Montella hails new track surface, takes P1 in final winter test: "There was a lot of grip!"

Monday, 19 February 2024 07:27 GMT

The #55 enjoyed one of his favourite circuits even more than usual as he rocketed to the top

The 2024 FIM Supersport World Championship season is just days away from firing up and at the test on Monday, there’s already a major headline. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) was able to lap under Andrea Locatelli’s all-time lap record, with the new track surface at Phillip Island seeing times tumble before the weekend has even got underway. Setting a 1’31.881, he was just less than a tenth ahead of the opposition but topped both the morning and the afternoon session.

Setting 98 laps throughout the day, it was a voyage of discovery for Montella on day one, with the #55 enjoying the new surface. Having done a race simulation, he already went two seconds quicker over the course of it than last year. Chipping away throughout, the Italian – who took a first race win of his career back in 2022 with Kawasaki on ‘The Island’ – finished on top but it’s not the domination that it seems, with less than a tenth of a second margin after both sessions.

Speaking at the end of the day, Montella recapped his test: “It was great! We enjoyed the new tarmac a lot. We worked a lot on race pace and tried to do a time attack. I’m happy because it was unexpected; I found a good feeling and good pace with the bike. There was a lot of grip; from last year’s race pace, I think I went 2s quicker than last year and it’s good tarmac for sure.”

Continuing, talking about his preparation for the first round of the 2024 season, the 24-year-old said: “Now, we need to rest because today we did a lot of laps. We’ll eat well and enjoy this island. I saw a lot of riders faster in this test: Caricasulo, Huertas, Manzi, Schroetter, Oncu, a lot! Let’s see but I hope to stay where I am and enjoy the weekend and the start of the season. I like this circuit; we were fast last year but in Race 1, I broke my collarbone. I hope this year is better than 2023 and we’ll try to do our best!”

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