Old foes, good friends and potentially, a renewed battle on track for the weekend coming?
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is back at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola for the Prometeon Italian Round, and after four years away, it felt great to be back at the circuit which boasts so much WorldSBK history. In the opening session of the weekend, there were plenty of riders causing surprises as the field got used to the Imola circuit, but come the chequered flag at the end, it was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK Team) who came out on top, although the 2021 World Champion didn’t have much margin behind him.
Throughout the entirety of the session, the battle for top spot was between Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), as the two lapped together on their penultimate runs, before a late time attack brough the session to a close. The #54 is at Imola for the first time with Yamaha but got down to business straight away, making the difference in the final sector to secure himself as the rider to beat. Rea took the flag in second, separated by just 0.003s of a second. Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was third, with the top three covered by 0.030s. He was ahead of teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who despite carrying an ankle injury, was down to a strong pace. Popping to the top of the timing tower at various points, Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), who is normally slightly further down on Friday, eventually clinched fifth and was less than three tenths off of Toprak’s best time.
Making it four Ducatis inside the top six, WorldSBK’s newest podium finisher Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) was looking good, just over a tenth clear of a late-improving Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK). Like teammate Razgatlioglu, home-hero Locatelli had a Kawasaki in his wake, this being the #22 of Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who was ahead of top BMW rider Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) by more than three and a half tenths, whilst Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was P10. Surprises included Brad Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) in P12 on his Imola debut, whilst the best Honda was Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) in P14.
Top six after WorldSBK FP1 at Imola, full results here:
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) 1’47.661s
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.003s
3. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.030s
4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.184s
5. Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) +0.281s
6. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.426s
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