From looking back in anger to coming up with a Misano masterplan, the WorldSBK stars have their say ahead of Round 4 in Italy.
The fight is on again this weekend as the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s fourth round promises to be an explosive one, with the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” readying for action. Ahead of the Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round, we caught up with all of the stars from up and down the grid, as they preview their weekend ahead and lay down the gauntlet, with all eyes on more battles from the titanic trio, as well as on a Honda rider who came back from testing for the Suzuka 8 Hour.
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “I think there’ll be more riders fighting for the victory”
“If I can have fun on the bike, I can be competitive. It will be nice if I can win all three races for the fans so just trying to enjoy it together. It’s a track that’s very short, so we saw in the past fighting in the races. Here, my teammate Rinaldi won two races here last year. He was second in Race 2 so he will be competitive. I don’t think this round will only be three riders fighting for the victory, we are also talking about Michael to fight for the victory. It’s a track that’s very technical and the differences are very small compared to other tracks. I think there will be more riders fighting for victory and for the podium; it’ll be more exciting for everybody watching the races.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “I expect a lot more to join the party at Misano”
“Last year, our biggest nemesis was the SCX tyre. We could only really work that tyre in the real hot conditions. Estoril was mid-20s, we would be scared of that last year. Race 2 showed us that we could be convinced that we can use that tyre now. All our work in the offseason has paid off. I feel like at the end of the race, we had the better tyre and was able to go forward and catch Alvaro and spring a pass on the last lap. That gives us some confidence that these summer races can be even better. I’m just enjoying racing, enjoying riding the bike and the battle right now at the front with Toprak and Alvaro, two very different characters on the track, is really fun but I expect a lot more to join that party at Misano.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK): “A very positive test… we need luck!”
“After Estoril, we had a one-day test and we tried many new parts, especially with rear grip. At Estoril, my big problem was spinning on the exit of the final corner. It was a very positive test, and we improved the rear grip. Last year, I won for the first time at Misano and after Estoril, I feel like we are fighting for the win again. I like the track and I love Italy! Sometimes we need luck, especially in Race 1 at Estoril when Bautista passed me easily on the straight, and then in the Superpole Race, I almost won but I made a very small mistake, although maybe it’s not small as I nearly crashed! I’m smiling after the race weekend but this round, we’re fighting to win again as I’ve been training a lot in Turkey and the team have been working hard. Last year, Rinaldi was very fast at this track so maybe he will come strong again this year. I just focus on my job and try to enjoy it.”
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “We had to sacrifice the result for the future”
“I feel super happy to be here and to race at home, a track that I like. It’s a track where my friends and fans can come, and this is great! I think I can be in the battle and I will try to win, and I will push my 120%. After Assen, we changed our way of working and we knew at Estoril that we wouldn’t have the result. Last year, we were really, really strong or really, really bad, never constant. We started this year at Aragon when I was fast with the top guys but then I went back, and it was the same at Assen. Like this, maybe I would win some races but not be there in all of them, so I needed to find something different. The team agreed so at Estoril, we were in a phase where we had to sacrifice the result for the future. We are still working but I think Misano can help us to get to the top set up. I’m working hard with the team and I hope the work pays off.”
Iker Lecuona (Team HRC): “Very happy with this season so far… test at Suzuka was amazing!”
“I’m very happy with this season so far. This track I know very well. I like it, it’s not my best track but normally I go quite fast. It’s my first time here with Honda and the Superbike so I know that normally, in the first part of the weekend we struggle a lot, so we need to work but we can be there. The test at Suzuka was an amazing experience. It’s a very beautiful track, a difficult and fun track. It’s true the bike is not very different, but some parts are different like tyres for example. I need to learn a lot quickly to feel fine on the bike, but this helped us to get the feeling with the bike. For me, it’s nice if we go to the eight-hour race, but it’s still not confirmed.”
Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team): “The past is no indicator of what the future holds”
“I’m happy to be here and happy that the doctor said I was good to go. I would say I’m 100% for the most part, it hurts a little bit but I can bend my knee. My approach is to take it one thing at a time; on Friday morning, it might be raining a little bit so that might be a nice way to ease my way into things. We tested here earlier this year so I have a good idea about where we’ll start with everything, so hopefully we can have the same feeling right away. I felt like my pace was good here last year and my times were competitive. The past is no indicator of what the future holds; everyone is going fast this year so it will be a matter of trying to stay close to the top. I think we’re going in the right way.”
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