‘Titanic Trio’ on Jerez testing, 2023 rivalry and who may join them

Thursday, 26 January 2023 18:18 GMT

Last year’s top three give their thoughts on who may join the battle at the front after seeing their rivals in action in dry conditions…

Testing may have been restricted in December in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in December due to bad weather conditions, but the sun was shining on the Circuit de Jerez – Angel Nieto which allowed plenty of running despite cold conditions in the morning. This allowed riders to check out their competitors on track and last year’s ‘Titanic Trio’, Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati), Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) gave their thoughts on the season ahead and who may join them in the battle at the front.

Everyone at the Jerez test completed plenty of runs and laps in order to refine the setup of their machine during the test and this data allowed the top three from 2022 to discuss their rivals, with Razgatlioglu first, Rea second and Bautista third on the second day of testing, as well as others who may add to the fight at the front. Each rider picked out several others who might make an impact in WorldSBK in 2023.

Pacesetter Razgatlioglu outlined who he thinks will join the fight in 2023, saying: “I’m not surprised. I see the result and I’m just smiling because, last year, it was the same. We were fighting altogether. Now I see again I’m with Jonny and Alvaro and everybody is very close again. It’s not easy to say because the season hasn’t started. Petrucci looks strong. Rinaldi also looks strong. Now, it looks like everybody is very strong. Dominique, Gardner, everybody looks very strong. Locatelli, today, made a big improvement.”

Rea, who was second on Day 2 but less than a tenth behind Razgatlioglu, added: “It’s not really a rivalry, it’s just other fast guys. They’re great riders and they’re going to be so competitive. At this point, I’m not really thinking of them, I’m thinking about our bike. While we’re making some positive steps, we still have a long way to go. We have a lot of work to do this winter still. I expect to keep working in Portimao to put things together and then I think Australia is the most positive test. I think WorldSBK now is so deep a field, the new guys that are coming in have got great credentials, great CVs. You have Danilo Petrucci, a MotoGP™ race winner not that long ago and a great talent; Remy, a Moto2™ World Champion two years ago, and then the WorldSSP Champion and runner-up. The riders that have exited have been replaced by proper, proper guys and that’s going to make the fight at the front stronger, but I don’t know which one of those guys is going to be there. The year needs a few rounds to get momentum and understand where everyone is. Hopefully I’ll be one of them!”

Sporting the #1 plate for the first time on track, Bautista said: “It’s difficult to say in the winter test because you don’t know exactly what the other riders are trying or how much they are pushing. For sure, Toprak and Jonathan will be there. And then, with the new riders, like Petrucci, Aegerter, Baldassarri, Gardner, you have to see how their improvements in the season. I think a rider who is making a good improvement is my teammate, Michael. I think he can fight for the podium and victories this season. I think this season will have more battles than the last one. We have to be prepared for that.”

Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) enjoyed a strong debut in WorldSBK as he consistently placed inside the top ten, Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and teammate Dominique Aegerter both ended Day 2 inside the top ten while Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK) showed strong pace at Jerez. Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) was making his, and the team’s, debut in southern Spain as they look to adapt to WorldSBK. Will they join the battles at the front of the field?

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