Category Archives: WSBK

World Superbike Championship

Gerloff feels positive following Cremona test: “I know we can be faster”

Friday saw the second and final day of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s test at Cremona, Italy. Among several standout performances was that of Bonovo Action BMW’s Garrett Gerloff, who finished the combined standings on Friday in a highly respectable seventh place.

Friday morning saw Gerloff push for a best time of 1’30.459s, a result that left him in twelfth place heading into the break. In the afternoon, however, Gerloff found over a second of extra pace, pushing his time to an impressive 1’29.325s. This leapfrogged Gerloff five places in the combined standings, ultimately finishing in seventh place by the end of Friday’s test, racking up 59 completed laps in the process.

Discussing what the team can take forward from the test, Gerloff said: “I really like the track; it’s got a cool flow to it. I didn’t feel bad at all. We’re just doing circles a little bit. It’s been confusing why something that should work doesn’t, and why something that probably shouldn’t work does. I don’t know what, this year, has been going on. We’re making progress. It’s just we expect to be higher than we are. We’re doing our best to regain everything we need to get back to where we should be. We went back to a setup that we used at the beginning of the year that worked really well at Jerez but didn’t work at all at Portimao or in Australia; that was pretty terrifying, I thought it was me! We went back to it and at this track it feels good. We used it all day today. We’ve been scratching our heads a bit, but I feel good here so that’s a positive.”

After showing strong pace, Gerloff was asked if this track suited the natural strengths of the M 1000 RR. Teammate Scott Redding also displayed progression and improvement over the course of the two day test, improving from 1’30.389 to 1’29.215 by the end of the afternoon.

 Discussing this, Gerloff stated: “I don’t know, it really depends on how the next few rounds go and what we learn from that and what we show up with here. We might show up with the same setup or something completely different. As far as it goes about whether it’s a BMW track, I think it could be. At least for Toprak for sure, he can ride anything! It’s a stop and go track, at least in the beginning and the first sector, so I think that’ll suit him pretty well. I don’t feel bad, we just need to keep making improvements because I know we can be faster than we are.”

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REPORT: Gardner fastest on Friday ahead of Locatelli as Cremona test concludes

Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was the fastest man on a Friday test which saw several red flags at Cremona. The Australian rocketed to the top of the combined times in the afternoon session, ultimately proving to be only one of two riders to break into the 1’28s, alongside fellow Yamaha rider Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha). Ducati riders Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing), Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) and rider Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) made up the rest of the top five.

YAMAHA SHOW SPEED AT CREMONA: Gardner P1, Locatelli P2; Rea continues to adapt

Yamaha enjoyed a very successful Friday at Cremona, with three of their four riders occupying spots in the top eight. Gardner was a lowly 15th place in the morning test session but rebounded back in a big way to clock a time of 1’28.860s, claiming top spot. His teammate, Dominique Aegerter, rounded out the top eight with a strong time of 1’29.506s.

On the other side of the Japanese manufacturer, Locatelli enjoyed a very consistent Friday. In the morning session, Locatelli secured sixth place with a time of 1’30.076s. He ended the afternoon session on Friday with a vastly improved time of 1’28.919s, enough to secure second place behind Gardner. Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) suffered a technical issue in the morning session which forced him off track but managed to secure seventh place. In the afternoon session, Rea continued his search for consistency in the afternoon, ultimately managing a best time of 1’30.027s.

DUCATI SETS THE PACE: Rinaldi fastest for Bologna bullets, Bulega and Bautista not far behind

Rinaldi had been one of the top performers throughout the entirety of the past two days at Cremona. Friday saw the #21 finish fourth overall in the morning session, setting a time of 1’29.663s. He then smashed his own time in the afternoon session, clocking a time of 1’29.047s to claim third overall. Elsewhere within the Bologna manufacturer, Lowes set the pace during Friday morning, topping out the session (after 63 laps) of 1’29.137s. Lowes did not reappear for the afternoon session of testing, with the Marc VDS Ducati squad opting to leave with what they have already. Like the other Ducati members, the priority of the Lowes camp was track familiarity and track time as opposed to testing of new parts.

Ducati continues to enjoy testing success at Cremona, with Racing – Ducati’s Nicolo Bulega and Alvaro Bautista being consistently strong on Friday, their only day of testing at Cremona. Both Bulega and Bautista set very impressive times, coming in at 1’29.501s and 1’29.518s. Throughout the two-day test, the emphasis has been centered around both riders getting to grips with the track, as well as having as much track time as possible.


Bonovo Action BMW’s Scott Redding and Garrett Gerloff have been BMW’s sole riders at Cremona, given the absence of ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team’s Toprak Razgatlioglu and Michael van der Mark. Both Redding and Gerloff have been very similar in terms of pace, with the riders clocking in times of 1’30.389s and 1’30.459s respectively in the morning. In the afternoon, both Redding and Gerloff improved on their times, clocking 1’29.215s and 1’29.325s respectively. Redding suffered a mechanical issue early in Friday’s session, with Redding potentially testing a couple of items today but focusing on the setup of his M 1000 RR.

RABAT IMPRESSES AT CREMONA: busiest rider, consistently towards the top

Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s Tito Rabat has been one of the standout performers during the Cremona test, repeatedly coming in towards the top of the timesheets during testing. Rabat clocked a time of 1’29.663s on Friday morning, enough for a top five place. He has also been one of the most active riders on track, completing 121 laps on Day 1, whilst completing 112 on Day 2; a total of 233 laps across both days. Rabat ended the day with an improved time of 1’29.543s. Rabat and Puccetti Kawasaki were working on new configurations and setup from the Japanese manufacturer, and they were the only Kawasaki representatives on track.

HONDA LOOK FOR GAINS: Lecuona and Vierge make subtle improvements

Honda entered Friday’s Cremona test seeking to test different swingarms, as well as to gain familiarity with the track. In the morning session, Iker Lecouna (Team HRC) clocked a time of 1’30.229s, enough for eighth place. In the afternoon session, his time improved to 1’29.787s. It was a similar story for teammate Xavi Vierge, who clocked a time of 1’30.293s in the morning but managed to improve his time in the afternoon to 1’30.135s.

On the other side of the Honda setup, PETRONAS MIE Racing’s Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin had a good day. Mackenzie enjoyed a strong start in the morning session, clocking a time of 1’30.646s, but he could not improve that time in the afternoon, recording a best time of 1’31.165s. Norrodin, on the other hand, managed the opposite, improving from a 1’32.846s in the morning to a time of 1’31.591s in the afternoon.


For the second day in a row, Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) was the fastest of the WorldSSP riders on display during the Cremona test. The rider showed some good pace over the course of Friday’s test. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) claimed second with Khairul Idham Bin Pawi (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) in third. His teammate, Kaito Toba, was fourth with Ivan Goi (QJMOTOR Factory Racing) rounding out the field WorldSSP field.

The top six from Friday at Cremona, find the full results from Friday’s test at Cremona here:

1 Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’28.860s, 112 laps

2. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha), +0.059s, 72 laps

3. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing), +0.187s, 70 laps

4. Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing), +0.277s, 63 laps

5. Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW), +0.355s, 73 laps

6. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati), +0.363s, 94 laps

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Gardner jubilant after Day 2 at Cremona: “Very happy with the day… in the afternoon, I was fast and felt better!”

Despite missing the opening day of action at the Cremona Circuit, Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) topped the times on Day 2 by just 0.059s ahead of fellow Yamaha rider Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha). The Australian was the first rider to break into the 1’28s barrier at the Italian venue as he showed his and the R1’s potential at a circuit set to make its MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race debut later this year.

Like Locatelli, Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) and teammate Dominique Aegerter, the #87 sat out of Thursday’s action which was disrupted by heavy rain but made the most of Friday’s action. He completed 49 laps in the afternoon as he set the fastest lap of the test with a 1’28.860s while he also completed 61 laps in the morning to rack up more than 100 across the eight hours of testing on the final day.

The one-time podium finisher used Pirelli’s SCQ tyre to full advantage to set his lap time, although he had a run-off on the same compound shortly after. However, he was able to ride his bike back to the pits. He returned to the track later on although he didn’t improve his lap time, but it was good enough to secure top spot at a circuit he hadn’t been to before.

Discussing his test, Gardner said: “As we only had one day, I didn’t even know where the track went! I knew the first corner went left so I went out and started riding this morning. It felt okay but I definitely struggled a bit more this morning to get on the pace and the rhythm. I was struggling to set up the gearing because it’s new for everybody, but this afternoon we went back out with the gearing that works well. Straight away, I was fast and felt better. We found a lot of improvements on the bike and I’m happy with the day.”

Despite his strong performance, Gardner did have an eventful day. He had a run-off in the afternoon at Turn 2 which cost him valuable track time. He also revealed he made a save at Turn 7 in the morning after losing the front when the test wasn’t going as well as it did in the afternoon. The off-track excursion and the morning save didn’t seem to impact him as he set the best time of the test, and he was also the first rider to break into the 1’28s barrier.

Talking about his two big moments, Gardner said: “I saved one at Turn 7 this morning. I was pushing when things weren’t working too well, but I saved it on the elbow which was good. This afternoon, on the SCQ, I was doing a long run and just got the bike a bit unsettled on the braking marker into Turn 2 and ran off into the dirt. I just managed to stop it before the wall. I ended up in the grass and tried to re-join the track, but 30 metres in front of the grass, it turned into flat track mud, and I slipped on the mud. Unfortunately, I got dirty, and the bike got dirty!”

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GoEleven’s Sacchetti on Iannone’s future: “It doesn’t depend on us, but him and Ducati and maybe other manufacturers…”

The future of Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) is one of the hot topics in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship despite being just three rounds into his comeback season. The #29 has been impressive so far after fighting for podiums and leading races despite being away from competition for four years. It’s led to plenty of speculation about where he might end up in WorldSBK, with Team GoEleven’s Team Manager, Denis Sacchetti, commenting about his future at the Cremona test.

Iannone linked up with the Independent Ducati squad for 2024 after missing four years of competitive riding, but it’s looked like he hasn’t been away with his performances so far. He took a debut podium in Race 1 at Phillip Island with third and was second in the Tissot Superpole Race in Barcelona after being involved in a thrilling final-lap showdown with Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team).

With his performances so far turning heads, his future has become a topic of discussion, and his team manager spoke on Friday at Cremona about the subject. Sacchetti talked about the option in his GoEleven Ducati contract for 2025 but also about how the Italian’s future doesn’t depend on the team given his performances on their Independent Panigale V4 R.

Discussing where Iannone could end up in 2025, Sacchetti said: “I think he’s a top rider. Andrea is a really talented rider and I think he deserves to stay in WorldSBK with an official package and deserves also to ride in MotoGP™. I think, at the moment, he has to decide what he wants for his career. There’s an option to stay in the team. It’s a one-year contract with an option for a second year. He has to decide whether to accept the option or not. It depends on what he wants to do. If he wants to stay with us, we’d be really happy, because I think we can fight for really good results even if we’re a private team; we’re a private team with good support from Ducati. I think we are competitive enough to fight for the podium at every race. I don’t know. His future doesn’t depend on us but on him and Ducati and maybe other manufacturers that have much more power than us!”

There have been rumours about a potential return to MotoGP™ for Iannone, which the one-time MotoGP™ race winner responded to at Assen and now Sacchetti has answered as well. When asked whether it could be an option for the 34-year-old, Sacchetti said: “I think he can also have options in MotoGP™.”

Iannone was asked on Thursday at Cremona about his future, and he said: “Every day, we have something new because every day something changes. It’s normal and not only for me. I want to focus on the Championship. After Misano, I’ll start to decide my future. First of all, it’s important to decide whether I remain in WorldSBK or not.”

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REPORT: Sam Lowes leads Rinaldi on Day 1 at Cremona as heavy rain curtails afternoon running

Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) was the fastest rider on the opening day of testing at the Cremona Circuit, taking advantage of the best conditions of the day to post the best time on Thursday. With sunny skies greeting the field in the morning, it looked like an ideal day for testing but, during the lunch break, heavy rain fell which disrupted the afternoon’s proceedings.

SAM LOWES TOP, LECUONA THIRD: a good return to the bike for the #7

Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) was fast out of the blocks on Day 1, utilising his recent track day experience at the circuit to post rapid times with the #21 the first to break into the 1’30s barrier. However, he finished the day 0.155s slower than Lowes after the Brit set a rapid 1’29.976s to claim top spot, while the #14 also racked up the most laps with 76 under his belt in just four hours. Rinaldi was one of two WorldSBK riders to test Cremona in the wet, completing 20 laps and posting a 1’39.413s for his fastest time in the afternoon, around nine seconds slower than his dry-weather pace. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) rounded out the top three as he looked to get back to full fitness, setting a 1’30.510s for P3 although he did just over half the laps his teammate completed.

THREE RIDERS, HALF A TENTH: little to separate Vierge, Redding and Rabat

It was a good day for Honda with Lecuona’s teammate, Xavi Vierge, in fourth. He was two tenths slower than Lecuona after setting a 1’30.751s and racked up 60 laps compared to Lecuona’s 36. Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) was the lead BMW rider as he claimed fifth, just 0.030s back from the #97 directly ahead. Across his two bikes, the #45 completed 31 laps. Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) rounded out the top sixth as he set a 1’30.801s and the #53 was also the first rider to venture out onto the wet track in the afternoon session, roughly an hour into it. In the wet afternoon running, Rabat racked up 45 laps – the most of anybody in the red-flagged session – with a best of 1’42.408s.

ROUNDING OUT THE FIELD: Gerloff, Mackenzie, Iannone and Norrodin

With the Racing – Ducati, GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team and Pata Prometeon Yamaha squads opting to test only on Friday, the WorldSBK field was down to 10 for Thursday’s action. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) claimed seventh with a 1’30.881s, exactly a tenth behind his teammate, with Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) in eighth and three tenths back from the American. The #29 was one of the last riders to head out on track this morning with just 32 laps completed, which included an off-track excursion at Turn 7 in the morning. The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda duo of Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin were ninth and tenth respectively.


In WorldSSP, five riders took to the track. Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) led the way with a 1’32.619s to take top spot, with Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in second. Huertas had a technical issue in the afternoon which briefly brought out the red flags, with the #99 the only WorldSSP rider to test in the wet. Oncu in second had new material to test on his ZX-6R machine and his fastest time was a 1’33.925s. Kaito Toba (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) was third with a 1’34.845s ahead of teammate Khairul Idham Bin Pawi in fourth. Ivan Goi – standing in at QJMOTOR Factory Race for Raffaele De Rosa – rounded out the WorldSSP field after setting a 1’37.422s.

The top six in WorldSBK from Day 1 at Cremona, click here for the morning results here and see the afternoon results here:

1. Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) 1’29.976s, 76 laps

2. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) +0.155s, 67 laps

3. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +0.534s, 36 laps

4. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) +0.775s, 60 laps

5. Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) +0.805s, 31 laps

6. Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +0.825s, 121 laps

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Rinaldi revels at Cremona with P2: “Good start… immediately had a good feeling!”

As the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship made its way to Cremona, Italy for a two-day test, there were several impressive performances on display. One of the most notable was that of Team Motocorsa Racing’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who showed his speed and potential by leading for the large majority of Day 1 of WorldSBK’s first test at the Italian circuit.

A beautiful, sunny morning in Cremona saw several riders take to the track for the first time since its renovation, with Rinaldi and rival Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) immediately the two fastest riders on the track. Rinaldi led for the majority of the morning session, increasingly improving his time before eventually pitting with an hour remaining of the session. He would ultimately be second only to Marc VDS Ducati’s Lowes.

Rinaldi would ultimately post a time of 1’30.131s. Speaking about the track and the test, Rinaldi said: “I really like the track. I was able to try the track last week so I could avoid some laps with the WorldSBK bike to understand the track, which allowed us to immediately have a good feeling with the bike. Today, there aren’t all the riders, so I expect tomorrow to see our real level at this track. It’s been a good start. It’s a really strange layout, it’s not usual. The setup surprised me because it was okay for this track. It was strange because I did my best lap time with the SC0 not the SCX. Maybe, tomorrow, we’ll fix that to be faster with the softer tyre. This afternoon, we had the opportunity to test in the wet and I was quite surprised that the grip offered us. Some laps in the wet helped us to have a good feeling maybe for Donington or Magny-Cours. It was a good start.”

In this afternoon’s session, which was inhibited by rain, the riders were faced with a wet surface. Despite posting a time of around 10 seconds slower than the morning session, Rinaldi was extremely positive. Rinaldi was one of two WorldSBK riders who ventured out into the wet, the other being Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). The #21 completed 20 laps in the wet, with a best time of 1’39.413s.

Speaking about his experience of testing in the wet, Rinaldi said: “I really liked it in the wet. Usually, I don’t feel so good in the wet! The bike doesn’t always give me good feelings, but I went out and immediately had a good feeling. The bike was functioning okay in the wet. Nothing to try in these conditions. Today’s enough, hopefully tomorrow we have a full day of dry running, so we’ll focus on that.”

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"Very positive for us" – Lecuona happy after Day 1 at Cremona after taking P3

The Cremona Circuit hosted the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field for testing this week, with Thursday marking the first WorldSBK track action at the Italian circuit. One rider on track was Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) who made his return from injury, completing 36 laps on Day 1 in the morning before the rain fell as he finished in third place behind Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing).


Lecuona hasn’t been on a bike since a crash in FP3 at Assen which ruled him out of the remainder of the Dutch Round after he was diagnosed with knee pain and knee functional impairment with the injury also having an impact on his training. After getting half-a-day’s running under his belt, the Spaniard spoke about how he was feeling on the CBR01000RR-R as he finished ahead of teammate Xavi Vierge in the morning, with neither going out in the rain.


Providing an update on his injury, Lecuona said: “I feel quite good. I still don’t feel 100% ready on the knee. I have some hard things inside the knee, and I’ve already checked it with the doctor, and I’ll check it again after Misano. It’s not dangerous but it’s not very comfortable. Overall, I feel quite good. It’s been a lot of time without the bike, even at home I couldn’t ride; I focused on the physical performance. I didn’t have the chance to be on the bike. I’m quite happy about the feeling on the bike.”


Lecuona and HRC opted to only complete the morning session after rain fell during the lunch break, with Lecuona completing 36 laps and Vierge 60. Lecuona’s best time was a 1’30.131s as he lapped around half-a-second slower than pacesetter Lowes, with Vierge another two tenths back from the one-time podium finisher. Despite limited running due to rain, Honda had a good day with strong pace as they look to recover from a disappointing start to 2024.


Reviewing the test, Lecuona added: “It’s not whether I like the track or not. I like the back straight because you can rest. On the main straight it’s impossible. It was fun but very physical. I learnt a lot. We worked a little bit on the bike, trying just the Assen setup. We didn’t want to change properly. I started to feel comfortable on the bike and we started to understand a few things that we changed on the bike so that’s very positive for us.”


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LIVE COVERAGE: Minute by minute coverage from Cremona’s WorldSBK test

The Cremona Circuit in Italy is preparing for its first MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship round later this year and, to prepare, is hosting a two-day test for around half of the WorldSBK field as well as a few riders from WorldSSP. You can read a preview of the test HERE as well as follow live timing right HERE as teams, riders and manufacturers get their first taste of the recently renovated venue. All times stated are in Local Time (UTC+2).

09:26 – More riders are taking to the track, with Xavi Vierge (Team HRC), Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Honda Racing) and Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) testing now.

09:21 – Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) is out on track. A reminder he, along with Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati), completed a track day on the Panigale V4 S last week.

09:15 – Some information to bring you from our journalist on the ground – neither Pata Prometeon Yamaha with Jonathan Rea and Andrea Locatelli, nor GYTR GRT Yanaha WorldSBK Team with Remy Gardner and Dominique Aegeter, will test today. They’ll be on track on Friday.

09:07 – The first rider out on track is Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s Tito Rabat on his ZX-10RR.

09:00 – The green flags wave to signal the start of the session.


PREVIEW: Cremona prepares for first WorldSBK action with two-day test

The next MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship round takes place in June, but teams and riders are taking advantage of a break in the race action to head to the Cremona Circuit for a two-day test ahead of the track’s scheduled debut on the calendar later this season. All five manufacturers are represented at the test which takes place on Thursday and Friday this week, with 15 riders from WorldSBK and a handful from WorldSSP joining the test.

CREMONA’S FIRST ACTION: a first taste of WorldSBK

The Italian venue recently underwent some renovations which included work on parts of the 3.768km-long circuit with a focus on Turns 11, 12 and 13 as well as work on facilities and entrances. The test this week will be the first time most riders will experience the Italian venue, although Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) and Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati) took advantage of a track day last week to understand the circuit.

DUCATI WELL REPRESENTED: Bautista, Bulega, Independents and a test team

The Racing – Ducati outfit will have three riders at the track, with Alvaro Bautista and teammate Bulega present. The Ducati squad will also have a test team there to maximise their efforts at Cremona. Elsewhere, Team Motocorsa Racing – the organisers of the test – will have Michael Ruben Rinaldi as he looks to bounce back from what he’s described as the toughest season for him in WorldSBK. Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) and Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) will also test following strong starts to their respective rookie campaigns. Ducati will also have Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) from WorldSSP at the test.

FOUR YAMAHA BIKES: GRT Yamaha joins Pata Prometeon Yamaha

Factory teams will be at the test although not all of them. Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) and teammate Andrea Locatelli will be there for Yamaha as they prepare for the Italian Round at Cremona, and Yamaha will have four bikes there. The Pata Prometeon Yamaha riders will be joined by Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), fresh from his maiden podium at Assen, and teammate Dominique Aegerter.

A BUSY TEST FOR HONDA: Lecuona back from injury alongside Vierge

After a difficult start to 2024, Honda will be hoping the Cremona test will give them a boost ahead of the Emilia-Romagna Round. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) will make his return from injury, after missing the Dutch Round through injury, as he looks to kickstart what’s been a challenging season for the #7. Teammate Xavi Vierge will also be there, alongside PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda duo Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin. There will also be two British Superbike Honda riders there, with Tommy Bridewell and Andrew Irwin present, as well as the two WorldSSP MIE Honda riders of Kaito Toba and Khairul Idham Bin Pawi.

TWO BIKES FOR BMW, ONE FOR KAWASAKI: Redding, Gerloff for BMW, Rabat for Kawasaki

BMW will only have two bikes on track, with the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team duo of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Michael van der Mark not testing. Instead, the German manufacturer’s data collection will come from Bonovo Action BMW, who have their rider line-up of Scott Redding and Garrett Gerloff. Elsewhere, Kawasaki will be represented by Independent outfit Kawasaki Puccetti Racing and Tito Rabat, with the Spaniard set to test some new configurations and work on setup. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), fresh from his British Supersport win, will test material on the chassis on his ZX-6R machine. Raffaele De Rosa (QJMOTOR Factory Racing) will also be there on his QJMOTOR SRK 800 RR as the Chinese manufacturer gathers data following their WorldSSP debut this season.

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BAUTISTA FUTURE LATEST: “I still feel young… I don’t have the feeling to say ‘I’ll stop’…”

It’s what a motorcycle racer has known all of their life; from the first steps onto a track with pocket bikes to voyages into World Championships, falling down to rising high, clinching wins, titles, fans and emotions. To end it all and finish the dream is a complicated subject. In a career that has gone on for more than two decades, bringing three World Championships, 75 World Championship race wins and over 130 podiums, it’s the question Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) faces. To pack it all in despite still being a race winner and current Championship leader, or to extend his current contract with Ducati into 2025, where he’ll start the season aged 40. Few race beyond, even fewer succeed with titles but with racing being a hobby and a way of life, the reigning double WorldSBK Champion needs no motivation… he just needs to decide whether to roll the dice on more time or not.

Reflecting on the duration of his World Championship career, Bautista reminisced: “I think in that time, I can’t believe that I kept racing for more than 20 years and winning in my last years. When I started in 2003 as a World Championship rider, it was a dream come true. I watched the races in TV with my father as a child. In that moment, I didn’t think ‘I want to be a rider and race many years’, I’d just started racing. From that moment, the dream of my life was complete. After that, I won the title in 2006 and then I went to 250cc and MotoGP™, racing against the best riders in the world. I came to WorldSBK, a new Championship but I won two titles. It’s still like the first day of school; I have the same motivations, ambitions, I work on myself to be a better rider every time. I’m not tired of racing. It’s strange because it’s been many years in a high level of competition but I still feel young.”

CHANGING MOTIVATIONS: “I feel like I’m racing because I’m enjoying; I want to race, it’s like a hobby”

Talking about motivation, how different factors have changed over the years and how he “doesn’t have” it right now, the reigning double World Champion said: “The motivations are different after every year. In every moment, especially in MotoGP™ when I didn’t have the best bike, I tried to achieve the maximum. If I can’t win a race because of the bike, team or whatever, it was about trying to achieve the best result and do the best for me. Before, I was more focused on myself but now, it’s a different story. I don’t know if it’s because I have family, my age or because I have more experience but I see things in a different way.

“I feel less pressure than in MotoGP™; I feel like I am racing because I’m enjoying and I want to race. It’s like a hobby, not like my work. When you do things like it’s a hobby, it’s because you want to. When you want to, you don’t need motivation because you’re doing it as you want to do it and you like doing it. Right now, I don’t feel like I have a motivation because I’m enjoying it, so I like it and do it. I don’t need motivation. It’s really, really nice to share the races with family, friends, my daughters, so it’s a different situation. With experience and age, I see things in a different way.”

DIFFERENT TO OTHERS: “I want to be competitive so I need to work more”

After a dominant start to 2023 and winning in big battles at the end, does new motivation come from beating new opposition? “Winning is always nice! To battle is always nice too. I started last year by winning many races and also the whole year, it wasn’t like I had everything under control but more or less like ‘if I do this, this and this, I can win the race’, as I knew the rivals really well. However, this year is different. The riders are different, the level is different, I started with the physical problem and this year, I don’t know why but I feel more motivation and more eagerness to work harder to be better. I feel the level is higher so if I want to be competitive now, I have to work harder – but it’s not a ‘motivation’, it’s because I want to be competitive so I need to work more. It’s not like other riders where if they win and if they face difficulties, think that ‘I’ve done many years so I’ll stay at home, I don’t need to keep working and trying to improve my ways’; for me it’s different. That’s what happening this year with all the changes; it has given me more confidence in my work to try and reach the best performance.”

INJURY AND AGE: “In Spain, we say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’”

“Maybe when you’re younger, you recover sooner but it’s true that for me, I’d never had an injury like this in the past,” said the 39-year-old, who suffered a preseason testing crash and thus was injured throughout testing and Round 1. “Fortunately, the injuries I had before were like broken bones or something like that where it is easy to recover. It’s a new kind of injury for me but in Spain, we say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, so after this injury, I felt better because I had to work in another area of my body or in a different way. This injury made me feel like I’m improving myself and I discovered a new area where I can improve to be better. In the end, I took the positive thing of the injury.”

FAMILY MAN: “Family is very important… but at the moment, my feeling is that they enjoy my world”

“In the end, family is very important; especially now, as my daughters are bigger and they understand more about my life, work and travels. But at the moment, my feeling is that they enjoy my world a lot. It’s always a big pleasure for me to keep racing and enjoying the time with them. However, it’s not only the family. I’ve been many years at a high level of competition, the age and there start to be more factors outside of the family that can effect my future. There’s new rivals too but fortunately, I have good support from my family and friends and that’s important to keep me focused on racing.”

AS IT STANDS, CONTINUE OR STOP? “I keep racing because I enjoy it and because I’m doing my best, but right now…”

Championship leader despite having less wins than arch-rival Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), Bautista is surprised to be there, confirming the feeling hasn’t quite been recovered fully: “If you’d told me at the beginning of the season, before the first race and after the winter where my feeling with my bike and myself was not the best, that I’d be leading the Championship after Round 3, I’d not be able to believe it. It’s been a good surprise to lead the Championship after a strange weekend in Australia and the tricky conditions at Assen, where I struggled before in the cold and wet. Right now, I want to have a good feeling with the bike; it’s not the same feeling as last year so before thinking about the future, I want to recover the feeling and the feeling of being 100% at my best. Right now, I feel like we are 85% or 90%. I keep racing because I enjoy it and because I’m doing my best but right now, I don’t think we’re in our best so first of all, I want to recover this feeling. Then, I’ll think about the future.”

“After the Cremona and Misano tests, I hope to work on the bike and change the things I wanted to in the races but for example, at Assen, we couldn’t try anything. I’ll try to make tests that I wanted to do and between them, I hope to get the feeling back and arrive for the Misano races at my best. Then, I’ll see how my performance is comparing against the race.”

HERE TO STAY? “I don’t have the feeling to say ‘I’ll stop’…

Talking about whether it’s difficult to contemplate ending what he’s known his whole life, Bautista was clear in not having that feeling… yet: “I don’t know as at the moment, I don’t have the feeling to say ‘I stop’. I’m just focused on recovering the feeling and enjoying it. I don’t feel pressure or that it’s my work, just relaxed and that it’s my hobby. I want to enjoy my hobby. The moment I wake up in the morning and don’t think, ‘I want to be a better rider’, I will stop. At the moment, I want to be better to enjoy the bike.”

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