Rinaldi pips Rea to Day 1 honours at Portimao, top three separated by 0.068s

Tuesday, 31 January 2023 17:23 GMT

The Italian left it late to top the times in Portugal, with the top three separated by very little at the end of Day 1 at Portimao

The first day of testing action for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship came to a conclusion at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve with Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) topping the times by 0.061s ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). In a day disrupted by two red flags, the top three in Portugal were separated by just 0.068s at the end of the day’s action, with another day to come on Wednesday.

TAKING HONOURS: top three separated by 0.068s…

It was as close as ever as Day 1 at Portimao concluded, with around than half-a-tenth separating the top three. Rinaldi put in a late lap to take spot with a 1’39.639s as he continued to keep working as he did in Jerez. He was joined in the top three by teammate and reigning Champion Alvaro Bautista in third, with Bautista lapping only 0.068s slower than Rinaldi as the new Panigale V4 R continued to impress in its early days.

Six-time Champion Rea was second on Day 1 after posting a 1’39.700s, ahead of his main rivals from 2022, as he goes in search of an unprecedented seventh World Championship. It was a dramatic day for Rea’s teammate, Alex Lowes, as he brought out the red flags after a crash at Turn 10 in the morning. Despite this, Lowes was able to post the seventh fastest time with a 1’40.264s as they continue to work on perfecting their 2023 package.

2021 Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) was fourth fastest after posting a 1’39.851s, with a big focus on the rear of his Yamaha YZF R1 machine as was the case at Jerez last week. Teammate Andrea Locatelli was fourth fastest after a strong day, lapping only 0.136s slower than his teammate after setting a 1’39.987s on his Yamaha R1 machine.

SHOWING PACE: a congested field on Day 1

As seen so often throughout 2022, the Team HRC duo of Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona were almost inseparable on Day 1 at Portimao, claiming sixth and eighth respectively. Vierge’s best time was a 1’40.053s, with Lecuona half a second behind. Vierge’s day was disrupted in the morning when he had a crash at Turn 13 which briefly brought out the red flags. The CBR1000RR-R machine feature the same updates as spotted at Jerez while there were several Japanese engineers once again present for the test. Independent riders rounded out the next three positions as they once again shone in testing, with Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in ninth, Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) in 10th and his teammate, Loris Baz, in 11th; Gerloff the highest-placed BMW rider with Gerloff just over a second off Razgatlioglu’s time and Baz only 0.039s behind his teammate.

AIMING HIGHER: hoping for progress on Day 2

Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was the top factory BMW rider in 12th place, posting a best time of 1’40.749s, while teammate Michael van der Mark was 14th place. The BMW factory team were continuing to adapt to their switch to Brembo brakes as well as the new fairing and aero packing on the bike, plus a new gearbox. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) broke up the group of BMW riders with 13th place, while rookie Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team), continuing to adjust to WorldSBK ahead of his debut campaign, rounded out the top 15 as he posted a 1’41.321s.

A CLOSE GRID: a sign of things to come in 2023…

Rookie Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was 16th on his first visit to Portimao on WorldSBK machinery, lapping in 1’41.342s on his R1 machine. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 17th as he re-adjusts to WorldSBK and Kawasaki machinery with Sykes aiming to understand where he and the team are in relation to the rest of the field. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) had his first outing on the 2023 Panigale V4 R and lapped Portimao in1’41.982s for 18th place, while rookie Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was 19th after his first run on WorldSBK machinery. Team and rider rookie duo Lorenzo Baldassarri and GMT94 Yamaha rounded out the WorldSBK field with 20th place.

HONDA’S DEBUT, BULEGA ON TOP: WorldSSP action in Portugal

Honda’s return to WorldSSP broke new ground at Portimao as the MIE – MS Honda Racing Team made their first on-track action with riders Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin, although neither rider had a lap time recorded despite being on tack. In terms of riders who had lap times recorded, it was an Italian and Ducati 1-2-3 at the top of the standings.

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba Racing WorldSSP Team) topped the times after posting a 1’43.282s, almost half-a-second clear of compatriot Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing) in second. Raffaele De Rose (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) was third, 0.012s slower than Caricasulo, while Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) took fourth spot; Debise is preparing for his first full WorldSSP campaign. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) was fifth on his first outing for the team, ahead of Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) who was also making his debut for his new team.

Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), still testing four bikes ahead of the 2023 campaign, was seventh with Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing) eighth; Bayliss making his debut for his new squad. Jorge Navarro’s (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) first outing for his new team ended with him in ninth, with Maximilian Kofler (D34G Racing) and Federico Fuligni (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) rounding out the WorldSSP field.

Click HERE to see the full results from Day 1!

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