PREVIEW: the final test days before lights out as WorldSBK and WorldSSP ready for 2024

Friday, 16 February 2024 06:21 GMT

Racing is getting closer but before then, there’s the small matter of two Official Test days at the iconic Phillip Island circuit

As the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship edges closer, and we’re now just days away from lights out in Australia, there’s two more test days to put in the history books. The Official Test takes place at the legendary Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia on the Monday for WorldSSP riders and Tuesday for the WorldSBK competitors prior to the round, with the entire WorldSBK field and all WorldSSP riders competing in the full season getting a chance to refine their packages for Australia.

THE ENTIRE FIELD PRESENT: 23 WorldSBK riders ready for Tuesday’s test

The Official Test will be the last chance for the 23-strong WorldSBK field to refine their machines for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round just a few days later. It’ll be the first time Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) rides his YZF-R1 machine in Australia, as it will be for Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) on his M 1000 RR and Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on the ZX-10RR. While Team HRC have kept the same line-up for 2024, with Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge staying, they have a new bike for this year. The last tests proved tricky so they will be hoping to make a step forward at Phillip Island. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati) will try his Panigale V4 R at the iconic circuit for the first time as he prepares for his maiden WorldSBK campaign.

Rookies Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin (both PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) will be hoping to have the full 2024 Honda package for their second WorldSBK test of 2024, while other rookies – Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) and Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) – will continue their adjustment to WorldSBK. For Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), it will be his first test day of 2024 after missing the Jerez and Portimao tests through illness.

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: preparing for 2024

One topic coming into the Official Test is the fact Phillip Island has been resurfaced, with the test the first time the WorldSBK field will try it ahead of racing. Of course, there are other things that will be spotted too. Teams may be trying different items on their machines to extract the maximum performance and secure the best possible results to kickstart their 2024 campaign in style. For some, it’ll be a test to continue adapting to their machines while, for others, it will be making sure everything is set up for the Australian Round.

WORLD SUPERSPORT ON TRACK: 27 riders testing on Monday

In WorldSSP, everyone who is taking part in the full season – and not the WorldSSP Challenge – will be on track at the test. It’ll be the first chance to see how rivals stack up against each other as well as some new and returning faces. After fighting for the title last year, Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) has a new teammate as Glenn van Straalen joins the Dutch team as they look to win the title. At the Racing WorldSSP Team, Adrian Huertas fills the void left by Nicolo Bulega. Lucas Mahias (GMT94 Yamaha) makes a full-time return to the Championship, as does Hikari Okubo (Vince64 Racing Team by Puccetti). Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is back after winter surgery as he looks to get back to his best, while there are other big changes on the grid.

Class veteran Federico Caricasulo has a new home, linking up with Motozoo ME AIR Racing after their switch to the MV Agusta F3 800 RR from Kawasaki machinery. Niki Tuuli joins the EAB Racing Team which will run the Ducati Panigale V2 this season, after a change from the Yamaha R6. Tom Booth-Amos will race in the full season with PTR Triumph, alongside Ondrej Vostatek while 2022 title contender Lorenzo Baldassarri is back as he joins the Orelac Racing VerdNatura squad after one season in WorldSBK. John McPhee and Jorge Navarro lead the new WRP-RT Motorsport by SKM-Triumph project and there are two rookies at the PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda team: Kaito Toba and Khairul Idham Bin Pawi, who get their first action alongside rivals in Australia. Wildcard Tom Toparis (Stop & Seal Racing) will also take part in the test; the Australian Round will be his first race in the WorldSBK paddock since 2019.

A NEW ERA BEGINS: follow the 2024 season in style using the WorldSBK VideoPass!