HOT HEADLINES FROM SEASON-OPENER: "The rules made are helping everyone"

Tuesday, 27 February 2024 08:56 GMT

From daring last lap passes, a first-time winner, a stunning comeback to racing and a big picture of the new rules, WorldSBK delivered in Round 1

The dust has settled and it’s time to take stock of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship after a sensational start to the new season. There was huge disappointment as well as unbridled joy as WorldSBK was literally turned on its head Down Under. We’ve put the hottest quotes in one place for you to digest together.

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “I’m probably a bit old to making moves like that at Lukey Heights!”

A fantastic Sunday double for Alex Lowes at Phillip Island sees him in the lead of the Championship: “I knew my speed was there but I’ve had a lot of injuries. We are there now; I don't know for the rest of the year but I am going to enjoy the moment now because I've worked hard in the off-season. To get two wins today was fantastic and mixing it up there with the Ducatis makes me really happy. I'm probably a bit old to be making moves like that at Lukey Heights! I enjoyed having my brother here this weekend too, I didn't want him to beat me so he gave me a kick up the arse. I had a good week after a good winter. When I'm in fifth or sixth gear, the bike is fast! We'll see for the rest of the season but we are always fast here. Let's see when we have the slow exit onto the straight.”

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati): “Maybe in normal conditions, I’d pass him on the straight”

Talking about being beaten in a last lap shootout, Alvaro Bautista said: “He had more tyre than me; in the first five laps, the tyre was good and in the second start, I thought I could push because in 11 laps, it'd be easy. I didn't expect to use the tyre like I did and in the last three laps, it was impossible because the bike was jumping around on all the left corners so it was difficult to go full lean. I'm happy because about my performance, from Friday, it increased and I got better with the bike. Even if it's not 100%, like before, I feel very positive after closing the gap. I didn't know who was behind me but I knew they could pass me easily because I couldn't lean or enter the corner fast. In the last corner, I tried to be close but I lost on entry and then to get the power on wasn't easy. Maybe, in normal conditions, I could pass him on the straight."

Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team): “The rules made have been good and they're helping everyone… one of the closest Championship’s I’ve ever been in!”

A podium in Race 2, Danilo Petrucci is a big fan of the rule changes: “WorldSBK is really crazy! I finished P15 but had the same bike as yesterday, it was difficult to ride and I was nervous. In Race 2, I was behind Toprak when the engine went and then behind Jonny when he had a massive crash. In the restart, I was there and I wanted to be top Independent but Rinaldi was far. Then, he started losing time and me and Iannone were coming through. With three to go, I was two seconds from the lead but then on the last lap, I was just one second. Maybe with two more laps, I could have fought for the win! As I predicted in WorldSBK, you can finish in P15 or P3. 15 riders can finish on the podium and it's unbelievable how close it is. The rules made have been good and they're helping everyone. I think this is one of the closest Championships I've ever been in.”

Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati): “You can dream as much as you want…”

In shock after winning on Saturday, Nicolo Bulega became the first rider EVER to graduate to WorldSBK as WorldSSP Champion and win on his debut: “Maybe I still don’t realise but what can I say? It’s incredible. To win the first race and also take the lap record and pole position, it’s like last year when I was in WorldSSP but now, it’s in WorldSBK. I can’t say a lot because I still don’t realise, it’s a good sensation. In the last two laps, I was smiling a lot under my helmet when I saw my pit board with 3.5s advantage. You can dream as much as you want but when you have to do it, it’s different. It’s a dream come true and I’m happy to win the first race as I feel less pressure.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “I’m really sad… in Barcelona, we need to come back stronger”

A story of what could have been on his BMW debut for Toprak Razgatlioglu, although a podium in the Superpole Race showed the potential: “It’s not easy to say; I’m really sad because I didn’t expect the engine problem. In Race 2, I said, ‘this is the first time that I’m riding the bike’ because I’m always trying to save the rear tyre. I started and passed Lowes and started going forwards but then the engine problem came. This is racing and for the first weekend of the season, in general, I’m not really happy, 50/50. I had the podium but in Race 2, I was ready to fight for the win. I was just watching it instead but in Barcelona, we need to come back stronger.”

Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven): “I would’ve signed if you told me I'd finish P3 and P4; it's unbelievable”

His first World Championship weekend in four years, Andrea Iannone got the holeshot twice and stepped on the podium in his first ever race: “On one hand, I’m angry because I made two mistakes, and I lost the race. In any case, it’s the best comeback possible. When I started and rode in first position for many laps, it was incredible. I’m not completely happy. It’s my first race after four years and I was first, the feeling and everything was good. I’m a little but stiff; I’m not at 100% and how I want to be. I think, in the past, when I was in MotoGP™ I was fighting a lot, but it’s a long time. I had a problem with the setting on engine braking. I remained with the maximum engine brake, and I wanted to reduce it. It was impossible to switch. I would have signed if you told me I'd finish P3 and P4; it's unbelievable. But when you have a feeling that you could do a better result... this weekend was strange, something happened in every moment.”

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha):Here, we’re in the middle of the shit”

Speaking on Saturday, Jonathan Rea was at a loss: “We’ve tried everything. At Yamaha, we’re an open catalogue. You can pick what you want but most riders are the same. Throughout testing, I’ve preferred some different chassis parts than ‘Loka’ but this weekend, we’ve started with what the team feel are the good for tyre consumption, grip and all the Phillip Island characters. I’m as confused as everyone in the box; we’re lost and it’s frustrating. At Jerez, the bike worked fantastic; in race rhythm with all riders, I could compete for a podium. At Portimao, not so much and we were floating around the top five. Here, we’re in the middle of the shit.”

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha): “It was possible to win a race”

Charging into race-winning contention on the last lap, Andrea Locatelli fell at Turn 4 from a podium position which would have left him leading the Championship: “We need to check the data and understand what happened. We need to forget this one and look at what else we did. We were fast and able to win the race. I'm sorry, as it was possible to win a race and it's a shame to not win one.

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