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Feb 19, 2019

World Superbike: Alvaro Bautista Leads The Field As Pre-Season Testing Ends At Phillip Island (Updated)

Alvaro Bautista (19).

Motul FIM Superbike World Championship Test

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Australia

February 19, 2019

Day Two Combined Results (all on Pirelli tires):

1. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Duc Panigale V4 R), 1:30.303

2. Tom Sykes, UK (BMW S1000RR), 1:30.539

3. Leon Haslam, UK (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:30.668

4. Jonathan Rea, UK (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:30.722

5. Marco Melandri, Italy (Yam YZF-R1), 1:30.760

6. Toprak Razgatlioglu, Turkey (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:30.840

7. Michael Van Der Mark, Netherlands (Yam YZF-R1), 1:30.911

8. Sandro Cortese, Germany (Yam YZF-R1), 1:31.077

9. Alex Lowes, UK (Yam YZF-R1), 1:31.146

10. Jordi Torres, Spain (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:31.224

11. Leandro Mercado, Argentina (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:31.328

12. Markus Reiterberger, Germany (BMW S1000RR), 1:31.376

13. Leon Camier, UK (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:31.443

14. Chaz Davies, UK (Duc Panigale V4 R), 1:31.796

15. Ryuichi Kiyonari, Japan (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:31.860

16. Eugene Laverty, Ireland (Duc Panigale V4 R), 1:31.986

17. Michael Rinaldi, Italy (Duc Panigale V4 R), 1:32.083

18. Alessandro Delbianco, Italy (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:32.979

19. Troy Herfoss, Australia (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:33.130


(Above) Tom Sykes (66). Photo courtesy of Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.


More, from a press release issued by Dorna WorldSBK Press Office:

Testing concludes with Bautista the man to beat in Australia

Spaniard cuts nearly half a second off his Monday lap time to command final pre-season sessions

Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) stormed to the top of the timesheets again on Tuesday at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit with a best lap of 1’30.303, a whole 0.440 seconds faster than his best from the previous day and nearly half a second quicker than four-time world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), fourth fastest at the Aussie racetrack.

Tuesday morning saw kinder winds and warmer conditions than the opening day of testing. Despite this, the bar that Ducati’s Spaniard had set on Monday remained unsurpassed by all but three riders. Bautista has emerged as the early and clear frontrunner for the opening race of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, and it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, can match the hairsplitting pace he’s put on display here.

Nonetheless, six more men did manage to set sub 1’31 laps, with second-placed Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and fifth-placed Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) split by two tenths of a second.

In between them in fourth sat Jonathan Rea, who had previously topped nearly every pre-season testing session in 2018 and 2019. No one will be disregarding the reigning World Champion any time soon however. It bears repeating that Rea is still on an 11-race winning streak and when he is on his game there are few, if any riders capable of going the distance with the four-time champion. But for now, the gap between the two men has been striking: just in the first Tuesday session, Bautista recorded seven laps faster than Rea’s then best of 1’30.761.

Testing is much more than setting fast lap times however, and there was again much work to be done on Tuesday in Australia. Rea’s teammate Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made great strides on the ZX-10RR, putting in more laps (74) than anyone out on track. The Englishman’s base setup is very similar to the reigning champion’s, with Haslam’s crew now focused on tweaking it to his own style. It seems to be working well, as a late flurry of times pushed the 35-year-old above Rea on the timesheets.

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) meanwhile managed to cut down his best lap time from Monday by a full second, as he continues to find his feet on the Panigale V4 R, although the Welshman was still nearly 1.5s behind his teammate’s pace.

2018 double Aussie winner Marco Melandri closed Tuesday as fifth best after hard work was put in to the front of his Yamaha YZF R1. With an optimal setup now in place, attention veered towards finetuning in the afternoon. Ditto for the rookie Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), eighth at Phillip Island.


(Above) Marco Melandri (33). Photo courtesy of Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.

A big midday crash down Turn 1 and a late tumble across turn 4 for Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) were the main setbacks on Tuesday for the Crescent Racing squad. Neither the Brit – ninth – nor Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) – seventh – were far off the pace, however, with their attention focused on finding a good balance for the always treacherous Aussie track.

A series of red flags in the morning hindered many a race simulation around the paddock, but it was still a good day’s work for the BMW Motorrad squad as both Sykes and Markus Reiterberger – struggling yesterday with a small shoulder injury – tested different chassis solutions, with both men meeting expectations.

A tricky opening day for Moriwaki Althea Honda Team led to improved performances on Tuesday, as they fight against the clock to find a good base setup for Phillip Island. Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) crept into the top 10 throughout most of the day with a best lap of 1’31.443 (eventually falling to 13th), while Ryuichi Kiyonari ended in 15th position.

(Above) Toprak Razgatlioglu (54). Photo courtesy of Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.

A late fastest lap pushed Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) up to a fantastic sixth in the Tuesday standings. The Turkish starlet is still going through the 2019 updates on the ZX-10RR, as was the case for Jordi Torres and Team Pedercini Racing, while Tati Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) focused on improving tyre preservation. Steps forward were also taken by Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), although the former suffered a technical problem close to the end of session one. Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) and wildcard Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda Racing) closed the timesheets.



More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport:

Ready for the series debut with the new BMW S 1000 RR: BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team looking forward to the 2019 opener in Australia.

  • Team and riders Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger kick off the 2019 WorldSBK season after two further days of testing at Phillip Island.
  • Marc Bongers: “We are very proud of the collaboration within the team”.
  • Team presentation on Friday evening at Phillip Island.


Phillip Island. After months of preparation, things are getting serious: next weekend, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team and the brand new BMW S 1000 RR will start the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK). The first races of the year will be held on 23rd and 24th February at the “Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit” in southern Australia. The race machines used by the two riders Tom Sykes (GBR) and Markus Reiterberger (GER) in WorldSBK are based on the new BMW S 1000 RR, which was presented to the world in November. Over winter, engineers at BMW Motorrad Motorsport have developed the necessary racing components for use in the world championship.

In preparation for the new BMW S 1000 RR race debut, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team completed two further days of testing on Monday and Tuesday at Phillip Island. The focus was on evaluating more new components and setting up the machines for the first race.

The season opener starts with two free practice sessions on Friday. On Saturday, Superpole qualification takes place, with the first race scheduled for 15:00 local time. The ten lap “Superpole Race”, a new introduction in WorldSBK, will start on Sunday at 12:00. This sprint will decide the starting grid for race two that afternoon at 15.00.

As part of the season opener, all media representatives are invited to the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team presentation on Friday evening in the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit paddock. There, Dr. Markus Schramm, Head of BMW Motorrad, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers, Team Principal Shaun Muir, the two riders and Andreas Lundgren, BMW Motorrad Australia General Manager, will be available for interviews.

(Above) Markus Reiterberger (28). 


Quotes ahead of the season opener at Phillip Island.

Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “The results of the two days of testing at Phillip Island are very positive. They confirmed the performance at the test days that we had over winter. We are very proud of the collaboration within the team, which first had to gel in this new configuration. We have all pulled together over the past few months, and we now can see the result of this good teamwork. That’s motivating! But we have to stay realistic and look ahead to the first race. That will be the first time for us to see where we really stand in race trim. We also know that we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but the base of the new BMW S 1000 RR offers a lot of potential. We are happy to be back and we really can’t wait to start the first race.”

Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “We left the European tests in a very good position and a lot of hard work was carried out to make further improvements at Phillip Island. At the two days of testing here we could clearly see the benefits of the small but very significant improvements to the chassis. Tom went through all the things he wanted to test and had his best package which he ran on Tuesday afternoon in its final configuration. That is a very good base setting for him now to start the season. Markus has taken a big step forward after Portimão and is in a very strong position where we feel he can definitely compete for the top ten in the races at the coming weekend.”

Tom Sykes: “Testing has gone really well and after these two test days here at Phillip Island, I want to thank the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team because we worked very well, we worked through a comprehensive list of items and possibilities and certainly boxed off a lot of things. So I am very happy and I really feel that given the limited time on the project everyone has been doing an incredible job. I don’t think that we could have asked for anything more during this testing period. Going into the race weekend now we know that it’s not going to be easy, obviously we need to work a little bit more in some areas, but I really do feel that we are heading in the right direction. We will go out on track, work on further improving the package on our BMW S 1000 RR and enjoy the racing. I feel that the potential is higher than we could have expected when starting the project.”

Markus Reiterberger: “I am pretty satisfied with the two test days in Australia. I immediately had a good feeling on the bike, and we worked well through our testing programme, so we can soon focus on fine-tuning the performance. The anticipation for the first race weekend is of course huge, because racing is always something special. On the other hand, I would not mind having a few more test laps to really get the maximum out of myself and the BMW S 1000 RR. We just need a little bit of time to understand the whole package, but I’m pretty happy so far, and I feel great in the team. The guys really give everything and work extremely hard. We also continuously get new options and things from Munich that we can test. You can really see how things are progressing well. Personally, I worked intensively on my fitness during the winter, and I am ready to kick off the season.”



More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Final Pre-Season Tests Complete For KRT

Kawasaki Racing Team riders Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea finished third and fourth fastest respectively after two days of official DWO testing at Phillip Island, the venue for the first round of the championship this coming weekend.

With a dry track surface to work with each day, but often high winds to deal with at the same time, four-time WorldSBK champion Rea and reigning BSB Champion Haslam set about making real preparations for the first round of the championship.

With several red flags being shown to halt the on-track action, frequently due to wild birds wandering onto the 4.445km long circuit, the tests were often halted, sometimes at key moments for the KRT team riders.

The all-new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR took Haslam to the third best time of the two-day tests, thanks to a 1’30.668 lap time. Rea was fourth fastest with his 1’30.722. All the best times were set on race tyres, with no qualifying options at this test.

Now the refreshed KRT riding line up, and the new Ninja ZX-10RR have the opportunity to work toward podium finishes in what will be a new-look WorldSBK weekend.

As well as the two regular full distance WorldSBK races of the past seasons, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, there will be a third ‘sprint race’ at each event this year, to be held over ten laps each time. This Tissot Superpole Race will not only score championship points, if a reduced number compared to a full race total, but will also determine the final race staring grid.

The first practice sessions of the new-look 13-round, 39-race season will take place on Friday the 22nd of February, with race one on Saturday the 23rd and the two other races on Sunday the 24th.

(Above) Leon Haslam (91).

Leon Haslam, stated: “Up until today we probably used the least amount of tyres compared to anyone else. We were just looking at race set-up and looking at a real specific plan of what we wanted to do, hence we were not posting really good one-off lap times and putting new tyres in. Our race times have been pretty competitive over both days. I had a bit of a go for a lap time at the end there but I got traffic on my first two laps and I think it was my fourth flying lap I did the 1’30.6. I think if we could have maximised the early laps, like everyone else seemed to be doing, we could have been a little closer. The biggest thing about this test for me was the average of the base pace, looking after the tyres, and managing that side of things. We are in a good place, I think. I am not looking to the races just yet; I am looking to the practice session on Friday, because there are still a few things we want to try. I feel good and we are making the steps.”

(Above) Jonathan Rea (1).

Jonathan Rea, stated: “This has been a really positive test and we have been able to analyse a lot of items and changing things in the bike to see exactly what the track requests. This track is so unique because of the energy and load we put into the rear tyre, because of those fourth and fifth gear corners. Now we have a lot of data but unfortunately today there were a lot of red flags and we were not able to complete a long run or maximise a time attack. So this has been a huge data gathering two day test and it will prove very valuable for race weekend. With three races this year we need to be clever with the timetable and Sunday will be very a tight day for many reasons. The racing itself, trying to take on board food and - being in a factory team - the media commitments. So Sunday will be busy. From a racing point of view, I am quite happy.”

Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Leon Haslam, stated: “We had a very good winter test programme and this final test was all about preparation for race weekend. We wanted to give Leon as many laps as possible to give him more time to adjust to this bike. We made an agreement together that in every session we needed to improve our pace and that is what we did. I think we were the only riders to improve the lap time and the pace, session-by-session. To be third right now makes me very confident but I am more convinced about our consistency. We have no problems with rear tyre endurance. We are, after ten or 12 laps, at least as fast or faster than our competition so I am looking forward to the weekend. With three races the weekend will be as busy as usual, but more exciting.”

Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “The test has been the same as each previous year in Phillip Island. This is a unique track, completely different and we have been preparing the base bike and the starting point for 2019. In the winter tests it has been very good and then when we arrived here, as we expected from previous years, everything has been different. So we started to focus on the base setup for this track and then focus with the tyres. This is one of the main things we have to focus on here, especially the rear tyre. This has been the target to try to find a good balance for Johnny and also for durability for the rear tyre. As for race weekend we have to analyse everything, and I already have some ideas. On Friday we still want to try something to give Johnny a little bit more confidence and understanding.”



More, from a press release issued by Barni Racing Team:

BRT ended positively two days of test in Australia

(Above) Michael Rinaldi (21).

Phillip Island (AUS), 19th February 2019. Barni Racing Team has concluded two days of intense work at Phillip Island circuit prior to the start of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship.

On track both today and yesterday, the team from Bergamo has worked methodically with the rider Michael Rinaldi, who had never been to the circuit before. The improvement of the rider from Rimini between day 1 and day 2 is significant until the 1’32.083 of the personal best lap.

Day 1

At his very first contact the Barni Racing Team rider used the sessions to get to grips with the layout of the Australian track, while the team's technicians started working to develop the young Ducati Panigale V4 R adapting the bike to the characteristics of the track.

The stable weather conditions allowed the team to work systematically and without interruption on day one, Rinaldi completed a total of 69 laps, setting a best time of 1’33.402.

Day2

Back on track this morning, the team continued its set-up work. Michael was immediately able to improve on the yesterday’s time by over a second, in fact, setting a 1’32.083, at the end of the day the rider is 1.7s far from the leader. Rinaldi completed 59 laps in the two sessions of the day. Now Barni Racing Team is ready to face the opening sessions of the new season at the Phillip Island track this Friday, when the curtain officially goes up on the 2019 Superbike World Championship.

Marco Barnabò, Principal Manager

"From Monday to Tuesday we made a big step forward, Michael was more than a second faster and we are 1.7s far from the best lap, when we arrived here the gap was larger. We are aware that’s not enough, but I know that we didn’t yet discover all the potential of the bike and the team knows the way to follow to improve."

Michael Rinaldi, #21 - P17 (1’32.083)

"After test days in Spain and Portugal we knew we would be arrived here in Phillip Island with a lot of work to do. We have improved step by step and this is the most positive aspect. In the race weekend we will continue the work trying to make a big step forward."



More, from a press release issued by Moriwaki Althea Honda Team:

The Moriwaki Althea Honda Team commences final pre-season test at Phillip Island

(Above) Leon Camier (2).

The final 2019 World Superbike pre-season test, which is taking place over two days, is underway at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia. The WSBK riders had two 2-hour sessions, which ran from 11.10-13.10 and 15.40 to 17.40, in which to start the all-important bike set-up work.

Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari, who shared the track with their rivals for the first time this year, were able to take advantage of the stable weather conditions and work on their CBR1000RR SP2 machines without interruption.

Leon set his fastest lap during the morning’s stint in 1’32.459 (lap 31/33), while in the second practice session he closed with a best of 1’32.885 (lap 26/28), rounding out the day in eleventh position in the combined classification. Ryuichi, fourteenth in the morning with a 1’33.171 (37/37), was able to improve on his performance in the afternoon, recording a personal best of 1’32.962 which saw him close day one in sixteenth position overall.

Testing will conclude tomorrow with two further free-practice sessions running from 09.10 to 11.10 and 13.40 to 15.40 local time.

Leon Camier

11TH (COMBINED) 1'32.459 (MORNING SESSION)

“There are a few aspects of bike setup that we need to improve, but we were already aware of this and know where we need to work. I definitely think we have chance to make progress here, though maybe not that definitive step we are looking for. We need to bear in mind that it is all new for us and we have no references for this bike at this track. We’ve taken some good steps today in terms of the electronics, but we have room for improvement in this area too. We will now analyse the data we collected during today’s sessions and then see what we can do tomorrow”.

Ryuichi Kiyonari

16TH (COMBINED) 1'32.962 (AFTERNOON SESSION)

“We only had four hours available today, so that definitely makes it a little more challenging to get used to the track than when you have a full day, as we did during our previous test. So this morning I mainly concentrated on getting to grips with the track before starting to work on setup. I’m pleased I was able to improve on my performance in the afternoon, even if it wasn’t by much, and tomorrow I’ll try and push harder to close the gap even further.”



More, from a press release issued by Aruba.it Racing Ducati:

Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) dominates second and final day of pre-championship testing at Phillip Island, while Davies is in 14th place

The final two days of testing have concluded at the Phillip Island track for all the teams and riders who will be tackling the opening round of the Superbike World Championship this coming weekend at the Australian circuit.

Today again saw the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team’s new signing - Álvaro Bautista - keep his firm grip over the timesheets, as the Spanish rider dominated both two-hour sessions, confirming the progress he has made and his feeling on the Superbike-spec Ducati Panigale V4 R machine. In this morning’s first session, Bautista shaved off another four-tenths from the time he set yesterday, ending up with a best lap of 1’30.303, while in the afternoon he focussed on doing a race simulation, covering the entire distance with excellent results. Bautista is about to embark upon his debut season in Superbike, fully aware now that he can fight for the top positions with a competitive bike like the Panigale V4 R, which is also making its world debut in the category.

His team-mate Chaz Davies finds himself in a slightly different situation. Unfortunately, the Welsh rider has been unable to tackle the winter tests in the right frame of mind due to a muscle twinge he picked up during Jerez testing. As a result, Chaz is a bit behind schedule in his preparation, so today he tried to finalize the best possible base set-up, and despite these difficulties he remains confident for the start of the championship.

(Above) Alvaro Bautista (19). Photo courtesy of Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.

Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 1’30.303 – 1st

“Today was another very positive day. This morning we made a change to the bike’s geometry but we didn’t find what we were looking for so we went back to yesterday’s setting. In the afternoon the aim was to do a long-run, to see how the tyres behaved after a number of laps in race trim. I’m pleased because I kept a very good pace throughout the entire long-run. These have been two very positive days, and I’d like to thank the whole team, which did a perfect job. We’re ready to tackle the first race, and I can’t wait to start!”

(Above) Chaz Davies (7).

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1’31.796 – 14th

“We’re not quite there yet to be honest. We made some strides this morning and I was quite happy with that. In the afternoon we wanted to change a few things but we ended up going back to this morning’s setting because everything we tried didn’t give me the right feeling. We have to put all the data together in the next two days and hopefully on Friday we’ll turn up with a better setting. The good news is that last year we also had a difficult test, but then I raced a lot better than I did at the tests. We’ll take the weekend as it comes and prepare for the race in the best possible way.”

The 32nd edition of the World Championship gets underway this weekend at Phillip Island, which hosts Superbike for the twenty-ninth time. This year, the race weekend format has undergone several changes, the most important of which is the introduction of a ten-lap Superpole race. This will always start at 12.00 CET on Sunday and it replaces the two Superpole 1 and Superpole 2 qualifying sessions. The result of the Superpole race will determine the starting grid for Race 2 and will assign points for the championship standings. In addition, the number of free practice sessions has also been changed to two on Friday and one on Saturday morning. The Saturday and Sunday races will remain unchanged, but the starting time in Europe will now be at 14.00 CET.



More, from a press release issued by Althea MIE Racing:

The Althea MIE Racing team concludes official testing at Phillip Island

Phillip Island (Australia), Tuesday 19 February 2019

After two days of intense work, the Althea MIE Racing team has concluded the final test sessions prior to the start of the 2019 Superbike World Championship.

On track at Phillip Island in Australia both today and yesterday, the Italian team has worked methodically with rider Alessandro Delbianco, who had never visited the circuit before now. The Althea MIE rider therefore used the first sessions to get to grips with the layout of the Australian track, while the team's technicians started working to adapt the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 to the characteristics of the track.

The stable weather conditions allowed the team to work systematically and without interruption on day one, Delbianco completing a total of 45 laps and setting a best time of 1’33.949. Back on track this morning, the team continued their set-up work. Alessandro was immediately able to improve on yesterday’s time, by over a second in fact, to set a 1’32.979 but shortly afterwards, the young Italian unfortunately suffered a crash at turn 2. Although not seriously hurt, as a precautionary measure the team took the decision to have the rider sit out the final session, in order for him to rest up and be in top shape for the upcoming race weekend.

The Althea MIE Racing team will be back at the Phillip Island track come Friday, when the curtain officially goes up on the 2019 Superbike World Championship.

Alessandro Delbianco

“I’m pleased with the work we’ve done here, despite finishing up the test a little earlier than everyone else. I feel as if I’ve got on much better than I did during the Portimao and Jerez tests. This is one of those tracks that requires courage and I feel comfortable riding here, I find the wide turns really help me. Compared to the last tests, I’m closer to my rivals and know that I can only improve, so I’m feeling optimistic about the upcoming race weekend.”

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