WorldSBK testing, Phillip Island: Day one roundup
It was a dramatic day of testing for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on Day 1 of the Official Test as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) topped the times by 0.099s despite an FP1 crash, while all three of the ‘titanic trio’ from 2022 crashed on the opening day. The day was disrupted by five red flags, but teams and riders were still able to get meaningful running in on the penultimate day of testing ahead of the 2023 season getting underway at the same venue.
Despite being a Test day, there was drama everywhere you looked in Australia as five red flags, with several of these due to geese near the track, disrupted running while there was also drama for the ‘titanic trio’. Both Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) went down at Turn 4 in FP2 at around the same time, while Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) had an FP1 crash at Turn 10 with just a few minutes remaining.
Despite his FP1 crash, 2021 Champion Razgatlioglu was able to bounce back in FP2 to top the timesheets in the two-hour session with a 1’30.674s and that time was also good enough to top the times in the combined classification on Day 1. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was second and 0.099s slower than Razgatlioglu but he was able to finish ahead of teammate Bautista with the reigning Champion in third place and 0.134s down on Razgatlioglu. Six-time Champion Rea took fourth spot after setting a 1’30.889s with Rea the first rider to lap in the 1’30s bracket.
Several riders with Independent teams shone brightly in Australia on Day 1 of the test, with four finishing inside the top ten behind Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) in fifth place. Locatelli had topped FP1 with a 1’31.008s and was unable to beat that in FP2 with his time good enough for fifth place. German rider Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) took sixth spot and was the top Independent rider on his Ducati, lapping 0.921s slower than Razgatlioglu, while home hero Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was seventh and only 0.005s behind Oettl.
New BMW recruit Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) was the fastest BMW rider on Day 1 after he posted a 1’31.671s with the American improving his time by a second between FP1 and FP2, while rookie Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was ninth after posting a best time of 1’31.728s. Factory BMW rider Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) rounded out the top ten after lapping around a tenth slower than Aegerter.
Team HRC’s Iker Lecuona was the highest-placed Honda rider on Day 1 with 11th spot on his first visit to Phillip Island in WorldSBK after he missed the 2022 season-ending round through injury. His time, a 1’31.904s, was more than a tenth quicker than rookie Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) in 12th spot with the Italian almost 1.5s down on Razgatlioglu’s pace setting time. Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) took 13th spot with Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) rounding out the top 15.
Frenchman Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) took 16th spot on his M 1000 RR machine, 1.619s down on Razgatlioglu’s time but only 0.015s away from a spot in the top ten. 2013 Champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 17th with Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) 18th and Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) 19th. Rookie Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) took 20th on his first visit to Phillip Island on the Yamaha YZF R1 machine while MIE Racing Honda Team duo Hafizh Syahrin and Eric Granado were 21st and 22nd respectively. Granado had a crash at Turn 12 with around 40 minutes left in the session but was declared fit following a check-up at the medical centre.