WorldSBK: Rinaldi P1, Gerloff P3 In Troubled FP2 At Imola (Updated)

WorldSBK: Rinaldi P1, Gerloff P3 In Troubled FP2 At Imola (Updated)

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Michael Rinaldi was the fastest rider during World Superbike Free Practice Two (FP2) Friday afternoon at Imola, in Italy. Coming into the weekend, it was uncertain if Rinaldi would be able to ride following the injuries he suffered last round at Donington Park, but the Italian came through and did a 1:47.128 on his Aruba.it Racing Ducati Panigale V4 R to top FP2.

Alex Lowes was second-best with a 1:47.279 on his factory Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.

American Garrett Gerloff bounced back from a strange crash on the out lap that also took out his Bonovo Action BMW teammate Loris Baz to post the third-quickest lap time, a 1:47.454. It’s Gerloff’s first day ever riding at Imola.

The session was red flagged three times, including once for a crash by Jonathan Rea in the final chicane they put gravel onto the racing surface.

 

WSBK FP2

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Rinaldi shines in Imola; Bautista and Rea outside of Friday’s top six

 

Michael Rinaldi (21). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Michael Rinaldi (21). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Day one of the Prometeon Italian Round was a busy affair as riders reacquainted themselves with the iconic Autodromo Enzo e Dini Ferrari di Imola. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team) emerged as the fastest rider, topping the combined practice timesheets. Despite carrying an ankle injury, Rinaldi claimed the top spot with an solid final flying lap.

The Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK Team experienced some drama as Jonathan Rea suffered a crash at the final corner but managed to continue and complete 15 laps. However, it was his teammate, Alex Lowes, who stole the spotlight with a late charge, securing the second position.

Garrett Gerloff and Loris Baz of the Bonovo Action BMW team had an early incident but were able to return to the track, with Gerloff taking third in the combined standings.

Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK Team) also showcased strong performances at home finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Championship leader Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team) only finished in eighth place overall as he focussed on finding his feet on a track he hasn’t raced on since 2019.

Read the full report from Friday on worldsbk.com

 

Rinaldi impresses with a solid performance at Imola, setting the fastest lap time of 1:47.128. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Rinaldi impresses with a solid performance at Imola, setting the fastest lap time of 1:47.128. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

P1 | Michael Ruben Rinaldi | Aruba.it Racing – Ducati

“This morning, I felt strange with the bike. After the crash at Donington Park, I spent almost one week in bed. I trained a bit but only in the pool, to try and not lose too much energy. But this morning, on the bike, the effort I had to make was pretty demanding. I was able to ride pretty quick, even if the feeling wasn’t good.

We worked to improve the bike for this afternoon and actually, it worked. I was able to lap quickly but every time there was a red flag, so it looked like I was just eighth, eighth and eighth! However, my potential was much more and at the end, we kept pushing with the used tyre; I didn’t put a new tyre. I was quite impressed with the time I was able to do. I had ten laps on the tyre and I did the best lap at the end. The feeling is getting better and better and I am quite happy about my riding on the bike.

Talking about how he physically feels after the first day, Rinaldi didn’t shy away from being tired and kept his hopes for Saturday coy: “I feel quite tired as I didn’t train in a proper way because of the crash at Donington, but FP2 was much better. So, I think that tomorrow I’ll have to take pills for the pain in my ankle because today, I took nothing, just to understand where I was with the pain. At the moment, I feel pretty bad with the ankle and it’s a foot I use a lot because I use the rear brake. I need to be without pain. I can do it for many laps without the pain but after one day, I don’t feel that good. I don’t want to make plans, I just want to try and find the happiness with my bike again.”

 

Alex Lowes (22) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (54). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Alex Lowes (22) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (54). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Lowes impresses with a strong showing in FP2, finishing in second place overall and trailing Rinaldi by only 0.151 seconds.

 

Garrett Gerloff (31). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Garrett Gerloff (31). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Garrett Gerloff bounced back from a crash to secure the third position on the combined timesheets.

 

Jonathan Rea (65), post-crash. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Jonathan Rea (65), post-crash. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Jonathan Rea shows resilience despite a crash in FP2, finishing in seventh place on the combined timesheets.

 

Alvaro Bautista (1). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Alvaro Bautista (1). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Bautista faces a challenging day at Imola, finishing in eighth place, trailing his teammate Rinaldi by half a second.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by GYTR GRT Yamaha:

GARDNER AND AEGERTER GET THEIR FIRST TASTE OF IMOLA

Remy Gardner and Dominique Aegerter completed a tricky opening day in Imola as they got their first taste of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, finishing 14th and 19th on combined times on their debut day.

In the opening morning session, both GYTR GRT Yamaha riders were looking to build confidence on the Italian circuit, as they attempted to learn its classic yet challenging layout. Gardner finished 16th with a 1’49.488, while his Swiss teammate was just behind in 17th (1’49.584).

Later, in a hotter Free Practice 2 session, which was red flagged twice, the #87 and the #77 kept putting in the laps to increase their feeling with their Yamaha R1 machines at the track, managing to make progress compared with the morning. Indeed, Gardner significantly improved, shaving 0.794 off his time, eventually crossing the line in 14th (1’48.694). It was a similar story for Aegerter, who went 0.599 faster than his FP1 time to finish 19th (1’48.985).

 

Remy Gardner (87). Photo courtesy Yamaha.
Remy Gardner (87). Photo courtesy Yamaha.

 

Remy Gardner

P14 (1’48.694)

“It was a difficult day but in the end I think I’ve learned the track quite well. I arrived in Imola feeling a little sick, but day by day I’m getting better and I’m confident about being in good shape tomorrow. In the Free Practice 2 I had more confidence with the track and we managed to be faster, but we know there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re confident about making progress tomorrow, we still have margin to improve.”

 

Dominique Aegerter (77). Photo courtesy Yamaha.
Dominique Aegerter (77). Photo courtesy Yamaha.

 

Dominique Aegerter

P19 (1’48.985)

“Today was my first ever time in Imola on two wheels. I went there with a car almost a month ago, but with the bike it’s a different story. I had to find the settings and manage the gearing. It was very hot today as well, and riding in those conditions is always tricky, plus the red flags didn’t help us with getting the rhythm and consistent laps around the track. We will work hard tonight to find more solutions, we’re aiming for a good qualifying and first race.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team HRC:

Team HRC seeks a turnaround after a tough Friday at Imola

A challenging Friday for Team HRC at the Imola circuit in Italy, as it prepares for the races making up round seven of the 2023 Superbike World Championship. A track that is technical and new to both riders coupled with extreme weather conditions only made things harder, but the team is ready to put in the work this evening in order to maximise the setup of the bike.

Lecuona and Vierge set to work during the first free practice session, which got started at 10.30am local time. With neither rider having visited the Imola circuit until now, the Team HRC duo focused on building confidence around what is a rather challenging track. Both were able to make progress already during the first practice, with Vierge setting a best of a 1’49.266 and Lecuona a 1’49.286. With these references, the factory riders placed fourteenth and fifteenth at the session’s end.

Heading into the afternoon’s session, both Lecuona and Vierge were keen to improve on their FP1 performance. In hotter conditions (air temp. 32°C, track temp 52°C), the factory riders worked hard with their respective technicians to adapt the set-up of their CBR1000RR-R machines to the Italian track. The session was interrupted with a red flag on three occasions following crashes for other riders, but this did not prevent Team HRC from making the most of the track time and shaving precious tenths of their earlier references. Vierge’s fastest time was a 1.48’749 with which he positioned fifteenth overall, while team-mate Lecuona placed seventeenth with a best of 1’48.907.

With the weather expected to remain hot but stable over the rest of the weekend, and with some setup adjustments in the pipeline, Team HRC plans to try and reduce the gap to the front prior to tomorrow’s Superpole qualifying phase and the first of the weekend’s three races.

 

Xavi Vierge (97). Photo courtesy Team HRC.
Xavi Vierge (97). Photo courtesy Team HRC.

 

Xavi Vierge  97

P15 

“So the first day here in Imola is done and dusted. It’s a new track for us and I like it a lot – the layout is great but very difficult because many of the corners are so narrow. But it’s a nice one to ride even if we’re unfortunately not as fast as we want to be. We are working incredibly hard to fix the difficulties we are having, which are very similar to those we had at Donington and prevent us from fully exploiting the bike’s potential. Right now, we are struggling with the rear and have no grip or contact when exiting the turns, which means that we can only try and make up something on the brakes and that’s not enough of course. We tried to make some adjustments to the setup between FP1 and FP2 with no substantial improvement so the plan is to make some bigger changes for tomorrow.”

 

Iker Lecuona (7). Photo courtesy Team HRC.
Iker Lecuona (7). Photo courtesy Team HRC.

 

Iker Lecuona  7

P17 

“As for the track, I would like to say it’s enjoyable because I can see that it might be, but it’s not enjoyable for me as yet because I’m still struggling to get to grips with it. As for our performance, I can say the feeling I have right now is the worst I’ve had with the bike so far. In FP2 I felt very frustrated with myself, the bike and the situation because we find ourselves fighting for positions that don’t reflect our potential. I tried to do my best anyway, and I want to say thanks to the team because they are pushing a lot and continue to believe in me, but it’s not easy to accept being so far back fighting for fifteenth position. We need to take a moment and then get right to back to work, checking all the data and seeing if we can find something that can help us to reverse the situation tomorrow.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Lowes Overall Second After Day One

Kawasaki Racing Team riders Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea took part in their first day of practice at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola in hot conditions. Lowes was finally second in the combined time sheets and Rea seventh.

Both opening Imola track sessions were held in punishing humidity as WorldSBK returned to race after four years away. The established order was reshuffled after an FP2 session that featured no fewer than three red flags, interrupting the planned practice schedule for many teams and riders.

Lowes had used hard tyres in the first session to re-learn the track, in what is his first Kawasaki visit to the classic Italian circuit. Lowes’s FP2 plans to do a 15-lap ‘long run’ were interrupted by the frequent appearance of the red flags but he was still fast and focused and found real improvements in his pace to go second quickest.

Lowes was in sparkling form in the afternoon session, leading for a time until eventual fastest rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi went 0.151 seconds quicker. Despite all the red flags the top five places went faster in FP2 than FP1, but several other competitors had to rely on their morning time to find their final overnight qualifying position.

Rea had been within 0.003 seconds of first place in the opening FP1 session, but found some bad luck in FP2. He experienced a slow crash into the final chicane with 30 minutes left to run, and with his bike too close to the active surface, a red flag was show to stop the session.

The 4.936km Imola track surface proved to be less grippy than the last time WorldSBK had raced there, especially in the intensely hot conditions, which were a major factor holding back the opening day lap times. Track temperatures rose to over 50°C in the afternoon.

Saturday 15 July will feature an FP3 practice session, Tissot Superpole qualifying for grid positions and then a full-distance 19-lap WorldSBK race.

 

Alex Lowes (22). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.
Alex Lowes (22). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.

 

Alex Lowes, stated: “This morning in FP1 I was on the hard tyres on the front and it was sliding a lot. It’s a few years since I have been here and this is my first time here on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR. The bike set-up didn’t feel too bad, to be honest, even in FP1. In FP2 I felt quite good straight away. My plan was to do 15 laps in succession and then a shorter run near the end. With the red flags I did not get to put consistent laps in, but even with the 15 laps I did on the same tyre I was still able to do a good time. I think it is going to be a hot race – and a long race – on Saturday, but I feel like I was pretty competitive today.”

 

Jonathan Rea (65). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.
Jonathan Rea (65). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.

 

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I love this track it has a nice feeling. You can forget after so long since we have been here that to go fast at Imola you have to be 100% committed. So it just takes some time to get your confidence and then when you are fast and committed, the lap time starts coming. In the afternoon session there were a lot of red flags. My rhythm was really good in the beginning of the session, when everyone used the race option tyres. Then at the end, as the soft option tyres were going in, I didn’t feel so good. I crashed when I changed front tyre and I didn’t feel good with that option, and also the electronics were not so good in the final chicane. I lost a bit of confidence but at the end we put in an SCX rear tyre and was able to improve a little bit. We started this weekend with the bike set-up from 2019, in terms of chassis balance, but of course the bike has evolved. On Saturday we are going to go to more of a 2023 set-up. We will try again to fine tune the electronics and make a step, especially in the engine braking side, as stopping for the chicanes is very important here. I just want to give myself that little bit more confidence for Saturday.”

Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing Kawasaki) was 22nd after a hot first day at Imola. Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 24th and Oliver König (Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki) 25th.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team:

WorldSBK – A WorldSBK learning curve for Granado and Tamburini at Imola

The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team is in action at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola for this weekend’s seventh Superbike World Championship round. Rider Eric Granado is getting to grips with what is another new circuit for him, while Roberto Tamburini, who stands in for injured Hafizh Syahrin, is riding the Honda CBR1000RR-R for the first time.

In the morning’s first free practice, Granado worked to gain confidence around the new track, the rider able to make gradual progress throughout this first 45-minute phase. Setting a best of 1’51.505, the Brazilian placed twenty-fourth at the session’s end. Local rider Tamburini has the benefit of knowing the Imola track very well but does not know the CBR1000RR-R, which meant that he spent the first session working with the technicians to adapt the bike to his riding style and the track. By the end of the phase, the Italian was lying twenty-second with a time of 1’51.120.

FP2 got underway mid-afternoon and on a much hotter track (air temp. 32°C, track temp. 52°C). Despite three interruptions to the sessions due to incidents for other riders, the PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda duo worked systematically to improve their feeling with the bike. Tamburini was able to make a good step forward with respect to the first session, lowering his time by almost a second a half to close with a best of 1’49.777, a result that saw him place twenty-first overall at the end of day one. Granado was also able to improve on his earlier time by almost a second, a best reference of 1’50.622 putting him twenty-third in the day’s combined standings.

 

Roberto Tamburini (20). Photo courtesy PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team.
Roberto Tamburini (20). Photo courtesy PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team.

 

Roberto Tamburini P21

“It’s not easy coming here to WorldSBK with a new bike but at least I know the track of course. This morning we were making quite big changes, modifying the setup to suit my riding style and so on, and then we made some further improvements this afternoon. We made a good step between FP1 and FP2 and have been able to improve both the bike and my feeling with it, so I’m quite pleased with how this first day has gone. Tomorrow we’ll try to work in the same direction and take another step with the aim of doing as well as possible. A big thanks to everyone on the team as they’re all very supportive and working really hard to help me.”

 

Eric Granado (51). Photo courtesy PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team.
Eric Granado (51). Photo courtesy PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team.

 

Eric Granado P23

“It’s a beautiful track but also a very technical one where it’s hard to find the right lines, so I struggled a little at first to understand the layout. At least we had two dry sessions that allowed us to make the most of the track time, but it’s also very hot and so pretty hard physically. I’ll need to rest up in preparation for the next two days. We’re still trying to find some solutions that can help us to take another step – so we hope to be able to do that in tomorrow’s sessions so that we’re better prepared for the races.”

 

 

 

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

Super Friday for Rinaldi who grabs P1 at Imola. Bautista eighth quickest. Bulega fourth in WorldSSP

Friday’s free practices for the Italian Round – the seventh round of the 2023 WorldSBK season held at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola – concluded with an impressive lap by Michael Rinaldi, which granted the Italian rider the first position. It was an intense day for Rinaldi, who was declared fit to race after FP1. As he showed consistency in the morning and afternoon sessions, Michael set the fastest lap at the end of the FP2, which saw several red flags.

After finishing fourth in FP1, Bautista approached FP2 as usual without changing tires to preserve as many as possible for tomorrow’s qualifying and Race 1. The Spanish rider ended up with the eighth fastest time, half a second behind his teammate.

 

Michael Rinaldi (21). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Michael Rinaldi (21). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Michael Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #21):

“It was a special day, different from others, not only because we haven’t raced at Imola for a few years but also because the days following the Donington incident have been challenging. Besides the high temperature and ankle pain that put me to the test during FP1, we were still fast and improved in FP2. I still need to work on the final sector where there is room for improvement, but overall, it has been positive.”

 

Alvaro Bautista (1). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Alvaro Bautista (1). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #1):

“I used this Friday to get familiar with a track where I have raced only once in 2019. The feeling with the bike wasn’t at the highest level as it has been on many occasions this season, but it’s normal, especially considering the extremely high temperature. We weren’t chasing lap times, and in fact, we didn’t change tires during the sessions. There are still several details to work on, but I’m confident we’ll improve the feeling tomorrow.”

WorldSSP

Nicolò Bulega and the Aruba.it Racing WSSP team’s Ducati Panigale V2 set the fourth fastest time at the end of Friday’s free practice sessions.

Nicolò Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WSSP):

“Today, we faced some difficulties compared to usual. However, with the team, we have already identified the direction to take and what to work on. Tomorrow, we’ll try to do much better.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Go-Eleven:

FIRST TIME AT IMOLA, PHILIPP OETTL ENDS IN P 13!

 

Philipp Oettl (5). Photo courtesy Team Go-Eleven.
Philipp Oettl (5). Photo courtesy Team Go-Eleven.

 

One word to describe Imola? Hard, really hard. The first laps on the Santerno track left Philipp speechless; really spectacular and complicated to understand the blind corners. As the German rider himself admitted, here the “timing” with which to set the lines is fundamental. After a complicated first session, Oettl was able to improve on his references, finishing close to the top ten. Today he was used to know the track, from tomorrow it will be essential to look for the laptime.

In the first free practice Philipp made a long run at the beginning of the session to get familiar with the track. Following some riders he managed to improve, however showing some difficulties in the second sector and in the last chicane. Few changes required, the Imola track has very little grip and the heat made it even more slippery. Position out of the fifteen, for a really arduous session, in which the German rider took more than a few laps to understand the layout.

Free Practice 1: 

P 1   T. Razgatlioglu   1.47.661

P 2   J. Rea   + 0.003

P 3   A. Bautista    + 0.030

P 19   P. Oettl   + 2.011

The second session was decidedly better; track over fifty degrees of asphalt, Oettl immediately improved going down to the low 49. Today the track was much slower than in 2019, due to the high temperatures. Three red flags interrupted the session, so it was not possible to show a real race pace over the long distance. In the final Philipp was able to improve further, staying close to the top ten, but the gap from tenth place is quite high, around seven tenths. Tomorrow, after an entire day, things will definitely be much simpler for all the rookies at Imola and we will see the real values on the track.

Free Practice 2:  

P 1    M. Rinaldi    1.47.128

P 2    A. Lowes   + 0.151

P 3    G. Gerloff     + 0.326

P 13   P. Oettl   + 1.558

Philipp Oettl (Rider):“I am not unhappy about today; from FP 1 to FP 2 we had a big step and we found the right way for tomorrow. I will check all the data, cause I think I have a bit to improve in the riding here. Imola is really difficult, the first laps I really had to understand where were the corners. I think here I have to ride smooth, but there are really hard breakings, the timing here needs to be perfect to find the best lap!”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

Hot Imola Pace in Free Practice for Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK’s Locatelli and Razgatlıoğlu

Andrea Locatelli and Toprak Razgatlıoğlu finished Friday Free Practice in fifth and sixth position respectively on the combined timesheets of the opening day of Round 7 of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship at Imola today.

In sweltering summer conditions, track temperatures at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari reached well over 52 degrees Celsius during the all-important Free Practice 2 this afternoon. The session which normally allows teams to complete a “race simulation” in similar conditions to those expected during the weekend was plagued with red flag-stoppages, as many riders struggled with a lack of grip due to the extreme temperature. The Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK group kept out of trouble to complete a productive day despite the challenges, and preparations are well underway for qualifying and the points-paying races.

 

Andrea Locatelli (55). Photo courtesy Yamaha.
Andrea Locatelli (55). Photo courtesy Yamaha.

 

Andrea Locatelli: P5 – 1’47.592

“It’s a good track for me, I have good memories and the feeling today was great. We started in a really good way from FP1, we found a good base set-up and just tried to ride a lot and do some fine tuning around my R1 – because the feeling is really good. I think we can be fast on this track – we just need to work on generating rear grip, especially for this temperature. If we can find a little bit more grip, something to help me be more relaxed on the bike, I think we can be really competitive. I’m feeling strong and now it’s important to continue like this. We know the rider that finished at the front was on the Q tyre, and we didn’t use it. So to finish the first day like this is a good Friday for us! Every weekend the objective is to try for the podium, but also to stay in the top five and take points for championship.”

 

Toprak Razgatlioglu. Photo courtesy Yamaha.
Toprak Razgatlioglu. Photo courtesy Yamaha.

 

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: P6 – 1’47.661

“For me, it was not a bad day just I am feeling less grip with the rear tyre. I hope we are improving for tomorrow, but in general we did a good job – it looks like just Bautista and I tried a race simulation today with many laps. I did 14, 15 laps – even with the red flags and good lap times. Just two or three of my laps cancelled! Also my best lap was cancelled because I think I touched the green on Turn 22. But, I am happy – we just need to improve the rear grip and we will see what is possible. I am just thinking about the race now, 19 laps and you need good pace! It looks like we are strong, but for me it is not quite enough – with more rear grip we can ride more relaxed and ready to fight.”

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