LAST-LAP PASS: Lowes secures red-flagged Race 2 victory with ASTONISHING Turn 9 pass on Bautista, Rea crashes out

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) doubled up on MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship victories on Sunday as he won a red-flagged Race 2 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The race-winning move came on the final lap at Turn 9 when the #22 stormed around the outside of Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) at Lukey Heights as he started the 2024 season in stunning fashion during the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round.

EARLY RED FLAG: Rea crashes at Turn 11

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) got the holeshot as he went in search of a first race win. He maintained his lead despite a challenge from Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), although the latter made his way into first at the start of Lap 4. On Lap 3, Razgatlioglu’s charge came to an end. A technical issue on his M 1000 RR at Turn 9 forced the 2021 Champion to retire and caused chaos behind, with Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) surging up to fourth. However, Rea crashed at the end of Lap 3 at Turn 11 with the race red flagged on Lap 4. Rea was seen being taken away on the stretcher, but he was conscious and taken to the medical centre for a check-up. The race was restarted over an 11-lap race which took out the mandatory pit stop.

ON A MISSION: Rinaldi flies from lights out

The grid for the restarted race was based on the last completed timing point for each rider, with Bautista lining from the front row alongside Locatelli and Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven), who surged up the order in the first three laps including an incredible double move on Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) and Rea. Bautista maintained the lead, but the big mover was Rinaldi who went from P6 to second and challenging Bautista for the lead as they pulled away from the chasing back.

Rinaldi stayed within half-a-second of his former teammate, although, despite looking like he was attempting a move into Turn 1 on several occasions, he didn’t make a move on the #1. Behind, Lowes was closing in on Rinaldi with the #22 passing the Italian for second at Turn 1 at the start of Lap 8. The trio had pulled away from Iannone, who ran wide on a couple of occasions, while Locatelli was fighting back after dropping down the order when the race started.

LIKE LONDON BUSES: you wait four years for a win…

On Lap 9, Locatelli passed Rinaldi on the exit of Turn 10 as his fight back continued although it came to an end on the final lap at Turn 4 when Locatelli crashed while trying to pass Alex Lowes and retired from the race after what had been an incredible performance all weekend. It allowed Bautista and the #22 to fight for victory, and the Brit secured his second win of the day in an almost unbelievable move. He went around the outside of Bautista at Lukey Heights on the final lap. Bautista tried to re-pass the Kawasaki rider, but he was unable with the duo separated by just 0.048s. Locatelli’s crash promoted Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) into P4, after he battled Iannone on the final lap with less than a tenth separating the two Italians. It completes a superb weekend for Barni Ducati, following Yari Montella’s double in WorldSSP.

It was Lowes’ fourth win in WorldSBK, with three of them coming at the legendary Australian circuit. It was also the Brit’s 36th podium, while he claimed Kawasaki’s 180th victory. It means Lowes leads the Championship for the first time since Australian 2020. Bautista’s second place was his 90th in WorldSBK, while Petrucci’s third place was his fourth rostrum.

FIGHTING BACK: Bulega, Aegerter climb through the field

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) recovered from a poor start in the original race to take fifth, finishing ahead of Rinaldi. The #21’s challenge lasted around half the race before he dropped down the order but was still able to claim a top six. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) climbed through the order to take eighth, while Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was ninth. The Swiss rider, in all three races, dropped down the order in the opening stages but was able to fight back for another top ten finish, with Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) completing the top ten.

ENDING WITH POINTS: a strong finish to Australia for Bassani

Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) enjoyed a strong end to his first round with Kawasaki, showing strong pace throughout Sunday that culminated in 11th place and just over five seconds away from teammate Lowes. In the fight for ninth, Aegerter, van der Mark and Bassani were separated by just 0.031s. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) had to start the restarted race from last, after he made contact with Rea’s bike following the Ulsterman’s crash which dropped him to last. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) was 13th ahead of Philipp Oettl (GMT94 Yamaha) and Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team); the Brit scoring a point on his first visit to Phillip Island.

HOUSEKEEPING: narrowly missing out

Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 16th and missed out on points by more than five seconds, and he was four seconds clear of Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) in 17th. PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team duo Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin were the last classified riders in 18th and 29th.

The top six from WorldSBK Race 2, full results here:

1. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)

2. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 0.048s

3. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) +1.178s

4. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) +1.275s

5. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +2.346s

6. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) +2.913s

Championship standings

1. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 50 points
2. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 41
3. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) 29
4. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) 29
5. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 27
6. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 24

Barcelona calling! Round 2 comes from Catalunya, make sure you watch all the action using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

 

Source: WorldSBK.com

Rea declared unfit after Race 2 crash, provides injury update

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) crashed out of Race 2 for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship after surging up the order, which brought out the red flags. The six-time Champion was taken to the medical centre at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and declared unfit with multiple contusions and abrasions, but he swiftly returned to his box following his check and provided an update on how he’s feeling, as well what he believes caused the crash.

Rea had endured a difficult weekend on his Yamaha debut, finishing Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race outside the points, after qualifying only 11th in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session. In Race 2, after starting from 11th, the #65 moved up the order and took advantage of Toprak Razgatlioglu’s (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) engine problem to run as high as fourth at one point. However, on Lap 3 at Turn 11, Rea came off his Yamaha R1, bringing out the red flags. He was seen being stretchered away and taken to the medical centre, where he was declared unfit with multiple contusions and abrasions.

Speaking to Yamaha after the race, Rea said: “First and foremost, physically I’m okay apart from I hit my hip quite hard in the crash but no further injuries from Tuesday. I had two big crashes this week, but I’m in one piece. Really frustrated because the crash came as a big surprise. It was as I was building my confidence on the bike and feeling quite good. I took some profit when Toprak’s engine had troubles and I found myself in a good place in the race. As soon as I started to feel confident, I crashed. I just have to rebuild from zero, look into the crash, and try to improve the feeling for me. You can see from how competitive ‘Loka’ is that we can get there. I want to go home now, regroup, and reset and come back stronger in Barcelona.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Razgatlioglu’s “50/50” BMW debut: podium pace and a plume of smoke on Sunday

It was a return to the podium for BMW and 2021 World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), as he stormed to P3 in the Tissot Superpole Race at Phillip Island. However, Race 2 didn’t bring the same triumph as he suffered an engine issue on Lap 3, with his BMW M 1000 RR coming to rest in a huge cloud of smoke.

The Superpole Race was a fierce battle and with just ten laps and no mandatory pit-stop, it was going to be a corker from lights out until the end. Fighting hard in the podium positions, ‘El Turco’ came up against Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), his main title rival over the last two seasons, on the final lap but had track position. Unlike in the Sunday races at Portimao last season when the Turkish star led out of the final corner only to be pipped on the run to the line by the power of the Ducati, he held on with the BMW M 1000 RR holding its own against a 6kg-heavier Ducati, with the irony not lost for either. Race 2 didn’t replicate the success though as Razgatlioglu suffered a massive engine failure with a plume of smoke billowing from his machine on Lap 3 at Turn 9. He was OK and able to park his bike safely but it was a costly result.

“It’s not easy to say; I’m really sad because I didn’t expect the engine problem,” said Razgatlioglu, with BMW having experienced numerous technical issues across the last two seasons. “In Race 2, I said, ‘this is the first time that I’m riding the bike’ because I’m always trying to save the rear tyre. I started and passed Lowes and started going forwards but then the engine problem came. This is racing and for the first weekend of the season, in general, I’m not really happy, 50/50. I had the podium but in Race 2, I was ready to fight for the win. I was just watching it instead but in Barcelona, we need to comeback stronger.”

In his first-ever test for BMW back in December at Portimao, the 27-year-old managed three laps on the bike on his first run before a similar engine issue occurred, with a big cloud of smoking likewise being seen. However, despite this, a return to the podium ends BMW’s 533-day wait for a top three placing in WorldSBK. Two top five finishes and a DNF leave him eighth in the standings on 18 points.

Continuing to talk about his first weekend of racing in comparison to extensive testing, Razgatlioglu said: “Testing and race weekends are totally different and the grip changes. In the races, we learnt a lot as we got race data and it’s good for work. Phillip Island is different to the ones in Europe. It’s not possible to say if we’re learning 100% but we’ll see in Barcelona but it’s a hard track like here. We’ll start at Assen and other circuits but we’re not bad. Every race weekend, we’re coming step-by-step. I am focussed on the second round, working a lot and I am sure the team are too. I am focussed on race pace and rear tyres get worn like here. We need a good setup for the long-distance race but it’s not possible to say before we ride. We’ll see in Catalunya.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

“Unbelievable day!” – Lowes joyous after Sunday double at Phillip Island

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had waited a long time for victory in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Almost four years on from his last win, the #22 returned to the top step at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit as he took a stunning win in the Tissot Superpole Race and also in Race 2 after an audacious last lap pass during the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round, and his emotions were visible for all to see as he celebrated his first and second victories of the season.

Lowes had been quick throughout testing, at Jerez, Portimao and Phillip Island, and converted that to third on the grid. He narrowly missed out on a rostrum in Race 1 but battled brilliantly against Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) in the 10-lap Superpole Race to earn victory, his first win in three years, 11 months and 24 days, and Kawasaki’s first dry win since the 2022 Superpole Race at Assen. He celebrated on his in-lap with twin brother Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) as well as in parc ferme, with Sam taking a top-ten finish.

Immediately after the race in parc ferme, Alex said: “Honestly, it’s been a long time since that last win, and I’ve been working. I was dead emotional; I was crying on the in lap. The guys have done a fantastic job all weekend. I’m really, really, really happy.”

Race 2 was a thrilling affair with Alex Lowes able to win again, despite trailing heading into the last lap. It had been a three-way fight between Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), himself and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) on the final lap of a red-flagged and shortened race, but Locatelli dropped out of contention at Turn 4. The #55 was attempting to make a move on Lowes but ran wide and then had a highside crash which took him out of the race. Lowes was second behind Bautista, but an almost unbelievable move around the outside of Turn 9 gave the Brit the lead which he held onto by just 0.048s.

Reacting to his Sunday double, and that incredible last lap, Alex explained: “It was an unbelievable day! The second race was chaos from the start. It was a little bit delayed, and in the first part of the race Toprak’s bike blew up. I was nearly off track, I did well to stay on. Then, Jonathan had a big crash, so I hope he’s okay. I was dropping back a little bit, but just before the red flag, I had a couple of good sectors to get back on my brother. I had some good speed, and the temperature was down a little bit. My focus in the restart was to make a good start, put myself in the first three or four positions. I knew Toprak wasn’t there, and when he is, you have to ride a little bit more defensively because he’s always going to have a pass. Once I got settled into the race, I was struggling to stay with Bautista a little bit and Michael.

“Locatelli passed me at Turn 4. He was going to hit the back of Bautista, so he went wide and then I managed to stay on the line, stay close to Alvaro because, in my head, I was thinking he was struggling to enter the corner because the grip was going. I knew I could be really fast through Turn 8 and into Turn 9. This was my chance to pass him and try to stop the bike into Turn 10 and 11. I had a little plan, and it went quite well. In the end, I had a lot more grip than Alvaro which allowed me to make this pass.”

Can Lowes continue his imperious form into Barcelona? Find out using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

2024 WorldSBK Championship Standings – Round 1: Phillip Island, Australia

Extraordinary. Majestic. Hectic. Frantic. The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s new era lived up to expectation after a mesmerising season-opening Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round at Phillip Island. In a chaotic weekend, it was a sweet debut for Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) on Saturday with pole and a stunning win, whilst on Sunday, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made it a double with Superpole Race glory and an exceptional final lap attack in Race 2. Elsewhere, Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) was second in the first two races but crashed out of victory contention in a last lap thriller in Race 2. That promoted Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) on the podium, just behind Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). The other podium finishers throughout the round were rookie Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) in Race 1 and Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in the Superpole Race, taking his first rostrum with BMW.

Top 10 in WorldSBK Championship standings, full standings here:

1 Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 50

2. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 41

3. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) 29

4. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) 29

5. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 27

6. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 24

7. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 20

8. Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 18

9. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 15

10. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) 15

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Source: WorldSBK.com

DOUBLE DOWN UNDER: Montella fends off Schroetter for WorldSSP Race 2 victory

Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) made it two from two at the iconic Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit as he resisted Marcel Schroetter’s (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) late-race challenge for his second win in two days. Taking a maximum 50-point haul from the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round, the #55 heads back to Europe full of confidence after his Australian masterclass in the FIM Supersport World Championship.

TWO FROM TWO: Montella unbeatable, Manzi crashes twice

Due to track conditions and oil needing to be cleared from a substantial portion of the track after an oil spill in a domestic championship race, there was a lengthy delay. As a consequence, the race was reduced to nine laps, and, because of this, the mandatory pit stop was removed. When the lights did go out, Race 1 winner Montella immediately pulled out a gap of around eight tenths over his rivals before expanding that to more than a second on Lap 2.

While Montella managed the lead out in front, Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) battled for second third but, as the race hit the halfway mark, the gap started to reduce. A series of fast laps from Schroetter allowed him to bring Manzi and Adrian Huertas (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team), who had surged from tenth on the grid to the podium fight. On Lap 6, Manzi had a lowside crash at Turn 4 and dropped out of contention, re-joining the race in 15th place. However, he took a second crash when he tried to climb through the field, on Lap 7 at Turn 10 before he brought his bike into the pits.

This promoted Huertas to third while Schroetter set his sights on Montella out in front, with the gap around half-a-second on Lap 7 before it came down to four tenths on the start of the final lap. Montella managed to withstand Schroetter’s challenge for his second consecutive win, his first WorldSSP double and his third win – all have come at Phillip Island. Schroetter’s ninth podium means he’s now two away from the record of rostrums without a victory, while Huertas claimed his first WorldSSP podium.

A STRONG START: consistency the key?

Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) claimed another fourth position as his career on the F3 800 RR machine started in style, with ‘Carica’ around five seconds down on Montella. He was just 0.265s behind Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) in fifth, who had been in the early podium fight before dropping back. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) ended his weekend with his second consecutive P6, after finishing there in Race 1, although he didn’t have to fight from the back of the grid in Race 2 like he did in Race 1.

LOCAL HERO IN THE TOP TEN: Bayliss ends home round in style

Lucas Mahias (GMT94 Yamaha) was seventh and just eight tenths away from the top six, with the Frenchman the last of the lead group. He had a five-second margin over John McPhee (WRP-RT Motorsport by SKM-Triumph) in eighth. McPhee finished as the lead Triumph rider as his new adventure started strongly, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in ninth and Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing WorldSSP Team) completed the top ten on home soil.

TAKING POINTS HOME: a strong end to the opening round

Yeray Ruiz (VFT Racing Yamaha) was 11th and just a tenth away from the top ten, with the Spaniard leading home two Triumph riders. Jorge Navarro (WRP-RT Motorsport by SKM-Kawasaki) was 12th ahead of Tom Booth-Amos (PTR Triumph), the rider Manzi was trying to overtake when he crashed for a second time, in 13th. Niki Tuuli (EAB Racing Team) and Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) completed the points.

TO NOTE: Oncu misses out on points, van Straalen penalised

Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) missed out on points as he took 16th place, ahead of rookie Niccolo Antonelli (Ecosantagata Althea Racing Team), wildcard Tom Toparis (Stop & Seal Racing) and Ondrej Vostatek (PTR Triumph). Glenn van Straalen (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) was 20th after he had to serve a Long Lap Penalty. The Dutchman was penalised for a crash in Race 1 with Oncu, which he took in the early stages of Sunday’s race.

The top six from WorldSSP Race 2, full results here:

1. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team)

2. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +0.203s

3. Adrian Huertas (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) +1.658s

4. Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) +5.289s

5. Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Racing Team) +5.554s

6. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +5.677s

Championship standings

1. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) 50 points

2. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 36

3. Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) 26

4. Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) 20

5. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 20

6. Oliver Bayliss (D34G Racing WorldSSP Team) 17

Next up, Catalunya! Watch all the action from Barcelona using the comprehensive WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

FOUR YEARS ON: Alex Lowes back on top with Superpole Race win, Toprak takes first BMW podium

Britain’s Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) ended a four-year drought to claim his third MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship win during the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round. After fighting with his rivals, Lowes was able to pull out a one-second margin in the final few laps to claim victory for the first time since he won at Race 2 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit four years ago, while Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) claimed his first rostrum for BMW with third.

A RACE TO REMEMBER: Lowes on top, Razgatlioglu’s rostrum, Iannone drops back

In a repeat to Race 1, Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) got a superb start as lights went out, leading the race although Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) came past on Lap 2 at Turn 1. Iannone’s race was interrupted by a mechanical issue on Lap 6 which dropped him out of contention, coming home in 14th. This allowed Lowes to pull out a gap for his first victory in four years by just over a second. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) took second after dropping as low as tenth, charging through the field in the second half of the 10-lap race with aggressive moves on his rivals at Turn 4 and Turn 10. In just his second race with BMW, Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed his first podium as he battled his way P3 in a run to the line with Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati); the two Champions separated by just 0.074s. Razgatlioglu’s podium was his 116th, putting him level with Noriyuki Haga at third in the all-time level. Lowes, Locatelli and Razgatlioglu will start Race 2 from the front row.

CHAMPIONS BATTLE IT OUT: Bautista just beaten by Razgatlioglu, Gardner in the podium mix

Bautista narrowly missed on a podium as he bounced back from a difficult Saturday for fourth, finishing just over a second ahead of Race 1 winner and teammate Nicolo Bulega in fifth. ‘Bulegas’ lost out at the start again but was unable to recover as he did in Saturday’s race, coming home in fifth. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was sixth, but it could’ve been more for the Australian. Gardner had fought his way into podium contention around the halfway mark of the race but was bundled down the order in the closing stages.

FIGHTING BACK: Aegerter drops down and climbs up, Rea battles to P10

Gardner’s teammate, Dominique Aegerter, had a similar story to Race 1. After starting from fourth, the Swiss rider dropped down the order before battling back. He was able to recover to P7, just two tenths behind his teammate. Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) secured eighth place in his first Tissot Superpole Race, ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) in ninth with Aegerter, Lowes and Rinaldi on row three for Race 2. Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) fought his way to P10 in the Superpole Race after his Saturday disaster, giving the Ulsterman hope for a good result in Race 2 although he will start in his original grid position.

The top nine from the Tissot Superpole Race, full results here:

1. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)

2. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) +1.157s

3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +1.738s

4. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +1.812s

5. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +2.838s

6. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +2.853s

7. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +3.051s

8. Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) +3.341s

9. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) +5.535s

Watch Race 2 from Australia LIVE and UNINTERRUPTED at 16:30 Local Time (UTC+11) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

Locatelli leads Bassani in Australia Warm Up, Race 1 winner Bulega crashes at Turn 3

The opening Sunday of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign provided plenty of drama at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) continued to show his speed Down Under as he led Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) by just 0.012s. It sets up a showdown for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round with some of Race 1’s front runners down the order.

Locatelli has been quick throughout the Official Test and the Australian Round, including a podium in Race 1, and he showed he’ll be in contention come the Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2 on Sunday. His 1’29.064s was just ahead of Bassani in second, who will be hoping this performance means he’s made a step forward with adapting to his ZX-10RR and not just a flash in the pan. His teammate, Alex Lowes, claimed third in the 10-minute session, with the top three separated by 0.095s.

Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was the lead BMW rider on Sunday morning as he posted a 1’29.229s, with the Dutchman aiming to repeat is flying start from Saturday. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) bounced back from a difficult Race 1 with fifth on Sunday morning, two tenths behind Locatelli. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) rounded out the top six.

Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) has been quick on ‘The Island’ and the #21 kept this up in Warm Up, as the finished in seventh place and only 0.006s away from Aegerter in the top six. Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) was eighth with home hero Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), aiming for more luck today after he was taken out in Race 1 on his birthday, completing the top nine; Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was 10th.

Jonathan Rea’s (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) struggles continued as he was 16th in Warm Up, nine tenths away from top spot. He was the last rider within one second of teammate Locatelli’s time. Meanwhile, Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) started Sunday with a bump. After running wide on the exit of Turn 2, ‘Bulegas’ crashed at Turn 3. He didn’t set a lap time in Warm Up, but he was able to ride his bike back to the pits.

The top six from WorldSBK Warm Up, full results here:

1 Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) 1’29.064s

2. Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.012s

3. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.095s

4. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.165s

5. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.185s

6. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.282s

A NEW ERA HAS BEGUN: watch the Tissot Superpole Race at 13:00 Local Time (UTC+11) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

P17 FOR REA ON YAMAHA DEBUT: “We’ve exercised every option”, rear chatter persistent

Six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) had a Saturday to forget as his debut with Yamaha resulted in him coming home in just 17th. Having barely featured inside the top ten all weekend, Rea’s been suffering from rear chatter issues and vibration right the way through his YZF-R1. After all the hype from the pre-season and expectations, it’d be fair to say that nobody saw Rea’s difficulties coming to be laid bare this clearly.

From Friday, things weren’t going to plan as he languished down field with an “inherent” problem with the bike. Trying to fix it the best the team could and find a solution, the #65 was only 11th on the grid but broke into the top ten in the early stages, up to the fringes of the top six. However, it was soon to turn against him; pitting as soon as the pit window opened, Rea lost a huge amount of time in the pits, exiting with Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), who had crashed. In a battle for 17th, the Champions of eight of the last nine seasons were in an unlikely placing but there was nothing Rea could do after just a handful of laps in the closing stages. 17th at the flag and some head-scratching to do for the guys in blue.

IN HIS WORDS: “We can’t catch a break… I’m really not happy with the bike”

Talking about the race, Rea’s words weren’t being minced: “It was really difficult right from when the lights went out, I got a bad start but I made headway in Turns 1 and 2. I was in a consistent rhythm, fighting with Domi and van der Mark at one point. I decided to pit at the earliest possible moment and unfortunately in the pits, we had a small issue that prohibited us from exiting onto the track and I lost quite a lot of time. I exited with Alvaro, able to ride with him for a few laps and at his rhythm but after four or five laps, I started making mistakes and then struggled to pass Rabat. Once I cleared him, I could find some more rhythm.”

The drama in the pits cost the Ulsterman 22s; he entered the pits at 16:13:55 local time (hours, minutes, seconds) and left the pits at 16:15:20, spending a total of 1 minute 25 seconds in there. There is a hard minimum pit intervention time of 1 minute and 3 seconds, meaning Rea lost 22 seconds in the pits. Teammate Andrea Locatelli lost 1.1s, however it’s an area which has been problematic for the team before. In 2022 at Phillip Island, Toprak Razgatlioglu lost six seconds in the pitstop, whereas ‘Loka’ lost two seconds.

Resuming his dramas, Rea said: “Frustrating, it feels like we can’t catch a break. Since Portimao, we’ve had a lot of curve balls thrown our way but fortunately, we’re still here to keep showing up. Tomorrow we will try some set up change, because I’m really not happy with the bike, the way it’s handling. It’s knocking some confidence out of me. We know now, with WorldSBK being so competitive, we need the bike to work, but we also need to feel confident with the bike to push to the maximum. Right now, I feel like I’m just riding, just managing, but that’s not enough to trouble even the top ten in WorldSBK. We need to make a step overnight.”

REAR CHATTER THE ISSUE: is a fix possible?

Talking about what the biggest issue is, Rea stated: “The biggest issue we have here at Phillip Island is rear chatter and vibration through the bike on the bumps. I feel for the guys too; it’s me behind the handlebars but we’ve tried to take a lot of grip out of the bike, different geometries and almost exercised every option but it still remains and whilst that’s there, I don’t have the confidence to push.”

THE NEW ERA IS UNDERWAY: follow it all LIVE and UNINTERRUPTED with the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

A NEW ERA… IN NUMBERS: key stats from Saturday in Australia after Bulega, Iannone stun on debut

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship started a new era at the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round, and there was a new look order to go with the start of the 2024 season. From Nicolo Bulega’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) stunning pole and win, Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) marking his comeback with a podium and plenty of drama for several other riders on the grid. Here, we take a look at some of the numbers to emerge from Saturday’s action.

2021 – the last time a WorldSBK podium didn’t feature either Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha), Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) or Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) prior to Race 1 in Australia was 43 races ago, at the 2021 Portimao Tissot Superpole Race.

2018 – the last front row without either Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha), Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) or Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was Phillip Island in 2018, when Tom Sykes, Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri lined up from first to third.

34 – Iannone is the eighth oldest rider, at 34 years, six months, 15 days, to take his maiden WorldSBK podium.

29 – Iannone, who uses #29, is the 29th rider to record a front row start in both MotoGP™ and WorldSBK.

29 – Bulega is the 29th different winner at Phillip Island.

11 – Bulega, racing using #11, is the 11th rider to win a race in WorldSSP and WorldSBK.

5 – Iannone’s last podium came in MotoGP™ at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, five years, three months and 27 days ago when he finished second.

5 – Bulega is the fifth rider to win on his first race for Ducati, after Doug Polen, John Kocinski, Anthony Gobert, and Alvaro Bautista.

4 – Only four riders have taken pole position on debut: Nicolo Bulega (2024), Ben Spies (2009), Tommy Hill (2006) and John Kocinski (1996). Bulega is the first Italian rider to achieve this.

3 – Race 1 was the third time with two debutants on the podium. It happened at Donington in 1988 – the Championship’s first race – and again at Hockenheim in the same year.

2/10 – Race 1 was only the second time Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has been beaten at Phillip Island on Ducati machinery in WorldSBK. The other was when he was fifth in Race 1 in 2022.

2 – Bulega is only the second rider to win the WorldSSP title and lead the WorldSBK standings, after Chris Vermeulen in 2004. Bulega is also the first Italian to lead the Championship since Marco Melandri in 2018.

0 – the last time Rea failed to score in two consecutive races was back at Portimao in 2021, when he crashed in Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race. However, following his crash at Jerez in Race 2, but finishing the race still, and finishing out of the points, it’s the first time he’s finished two consecutive races without scoring.

A NEW ERA BEGINS: watch all the action from Australia LIVE and UNINTERRUPTED using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com