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Feb 22, 2019

World Superbike: Alvaro Bautista Takes Control In FP2 At Phillip Island (Updated)

Alvaro Bautista (19).

Editorial Note: The current WorldSBK Race Lap Record is 1:30.848 set by Marco Melandri in 2018. The current Pole/Circuit Best Lap Record for WorldSBK is 1:29.573 set by Jonathan Rea in 2017.

Motul FIM Superbike World Championship

Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Australia

February 22, 2019

Free Practice Two Results (all on Pirelli tires):

1. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Duc Panigale V4 R), 1:30.327

2. Jonathan Rea, UK (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:30.367

3. Leon Haslam, UK (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:30.482

4. Alex Lowes, UK (Yam YZF-R1), 1:30.783, crash

5. Leon Camier, UK (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:30.792

6. Michael Van Der Mark, Netherlands (Yam YZF-R1), 1:31.049

7. Toprak Razgatlioglu, Turkey (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:31.125

8. Michael Rinaldi, Italy (Duc Panigale V4 R), 1:31.238

9. Marco Melandri, Italy (Yam YZF-R1), 1:31.259

10. Tom Sykes, UK (BMW S1000RR), 1:31.335

11. Sandro Cortese, Germany (Yam YZF-R1), 1:31.362

12. Eugene Laverty, Ireland (Duc Panigale V4 R), 1:31.403

13. Chaz Davies, UK (Duc Panigale V4 R), 1:31.484

14. Leandro Mercado, Argentina (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:31.545

15. Markus Reiterberger, Germany (BMW S1000RR), 1:31.594

16. Jordi Torres, Spain (Kaw ZX-10RR), 1:31.595

17. Ryuichi Kiyonari, Japan (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:31.790, crash

18. Alessandro Delbianco, Italy (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:33.017

19. Troy Herfoss, Australia (Hon CBR1000RR SP2), 1:34.654

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

Bautista bags top spot as first day on ‘The Island’ concludes

Bautista got his 2019 championship charge off to a fine start, toppling Jonathan Rea late on in FP2 to go into Saturday on top.

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

The final session of the opening day of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship concluded with Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) taking over at the top of combined times. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and teammate Leon Haslam finished in second and third positions.

Bautista’s time was the fastest in the individual FP2 session. The Spaniard was once again quickest in the speed trap and was by far the fastest of the all-new Ducati Panigale V4 Rs. The Rookie set a blistering lap time of 1’30.327 to go ahead of Rea in the final minutes by just 0.014s! Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) had work to do in 14th position overall.

From the front three, Haslam was the first to improve; the 35-year-old five-time race winner has been impressive since the Yamaha Finance Australian Round got underway. Spending some time on circuit with Alvaro Bautista, the British rider was able to go fractionally quicker, before making big in-roads with less than 15 minutes left on the clock, finishing third overall.

Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) quietly went about his business, not troubling his lap time from FP1 in the session, remaining fourth overall. Teammate Markus Reiterberger also continued his development with the new BMW S 1000 RR but like Sykes, didn´t improve on his time with 20 minutes left, finishing in eighth overall and just over half a second off Bautista.

Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) jumped up the order to fifth position, making amends for FP1. The Lincolnshire rider then continued to improve his lap times, consistently fast although he took a tumble in the middle of the session. Dutchman Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) also continued the theme of great improvement for Yamaha, although remained ninth.

Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) continued as a revelation, closing the day seventh on combined times for much of the session. Cortese has started to understand the YZF R1 much better over the course of testing and subsequently is up at the sharp end. Teammate Marco Melandri continued to struggle, in 13th for most of the session.

Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea HONDA Team) had a good session, consolidating his pace and moving up to sixth on the combined times. On the other side of the garage, Kiyonari was one of the first improvers as he continues to re-adapt to WorldSBK. The Japanese rider crashed towards the end of the session.

(Above) Toprak Razgatlioglu (54).

Completing the top ten was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), taking his Kawasaki to within 0.800s of the top time posted by Bautista.

With day one done for WorldSBK, first-blood has gone to Alvaro Bautista! Jonathan Rea will look to strike back tomorrow, whilst Leon Haslam, Tom Sykes and Alex Lowes will also be in the mix for the top positions.

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Second And Third For KRT On Day One

(Above) Jonathan Rea (1).

Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam finished the first competitive day of track action at the opening round of the FIM Superbike World Championship in Australia in second and third places respectively. After two sessions riding against the stopwatch in FP1 and FP2 Rea and Haslam now face a new-style of Saturday Superpole qualifying, and then the first race, which is scheduled for 22-laps.

Rea was close to being fastest rider of all today but could not find the last degree of performance in the final sector of the track to overhaul the fastest man, Alvaro Bautista. Rea was just 0.014 seconds from the top spot on day one, after concentrating his efforts on making a final set-up choice and evaluating his race tyre options.

Haslam’s return to the WorldSBK paddock, as reigning British Superbike Champion, has been impressive from the beginning. He did not disappoint today with third best time of all, only 0.155 seconds from the fastest.

A strong opening day overall for the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, which features a higher rev ceiling than in 2018, is an encouraging start to a 2019 campaign in which Rea will be out to defend his status as series champion.

After some modifications to the race weekend schedule in 2019 there were only two free practice sessions today, not the three of 2018. Even with only two outings the KRT squad overall used its track time well, even if Haslam lost some minutes after encountering a small issue with his gear-linkage in FP2.

Saturday the 23rd of February will see Superpole and then race one, while Sunday’s race schedule includes a ten-lap sprint race - which also determines race two grid positions - and then a final full race distance contest in the afternoon.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “A positive day. We had a lot of information from two days of testing that we put together and I am very proud of the guys because this morning we rolled out with a completely fresh package, based on all the information we had gathered. I am happy with the result. Thanks to Pere and the guys who worked on both Wednesday and Thursday after testing. I felt really good with the bike this morning and the target today was to understand the different tyres that Pirelli brought here. So in FP1 we did a long run, and put race distance on tyres on both Friday sessions. We ticked that box. Very clearly there was one package I preferred and we still have more track time tomorrow morning. I feel good here and I feel that I have good pace to fight for the podium, but we need a little bit more to race for the win.”

(Above) Leon Haslam.

Leon Haslam, stated: “It is so good to be back here on Phillip Island. I am loving it with the KRT team and Kawasaki, making really good steps every session. My crew chief Marcel said on the Monday before the official tests that we wanted to go quicker in every session and I think we achieved that goal. This session it has been barely a tenth better than this morning, but every session has been quicker. Step-by-step we are getting closer. I have used two tyres today, for two race runs, and I am feeling pretty good. The aim is obviously to challenge for podiums here. I have good memories of Phillip Island because last time I was here in 2015 I won a race. It would be nice to revisit that memory but it will not be easy. There are a lot of fast guys out there. We will work session by session now and see what we can do.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing Kawasaki) was the best placed of the independent Kawasaki runners today, in tenth place, and just 0.798 seconds from the fastest lap time. Just a couple of tenths of a second behind Toprak, new Kawasaki signing Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 11th fastest. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 16th today but still close to the leading riders, just 1.218 seconds away.

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

The Althea MIE Racing team gets to work at Phillip Island

Phillip Island (Australia), Friday 22 February 2019

(Above) Alessandro Delbianco (52).

The 2019 Superbike World Championship is officially underway, the Althea MIE Racing team and rider Alessandro Delbianco having completed the first free practice sessions of the new season at the Phillip Island track in Australia.

Delbianco, who is debuting in the Superbike category this year, worked hard with his technicians and made progress throughout the day’s sessions. Out on track with his Honda CBR1000RR SP2 this morning, the young Italian unfortunately suffered a crash in the opening stages. Although he was unhurt, the team spent a little time fixing the bike. Back on track for the final phase of the session, Alessandro’s best time, a 1’32.669, saw him close in eighteenth place. During the afternoon's second free practice, the Althea MIE Racing rider completed another sixteen laps but was unable to improve on his morning’s best time; he therefore rounded out day one in eighteenth place. Getting to grips with a new category, new bike and a new track this weekend, the step by step approach adopted by Alessandro and his team can only be the right one, the rider gradually increasing his confidence and feeling with the Honda.

The team will be back on track tomorrow for the third and final free practice, followed by the Superpole and then, at 3pm local time (CET +10), by the opening race of the 2019 season.

Alessandro Delbianco:

“It’s been a difficult day but, arriving in Superbike, this was to be expected of course. To be honest, it’s not easy without references, and I hoped to find someone who could give me a tow and help me get more of an idea as to the trajectories, but it didn’t happen. I’ve improved on the time I set during testing, yes, but I’d have liked to take another step this afternoon. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible but the laps I have completed will nevertheless help me in preparation for tomorrow’s race.”

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

Lowes Leads The Way For Yamaha on Opening Day in Phillip Island

Free practice

It was Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider Alex Lowes who ended the opening day of the 2019 Superbike World Championship season as the highest placed of the four Yamaha riders. The Briton's time of 1'30.783 during today's second free practice session securing him fifth place on the timesheet. Pata Yamaha teammate, Michael van der Mark, ended the day in ninth position, with GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Sandro Cortese, two places further up the order in seventh. Marco Melandri endured a difficult opening day in Phillip Island, narrowly missing out on the top ten to eventually finish in 13th position.

Both 50-minute practice sessions today were held in cool but dry conditions, with the wind making its presence felt around the southern part of the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit. Both Pata Yamaha riders used this morning’s first free practice to confirm the set up direction from the two day test earlier in the week, before running a race simulation to evaluate rear tyre endurance this afternoon.

Lowes and van der Mark managed to improve their lap times in the cooler conditions this afternoon, but both struggled with excessive tyre wear towards the end of their long runs. The two Pata Yamaha riders will work through the data with their respective crews this evening, to identify an alternative set up that puts less stress on the rear tyre around the particularly abrasive Phillip Island circuit.

GRT Yamaha’s Cortese was the fastest of the four Yamaha mounted riders in this morning’s opening free practice session, which he finished in fifth position with a time of 1’30.850. With a riding style that doesn’t stress the rear tyre as much as some of his rivals, Cortese opted out of doing a race simulation this afternoon. Instead the reigning World Supersport Champion tested the new tyre supplied specifically for Sunday morning’s Superpole sprint race, with mixed results.

It proved a difficult opening day for Melandri, who went the wrong way with set up as he looked to build on improvements found during the two-day test at Phillip Island earlier in the week. Despite the setback, the Italian remains confident that, together with his crew, he can find a solution ahead of tomorrow’s third and final free practice session.

The WorldSBK riders will be back on track for FP3 at 10.00 tomorrow, before heading into the new single 25-minute Superpole session at 12.15. Lights out for the first WorldSBK race of the 2019 season will be at 15.00.

(Above) Alex Lowes (22).

Alex Lowes

Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P5 – 1’30.783

"It's not been such an easy day today. The race simulation was important this afternoon, because we know that rear tyre life is always critical here at Phillip Island. Unfortunately, I had a small problem with the bike during the long run but, anyway, after just 13 laps the rear tyre dropped off significantly. It's a bit frustrating after we spent so much time working to find a set up to conserve the rear during testing here, but all we can do is sit down with the technical crew tonight and try to come up with a solution for the race tomorrow."

Michael van der Mark (60).

Michael van der Mark

Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P9 – 1’31.049

"Today was tough. It's a bit strange because we finished the two-day test on Tuesday with a good feeling with the bike, but then this morning the feeling wasn't the same, despite very similar conditions. This afternoon we did two short runs first to test two different set up options on the bike before checking rear tyre endurance with a race simulation. I felt good on the bike during the long run, I gained a lot of confidence, but there are still a couple of things we need to improve, especially if we are to get the rear tyre to work over full race distance."

(Above) Sandro Cortese (11).

Sandro Cortese

GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P7 – 1’30.850

"I'm very happy with my first official day in WorldSBK here in Phillip Island. We had a good base set up from the two-day test here earlier in the week, so we focused today on the tyres; making sure we could get them to work over the full race distance. As a result we have a clear idea of what we need to do for the first race and I really can't wait for tomorrow now. I'm looking forward to Superpole and my first WorldSBK race; everything is new for me and anything can happen, so I will try to stay calm, do my work and enjoy the day."

(Above) Marco Melandri (33).

Marco Melandri

GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P13 – 1’31.259

"It's been a very difficult day, actually. We tried to continue the improvements we made to the bike during the test but, unfortunately, we went in the wrong direction and didn't find the improvements we were expecting. Now we need to go back to the set up from the test on Tuesday and from there try to find, together with my crew, a different solution to test in the final free practice session tomorrow morning. It's only a 20-minute session, but we only need a small improvement to close the gap. Now we need to stay calm and not lose our way."

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

Rinaldi eighth in Free Practice 2, twelfth overall

Phillip Island (AUS), 22nd February 2019.The opening day of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship concluded with a positive 12th position overall for Barni Racing Team rider Michael Rinaldi. At the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, the young talent from Rimini scored a 1'31.238 in the last part of the afternoon session (Free Practice 2) which put very close to the top 10 (one tenth of a second gap), less than a second far from the leading rider Bautista (Ducati).

On dry asphalt (25° degrees), with a temperature of 18°/19°, Rinaldi made 20 laps in the morning session breaking early the wall of 1’32. He got his best lap during the first run in 1’31.855 concluding 15th in the timesheet.

Getting more and more familiar with an unknown track and improving his feeling with his Ducati Panigale V4 R, the flagbearer of the team from Bergamo made another step forward in Free Practice 2.

After 23 laps, at the very end of the session Rinaldi posted his best lap of the day (1'31.238) being eighth in FP2, twelfth overall.

Now the team and the rider have to analyze lots of data focusing on tomorrow. The curtain officially goes up on the 2019 Superbike World Championship race 1, Saturday at 3:00 pm local time.

Marco Barnabò, Team Principal

"From the beginning of tests to today, every time we was on track we managed to improve lap time. For sure this is positive. Everyone is working at his best: the team, the rider and Showa’s technicians. Having a different setup from Ducati’s factory team takes away some references, but we believe we have identified the way to give the rider a bike with a good balance. We have to take the last step ahead for the race."

(Above) Michael Rinaldi (21).

Michael Rinaldi, #21 - P12 (1’31.238)

"We made a big step forward compared to the tests. We came down to the second behind the leader, but we still try to get something more on the race distance. Tires wear out very quickly and in the last free practice session we will have to work above all on this aspect."

More, from a press release issued by Racing Ducati:

Quickest time in first free practice at Phillip Island for rookie Alvaro Bautista ( Racing - Ducati), while Chaz Davies goes no higher than 14th Racing – Ducati’s new signing Álvaro Bautista headed the timesheets after the first two free practice sessions held today at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia. After an FP1 session in which he was classified in second place, Álvaro was able to move on top of the timesheets just ten minutes into the afternoon’s second free practice. The 34-year-old from Spain, aboard his Ducati Panigale V4 R, which is also making its outright debut in World Superbike, then put in a series of fast laps to end the day in first place with an advantage of just 0.014s over Rea.

It was a difficult day on the other hand for Chaz Davies, who struggled to gain the right confidence with his Panigale V4 R. Even though he is down in fourteenth place, the classification does not reflect his true potential and the Welsh rider can count on improving in the third and final free practice session.

With the introduction of the new format, tomorrow’s schedule will see FP3 take place at 10:00 local time (00:00 CET), the Tissot Superpole at 12:15 (02:15 CET), followed by Race 1 which will be held at 15:00 (05:00 CET).

Álvaro Bautista ( Racing - Ducati #19) – 1:30.327 – 1st

“Even though the main aim was not to set the quickest time, today was really positive and I’m very satisfied. We knew we had a good pace, so everything was possible. This morning we made a change to the set-up to try and improve the feeling from the tests at the start of the week, but we didn’t find what we expected. In addition, we tried a new spec of tyre which wasn’t at the test. In the afternoon we decided to work on race distance to verify tyre wear and all in all I’m happy. I’ve got an excellent feeling with the bike and I’m enjoying myself so we’ll try and continue like this tomorrow. As it’s my first race in Superbike many aspects are new to me, it’s not going to be easy but I hope to be able to fight with Rea. We’ll see during the weekend, but for sure I’ll give my all!”

(Above) Chaz Davies (7).

Chaz Davies ( Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:31.334 – 14th

“This morning we improved my feeling with the bike from the tests on Monday and Tuesday, while in the afternoon we made another small step forward and I had a good feeling in particular with the used tyres. At the end of the session we put on a new tyre but unfortunately it didn’t make any difference. We’ll carefully study the data and try and make another step forward for Superpole and race 1. On paper my position doesn’t look too good, but the feeling is better than many other times here in the past and that’s the most important thing.”

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

A good start for Moriwaki Althea Honda’s Leon Camier, in sixth place on the opening day of the Australian round

Moriwaki Althea Honda Team rider Leon Camier wrapped up day one of the opening round of the 2019 WSBK season in sixth position overall, closing just 0.465” from the front in the combined standings.

During the morning session, the Brit set the seventh fastest time, with team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari closing in sixteenth position. The Japanese rider slightly improved on his performance at the beginning of the afternoon’s session but a crash at turn 8 put paid to the rest of the practice and he ultimately ended in 17th place overall.

The riders will be back on track tomorrow morning at 10.00 am local time for FP3 which will be followed by Superpole at 12.15 pm and Race 1 at 3.00pm.

(Above) Leon Camier (2).

Leon Camier

6TH 1'30.792

“We are satisfied with how things have gone so far. We’ve worked on a few little details, mainly to do with the electronics and chassis, and have been able to improve consistently throughout the day. There is still a lot we can improve on of course, we need to see how we’re fixed in terms of race distance for instance. We’ve covered race distance on the tyre and towards the end it was feeling difficult, but we’ve been working on this, also modifying the electronics and chassis setup, and I think this will make a difference. We’re not there yet of course, but so far the changes we’ve made are taking us in a good direction.”

(Above) Ryuichi Kiyonari (right).

Ryuichi Kiyonari

17TH 1'31.790

“We started the day improving the feeling with the bike step by step. We were a bit further back at the end of FP1 but the direction was nevertheless promising. At the beginning of the second session, I was able to improve on my lap time in the early stages but unfortunately, I later lost the front at turn eight and crashed. I’m sorry for the team and for not having chance to set a better lap time, but I look forward to tomorrow when I hope to improve.”

More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team:

Strong opening day for BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team with Sykes P4, and Reiterberger P8 in Australia.


Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit

The opening day of action at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit was a positive and promising one for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, with weather and track temperatures close to perfect. A hot start to proceedings saw tight lap times in FP1 where Sykes finished in P4 with a (1’30.664) and Reiterberger respectively in P6 with a (1'30.862), reining WSBK champion Rea topped the morning session with a 1’30.341.

In the afternoon’s FP2 session the track temperature increased to 42c, and the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team riders used their time to make adjustments, especially in the areas of rear suspension and tyre life. Tom Sykes despite showing good pace in FP1 couldn’t match his lap time in FP2 and ended the session in P10 (1’31.335). Markus Reiterberger similarly set failed to improve from the morning session and placed the S 1000 RR in P15 (1'31.594).

With the sessions combined at the end of the day this meant that Tom Sykes finished in P4 and Markus Reiterberger in P8, impressively putting both riders into the top 8 for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team.

Shaun Muir – Team Principal

"Today we’ve ran some good race simulations, it’s given us an idea on what we can do with the race tyre, and what we need to do to maintain it which I think will be vital for our overall race position. Tom has good confidence in his rear tyre which is good, Markus hasn’t quite got the same feeling yet so we need to see where he is at in the morning.

Qualifying is going to be a bit of a lottery as Tom nor Markus have had a Q tyre in the bike yet, but for sure on the race tyre I think we can have both riders in the top 10 come the race."

(Above) Tom Sykes (66).

Tom Sykes (GBR)

"I’m relatively happy with today, all the time we have been building and ultimately we’ve gained a lot of information from today’s Free Practice. We need to look at a few areas where we can improve. Unfortunately, I think now everyone has seen how much we are giving away down the straights which as a rider at this level is hard to take back in the corners, but I really feel we are doing as much as we can with chassis, so in time the rest will come naturally.

We have to be realistic and I’m keeping my eye on the targets we set before we came to Philip Island, that being said we’ve had a very good Phillip island so far considering this isn’t one of my strongest circuits, so we will try to keep working in the right direction and see where we end up during the race."

(Above) Markus Reiterberger (28).

Markus Reiterberger (GER)

"Today’s first session was positive, I felt really comfortable on the bike and we were able to set some good times. Towards the end of the day we struggled with rear grip so I was not able to set the same times as the morning.

Throughout the day we tried lots of different things including lean angles and different lines to try help the bike, tomorrow I hope to make another step forward with the bike settings.

Tomorrow we will be working on the tyre life and how to maintain the tyre during the race, this is something we need to work on going forward as the tyre life will be important during the race. "

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