‘The Maniac’ is back and there was plenty of smiles and reaction right the way through the paddock at the close of two days testing
2024 STARTS NOW: the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is already gearing up for what is set to be a sensational season; with a myriad of rider changes, new colours, new riders and even teams for 2024, the post-final round Jerez test was our first chance to sample the action. 34-year-old Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) is one of the biggest names on the grid in 2024 as he returns to racing and he lit up the timesheets on day two. We caught up with his rivals and the established World Superbike guard to see what they’re take on his pace was.
BAUTISTA AND REA LEAD COMMENTS: “I’m impressed… he’s another guy to race at the front”
Reigning double World Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) raced against ‘The Maniac’ when both were fighting hard in MotoGP™ and stated that he was impressed: “He’s very fast and he was fast in the past; the problem will be when the race comes because a test is different to the race. I am impressed with his performance as he was really fast. It is nice to have good riders in the Championship.”
With his own switch to Yamaha, Jonathan Rea (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) commented on Iannone’s excitement after a catch-up with him in pitlane before track action kicked off: “You never know; as I’ve said before, testing is testing and racing is a different story. I spoke with him earlier and it seems like he’s excited to be here, which is really good. It’s a different challenge for him but he’s on a competitive bike. I didn’t see him on track today but he’s already fast, however, everyone knows that. He’s a MotoGP™ winner, he’s got an incredible CV and the expectation is that he’s there. He’s another guy to race at the front so it’s more exciting.”
“HE’S GOING TO BE ANOTHER PAIN IN THE ARSE TO TRY AND BEAT NEXT YEAR” – more reaction
“The question mark is the time he’s had away from the track,” began Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), sharing his thoughts on the #29’s return. “I actually saw him on track and gave him a little thumbs up; I can imagine his life is so much better now with a focus and racing. You’re talking about someone who has won in MotoGP™, made Moto2™ races look easy… there’s nothing else to say. The bike is clearly very good and he’s a fantastic rider, so as soon as he gets a little bit of rust off, it’s another Ducati that’s competing for race wins. Honestly and personally, I’m happy to see him here; welcome to back racing! He’s going to be another pain in the arse to try and beat next year!”
After making his debut in WorldSBK this year, Dominique Aegerter hopes that the Italian isn’t too fast in 2024: “He went quite fast with a 1’39.3. With a Q tyre but you still need to bring it and do it! It’s nice to have competitive riders but in the end I hope they are behind me! They are big names and it is nice to see; we’ll see what happens with all the manufacturers and riders on track.”
“I WAS IMPRESSED ABOUT HIM AND ALSO BULEGA” – Rinaldi weighs in on fellow Ducati stars
Moving to a new team, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Motocorsa Racing) also commented on how impressed he was, not just about Iannone but Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) too: "Iannone has a great talent. He was really strong on time attack and he doesn't know our tyre well but he still went fast. I was impressed about him and also Bulega."
Fastest Ducati of the test, the aforementioned Nicolo Bulega gave his verdict and said that ‘The Maniac’s’ pace was to be expected: “Andrea has an incredible talent and I expected him to be fast. Not like this but fast! He was one of the fastest riders in MotoGP™ so it is normal that he's fast. He will be a strong rider from the beginning."
The 2024 title race starts here: keep up with all the action with the WorldSBK VideoPass!