The Phillip Island venue welcomed World Supersport action for 2020 and despite a red flag, Andrea Locatelli couldn’t be shaken at the head of the field…
The first day of testing for the FIM Supersport World Championship has come to a close Down Under at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, with surprises and talking points aplenty. A rookie in the class but going into day two as the man to beat, Andrea Locatelli (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) showed promise with a healthy advantage at the front of the field, with three different manufacturers inside the top five.
In warm and dry weather conditions, Andrea Locatelli romped to the top of the timesheets and threw down the gauntlet to the World Supersport opposition. The Italian was right on the pace at the Portimao test and continued to shine in Australia. He was the first rider inside the 1’33 bracket, and was just under 0.3s from the WorldSSP pole lap record. The former Moto2™ top six contender is the sole entrant for the BARDAHL Evan Bros. Yamaha team in 2020.
Randy Krummenacher (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) confirmed his speed from Jerez, with the Swiss rider refining his chassis set-up on his was to second. With a good history at the track, birthday-boy Krummenacher – who turns 30 today – also worked on engine configuration but hailed the bike as far more competitive compared to when he first rode it. Krummenacher’s teammate, Raffaele de Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), was in third whilst his other teammate, Federico Fuligni was in 12th.
Completing the top four was Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), with the Spaniard getting his first taste of 2020 action having not participated in the pre-season testing. The Finnish-based team welcome a new rider for the new season, with Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing) coming in. The Estonian was in tenth come the end of day one as he adapts to Yamaha machinery. Another Yamaha in the shape of Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing) was up at the sharp end, completing day one in seventh.
2017 World Supersport Champion Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) led the way for Kawasaki, as the Frenchman aimed to pick up where he left off at the end of the last decade. The Frenchman, who was fifth, focused on the new slick tyres and looked to put all of his hard work from the previous month together to find form at Phillip Island. His teammate, Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), was in eighth place and less than a second off of the top time by Andrea Locatelli.
2019 bronze-medalist Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) was in sixth place, just over 0.6s behind Locatelli at the front of the field. His primary focus was on the slick tyres and is anticipating them to add another dimension and challenge at each circuit in 2020. His teammate, Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha), was in ninth place, a further six tenths behind Cluzel.
Besides Locatelli at the front of the field, Odendaal in seventh and Oettl in eighth, there were plenty of impressive rookies just outside of the top ten. Turkish rookie Can Öncü (Turkish Racing Team) was in 11th, with the former Moto3™ Grand Prix winner shining brightly. Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) finished in 13th place on ZX-6R, as he took to the Phillip Island track for the first time. German rookie Patrick Hobelsberger (Dynavolt Honda) was 18th, one place ahead of Britain’s Danny Webb (Wepol Racing Team) was in 19th, whilst Andy Verdoia (bLU cRU WorldSSP Team by MS) was 21st.
Notable incidents throughout the session included Jaimie van Sikkelerus (MPM Routz Racing Team), who suffered a fast crash at Turn 8, although he was able to escape without injury. Wildcard Oli Bayliss (Cube Racing Team) was less than three seconds off the pace in 22nd. Off-track, Galang Hendra Pratama (bLU cRU WorldSSP Team by MS) has had visa issues which are now resolved, so he will be on track for his first Phillip Island experience tomorrow.