rea and stand-in rider Florian Marino weren’t on track together; instead, Rea had Lecuona right on his case, with the Honda rider in mighty form at a track the bike works well at. However, the #65 Kawasaki rider wasn’t hanging around and was on a stunning lap setting a magical 1’47.973, an all-time lap record for WorldSBK at Aragon, with a massive step found between Turn 12 and Turn 15. Bautista crossed the line to take provisional P2, whilst there were a flurry of improvements behind, with Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) both up inside the top seven, whilst Razgatlioglu couldn’t improve on his penultimate flying lap.
FRONT ROW: Rea rockets to first pole since July
Back on pole like the glory days of old at Aragon, Rea’s sensational lap time was enough to give him pole position, his first front row since Donington Park in July, where he was also on pole position. He was seven tenths up after three sectors on his pole lap, showing that the fast and flowing corners combined with Rea’s style and the Kawasaki ZX-10RR’s mechanical grip are a powerful package. Alvaro Bautista will go from second place in a front row that’s rounded out by Razgatlioglu, salvaging his whole weekend to this point and puts himself in the frame for an early-stage attack on title rival Bautista. Expect fireworks at Turn 1 and throughout Lap 1 as the titanic trio rise to the occasion. It’s the first time all three have been on the front row since Assen, the first time ever in this order.
SECOND ROW: a power-packed line-up looking to support those ahead
With a Yamaha rounding off the front row, Toprak’s teammate Andrea Locatelli heads the second row and will look to try and get in on the action ahead of him, as will Ducati’s second factory rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who took a solid fifth place. In sixth place, Iker Lecuona was looking good and took his second top six of the year after a fifth place in Barcelona back in May. Lecuona and Honda perform well at Aragon; could they be a podium challenging combination in the race itself, particularly with their ability to conserve tyres.
THIRD ROW: heavyweights coming from behind
Making a decent job with a late lap, Axel Bassani was the highest he’s been all weekend with seventh place, heading up the third row, with Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) a late improver, bursting up into P8 for a second top ten of the year, his first since Phillip Island when he was fifth. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) took ninth, whilst Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) was once again top BMW but only in tenth, with some work to do for the American and the German manufacturer.
BEST OF THE REST: Baz knocking on the door of top ten, Vierge’s Superpole struggles continue
Loris Baz was next-best BMW and up in P11 at a circuit where he was able to achieve a top ten last year, whilst it was Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) who once again struggled in Superpole, scraping onto the fourth row by just over a tenth of a second. Row five is headed by previous Aragon race winner Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), with the British rider injured for this round but gritting his teeth. Teammate Michael van der Mark is alongside him in 14th, ahead of an impressive-in-comparison Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha), who matched his best WorldSBK Superpole performance, dating back to Phillip Island at the start of the year. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was 16th ahead of Brad Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) and Florian Marino, with Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) rounding out the top 20.
Isaac Vinales (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) was 21st ahead of Eric Granado (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team), Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) and Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO). In what could have been a Superpole to remember for Petrucci after being a contender throughout the weekend, he’ll start from P25 and last on the grid for Race 1 and the Superpole Race, so expect a surge through the field from the #9.
Top six after WorldSBK Superpole at Aragon, full results here:
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’47.973s
2. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.351s
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.550s
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.737s
5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.831s
6. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +0.903s
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