A new all-time lap record for the Championship leader, but that doesn’t tell the full story of a tantalising WorldSBK Superpole in Italy
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s fifth round is promising to be an electric one, with the title fight primed for more drama after a tense Tissot Superpole at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” in Italy. The Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round, where Pirelli will celebrate their 20th season as WorldSBK’s Official Sole Tyre Supplier, saw a new SCQ in action and the lap record smashed, as Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) rocketed to a third pole of the year and ninth of his career.
STORY OF SUPERPOLE: Lowes crashes, Bautista, Petrucci impress straight away
There was immediate trouble for Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at Turn 1, when he got out of shape in the braking area and tucked the front, with his foot getting stuck under the handlebar. However, he was OK and soon back on track. After the opening runs, Alvaro Bautista went to the top, but he was followed closely by Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team). However, it was a massive opening lap for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) with a 1’33.182. As the first half was coming to a close, Petrucci’s breakthrough with fresh and soft rubber continued as he went up to second, whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was fourth. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) was impressive in P6, before moving up to P4, with a strong showing in comparison to previous rounds.
RED FLAG, EARLY END: Bautista holds off, bad luck for Razgatlioglu
After a frantic first part of the session, most riders came into the pits, whilst Alvaro Bautista’s next run started in the final five minutes. With five to go, riders left the pits but Bautista already had his fast lap underway, as did teammate Rinaldi. Rinaldi went second but Bautista was on a stunning lap, going top with a 1’33.017, but he crashed at Turn 8 on the following lap. He was OK and able to re-join. Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) crashed at Turn 2, but there was major drama for Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing) at Turn 11, with a cloud of smoke billowing out from his BMW, which resulted in a red flag.
A Saturday stroll for @19Bautista and @michaelrinaldi_ as they make their way into Parc Fermé in first and third respectively in Superpole #WorldSBK | #EmiliaRomagnaWorldSBK pic.twitter.com/P9hBEOrT1d— WorldSBK (@WorldSBK) June 3, 2023
The red flag came out with 1’45 left on the clock and thus, the session was ended, meaning Bautista took a third pole position of 2023 and will start from the front of the grid for Ducati at their home round. Toprak Razgatlioglu was on a very fast lap at the time of the red flag but will launch from second and the middle of the front row, whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi completed the top three, meaning the Ducatisti will watch two Panigale V4 Rs go from the front row.
SECOND ROW: can Petrucci and Bassani launch a podium charge?
For the second row, a declaration by the Independent riders; Danilo Petrucci’s strong weekend continued as he took fourth and therefore, his best WorldSBK Superpole result, whilst Axel Bassani was fifth and took a top five in Superpole for the first time since he was third on the grid in Argentina, 2021. Completing the second row, Jonathan Rea was top Kawasaki but will have work to do to get a podium banked this weekend.
THIRD ROW: Aegerter charges forwards
Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) climbed up to seventh for his first WorldSBK Superpole session at Misano, and he was ahead of Honda’s best rider Iker Lecuona (Team HRC), who found form to make big gains in comparison to his Free Practice times. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) took ninth, whilst Alex Lowes bounced back from his opening crash with tenth, but not ideal for the #22.
OUTSIDE THE TOP TEN: big factory names with A LOT of work to do
Wanting more from Misano after a contract renewal ahead of the round, Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) was only 11th, ahead of Redding. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) had strong pace in FP3 but couldn’t replicate it in Superpole and was 13th, one place higher than Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW). In P15, with a best result of the 2023 in Superpole, Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) completes the fifth row. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) continues to struggle for one-lap pace in Superpole and was P16, ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) and Tom Sykes (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team).
COMPLETING THE ORDER: Baz far down
It was only 19th for Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) ahead of Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) in 20th. Ruiu finished in 21st despite his mechanical issue, ahead of Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing), Luca Vitali (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) and Ryo Mizuno (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team).
Top six after WorldSBK Superpole, full results here:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’33.017s
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.165s
3. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.249s
4. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.386s
5. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +0.413s
6. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.561s
Watch the 2023 season continue to unfold in dramatic fashion with the WorldSBK VideoPass!