Alvaro Bautista leads teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi on Friday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Championship leader was 0.147s quicker than Rinaldi.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi finished second on Friday with a fastest time of 1’41.633s set in the morning session. Jonathan Rea concluded Friday’s running in third place only 0.166s behind Bautista. He was one of many riders unable to improve in the afternoon session.
The sun shone strongly at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship on Friday, with the field taking to the circuit with a track temperature approaching 50 degrees. Come the end of the day, it was Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) who was in a league of his own, with a strong lap time at the end of the session being the icing on top of a strong race run cake.
With an additional 20 degrees of track temperature, it was somewhat unsurprising to see the Ducatis so strong on Friday afternoon. Alvaro Bautista remains the rider to beat over the long distance however, with a strong race pace in the morning and in the afternoon, with a run of 14 laps achieved in the 1’42s in FP1, more than his rivals. In the afternoon, Bautista did a 16-lap run, all of which were in the low-to-mid 1’42s before going out and setting a 1’41.486 to set the outright best time of the day, which will certainly make his rivals sit up and look. Teammate Rinaldi was second at the end of the day but didn’t improve his time at the end. Fastest in the first session in the morning, Michael Ruben Rinaldi came out the blocks fighting from the start and that translated into the afternoon too, as he was once again one of the riders to beat. Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) afternoon wasn’t as strong as his morning session, with Rea outside of the top ten in 11th place for a lot of the session before ultimately finishing third. Due to everyone else struggling to better their opening time, Rea took third overall, but he’ll be fighting for the podium or the top five if race pace from the afternoon is anything to go by.
As for the blue corner, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) was third on the combined times but was inside the top five throughout FP2, as he enjoyed the heavy braking areas of Turn 1 and Turn 10. The Turk hasn’t won in Barcelona but will hope that he can turn that around this weekend. Teammate Andrea Locatelli’s afternoon saw him strong inside the top nine but he crashed at Turn 5. Losing the front, it was a typical Turn 5 tumble, but it was a costly error, as a new SC0 tyre needed to be tested and time is always of the essence. At the end of the day, Razgatlioglu was third and Locatelli remained sixth.
It was a strong opening day for Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) and Honda, as they always shine in Barcelona – whether it is testing or not. Lecuona’s pace was in the 1’42s, and a solid effort will hope to be rewarded throughout the remainder of the weekend. As for teammate Xavi Vierge, he crashed in FP1 at Turn 1 but remounted but he wasn’t quite there in the afternoon, down in 12th, one place behind teammate Iker Lecuona. Come the end of the day however, they were still fifth and eighth and that will be filling Leon Camier’s team with confidence going forwards.
WorldSBK action resumes on Saturday with FP3 from 09:00 (Local Time), followed by Tissot Superpole at 11:10 and Race 1 at 14:00.
WorldSBK Combined Results after FP2
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’41.486s
2. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.147s
3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.166s
4. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.233s
5. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +0.582s
6. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) +0.593s
P1 | Alvaro Bautista | Aruba.it Racing – Ducati | 1’41.486s
“For sure, I think it has been very positive especially because we were focused on race pace. In the morning, I tried the new spec that Pirelli brought here on the front. I didn’t have really good feedback on the tyre, but the bike was working more or less like normal. We decided to use it for the race distance to see how it was at the end. It was quite consistent, but the feeling was not too good from the beginning. Also, on the rear with the SCX tyre, it was maybe not the best moment to use it, but we wanted to use it just to see how it was for the race distance. I felt a big drop this morning so, in the afternoon, we used the SC1 on the front; I like this tyre. Suddenly, I found a good feeling with the bike and the bike worked like it did in the test or the other rounds. In the rear, with the 800, we did 16 laps and it was better than the SCX in the morning. The grip was not very different, but I think the tyre life was a bit better, I could be more consistent with the lap times. I was able to do many mid-1’42s, which is a good pace especially because this afternoon the conditions were a bit difficult. With this heat, the grip is very low, and you have to be very precise.”“I saw the lap times from the other riders and I think my teammate, Rinaldi, can fight for victory. We can’t forget Toprak and Jonathan. Maybe today they were not super fast in race pace but tomorrow and on Sunday they will be there. We have to pay attention to Aegerter. He had a really impressive pace and also Lecuona. They are two riders who can fight, at least, for a podium.”
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