“Trajectory of our weekend was a positive one” for Rea, previous battles with Razgatlioglu helped Race 2 fight back?

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) had a rollercoaster weekend at the Autodrom Most, with a crash in Tissot Superpole putting him on the back foot but able to salvage three top tens, including sixth place in Sunday’s Race 2 for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. The six-time Champion showed strong race pace throughout the Czech Round as he continued to build momentum from his podium at Donington.

Rea’s Turn 16 tumble in Superpole meant he only got a couple of flying laps in and the best he could manage was 15th. In Race 1, he fought his way into tenth place before going two places better in Sunday morning’s Tissot Superpole Race. With a third row start for Race 2 in the bag, Rea got a good launch but lost ground on the exit of Turn 2. This dropped him down to tenth by the end of Lap 1, and he was as low as 13th at the end of the second lap.

His comeback soon started though, getting ahead of fellow Yamaha rider Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) on Lap 3 before passing former teammate Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) a couple of laps after. On Lap 10, he gained two places to move into the top nine before setting his sights on the Honda of Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) ahead; he passed the #97 on Lap 12 to claim P8. It was Vierge’s teammate, Iker Lecuona, next up for the #65 and he got by on Lap 17 for seventh place despite the Spaniard putting up a huge fight, before Rea’s final overtake on Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) with two laps to go.

Reviewing the weekend and specifically his Race 2 comeback, Rea said: “It wasn’t a super high, but the trajectory of our weekend was a positive one. From qualifying P15 to going 10-8-6 is somewhat positive. It really highlighted the importance of Superpole again, track position was everything. I guess you could make a case in all races that my pace was a little bit better than the guys around me, and even the group in front could’ve been achievable this weekend, but trying to get through on traffic was really difficult. I made a good start in Race 2. I gave myself half a chance from that front row. Somebody came over the top of me at T2, I need to watch it back. I came out of there and the rpms were so low. I was in first gear, but I thought I must’ve been in second or even third. I got done by the guys who carried speed. Unfortunately, someone came over the top and killed all my drive. Anything positive I did on the run to Turn 1 was ruined. At one point, the group in front, was a bit faster but once I settled into my rhythm, I was able to dispose of the Hondas pretty quickly and then Rinaldi was the next guy on target. I got my head down lap after lap and caught him. We had a little bit of tyre left at the end. I could see the pace from the front guys was dropping a little bit, but they were just too far ahead. It ended on a positive note.”

With not much time between getting clear of the Hondas and having to chase down, and pass, Rinaldi, Rea explained what his strategy was to gain another place. The 37-year-old also revealed how fights with Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in the past helped him to work his way through the field.

Discussing the latter stages of the race and how battling with Razgatlioglu helped, the Northern Irishman said: “I think with seven laps to go, I thought he was just there. Once I got through on the Hondas, I thought ‘don’t give up’. He might come back, he might not. In clean air, the Yamaha can make the lap time; at one point, I feel like I was one of the fastest on tracks. I checked the last few laps. While we have some areas we need to work on, the bike was working good in other areas. I knew if I could put my bike in clean air and ride my lines, I could potentially catch him. When I caught him, it was about where I was going to pass! It had to be, not an aggressive one, but a block pass. You don’t have to go through. I sort of learnt that one on Toprak, racing him in the past. He’d always just level me. Where I always tended to go through on people and put myself wide, I just levelled a few guys today in a few of the corners and that seemed to work. I learnt a bit more about the Yamaha R1 in traffic and how to exploit all its strengths.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Iannone after Race 2 comeback from P18 to P8: “We had the pace for the podium…”

Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) completed a remarkable recovery in Sunday’s Race 2 at the Autodrom Most to claim a top-ten finish in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. After starting from the third row, the #29 had to take to the Turn 1 escape road which dropped him down to 18th at the end of Lap 1 before he battled his way back up the field to claim a strong eighth place finish during the Czech Round, with Iannone declaring he had the pace for a rostrum when looking back on his comeback.

Iannone headed into Sunday’s two races full of confidence after a Race 1 podium when he finished third, and he backed that up with seventh in the Tissot Superpole Race, handing him his starting position for Race 2. The Italian looked to climb up the order when the lights went out but found himself on the Turn 1 escape road after taking avoiding action following the coming together between Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) at the opening corner.

This dropped Iannone to 18th at the end of the opening lap, but he soon started making progress through the field. By the end of Lap 7, the MotoGP™ race winner had climbed to 12th, and he was 11th when the 22-lap race hit the halfway mark. Progress slowed for Iannone, but he was still able to climb into the top ten a lap later when he got ahead of Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) before getting ahead of Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on Lap 18 for P9, where he would cross the line. However, a three-second penalty for Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) in lieu of a Long Lap Penalty for shortcutting Turn 1 promoted ‘The Maniac’ into P8.

Discussing his impressive fightback through the field, Iannone said: “I’m the king of recoveries! At Donington, I started all three races in 19th place because I had yellow flags during Superpole. On Sunday morning, I had a problem with the clutch. I started really badly. In Race 2, at the first corner, there was a big crash, and I was in the middle. I went straight on and lost everything. I recovered a lot. I’m happy for the results from the weekend but it was possible to achieve much more because we had the pace for the podium today. Now, we’re halfway through the season, we’ll try to improve a little bit for Portimao, make a step race by race. Without the incident, we would’ve fought for the top three.”

Most marked the halfway point of the season, with Iannone on hand to give a brief overview of the first half of his maiden WorldSBK campaign. He’s scored three podiums in 18 races and sits sixth in the Championship standings, 30 points behind Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) in fifth and three points clear of Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in seventh.

Reviewing his season so far, Iannone stated: “Sometimes I’m a little bit surprised, because the races are like Saturday. After a long time, it’s not easy. Everybody here wants to win. In the end, we’re a small team, we always do our best. I’m quite happy. It’s possible to improve in many areas. This is our target. We try to improve for the second part of the season. Portimao is a good track. I did a test because I’d never ridden there. It’s not easy.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

“Incredible… amazing pace…” – Huertas after recording a third consecutive WorldSSP double

Adrian Huertas (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) is closing in on FIM Supersport World Championship history after he made it six wins in a row following his double at the Autodrom Most. It means the #99 has extended his Championship lead over Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) as he tightens his grip on P1 in the standings at the halfway point of the 2024 campaign.

Montella beat the Championship leader to pole position in Friday’s Tissot Superpole session, with 0.155s separating the pair. However, in Race 1 and Race 2, it was Huertas who came out victorious. In Saturday’s race, the #99 finished ahead of Stefano Manzi (Pata Prometeon Ten Kate Racing) and Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) to claim the 25 points, with Montella having to settle for fourth.

Speaking about Race 1, Huertas said: “It was a positive race for me. At the beginning, I needed to battle. I knew my points for taking advantage and then pushing. It was important to make a gap and then start to increase it step by step, but without making mistakes. We got really important information for Race 2 about the long distance. I think we can make more steps to improve. At the beginning of the season, not me nor the team, nobody, was expecting this. It was my first year on this brand, so the bike is new. It was important for me to win today.”

In Sunday’s race, it was a similar story, with Huertas finishing almost three seconds clear of Manzi in second while the battle for third was between Montella and Debise. French rider Debise had crossed the line ahead of the #55, but a one-place penalty for cutting the Turn 1-2 chicane dropped him to fourth and promoted Montella to the podium. Huertas’ win made it six-in-a-row, putting him only three off the all-time record held jointly by Andrea Locatelli and Dominique Aegerter.

Discussing the Race 2 victory, Huertas said: “It was incredible. We had an amazing pace. The temperatures were really high and even with this, we managed to be fighting at the front. We managed the tyres really well and I was able to push until the end. I made a consistent pace until the end, while pushing, because like this I kept my concentration, and I had less problems. I’m really happy about that and how we’re growing. The limit will be when I don’t win again! I’m really happy and want to continue like this. This is a good way, and we were able to recover a lot of points from Australia. This is good because in Australia, we were quite unhappy about how it went.”

The results from Most mean Huertas leads the Championship standings by almost a round’s worth of points. He’s 46 points clear of Montella in second, while the Barni Ducati rider is only seven points ahead of Manzi in third. Debise’s strong form in recent rounds has helped move him into fourth place, ahead of Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in fifth.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

"I want to continue… we have some Plan Bs"

The Autodrom Most has played host to some of the biggest headlines since it was inaugurated onto the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in 2021. In 2024, it was the scene of more history being made, huge declarations about the rider market, a philosophical approach to a podium return and teammates caught up in a racing incident. The Czech Republic certainly provided rather pikantni quotes.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “An incredible year for me… I think Alvaro will come back strong”

A hat-trick of hat-tricks and ten on the spin, Toprak Razgatlioglu and BMW are in the form of their lives: “A Turkish style celebration with backgammon! It wasn’t too long because normally the game takes ten minutes but we only played for 30 seconds because we don’t have a lot of time at the end of the race. If we played it fully, maybe the others would be waiting for me on the podium. Now, I think each weekend for the celebration so perhaps if I win at Portimao, I’ll jump in the swimming pool. This weekend is finished and again, we achieved a hat-trick. It’s an incredible weekend and incredible year for me. I need two more wins to break the consecutive wins record. I hope we can stay like this all season, I need the world title. We have many races and I think Alvaro will come back strong. I was almost crying for the Turkish fans that came here to support me. Everyday, we’re getting famous and especially in Turkey, people are learning about me. Thanks to all the Turkish fans and I’m hoping for more each weekend. I’m not as popular as Kenan but I think Zayn is more popular than even Kenan!”

Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “We’re speaking with Ducati to renew the contract; if they want me to sign at World Ducati Week, they need to give me what I want… we have some Plan Bs”

The biggest hints yet came from Alvaro Bautista’s future, with him saying about his wish to continue on Sunday afternoon: “Honestly, I want to continue. We are speaking with Ducati to renew the contract. It’s not fair to end my career like this. I need to enjoy the bike and feel strong on it, especially after this weekend where I have more things clear. In the end, we’re speaking with Ducati to renew the contract. That is my intention and then I’ll see. My main choice will be to stay in the same team but it’s in Ducati’s hands as well. It’s not 100% about me. Last weekend, I got more points but the feeling with the bike was s**t. This has been the first weekend in 2024 that I can ride the bike as you want. If Ducati wants me to sign at World Ducati Week, they have to give me what I want. Simone Battistella has other options for sure but I can’t tell you which one; we have some Plan Bs.”

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “Alvaro apologised to me…”

Another P2 for Nicolo Bulega in his rookie season, with the #11 at least able to battle with Razgatlioglu: “We changed something in the bike setup to conserve the tyres better; at the end, it was a good modification because although I didn’t check the total race time, I think I was faster than yesterday. At the moment, I’m not the only one who can fight with Toprak. Maybe now I have some advantage over Alvaro but I don’t care about the Championship because it’s very long and I don’t look at it. I look race by race and try to be fast every weekend, gaining experience each weekend. I’m satisfied as I am a rookie but in the first laps, I’m not really fighting with Toprak as he’s going at 90% then. I’d be fighting with him if he was at 100% and I don’t think he is. After the Superpole Race, Alvaro apologised to me but he’s an intelligent guy with a lot of experience. I don’t have any problem with him.”

Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team): “Three months ago, I nearly died in a motocross accident… I didn’t know if I was able to come back racing”

Talking about one of his best WorldSBK races, Danilo Petrucci was emotional in P2 on Saturday: “I’m so happy; three months ago, I nearly died in a motocross accident and for a moment, I didn’t know if I was able to come back racing. Then, I was recovering well; since I got on the bike, I’ve been struggling because I’ve been riding with just one arm and I use a lot of energy with my back and legs. It was a good fight with Andrea, a friend of mine; he’s always a special rider in the last laps but I closed all the doors. It’s one of the best rides in WorldSBK; I still miss my biggest target which is the win. With Toprak, it’s impossible to win but it’s one of my best races here. Despite the age, I still feel good. When everything is going well, I’m not doing good. Then, when everyone thinks I am dead – this time, I was almost dead in reality – but when there’s a lot of pressure with no strength, I can do really good races. I don’t know why and I don’t like it but I perform better when I’m under pressure. I simply hate this feeling!”

Reviewing his Race 2 clash with Bautista, ‘Petrux’ said: I feel very sorry, but I just went to Race Direction, just to confirm, to check the images and they also saw that Gardner was the one moving without a reason, as from the right he moved all the way to the left and squeezed me between him and Bautista.I feel sorry both for me and Alvaro, but I had to lift the foot as Gardner took my foot away while breaking. I tried to keep the bike up but then Alvaro closed me on the other side and I didn’t really know where to go. I feel deeply sorry for both me and Alvaro but it wasn’t on me, I didn’t stretch the breaking or anything. I feel sorry because we ruined a beautiful weekend.”

Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “Toprak’s performances are motivating… all I can do is learn from him”

Back in the top five, Michael van der Mark spoke of how he’s adjusted his riding style following Toprak’s influence: “I gave so much energy to stay with Toprak and Nicolo but I rode too hard and lost a bit of pace. The difference is so small that I tried to stay away from the group behind me but then Locatelli passed me. Personally, it was very nice to be fighting in the top positions again; I set the fastest lap which gave me a big confidence boost. I was disappointed to miss the podium but also because I threw away Superpole on Saturday. That’s where it all started. Toprak’s performances are motivating a lot and it’s good within the team to compare all the data. I knew when Toprak joined the team that he’s the best rider on the grid and all I can do is learn from him. I think I showed today that I’m adjusting my riding style and getting the best out of the bike.”

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha): “There’s no substitute for out and out power… it’s the one thing that if we could have right now, it’d help”

Jonathan Rea began by summarising his Most weekend: “Difficult, educational and character building. A tough weekend but if we look at it as a whole, it’s been a positive trajectory. I felt like the pace was as good as the guys in front and in clear track, I could exploit all the clear strengths of the bike. In traffic, I really struggle to pass, take strengths of the bike and even though I was good on the brakes into Turn 1, I was never going to pass them. It was educational as, although we know it already, I need to qualify better but I need to understand how to take the best out of the Pirelli tyres when they’re new because when we put new tyres with this bike, I don’t make a difference. We need to understand why; maybe it’s a style thing as I have a more conventional Superbike style, so maybe the other Yamaha riders use more angle as the overall setups aren’t that different. My race pace hasn’t got faster; I’m too slow at the beginning, not fast enough in the middle and I’m acceptable at the end. There’s no substitute for out and out power; we have to take consolation of there being three Yamahas in the top six in Race 2 and I’m not the top one, so there’s clearly work to do. It’s the one thing that if we could have right now, it’d help.”

Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven): “I think this was the most difficult race of my life”

Talking on Saturday after a rostrum return, ‘The Maniac’ told it straight with great philosophy: “I’m not at 100% in every area. Thanks to my experience, it was possible to achieve this result but it’s also possible to improve a lot; we have more potential, both me and the bike. In any case, I’m happy as it’s not easy with it being my first time here. Last year, I watched the race from the sofa. I think this was the most difficult race of my life; I didn’t know what to expect from this track, the distance but now I understand that my physical condition is not at 100%. My arms, my back… I need to improve something but I start to recover the feeling. Last year, I didn’t believe that I could do this comeback. I put 100%; sometimes, I stress the people a lot but I do everything for us. Everyone needs to believe, anything is possible. We didn’t have data from last year here together so this podium has double value.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Bautista on his future: “We’re speaking with Ducati to renew the contract”

Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) spoke about his ideal plan for the future for the first time at the Autodrom Most with the Spaniard revealing he’s in talks with Ducati to renew his contract. The revelation came after Bautista had a point-less Sunday during the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s visit to the Czech Republic, with the reigning Champion also reflecting on his incidents with Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in the Tissot Superpole Race and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) in Race 2.

THE FUTURE: “I want to continue… not fair to end my career like this”

Bautista’s future has been spoken about widely in recent weeks and the double Champion had reiterated his desire to first find the feeling with the bike before deciding on his plans. After a strong Friday at Most, where he said it was his best day on the bike, and good pace shown throughout despite a tricky weekend, it seems that decision has become clearer after revealing after Sunday’s Race 2 his desire to stay, while stating his manager – Simone Battisella – did have “other options”.

Speaking in his media debrief, the 39-year-old said: “Honestly, I want to continue. We’re speaking with Ducati to renew the contract. I feel that it’s not fair to end my career like this. I need to enjoy the bike again; I need to feel strong on the bike. After this weekend, where we have more things clear, we can start from here to improve. In the end, we’re speaking with Ducati to renew the contract. My intention is that. My main choice is to keep with the same team but it’s in Ducati’s hands as well, it not only depends 100% on me. It depends on Ducati. If Ducati wants to sign at World Ducati Week, they have to give me what I want. Battistella has other options, for sure, but I cannot tell you what they are. We have some Plan B.”

SUPERPOLE RACE: crashing while fighting with Bulega

Bautista may have been point-less on Sunday thanks to two Turn 1 incidents, but his pace for a podium was there. In the 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race, the reigning Champion was fighting with teammate Bulega on the run into Turn 1, with both sliding their V4 R machines while running in P2 and P3, with Bulega ahead. Bautista tried to make the corner but ran into the gravel and came off his bike, dropping him out of contention, while Bulega was able to continue and finish second.

Reviewing the incident with Bulega, Bautista said: “Bulega braked really hard, I braked a bit harder! In one moment, if I tried to stop the bike more, I was risking hitting him. To avoid that, I released the brakes a little bit and it was enough to get to the gravel. Once the front tyre touched the gravel, I lost the front. I’m sorry for him because we were at the limit, but fortunately he could cut the chicane without consequence so I’m happy for him. It’s a normal battle in races. It happened in the last lap, it’s logical.”

RACE 2: out of the race before it really began

Following on from his Superpole Race, where Bautista was not classified after taking the chequered flag in the pit lane, the Ducati rider started Race 2 from tenth place. He got a good start and looking to take the outside line around the right-hander of Turn 1 to move himself into the podium fight but found himself in the gravel trap after Petrucci came down and into the side of the #1’s bike.

Bautista also spoke about this crash, saying: “In Race 2, I had a really good start; it was like a rocket because I got to the first braking zone in third or fourth place. When I went into the corner, I saw Gardner on the inside. I had to keep the line to not touch him and close the corner, not on the line but a bit more on the outside. At that moment, somebody hit me, and I crashed. I reviewed the images on the TV. It’s clear that Petrucci didn’t have too much space, but he was behind, so he has to take care of the riders in front of him. This kind of corner is very tricky because we arrive very fast from the start point and the braking is hard, and we have to stop the bike a lot. What happened today is very usual to see, but I was a bit unlucky that I was there. Fortunately, physically, I’m okay.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

10 reasons you can’t miss being trackside at Portimao!

A few weeks on from the Autodrom Most’s thrilling weekend, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship will travel west to the south coast of Portugal for the Pirelli Portuguese Round. The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve will host the action and it’s going to be a unique event, with evening races scheduled for the weekend. Here are 10 reasons you can’t miss seeing the action from the ‘rollercoaster’ venue – get your tickets HERE!

A BRAND-NEW SCHEDULE: a sunset showdown…

The Portuguese Round will have a festival atmosphere for the thousands of fans at the circuit, with ‘Food Court’ areas, music concerts and much more, culminating in sunset on-track action with WorldSBK, WorldSSP, WorldSSP300 and WorldWCR all present at the stunning Portuguese venue.

FOUR CLASSES RACING: an action-packed weekend

It’s set to be a thrilling weekend on the Algarve coast, with a busy but action-packed schedule in store. WorldWCR returns for the third round of its inaugural season, while WorldSBK, WorldSSP and WorldSSP300 will also be taking on the ‘rollercoaster’.

AN UNDULATING VENUE: extra challenges

Built a stone’s throw away from the beach, the circuit follows the natural contours of the stunning landscape and provides an extra challenge for riders as they look to master the venue, from high-speed corners, heavy braking zones and technical sections.

THE LOCATION: a small city by the coast

What better place for a circuit than one a stone throw’s away from the stunning coast? Golden sand on the beaches and clear blue water awaits but, if that doesn’t take your fancy, the Portimao city has plenty of attractions too.

HISTORY TO BE MADE? Razgatlioglu chasing a WorldSBK record…

Championship leader Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) is on a 10-race winning run and has his sights set on beating the existing record of 11, set jointly by Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in 2019 and 2023 and Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) in 2019.

…OR WILL HIS RIVALS RESPOND? Bautista aiming to bounce back

Bautista declared Friday at Most the day he enjoyed the bike the most. While strong results didn’t come and he had a point-less Sunday, the #1 will take confidence from seemingly recovering the feeling on his V4 R. Rea, too, showed strong pace in the Czech Republic particularly in his Race 2 comeback. Plus, Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has cemented himself as a consistent front runner, Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) and Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) will be in contention at the front plus Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) has been in sensational form, as has Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK).

THE PADDOCK SHOW AND PODIUM: in the heart of the paddock

As ever, the Paddock Show will be at Portimao with interactive activities, meet and greet sessions and much more. Plus, the podium ceremonies will take place there, giving fans the chance to see their favourite riders celebrating up close.

THE SECOND HALF BEGINS: it starts ramping up…

Portimao marks the second half of the 2024 WorldSBK campaign, with 12 rounds on the calendar and six in the history books. With six rounds to come, it really is the business end of the season and now is the time to hit form and start climbing the Championship standings.

A STUNNING ATMOSPHERE AWAITS: a must-attend event

With the new schedule, four Championships, nine races, a whole host of off-track activities and a brand-new schedule, Portimao is set to be an atmosphere like no other. Everything combined is set to give it a unique atmosphere when WorldSBK descends on Portimao in August.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

“It’s been a while and when you can smell a podium, you push in the wrong areas” – van der Mark on his Race 2 P5

Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) showed strong pace in Race 2 at the Autodrom Most as he battled for a podium although the Dutchman had to settle for fifth place. The #60 got a lightning start as the lights went out and took advantage of some drama ahead of him to move into third place on the exit of the opening chicane, before eventually dropping to fifth in the final third of the race at the Autodrom Most.

Van der Mark’s weekend was compromised from Tissot Superpole after he crashed at Turn 20 early in the 15-minute session although he was able to get back on his M 1000 RR towards the end and secure 16th place on the grid. He finished ninth in Race 1 and crossed the line eighth in the Tissot Superpole Race, although received a one-place penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. That dropped him to ninth but still secured the BMW rider a third-row grid slot for Race 2.

The Gouda-born rider used his ninth place starting position to full effect, surging up the order as the lights went out to move into third behind teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu and Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). He lost ground to the lead duo and was soon caught up by Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha), who demoted him to fourth, and then Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who ensured the five-time race winner finish in P5.

Explaining his Race 2 charge to fifth and lamenting an error in Superpole, van der Mark said: “It was our goal coming here and I think the results weren’t as good because I messed up in Superpole with a crash. I started from 16th on the grid which isn’t ideal. With the WorldSBK field being so close together, you can gain some places but it’s always difficult to recover more than six places. It’s been a really good weekend. We had a nice Race 1, finishing ninth, and in the Superpole Race, the goal was to be in the top ten and I managed to finish ninth. Then, for Race 2, I had a fantastic start and had good pace at the beginning of the race. I stayed with Toprak and Bulega and tried as hard as I could as I wanted to get away from the people behind me. I lost a bit of contact with Toprak. I was managing the gap to Locatelli quite well but, at one point, he was a bit faster. Later on, Gardner also passed me. I gave it my all. I enjoyed it a lot to be able to fight for the podium again. Our goal is to be in the top six and luckily, at the end of the weekend, we finished in fifth place.”

The Dutchman, who has not been on a WorldSBK podium since Race 2 at Mandalika back in 2021, also explained how a lack of running in those positions in recent seasons potentially cost him the podium. Nevertheless, the 32-year-old will be able to take confidence heading into Portimao – the scene of his last victory, in the 2021 Superpole Race – that he could turn his 16th place in Superpole into a fight for the rostrum on Sunday afternoon.

When asked what made him drop back in the final stages, van der Mark explained: “I pushed as much as I could at the beginning of the race to stay with Toprak and Bulega and to get away from the guys behind. I think I just pushed too hard. I was overriding a bit. It’s been a while and when you can smell a podium, you push in the wrong areas. I had to stay calm there, but if we were in these positions more often, I would get the pace back for the whole race.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Locatelli revels with rostrum return: “We made a big step forward… I had more confidence and kept a good rhythm!”

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) made a long-awaited return to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship on Sunday at the Autodrom Most, with the Yamaha rider claiming third place in a hard-fought Race 2. The #55 started from sixth on the grid in the final race of the Czech Round but battled his way through the field to claim third place and to stand on the WorldSBK podium for the first time since the Phillip Island Tissot Superpole Race.

Locatelli lost a place at the start and was demoted to seventh but was back in sixth not long after when he got ahead of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing). He gained another place when Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took the first of his two Long Lap Penalties for a jump start before getting ahead of fellow Yamaha rider Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) on Lap 8. He spent several laps in P4 before overtaking Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) for third on Lap 14, before finishing the race 5.462s down on winner Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team).

Discussing his return to the podium, Locatelli said: “I think we did an incredible job on Sunday because the start from P6 is never easy, and also starting P9 for the Superpole Race is never easy. We went step by step to improve the bike and the feeling. In Race 2, we made a big step forward and the feeling on the bike was much, much better. I was struggling more than Saturday, it was really warm, so it was really difficult to fight with the bike but with the step we got from the bike, I had more confidence and kept a good rhythm until the end. We need to be happy because we got a podium. We know the other riders are always pushing and it’s never easy fighting for them. I think, with Yamaha, we made a big step forward. This is a big gift for us.”

With the step being reiterated by ‘Loka’ in his interview, he was pushed on what changed on his Yamaha R1 between the Superpole Race and Race 2. In the Sunday morning race, Locatelli moved up the grid from ninth to sixth to secure a second row start for Race 2 and the team were able to use that race to help take a step forward for the afternoon race and claim a rostrum finish.

When asked about the step the team made, Locatelli said: “Honestly, when we analyse sector by sector, we weren’t so far away overall. We were missing something in sectors three and four, this was the main problem. We learnt, especially after the Superpole Race with the rear SC0, the bike was complicated to ride. With this data, we understood the bike well and made a step. In these areas, the bike was much easier to turn and stay with the other guys. We made a big step there.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

“I was on the limit” – Bulega reflects on a strong Czech Round and Superpole Race drama

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) admitted that it was a good weekend at the Czech Round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, where the #11 claimed two podiums. Throughout the weekend the Italian felt that he made a step with his bike in every session.

Bulega finished Friday in fifth, ending FP2 0.552s behind Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who was at the top of the timesheets. The Italian had a solid start to Saturday, finishing FP3 in fourth position before placing his Ducati on the second row of the grid in Superpole which would lead to a sixth-place finish in Race 1.

On Sunday, Bulega made another step forward for the Superpole Race, where he briefly stole the lead from Razgatlioglu before crossing the line in second position. The Italian experienced similar success in Race 2, claiming another second place – 3.239s adrift from victory.

Discussing the improvements made on Sunday, Bulega said: “I think we improved a lot from yesterday and a little bit from this morning. I feel better on the bike, it is easier to ride. Yesterday it was a bit too nervous and I was not comfortable on the bike so it was a bit difficult. I am happy because we improved session by session, so a good first weekend in Most.”

However, the Italian suffered late drama with his teammate Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) on the final lap of the Superpole Race. The #11 entered Turn 1 alongside his teammate, before riding through the gravel, staying on his machine to finish second, while Bautista would crash and was forced to enter the pitlane.

Speaking about the incident with his teammate, Bulega added: “I was on the limit and I pushed from the first lap to the last. When Alvaro was in my slipstream, I said ok I have to brake very hard to not let him past me. I braked on the limit and when I saw half of his bike on my inside, I thought that maybe we would not make the turn so I just cut the chicane because if I didn’t cut the chicane, I would crash. So, I cut the chicane and I looked behind me to see if someone was arriving and fortunately, I got second anyway so I am happy with the Superpole Race also.”

Bulega leaves Most in second position in the Championship after claiming a further 39 points this weekend. However, the #11 will have a 64-point gap in the Championship to close as all attention now turns to Portimao.                                                               

Bulega gave his thoughts on the next round in Portugal: “I don’t know, I really like Portimao, last year I won the World Supersport title, so I have a lot of great memories in Portimao. It is a track that I like but I think it will be difficult with a Superbike, but we already did a test in the winter and I was fast so I think I can be fast again.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com