Superpole sessions are done for the year but the stories continued to make for interesting reading
The final Tissot Superpole of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is in the history books with the grid set for the title-deciding round. The Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto will be the venue which crowns the 2023 Champion, whilst various chapters close in other teams as riders move to new outfits. Grabbing a first pole since June, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will be keen to wrap the title up in true style at home with a clear view to Turn 1.
STORY OF SUPERPOLE: fighting for track position from the start
Riders were straight out onto the circuit at the start of the 15-minute session, eager to make the most of the track time. It was a pack of BMWs that led the way with Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) leading round teammate Garrett Gerloff but all tripping themselves up with Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK), Alvaro Bautista and Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) in the thick of the action. Champion-elect Bautista hit the front of the pack and was the perfect pace-setting target for those behind, many already with the SCQ tyre. In clear space, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was more on his own initially, as was Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Bautista went top ahead of a charging Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) but it was six-time World Champion Rea who was provisionally top. After the opening laps, the track was congested as the protagonists jockeyed for position.
With less than ten minutes to go, riders came in to change their rubber, whilst others stayed out on different strategies. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was up in fourth ahead of teammate Remy Gardner, with Garrett Gerloff P6 with half of the session now complete. As riders returned to the track, Jonathan Rea led the second-run charge with his usual Superpole partner Scott Redding latching on behind him, as well as Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who is with a factory ZX-10RR at his disposal this weekend. Rea and Redding pulled clear though and were on great pace and the Ulsterman went faster still whilst the #45 followed him onto the front row.
FRONT ROW: Bautista to go for title #2 from the front
The clocked ticked down and in the final three minutes, there were red sectors and personal bests everywhere; Remy Gardner went into P2 but it was Bautista who stormed to provisional pole after a blistering second half of the lap. Razgatlioglu was only able to go fourth whist Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) demoted him one place further with a stunning P2 effort. Bautista was untouchable at the front and took a first pole since Misano back in June. Dominique Aegerter’s P2 took a joint-career-best, thus a best for Switzerland in WorldSBK. Completing the final front row of 2023, Alex Lowes surged to third for back-to-back front rows for the first time since Barcelona and Portimao last year.
SECOND ROW SHOCKS: Rea rises to P4 ahead of two Independent stars
The second row features strength and surprises with Rea going from fourth after his final Superpole session in green, the 96th top four Superpole result for him with Kawasaki. His first race with them started with a pole! In fifth place, Remy Gardner will look to achieve a first podium in his rookie season from the middle of the second row, whilst Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) left it late to go sixth, which had a crucial impact on the third row.
HEAVYWEIGHT ROW THREE: Toprak to fight through from P7
Toprak Razgatlioglu missed the front two rows by just 0.060s, so he’s stuck to P7 for Race 1 and the Superpole Race. The third Yamaha in the Superpole classification took his worst Superpole result since he was eighth in Barcelona. Eighth for final round on the grid belongs to Scott Redding, who was pushed back down the order after initially hitting the front row, whilst his 2024 teammate Garrett Gerloff clinched ninth. In his last weekend working with crew chief Andrew Pitt, Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) completed the top ten, his joint-worst of the season with Magny-Cours.
NO FAIRYTALE SO FAR: Rinaldi and Bassani fail to deliver on final appearances for their teams
Not ending his factory Ducati chapter on a high in Superpole, Michael Ruben Rinaldi was summoned to the fourth row in P11, one place ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team). The fifth row of the grid features Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in 13th, ahead of Iker Lecuona who could only manage 14th and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in 15th despite finding pace in FP3.
WORK TO DO: Vierge left in 16th
The best of the rest was Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) but still only 16th, whilst it was a season-best for Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in 17th, one place ahead of Loris Baz. Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) was 19th, with the top 20 completed by wildcard Gabriele Ruiu (Bmax Racing). Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team), teammate Leandro Mercado, wildcard Florian Alt (Holzhauer Racing Promotion) and Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) round out the order.
Top six after WorldSBK Superpole at Jerez, full results here:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’38.635s
2. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.210s
3. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.270s
4. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.272s
5. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.326s
6. Phillip Oettl (Team GoEleven) +0.456s