#IDNWorldSBK – Day one roundup, World Superbike
The opening day of MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship action in Indonesia has come to an end and the order has left us all intrigued going into Saturday. Despite Ducati never having won at the circuit before, their pace from Australia has been carried to the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit, as Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) ended the day on top and led a factory Ducati 1-2, with teammate Alvaro Bautista second. It was a dry first day of action and with humidity high, although rain is forecast for parts of the weekend.
It was a strong start for Ducati and particularly Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who, having topped FP1 despite a Turn 10 crash, repeated the achievement in FP2 although this time, without a tumble. Rinaldi continued his strong showing from Phillip Island and with a Friday clean-sweep and a Ducati 1-2 but in reverse order to Australia, the Bologna bullets may be the ones to beat. Reigning World Champion Bautista set strong lap times throughout the course of the session, despite suffering a Turn 1 crash. Losing the front in the middle of the corner but being able to get back on his feet, remount and get back to the pits. After a brief stint in the box, Bautista went back out on track and improved his time, although not enough to overthrow his teammate.
As for Yamaha, Mandalika has traditionally been a circuit where they’ve shone at, having taken the last three race wins and being the only manufacturer to take pole position at the track. Doing a 16-lap run but returning to the box and stating that he was struggling to turn into the left-hand corners, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) went for a time attack in the closing stages of the session and placed third. Teammate Andrea Locatelli, who was seventh in the morning session, was eighth at the end of FP2 as well and thus eighth overall. Expect the Italian, who is second in the Championship, to make gains on Saturday.
Back in the mix after a Sunday to forget in Australia, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) kept his powder dry on day one, opting not to go out in FP1 until the final 17 minutes as the track cleaned up and rubbered in. Rea was in the mix throughout the session and was right behind the Ducatis for most of it, on his way to P4 overall. Teammate Alex Lowes also spent most of his time inside the top ten and improved throughout, going into P6 with just over ten minutes to go but finishing up in P7 at the end of the day.
It was a late burst up the order for Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), with the Dutchman just less than three quarters of a second away from Rinaldi’s top time. The #60 was only 0.010s behind Rea directly ahead of him in fourth, as he showcased the BMW M 1000 RR’s potential at Mandalika, a circuit where it’s been on the podium – back in 2021 in the wet with van der Mark. Teammate Scott Redding had a little bit of a better performance than at Phillip Island and concluded the day in tenth, 1.277s behind former Ducati teammate Rinaldi at the top of the times.
It was a strong session for Yamaha rookie Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), with the Australian sixth at the end of the session and top Independent after his first day of action at Mandalika on WorldSBK machinery. Behind him and joining him in the Independent battle within the top ten, Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) had a better Friday than in Australia. With a focus on hitting the ground running from the start, Bassani seeks a replication of it on Saturday in Superpole.
There were contrasting emotions at Honda; on the good side of story, Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) was right on the pace and consistently in the top ten throughout the course of the day. He was fifth in FP1 and despite improving his time in FP2, he took 11th on the combined times at the flag, being pipped at the very end. However, it was a day to forget for teammate Iker Lecuona, who as well as having a stomach illness to contend with, also suffered two crashes. One came at Turn 16 in FP1 and the other came at Turn 10 in FP2, with the Spaniard unhappy when he returned to the box and finishing the day in 17th overall.
Phillip Island front row starter Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) took time to acclimatise to Mandalika aboard a Superbike and was P12 at the end of the day, ahead of Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) in 13th, with the Frenchman looking more on the pace than he was on ‘The Island’, as he got ahead of 2023 teammate Garrett Gerloff by over a quarter of a second. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) debuted at Mandalika and was 15th, ahead of Phillip Island sensation Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven). Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) was 18th and back on track in FP2 after a fast crash at Turn 6 in FP1, whilst Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) completed the top 20, the latter with a bout of food poisoning to deal with too. Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Eric Granado (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team) rounded out the running in 21st and 22nd respectively.