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HOT HEADLINES FROM SEASON-OPENER: “The rules made by WorldSBK are helping everyone”

The dust has settled and it’s time to take stock of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship after a sensational start to the new season. There was huge disappointment as well as unbridled joy as WorldSBK was literally turned on its head Down Under. We’ve put the hottest quotes in one place for you to digest together.

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “I’m probably a bit old to making moves like that at Lukey Heights!”

A fantastic Sunday double for Alex Lowes at Phillip Island sees him in the lead of the Championship: “I knew my speed was there but I’ve had a lot of injuries. We are there now; I don’t know for the rest of the year but I am going to enjoy the moment now because I’ve worked hard in the off-season. To get two wins today was fantastic and mixing it up there with the Ducatis makes me really happy. I’m probably a bit old to be making moves like that at Lukey Heights! I enjoyed having my brother here this weekend too, I didn’t want him to beat me so he gave me a kick up the arse. I had a good week after a good winter. When I’m in fifth or sixth gear, the bike is fast! We’ll see for the rest of the season but we are always fast here. Let’s see when we have the slow exit onto the straight.”

Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “Maybe in normal conditions, I’d pass him on the straight”

Talking about being beaten in a last lap shootout, Alvaro Bautista said: “He had more tyre than me; in the first five laps, the tyre was good and in the second start, I thought I could push because in 11 laps, it’d be easy. I didn’t expect to use the tyre like I did and in the last three laps, it was impossible because the bike was jumping around on all the left corners so it was difficult to go full lean. I’m happy because about my performance, from Friday, it increased and I got better with the bike. Even if it’s not 100%, like before, I feel very positive after closing the gap. I didn’t know who was behind me but I knew they could pass me easily because I couldn’t lean or enter the corner fast. In the last corner, I tried to be close but I lost on entry and then to get the power on wasn’t easy. Maybe, in normal conditions, I could pass him on the straight.”

Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team): “The rules made by WorldSBK have been good and they’re helping everyone… one of the closest Championship’s I’ve ever been in!”

A podium in Race 2, Danilo Petrucci is a big fan of the rule changes: “WorldSBK is really crazy! I finished P15 but had the same bike as yesterday, it was difficult to ride and I was nervous. In Race 2, I was behind Toprak when the engine went and then behind Jonny when he had a massive crash. In the restart, I was there and I wanted to be top Independent but Rinaldi was far. Then, he started losing time and me and Iannone were coming through. With three to go, I was two seconds from the lead but then on the last lap, I was just one second. Maybe with two more laps, I could have fought for the win! As I predicted in WorldSBK, you can finish in P15 or P3. 15 riders can finish on the podium and it’s unbelievable how close it is. The rules made by WorldSBK have been good and they’re helping everyone. I think this is one of the closest Championships I’ve ever been in.”

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “You can dream as much as you want…”

In shock after winning on Saturday, Nicolo Bulega became the first rider EVER to graduate to WorldSBK as WorldSSP Champion and win on his debut: “Maybe I still don’t realise but what can I say? It’s incredible. To win the first race and also take the lap record and pole position, it’s like last year when I was in WorldSSP but now, it’s in WorldSBK. I can’t say a lot because I still don’t realise, it’s a good sensation. In the last two laps, I was smiling a lot under my helmet when I saw my pit board with 3.5s advantage. You can dream as much as you want but when you have to do it, it’s different. It’s a dream come true and I’m happy to win the first race as I feel less pressure.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “I’m really sad… in Barcelona, we need to come back stronger”

A story of what could have been on his BMW debut for Toprak Razgatlioglu, although a podium in the Superpole Race showed the potential: “It’s not easy to say; I’m really sad because I didn’t expect the engine problem. 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 come back stronger.”

Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven): “I would’ve signed if you told me I’d finish P3 and P4; it’s unbelievable”

His first World Championship weekend in four years, Andrea Iannone got the holeshot twice and stepped on the podium in his first ever race: “On one hand, I’m angry because I made two mistakes, and I lost the race. In any case, it’s the best comeback possible. When I started and rode in first position for many laps, it was incredible. I’m not completely happy. It’s my first race after four years and I was first, the feeling and everything was good. I’m a little but stiff; I’m not at 100% and how I want to be. I think, in the past, when I was in MotoGP™ I was fighting a lot, but it’s a long time. I had a problem with the setting on engine braking. I remained with the maximum engine brake, and I wanted to reduce it. It was impossible to switch. I would have signed if you told me I’d finish P3 and P4; it’s unbelievable. But when you have a feeling that you could do a better result… this weekend was strange, something happened in every moment.”

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha):Here, we’re in the middle of the shit”

Speaking on Saturday, Jonathan Rea was at a loss: “We’ve tried everything. At Yamaha, we’re an open catalogue. You can pick what you want but most riders are the same. Throughout testing, I’ve preferred some different chassis parts than ‘Loka’ but this weekend, we’ve started with what the team feel are the good for tyre consumption, grip and all the Phillip Island characters. I’m as confused as everyone in the box; we’re lost and it’s frustrating. At Jerez, the bike worked fantastic; in race rhythm with all riders, I could compete for a podium. At Portimao, not so much and we were floating around the top five. Here, we’re in the middle of the shit.”

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha): “It was possible to win a race”

Charging into race-winning contention on the last lap, Andrea Locatelli fell at Turn 4 from a podium position which would have left him leading the Championship: “We need to check the data and understand what happened. We need to forget this one and look at what else we did. We were fast and able to win the race. I’m sorry, as it was possible to win a race and it’s a shame to not win one.

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

Source: WorldSBK.com

Locatelli laments Race 2 crash: “We were able to win the race!”

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) was close to a maiden MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship victory at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, fighting for the win in all three races despite a crash in Race 2 on the final lap. It was a strong weekend for ‘Loka’ even if he narrowly missed out on a visit to the top step of the podium. Although the crash proved costly, it was still a strong Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round for the Yamaha rider.

Locatelli had been showing his pace throughout testing, including at the Official Test in Australia, and was challenging for pole position in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session. However, he got caught up behind a rider preparing for their hot lap, which cost him time in the final sector, meaning he had to start from fifth place, potentially lower than his pace suggested he could’ve been on the grid but still putting him in a strong position.

There was a common theme in all three of Locatelli’s races. In the early stages, he dropped back before fighting his way through the field. In Race 1, he opted for a different strategy to his rivals as he pitted on Lap 11 of 20, the last available lap of the pit window, and used this to his advantage in the second half of the race to claim second. He repeated this result in the Tissot Superpole Race and looked good for second or potentially better in Race 2, before a last-lap crash at Turn 4 trying to pass Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) ended his hopes.

Looking back on the Race 2 crash, the #55 said: “I’m fine. The feeling was amazing in Race 2. I think, during this weekend, we did a really good job and never made mistakes. Unfortunately, we checked the data, and we don’t know why, but the bike was in neutral. I was wide and then I tried to put the gas on again, I made a mistake and lost the rear. The first problem was the entry to the corner, so this was a big shame because everything was working well. It was the last lap, and we were fighting for the win. Looks like we were living a dream but not a good one!”

Despite ending the weekend with a highside, a consequence of running wide trying to pass Lowes for P2 before potentially challenging Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) for P1, Locatelli was pleased with how the Australian Round played out as he fought at the front consistently. He’s now scored three podiums in races at Phillip Island and has only been outside the top five on one occasion Down Under – this year’s Race 2, when he didn’t finish.

Reflecting on the weekend, Locatelli said: “Sunday would’ve been an unbelievable day if we finished the race! We are stronger, we showed our potential. We were always at the front from testing, free practices, and all sessions. This is the best thing for us. I’d always like to forget when something happens, like last year at Aragon, and we need to forget Race 2. We were able to win the race, but this happened. We need to be positive, look forward and I can’t wait to get back on track because finishing four days of riding with a crash is not the best.”

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

Source: WorldSBK.com

Remembering ‘Dr. John’: John Wittner, Dentist Turned Moto Guzzi Engineer

Dr. John Wittner Moto Guzzi

Rider offers condolences to the family and friends of Dr. John Wittner, DMD, who passed away Feb. 15 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, at the age of 78.

John Wittner was originally known as “Dr. John” to the patients in his dentistry business; however, previous to graduating with his dentistry degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, he studied mechanical engineering at Lehigh University. He used these skills in his spare time from his dentistry practice to tinker with tuning Harley-Davidson engines for the purpose of road racing. In 1983, he purchased a Moto Guzzi Le Mans, which longtime motojournalist Alan Cathcart said in his book Dr. John’s Moto Guzzi was primarily because Wittner “thought it looked neat, and also had a pushrod motor like the Harley’s he was familiar with working on.”

Wittner had another motivation. “I bought the bike with the sole intent of forming a team of friends to go Endurance road racing with it,” he told Cathcart. “I had worked on and ridden a number of Guzzis, and knew they were extraordinarily reliable, the perfect weapon for Endurance competition.”

Thus was born Dr. John’s Guzzi racing team, which went on to win the 1984 U.S. Endurance Championship’s Middleweight class with a perfect 100% finishing record. In 1987, Dr. John’s Guzzi rider Doug Brauneck won the AMA Battle of the Twins championship on a Le Mans III developed by Wittner with the financial support of Alejandro de Tomaso. For the next decade, Wittner worked as an engineer for Moto Guzzi at the company’s factory in Mandello del Lario.

Dr. John Wittner Moto Guzzi Doug Brauneck
Doug Brauneck on Dr. John’s Moto Guzzi 8V

“Dr. John and I became friends during the mid-1980s,” Cathcart said, “when the bikes he created were raced successfully to three AMA National titles by the team he established to bring Moto Guzzi to the fore again in the USA. The saga of the former dentist and his various Dr. John’s Guzzi racers reawakened awareness of the historic Italian brand at a time 40 years ago in the late 1980s when its profile was at its all-time lowest ebb, even among dedicated enthusiasts of the marque.”

Cathcart was able to track test each of the bikes created by Wittner and decided approximately a year ago to write Dr. John’s Moto Guzzi to document Wittner’s achievements, “both as a dedicated engineer and an incredibly warm human being.”

Dr. John Wittner Moto Guzzi

The book is available at www.motoitaliane.it.

John Wittner’s full obituary from Donohue Funeral Home is included below.

See all of Rider‘s Moto Guzzi coverage here


Dr. John Wittner Moto Guzzi

John A. Wittner

Oct. 27, 1945 – Feb. 15, 2024

A legendary innovator for Moto Guzzi and driving force in the motorcycle community, Dr. John A. Wittner, DMD, age 78, of West Chester, PA, passed away on February 15, 2024. He was the son of Howard Wittner and Victoria (Shenker) Wittner, and brother to Ken Wittner, who pre-deceased him. “Dr. John,” as known to friends, colleagues, patients, and members of the motorcycle community, was intensely dedicated to his craft, whether it was complex dentistry without pain — or mechanical innovation and next-level mastery in motorcycle engineering.

Studying mechanical engineering at Lehigh University (always with a love of fixing things), he applied his inherent talent and skills to help improve human performance, and graduated from University of Pennsylvania Dental School, as DMD, and was partner to Dr. Bill Deal, in Deal-Wittner Dental Health Group for many years. But for decades, he kept on building engines for motorcycle racing, channeling the magic into Moto Guzzis that won and won and won.

One day, he reached a turning point while working on a friend and patient in the dental chair – who encouraged him to take motorcycle racing from the local to the big time. And that’s how the legendary Dr. John’s Team Moto Guzzi was launched and went from an experienced, dominant group of regional racers to winning and dominating the 1984 AMA National Endurance Racing Championship at the Daytona Firecracker 400. And went on to design and engineer unique marques for Moto Guzzi in Italy, leaving an historic legacy for motorcycle racing.

Dr. John was a Vietnam veteran, loyal friend, and independent individual who always rose to a challenge and who’d rather be burning rubber than anything else.

Services and Interment are Private. 

The post Remembering ‘Dr. John’: John Wittner, Dentist Turned Moto Guzzi Engineer appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Motor School with Quinn Redeker: Clutch Situation

Motor School with Quinn Redeker Clutch Situation
In this installment of “Motor School,” Quinn offers exercises for better clutch control and slow-speed maneuvering. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

People ask me if I miss being a motor cop. Let’s unpack that. Do I miss washing off petrol and sunscreen at the end of every shift? Do I miss roadside debates about how “everybody was speeding”? Do I miss the tragedy of consoling parents at a fatal accident in the middle of the night? A hard “no” to all of those.

But what I do find myself missing these days is the incessant verbal abuse our motor unit dished out to each other at every opportunity. It didn’t matter how serious or important the moment; if you screwed up, however slight, you were doomed to receive ongoing mistreatment until the next guy came up short.

And there was no better place to experience the hazing than on the grinder where we trained slow‑­speed skills every month on our motors. What should have been a place of learning, exploring, and honing of one’s skills was instead a schoolyard of insults, jabs, and finger‑­pointing. Simply put, if your bike hit the ground, standby to standby, buddy, your ticket got punched.

Luckily, my bike rarely hit the deck on training days, because I was skilled with my clutch. Don’t get me wrong, my colleagues found ample opportunities to pound me into submission, but sloppy clutch work never made it on the menu.

Now I can’t speak for your sewing circle, but I’d venture to guess you all give each other a pretty rough time on the regular. And just imagine how cool it would be if you had the tools to pull a proverbial rabbit out of your hat every time the speeds slowed down, like for U‑­turns, heavy traffic, and parking lots. Well, I have a few simple training tools that will have you laughing, jabbing, and finger‑­pointing far more than you typically get to do when riding with your crew.

Motor School with Quinn Redeker Clutch Situation
Fear of slow-speed bike incompetence can be a thing of the past. Practice these simple drills at your leisure to gain confidence and impress family and friends!

Before we jump into the actual exercises, we need to rewire our brains a bit and start seeing the clutch (not the throttle) as the control that makes the bike go. In other words, when we’re in slow‑­speed environments, we want to have a “set it and forget it” mindset with the throttle and think of the clutch as the primary “gatekeeper” that supplies power to the rear wheel. There are two reasons for this: First, this consolidates two physical tasks of manipulating the controls into one: modulating the clutch. Second, we will have far better mental focus on that singular task, which will improve our sensitivity, dexterity, and control.

Motor School Clutch Control Exercise 1: Driveway Drill

With your engine running at around 1,500‑­2,000 rpm, your bike in 1st gear, and both feet on the ground, position your front wheel at the base of a gently sloped incline on a driveway entrance (or similar). You want a short incline that allows the bike to roll back down on its own when you pull in the clutch at the top. (see photo at the top of the article) Next, smoothly, slowly, and calmly begin to meter the clutch out, adding just enough power to the rear wheel to allow you to slowly “walk” the bike up the incline. Remember, leave the throttle alone here and only work the clutch. Once you are at the top, gently pull the clutch in (don’t fully disengage it) just enough to pull power from the driveline so the bike starts to roll back down to our starting point. Rinse and repeat until you can hold a casual conversation with your neighbor as you roll up and back down the incline without thinking about it. And no wise cracks just yet, Nancy, you’re only just getting started.

Motor School Clutch Control Exercise 2: 2×4 Drill

Motor School with Quinn Redeker Clutch Situation
The common 2×4 is not just for beating yourself over the head while you struggle with slow-speed clutch work.

Place a length of 2×4 lumber down on the ground perpendicular to and touching your front tire. Now apply all the same instructions you learned above, and smoothly and slowly “walk” the bike over the board from a complete stop. Continue until the bike is resting with the 2×4 directly in front of the back tire and do it all again. It sounds easy, but there are a couple of rules here: First, you start from a complete stop, so once you “set and forget” your throttle, you can’t manipulate it to prevent stalling or to change the amount of power transferred to the driveline to help get you over the board. Second, when you ride over the 2×4, you don’t pass go if you “shoot” it out from under the rear tire. That’s to say that the 2×4 must stay in place as you ride over. People often struggle to keep the 2×4 in place because they tend to let the clutch out too quickly, sending too much power to the rear tire as it rolls onto and over the board.

Motor School with Quinn Redeker Clutch Situation
The 2×4 Drill teaches you better clutch control by slowing your roll.

The good news? You got it right on your first try. The bad? I’m only referring to you successfully buckling that helmet. Set it up and do it again while I make some calls to confirm you have a real motorcycle license.

Motor School Clutch Control Exercise 3: Incline Drill

Find an incline, such as a hill, a long driveway, or an abandoned loading ramp. Nothing too steep but something that generates decent rolling resistance. Next, stage yourself for lift off by facing up the incline. Once you’ve set your engine speed, smoothly, slowly take off and put your feet on the pegs. Go as slow as possible, using only your clutch to control your momentum. Once you’ve made it 15 feet or so, pull in the clutch and put your feet down. Here’s the rule: Don’t use your brakes to rest on the incline, instead engage only the clutch, and in the amount necessary to hold you in place on the incline as you reset. When you’re ready, do it again, moving slowly toward the top. A word of caution: Don’t fry your clutch with high revs. If the clutch is getting warm or the engine is getting hot, take an easy lap around the block before getting back to work on these drills.

Well, color me amazed. Just wait till your friends see how much better you control your bike when the speeds ratchet down. Now don’t quote me, but if you get your mind right and really work these drills, I’m confident we can finally hack those training wheels off, slap some Girl Scout patches on your leathers, and have you going freeway speeds in no time!

Find Quinn at Police Motor Training. Send feedback to [email protected].

See all Motor School with Quinn Redeker articles here.

The post Motor School with Quinn Redeker: Clutch Situation appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

UPS AND DOWNS: debuts to remember, returning to winning ways and a difficult round for some in Australia

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicked off in style at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, with the legendary circuit not disappointing. It’s a season-opener that’ll live long in the memory thanks to stunning overtakes, dream debuts and much, much more. With the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round now in the history books, let’s take a look at some of the ups and downs that emerged from Round 1 of 2024.

ALEX LOWES BACK ON TOP: first wins since 2020 for the Kawasaki star

With Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) effectively becoming KRT’s team leader, and switching crew chiefs to work with Pere Riba, all eyes were on the #22 to see how he’d fare in Australia. The answer? Almost perfectly. Third on the grid set him up nicely for Race 1, and he finished fourth, but Sunday he was back on top. Almost four years on from his last win, he won the Tissot Superpole Race and followed this up with victory in Race 2, moving into the lead on the final lap with an audacious move around the outside of Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) at Lukey Heights.

BULEGA’S BRILLIANCE: a debut pole and win

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) came into the Australian Round full of confidence, after topping the majority of test days. The #11 put it on pole in the Tissot Superpole session with a 1’27.916s, the first sub-1’28s of Phillip Island. He was able to convert that into a Race 1 victory despite dropping back in the first half of the race, using his pace well around the mandatory pit stop window to fight for victory. He secured two more top-five finishes on Sunday, with ‘Bulegas’ showing he’ll be there or there abouts in 2024.

IANNONE’S BACK: like he’d never been away

After no competitive riding for four years, it’s possible to think someone may have lost their edge. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) hasn’t. Like Bulega, the Italian was quick through testing but, as the old adage goes, testing is testing and racing is racing. The round came, and Iannone’s pace was still there. He provisionally went pole position before taking P2 on the grid and secured a first podium in Race 1. An issue in the Superpole Race dropped him down the order, but in Race 2, he battled back to fourth.

WHAT COULD’VE BEEN: Locatelli, Razgatlioglu retire in Race 2

It had been a strong weekend for Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha), challenging for the win in all three races. However, attempting to pass Alex Lowes at Turn 4 on the final lap in Race 2, he ran wide and crashed from third. A disappointing end to a stunning weekend for ‘Loka’. His former teammate, Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), enjoyed a strong debut BMW weekend. A podium in the Superpole Race was the highlight but he was challenging for a rostrum in Race 2 before an engine issue forced him out of the race.

WEEKENDS TO FORGET: difficulty Down Under for several…

Jonathan Rea’s switch to the Pata Prometeon Yamaha team and his debut was much anticipated, but it turned into a bit of a damp squib. He took 11th in Superpole and in the Superpole Race, but that was as good as it got. Race 2 came to an end when he crashed at Turn 11, with the six-time Champion providing an update following the crash. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) celebrated his birthday on track, but that was really as good as it got for the home hero aside from P7 in Superpole. He retired from Race 1 but was sixth in the Superpole Race, before taking 12th in Race 2; he was last on the grid for the restarted race after making contact with Rea’s bike during his crash, before fighting back. Elsewhere, Honda’s struggles continued with Team HRC and Xavi Vierge, with the Spaniard taking a best of tenth in the flag-to-flag Race 1, while Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) left Australia as the lowest-placed BMW rider in the standings.

A NEW ERA HAS BEGUN: follow every moment from 2024 LIVE and UNINTERRUPTED using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

Bautista on Alex Lowes’ sensational pass: “I expected it at easier points… that corner, around the outside, no!”

After coming into the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round on the backfoot after carrying an injury and adjusting to new weight rules, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) ended the visit to Australian with a rostrum after a last-lap fight with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). The pair were battling until the very end, with just 0.048s separating them, as the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship kicked off in style.

Bautista had suffered throughout testing with a neck injury that he sustained in a crash at Jerez last year, in the first winter test leading into 2024. He commented during the Official Test at Phillip Island that he was feeling better with the injury, and he was getting closer and closer to the fatsest times as each test concluded. During the round, the #1 could only manage ninth in Superpole before a crash in Race 1 dropped him out of contention, eventually coming home in 15th and taking a solitary point while teammate Nicolo Bulega won.

In the Tissot Superpole Race, the Bautista was able to claim fourth place, directly ahead of Bulega, and only two seconds away from race winner Lowes. Bautista and Lowes battled it out for victory on the last lap of Race 2, along with Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) until he crashed at Turn 4. The race was ultimately decided at Lukey Heights, when the #22 swept around the outside of Bautista at Turn 9 to take the lead and victory by just 0.048s.

Discussing the last lap fight, Bautista said: “I’m happy, I think second place today was the maximum I could achieve. It was a really tricky race and with the red flag, it was very complicated. I managed the situation very well and, in the end, I tried to push to my maximum in the race. I had some tyre problems in the last three laps. It was difficult for me to enter the corner, lean and open the gas. I didn’t expect to have the problem I had. It was difficult to lean and go fast in the corners. I didn’t know which rider was behind me. I expected that they could pass me easily. In that corner, around the outside… no! I expected it at easier points. I tried to be close through the last corner but through the left turns, I always had a lot of problems. I couldn’t carry the speed mid-corner so it was really difficult.”

The new era is here! Watch every single moment from 2024 LIVE and UNINTERRUPTED using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

“Great race and great battle” for Petrucci after first rostrum of 2024

Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) added to his MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship podium tally with a thrilling third place in Race 2 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. After finishing 15th in the Tissot Superpole Race, ‘Petrux’ was able to bounce back in style just a few hours later as he took his first WorldSBK podium at the legendary circuit, bringing his total to four after claiming three in his rookie campaign.

Petrucci is now in his second season in WorldSBK and started his sophomore campaign off strongly, with a third-place podium in Race 2 after a fierce fight with compatriot Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven). In 2023, ‘Petrux’ had to wait until round six, at Donington Park, but Petrucci has enjoyed instant success in 2024 despite finishing eighth in Race 1 and 15th in the Tissot Superpole Race. The Italian will be hoping this continues throughout 2024 as he looks to make history and claim a win in World Superbike.

Discussing his podium, Petrucci said: “It was amazing to finish on the podium. It was a great race and great battle. In Race 1, we were fighting for the podium, but we had a problem with the pit stop and I couldn’t fight with the top guys. On Sunday morning, I didn’t feel good with the bike and didn’t know why, so I was a little bit nervous in Race 2. I was in the leading group before the red flag. First of all, I hope Jonny is okay because I was just behind him, and his crash was massive. 

“After the red flag, we were always there. I wanted to be the top Independent. I tried to pass Iannone and then Rinaldi, but in the last lap, Iannone came back at me. I said, ‘okay, I need to be at least top Independent’ and when I went to overtake him, I saw Locatelli crash; I hope he’s okay too. I said ‘come on Danilo, just half a lap’. This is a good result. I’ve always been quite unlucky around Phillip Island. I love this track and place, but for one reason or another, I always left this place without a smile. Today, I’m really happy.”

Petrucci’s made his position clear since moving to the WorldSBK paddock, in that he wants to add his name to the list of riders who have won in both WorldSBK and MotoGP™, plus the #9 has already had success in MotoAmerica, STK1000 and the Dakar Rally. It would be a huge achievement for the Italian to add a WorldSBK win to his name, given his success so far in everything else he has competed in as well as the competition he faces this year.

Discussing WorldSBK in 2024, Petrucci said: “In this Championship, especially this year, you can finish 15th or third. I was so upset but as I’ve said many times in pre-season, I think there are 12-15 riders who can stand on the podium, and this is really good for the Championship. It’s really exciting and fun to watch, but for us, it’s really tough because we are so close!”

Watch the 2024 campaign unfold in style using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

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

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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