DREAM DEBUTS: Bulega stuns for maiden WorldSBK victory, Iannone secures first podium on racing comeback

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) made MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship history in Race 1 of the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round by becoming the first rider to win on their WorldSBK debut since teammate Alvaro Bautista in 2019. He led an all-Italian podium, the first time this has happened since Race 1 at Misano in 1993, with Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) and Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) completing the rostrum; the latter marking his return to competitive action by leading the race and taking third place.

IANNONE LEADS ON COMEBACK: stunning start from lights out

Iannone got the holeshot to lead in his first race back after four years away from any competition, proving ‘The Maniac’ still has what it takes to compete at the front. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was able to challenge the Ducati star an took the lead with an incredible move through the Hayshed to move into the lead, which he held before Iannone come through into Turn 1 on Lap 2.

There was a several rider group fighting for the top positions, including Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) who surged from ninth to be in the top three although a crash at Turn 10 on Lap 4 dropped him out of victory contention. The lead group exchanged positions consistently until the pit stop phase between Laps 9 and 11, with the order shaken out a bit following the stops to change the rear tyres.

BULEGA’S DREAM COMES TRUE: a debut win as Iannone takes the podium

The first leaders came in on Lap 9, with Iannone, Bulega, Lowes, Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) and Bautista all pitting. Bulega came out ahead – he was in the lead prior to the stops after passing Iannone at Turn 1 on Lap 7 – before remaining unchallenged as he claimed a stunning maiden victory on the Panigale V4 R, leading home an all-Italian podium. Locatelli battled his way from sixth into second place, as he used an alternative strategy by pitting on Lap 11, with Iannone in third after losing ground on his outlap.

The #29 had to fight against Lowes and Razgatlioglu to claim his first podium, his first visit to the rostrum since the MotoGP™ Australian Grand Prix in 2018, finishing only two seconds down on Bulega out in front. Locatelli showed strong pace in the second half of the race to move ahead of his rivals, including passing Iannone before he took advantage of ‘The Maniac’ running wide at Turn 4 to extend his gap. Bulega became the first rider to win consecutive races in different Championships, after winning Race 2 at Jerez in WorldSSP and Race 1 at Phillip Island in WorldSBK, while only the third Italian to win on debut after Max Biaggi and Davide Tardozzi. The podium not featuring the ‘Titanic Trio’ is the first since Portimao in 2021 when Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) and Loris Baz shared the rostrum.

JUST MISSING OUT: Razgatlioglu P5 in first BMW race, Aegerter fights back

Despite fighting for a podium, Lowes finished the race in fourth although his pace was fast throughout the 20-lap race, finishing only four seconds away from victory. Razgatlioglu claimed fifth place although he did cross the line in P4. The 2021 Champion was given a 1.225s penalty for a Pit Intervention Time infringement while swapping his tyres, which demoted him to fifth as he finished as the lead BMW rider. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was sixth. He started from P4 but dropped as low as 14th in the first half of the race before fighting his way back into the top six.

IN THE TOP TEN: Gerloff battles, Redding penalised, all five manufacturers in the top 10

The BMW’s pace was on display throughout with van der Mark (in seventh after the Dutchman battled his way up the grid. The #60 had been setting fastest laps throughout the first part of the race as he finished just a tenth behind Aegerter. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) was ninth ahead of Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), who had battled forwards from the back of the grid after a difficult Tissot Superpole. His teammate, Redding, had followed him forwards but a Pit Intervention Time penalty of 2.030s dropped him behind Xavi Vierge (Team HRC). Vierge crossed the line in 11th, but Redding’s penalty promoted him into the top ten to ensure all five manufacturers were in the top ten.

POINTS DESPITE PENALTY: Bassani starts with P12, Bautista 15th after crash

Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) scored points on his KRT debut despite having to complete a Long Lap Penalty after a collision with Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team). ‘El Bocia’ and Gardner came together on Lap 3 at Turn 10 as Bassani tried an ambitious overtake, with the FIM Stewards penalising the Italian with a Long Lap Penalty for the collision. He was ahead of Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), who dropped down the order after a superb start, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) in 14th. Bautista claimed a solitary point after his crash.

DISASTER FOR REA: no points for Yamaha’s new recruit

Philipp Oettl (GMT94 Yamaha) had shown incredible pace at Phillip Island both last year, and throughout the Official Test and Free Practice sessions this year, but was unable to repeat his top-five performance from last year. He came home in 16th place, ahead of Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha). The Ulsterman has struggled throughout the weekend and that continued in Race 1, with Rea finishing 38 seconds away from victory. Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 18th ahead of PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team duo Tarran Mackenzie and Adam Norrodin, while Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was 21st and the last classified rider after he had a crash in the first half of the race.

The top six from WorldSBK Race 1, full results here:

1 Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

2. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) +2.280s

3. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) +2.630s

4. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +4.728s

5. Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +5.706s

6. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +8.333s

Fastest lap: Nicolo Bulega (Ducati), 1’28.564s – new lap record

A NEW ERA BEGINS: watch the 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race on Sunday at 13:00 Local Time (UTC+11) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

THE MANIAC HAS COME TO TOWN: P3 for Iannone on debut “full of emotions” when leading

Four years away but certainly back to play and in the thick of the feisty action, Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) returned to World Championship competition with emotion, flare and charisma at Phillip Island. His first race day was the moment he’d been waiting for and at one of his most successful circuits, ‘The Maniac’ was always going to be strong. However, after an incredible charge to second on the grid – forming the first-ever rookie 1-2 on the grid for their debut round – he converted it into a first podium having led numerous laps, finishing P3 at the chequered flag.

FIRST RACE DAY IN OVER FOUR YEARS: front row and rostrum

The strong start for ‘Crazy Joe’ got underway at Phillip Island in the Tissot Superpole session, where he went provisionally pole before fellow rookie Italian debutant Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) stormed to pole. P2 for Iannone was nonetheless a massive surprise and a welcome return to form, becoming the – ironically – 29th rider to achieve a front row in both MotoGP™ and WorldSBK.

The race itself was always going to be eventful for Iannone and it was no different – albeit local wildlife and seagull population were not impacted. He grabbed the holeshot with a mega launch from his P2 starting place; he was passed by Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) just before the end of the opening lap but before the end of Lap 2, he was back ahead and for the first time in over seven years, led a race across the finish line. He led until just before the pitstops, when Bulega came by whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was right there.

COSTLY MISTAKES: P3 but perhaps what could have been?

Iannone stayed in contention for second place but it was Bulega who checked out at the front. A mistake at Turn 4 on his first lap after the pitstops dropped him down to P4 from P2 and lost him valuable time but he fought back into P2 when challenging Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha). However, he made another mistake with just a handful of laps remaining, ending any hopes of second but he was a solid third at the flag for his first podium in over five years, leading to joyous scenes in his pit box and when the team made their way to Parc Ferme.

“IT’S INCREDIBLE FOR ME… PURE ENERGY” – emotional Iannone’s first words after first podium

Speaking about his debut WorldSBK podium, Iannone was absolutely thrilled: “It’s incredible for me; I didn’t expect this comeback and I’m living the dream. When you have a feeling with the bike it’s important but for me, it’s fantastic to be at this level. I saw a lot of support from other people and this is more important than the level that I’m at now. It’s pure energy for me after all these years. The race was much better and when I was leading, I was full of emotions and it was a little bit ‘wow, a shock!’. I made a mistake twice but we’re not at 100% with the engine braking. For the start, it’s OK! Tomorrow is a different day so we’ll try to improve but without any stress. It’s important that we smile right now and enjoy this.”

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

Source: WorldSBK.com

OUSTANDING Bulega on historic debut WorldSBK win: "Maybe it’s the best day of my life"

It was a day to remember for Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) as he enjoyed his first race day as a factory Ducati rider in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Starting from pole position, it was a busy race for the #11 after dropping back in the early stages but fought through to take a sensational debut win in the class, despite playing down any chance of his pre-season testing pace being converted in the opening races of the season.

STORY OF SATURDAY: the #11 in P1 for most of it

It’s not often that someone takes pole position in the last World Supersport race of the season and then, when graduating WorldSBK, qualifies on pole for that too. In fact, it’s so rare that it had never happened – that was until a sensational debut by Nicolo Bulega saw him rocket to pole position in Tissot Superpole with a 1’27.916. It was the first-ever 1’27 for WorldSBK at Phillip Island and the first rookie debut pole position since Ben Spies in 2009.

Come the race itself, ‘Bulegas’ was squeezed by compatriot and fellow rookie Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) off the line, with the #29 taking the lead at Doohan’s for the first time, showing no signs of rustiness after four years away from the races. However, before the round of pitstops and fighting back through from fifth in a calm manner with bold moves, reigning WorldSSP Champion Bulega had hit the front and was the first to blink to come into the pits. Getting it timed to absolute perfection in terms of the pit intervention time, he pulled a gap and from that moment, went unchallenged. He came down across the stripe for the final time to take victory in one of the most formidable starts to a World Superbike season ever.

“It’s something special that I’ll never forget” – the dream comes true

Emotion was clear for all to see as the dream had been achieved, with Bulega saying: “Maybe it’s the best day of my life! It’s difficult to already believe it but it is something incredible; I was dreaming about this for many months but now it’s reality. I took pole position, I won my first race and got the lap record. It’s something special that I’ll never forget.”

THE MILESTONES: Bulega breaks records

Bulega set numerous records on his first race day as a WorldSBK rider – and now, WorldSBK winner. He leads the Championship for the first time after becoming just the third Italian to win at Phillip Island after Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri in 2012 and 2018 respectively. He’s also the fifth rider to win their first race with Ducati; Doug Polen, John Kocinski, Anthony Gobert and Alvaro Bautista all achieved it before.

In terms of being a winner in WorldSSP and WorldSBK, the 24-year-old is the 11th rider to win in both. He is also only the second rider in history to win a WorldSSP Championship and then lead a WorldSBK Championship; in Imola 2004, Chris Vermeulen was briefly ahead but he is the only one to have done it. It’s also another win for the #11 at Phillip Island, after the factory Ducati of Troy Corser in 1999’s epic Race 2 fight with teammate Carl Fogarty.

“I STARTED TO CRY” – the raw emotions

When asked about what his first thoughts were when he came down the straight and crossed the line, the emotions let loose: “I started to cry a little bit and then, there were good emotions as I saw all my guys on the finish line and all my guys with a big, incredible smile. It was so nice for me. It’s incredible because this team is like my second family and they always believed in me. When I came here from Moto2™, I was in a bad moment but they kept believing. This is my third year with them and we started in a very good way. I’ll try to continue giving them a lot of smiles. I’m ready for my first Tissot Superpole Race and I’ll try to do my best.”

BAUTISTA ON HIS NEW TEAMMATE: “It’s nice to have him as a teammate; a good motivation”

Usually the one stealing the show at Ducati, Alvaro Bautista could only manage 15th after a crash in his first race of 2024 but was happy for his stablemate’s debut win: “It’s not easy; when I won in 2019, it was a real rookie race! I didn’t know the tyres, Championship or the bike. At least he won last year with the Pirellis and this is his third year with them and also, he knows Ducati, as the bike, even in WorldSSP, has a similar concept. It’s not easy, especially this season as there are a lot of riders that can win the race. Congratulations to him and it’s nice to have him as a teammate as it’s a good motivation and good rider to learn from every race.”

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

Source: WorldSBK.com

462 DAYS LATER: Montella returns to the top step with thrilling victory, Huertas out before race starts

Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) started the 2024 FIM Supersport World Championship campaign in the perfect style with an almost-flawless performance at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. The Italian ended a drought of more than 400 days for his two victories in WorldSSP, both coming at this circuit, as he recovered from a poor start to take the first win of the season at the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round, while polesitter Adrian Huertas (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) ended before lights went out.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF: Huertas’ race ends before it begins, drama for Montella

There was drama from before lights out as Huertas was taken off the grid, before re-joining after the Warm Up lap but boxing once again. After the race started, Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Glenn van Straalen (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) came together on the entry to the Southern Loop. The incident was placed under investigation by the FIM Stewards. When the lights went out, Montella – who effectively led the field away – lost momentum as he dropped back despite seemingly moving before the lights went out, allowing Manzi to take the lead as Montella tried to recover from his poor start.

THE VICTORY FIGHT: Montella finds time over Manzi

Manzi had been the race leader in the early stages but lost ground, and positions, to Montella, Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) before the pit window opened on Lap 8. There were split strategies in the lead group, with Manzi and Montella pitting on Lap 8 and Schroetter and Debise a lap later. When it had all played out, Montella had opened a six second gap over his rivals while Schroetter stayed ahead of Manzi, before the #62 came past on Lap 11 to re-claim second place. Meanwhile, Debise’s race had come to an end when he crashed at Turn 6 on Lap 10.

Manzi tried to close the gap to Montella ahead but ended up in a fierce scrap with MV Agusta rider Schroetter, with the German trying to pass Manzi into Turn 4 although the Italian held on. This allowed Montella to create a gap of over seven seconds to the chasing pack as he claimed his second win in WorldSSP, both of which have come at the legendary Australian venue. It gave his Barni Ducati their first win since Imola 2018, when Matteo Ferrari won in STK1000, while it also ended a wait of 462 days for Montella’s victories.

THE BATTLE FOR FOURTH: five riders in just over a second

Behind the top three, an incredible scrap for fourth developed. Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) took fourth on his first race with his new team and manufacturer following his switch from Ducati. He was just 0.704s ahead of home hero Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing WorldSSP Team) in fifth as the Australian secured a career-best fifth place, showing strong pace to kickstart his 2024 campaign. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was sixth after starting from the back of the grid due to a tyre pressure infringement. The Turkish star was one of a handful of riders to pit on Lap 10, the final lap of the pit window, and used this to his advantage to take a top six.

Jorge Navarro (WRP-RT Motorsport by SKM-Triumph) and teammate John McPhee got their new adventure off to a stunning start with P7 and P8, with the duo separated by just 0.006s. Lucas Mahias (GMT94 Yamaha) featured in this battle although lost ground at the end, plus the Frenchman received a 1.950s penalty for a Pit Intervention Time infraction, with Mahias’ time in the pit lane coming in at just under the required 78 seconds. Tom Toparis (Stop & Seal Racing) secured a top ten, benefitting from a penalty to Yeray Ruiz (VFT Racing Yamaha). The Spaniard, like Mahias, wasn’t in the pit lane for long enough and he had 1.750s added to his time to be classified in 11th.

SECURING POINTS: fighting for the top 15

Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) took 12th place, around five seconds back from Ruiz ahead of him in the classification. Marcel Brenner (VIAMO Racing by MTM), returning to the Championship after not securing a full-time seat in 2023, battled with Sarmoon with the pair separated by just under a second. Ondrej Vostatek (PTR Triumph) was 14th with Malaysian rider Khairul Idham Bin Pawi (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) completing the points on his debut. Krittapat Keankum (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) took 16th, with the Thai rider penalised 1.550s for a Pit Intervention Time infraction. Niki Tuuli (EAB Racing Team) was classified in 17th and a lap down after he brought his Ducati machine into the pits; he did re-join the race. Van Straalen was classified in 18th and the last classified rider.

BALDASSARRI RETIRES, DEBISE CRASHES: big name retirements from Race 1

Aside from Oncu and Huertas, there were some other huge contenders dropped out of contention. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) had a technical issue in the second half of the race, while Niccolo Antonelli (Ecosantagata Althea Racing Team) crashed at Turn 10 at a similar time.  Hikari Okubo’s (Vince64 Racing Team by Puccetti) return ended in the gravel trap at Turn 4 on Lap 7, while Tom Booth-Amos (PTR Triumph) went down at Turn 12; the Brit was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash. Kaito Toba (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) was the final retirement, crashing at Turn 2 shortly after he received a 3.760s penalty for a Pit Stop Intervention infraction.

The top six from WorldSSP Race 1, full results here. See the fastest laps to set the Race 2 grid here.

1. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team)

2. Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) +6.666s

3. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +6.968s

4. Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) +16.748s

5. Oliver Bayliss (D34G Racing WorldSSP Team) +17.452s

6. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +17.580s

A NEW ERA BEGINS: watch WorldSSP Race 2 on Sunday from Australia at 14:30 Local Time (UTC+2) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

Bulega stuns for debut pole ahead of Iannone, first-ever rookie 1-2 on WorldSBK grid

The first session that counts, the first that matters for the larger context of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship: Tissot Superpole from the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round was electric. With all the hype about unpredictability and the new line-up for this new era, it was a session with stories everywhere you looked. In what is probably the most incredible Superpole session in recent memory to open a season, it was rookie Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) who denied Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) in the closing moments with two rookies lining up 1-2 on the grid for the first time in WorldSBK history.

STORY OF SUPERPOLE: the early laps banked

Every rider hit the track almost instantly, with Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) the first on the circuit ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and teammate and good friend Michael van der Mark went out together. Latching onto the back of them, Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW), who did the same in the Jerez test in January, leading to a fallout between the Dutchman and the #45. Gerloff went top having allowed Bautista through on him for track position but it was all about to change.

After the first laps, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was top and with a new lap record, even faster than during the Official Test, ahead of Nicolo Bulega and Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team). Bautista had slipped to P12 and behind the Independent Ducati of Andrea Iannone, whereas Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) struggled in P15. With the first run done with eight minutes to go, van der Mark hadn’t set a lap time after crashing at Turn 4 but he was OK.

SECOND STINT: Yamaha work together as times tumble more

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) was the first out with teammate Rea in tow, with just seven minutes remaining – Rea didn’t look particularly enamoured in pitlane. On their first flying lap of the second stint, there was plenty of riders who were exiting pitlane and by the time Rea got to Turn 4, he suffered a big moment with teammate ‘Loka’ dropping him but the lap was still good enough for provisional P6. Meanwhile, Bautista was now down in P13 before firing himself into P5 provisionally, with just three minutes to go.

THE CRAZIEST FRONT ROW: two rookies as Bulega does a 1’27 ahead of Iannone

However, there were red sectors everywhere and soon, ‘The Maniac’ was coming to play. Iannone blasted into provisional pole position, much to the delight of the entire Team GoEleven box. However, it was Bulega who came through to pip him, before the Italian then went faster again for the first ever 1’27 lap of Phillip Island in WorldSBK with a 1’27.916. Iannone took second for a rookie 1-2 as well as an Italian and a Ducati 1-2, with Britain’s Alex Lowes in third and just over three tenths adrift.

Bulega becomes the first rookie to set pole position in WorldSBK since Ben Spies at Phillip Island back in 2009 for Yamaha, as well as the first rider in history to achieve back-to-back poles in WorldSSP and WorldSBK in consecutive events. He is also the first Italian rider on pole EVER at Phillip Island in WorldSBK. It’s also the first time ever that rookies will line-up 1-2 in WorldSBK history, whilst it is the first time in 31 years (and second ever) with two Italians on Ducatis 1-2 on the grid. The last time was with Mauro Lucchiari and Giancarlo Falappa at Misano in 1993 In 3rd that day? A Kawasaki, like today, with Scott Russell.

BEHIND THE FRONT ROW: Aegerter flies as Toprak seals solid P5

The second row of the grid is a heavyweight one with double WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in fourth. In his first weekend with BMW, Toprak Razgatlioglu was a solid fifth and right in contention during his first Superpole session with the German manufacturer, albeit 0.009s slower than his Official Test time on Tuesday. His ex-teammate Andrea Locatelli completes the second row in sixth.

THIRD ROW: an Aussie, a strong debut and a Champion at sea

Heading up the third row, home-hero Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) made it three Yamahas inside the top seven, whilst it was a fine eighth place for Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) who fought back after his huge crash in FP3 at Turn 12. One of the biggest shocks was that the winner of eight of the nine races he’s competed on Ducati equipment at Phillip Island, Alvaro Bautista, was only ninth and nearly eight tenths off his rookie teammate. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) rounded out the top ten.

ELSEWHERE: Rea struggles to 11th, van der Mark crash leaves him on Row 6

Outside the top ten, it was a tricky first Superpole session in blue for Rea, who was nearly a second off Bulega’s astonishing lap time. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team), after starting strongly on Friday, could only manage P12, whilst Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) was 13th and best Honda. Garrett Gerloff took 14th and Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in 15th. Van der Mark’s crash cost him to leave him 16th, ahead of Brad Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team), Philipp Oettl (GMT94 Yamaha), Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) and Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in 20th. Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) and teammate Adam Norrodin round out the field.

Top six after WorldSBK Superpole, full results here:

1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’27.916s

2. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) +0.238s

3. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.323s

4. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.487s

5. Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.604s

6. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) +0.624s

A NEW ERA BEGINS: follow it all in style with the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

Bulega vs Razgatlioglu in FP3, Bautista P8 as Rea’s struggles continue

The first race day of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has finally arrived and what a way to start the day at Phillip Island. The 20-minute FP3 session welcomed WorldSBK machines out onto track for their final track action before Tissot Superpole and like throughout testing, it was Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) vs Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) at the top, with it being the Italian triumphing this time.

Ducati riders came to the fore, with Nicolo Bulega setting new lap records as the track conditions allowed for big pushes for the first time during the weekend. Joining that club was Razgatlioglu, who, after staying in the box for the first ten minutes of the session with just one exit, went up into P2 but behind ‘Bulegas’. He was just ahead of Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha), with the Italian being the top Yamaha. Then, Swiss rider Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) took P4 ahead of teammate Remy Gardner, who was fifth at home in the final session ahead of Tissot Superpole.

Then, another BMW, this time with Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), who made a big step forward in comparison from yesterday. Fastest on Friday, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took P7 and was the last rider to set a 1’28, just 0.274s from Bulega’s time, although that itself was slower than during the Official Test earlier in the week. Philipp Oettl (GMT94 Yamaha) was in P9 with another strong showing, just ahead of Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in P10 and Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) in 11th. Jonathan Rea’s (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) struggles continued as he could only manage P13 on what he is calling “Day 0.”

It was a difficult start to the day for a couple of Brits as Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) suffered a huge highside at Turn 12 coming onto the Gardner straight; he was eventually able to get up and walk away. Moments later, Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) highsided on the exit of Turn 6 but was able to walk away too.

Top six after FP3, full results here:

1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’28.716s

2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.003s

3. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) +0.007s

4. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.124s

5. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.221s

6. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) +0.256s

A NEW ERA BEGINS: follow it all in style with the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

Janus Gryffin 450 Scrambler Review | First Look

Janus Gryffin 450
Janus Gryffin 450

Janus Motorcycles has announced its latest model, the scrambler-styled Gryffin 450. The Janus Gryffin 450 has classic ’50s and ’60s style and hand-crafted components, and each one is made-to-order with the owner’s input and preferences. 

Janus Motorcycles is based in Goshen, Indiana, and the company’s website states that it makes “simple, beautiful machines that are a joy to own and ride.” The Gryffin 450 joins three other models in the Janus lineup: the Halcyon 450, Halcyon 250, and Gryffin 250. It will use the same enduro-inspired air-/oil-cooled 445cc Single as the Halcyon 450, with a claimed 30 hp. The scrambler version will ride on 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels and will feature a high exhaust, other adventure-oriented details, and a low weight of a claimed 330 lb. 

Janus Gryffin 450
Janus Gryffin 450

“The Gryffin 450 is a close sibling to our Halcyon 450, but with some key changes that really make it excel off-pavement,” said Charlie Handsen-Reed, senior design engineer for Janus Motorcycles. “The longer suspension travel, wheel size, lower seat height, and larger fuel tank will be really welcomed by our off-road riders, and trimming another 30 lb off our already feather-weight 450 chassis will be a huge bonus for trailering, van-lifers, and for any adventuresome rider’s peace of mind and confidence.” 

Part of the experience of owning a Janus is the customization offered from the made-to-order process. Like other Janus models, the Gryffin 450 will be available in a wide range of color options, pinstripe options, and other accessories. It will feature motocross footpegs, a headlight cage, pannier racks, highway bars, a skid plate, and a pillion seat. 

Janus Gryffin 450
Janus Gryffin 450

Other components included on the Gryffin 450 will be hand-formed and beaded fenders, a hand-formed and welded stainless-steel exhaust, hand-welded chassis and fork, Brembo brakes, and hand-painted graphics and pinstripes. 

Janus Motorcycles will begin taking reservations for the Gryffin 450 starting Feb. 23, 2024, and all orders placed in the first 30 days will be First Edition models with serial-numbered plates, limited-edition race plates, engraved components, and commemorative packages. 

Those interested in the manufacturing process of Janus motorcycles can check out the Janus YouTube channel, where the company documents their design and build process. 

MSRP for the Janus Gryffin 450 will be $13,495, and the fee to place a reservation is $2,995. The first Gryffin 450 bikes are expected to be finished in July 2024. 

Visit the Janus Motorcycles website for more information.

Check out more new bikes in Rider’s 2024 Motorcycle Buyers Guide

The post Janus Gryffin 450 Scrambler Review | First Look appeared first on Rider Magazine.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

“I’m strong, I’m fast… I can be in the mix tomorrow” – Alex Lowes revels in P1 on Friday

After all of the predicting, excitement and talk of the new names, refreshed rider line-up and possibilities for some huge shocks, it was Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who came to the fore to remind everyone that he’s got what it takes to battle it out at the front. A race winner at Phillip Island in his debut weekend for Kawasaki, the British rider enjoyed a day of putting his ZX-10RR through its paces.

Leading the Kawasaki project in 2024 with new crew chief Pere Riba, Lowes started the day in second position but only set four laps. However, in the afternoon, he flew to top spot and set a new lap record in the process, even if the 1’29.042 will be vulnerable moving into Saturday and the remainder of the weekend. Spending a lot of time on understanding the tyre performance level and which compound will help him more during the shorter stints.

Recapping his first day of the season, Lowes was upbeat, confident and enjoyed being at the forefront: “It was good. We had some difficult conditions today and didn’t do many laps. The format for the weekend has changed since the test, so we have a bit of a different mentality. We’re trying to look for out-and-out performance and we have to look after the tyres for 10 or 11 laps, rather than the 22 laps. This means we can play a bit more with the power of the bike, maybe have a bit more of an aggressive setting on the way the bike turns to use the tyres a little bit more.

“In the afternoon, we used the tyres from the morning to start with and didn’t feel too bad. We used the SC2 front tyre, which I quite liked in the test when it was hotter, and by using it today, it means we can focus on the SC1 tyre which gives me some more turning and helps me ride the bike a little bit, especially for 10 laps I think it’s better. I didn’t expect to be as fast as I was. With the SC2 tyre, maybe you can use the grip and then it was dropping a bit, and I was struggling to turn the bike, so I’m sure there’s plenty of areas we can improve. In general, I’m positive and feel good. Quite a lot of good laps and my pace is staying okay. We know there’s so many fast guys in WorldSBK. If I can have a good Superpole, I think I can be in the mix tomorrow and start the year strongly.”

Discussing his goals for the weekend, the #22 has his eyes on the podium: “My goals are to do my job and get the most from the Kawasaki. We’ve not been around some of these guys, like Bulega, Iannone, Sam Lowes, on the Ducati; one of the strongest packages in the race situations. I’m looking forward to racing with them and getting stuck in. Toprak’s going to be there; there’s going to be a lot of guys who are there. I’m strong, I’m fast and when the grip’s there on the bike, I think I’m as quick as anybody else. I’m going to enjoy it, fight tomorrow and try to get on the podium to start the year.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Titanic Trio sunk on Friday? Heavyweights struggle: ‘It could be the hardest race of my life’

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is as wide open as we’ve ever seen it, with new names, line-up changes and more making it a melting pot of unpredictability and excitement. The Titanic Trio – Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) all have new challenges for 2024 but Friday wasn’t quite as easy going as they’d have hoped for, with only Toprak scraping into the top ten in P10, albeit with not much of a gap to the front-runners. For Bautista and Rea, headshaking was seen on their way to P12 and P16 respectively.

REA AT A LOSS: “Fundamentally, something’s not right”

Jonathan Rea’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated round debut with Yamaha got underway but it wasn’t the brightest of days. He was down in 16th come the end of the day and reported a vibrating issue during the session. Again, he was shaking his head, with plenty of work still to be done for the #65 to feel at ease with his new steed.

Like Bautista, Rea set 18 laps and both improved a lot compared to the morning. At the end of the day, Rea explained Friday away: “It’s been a super difficult day; as you can see, I didn’t do many laps on track. I didn’t know with the weather to be honest but we suffered some issues straight away this morning, probably continuing on from the test. We struggled to pinpoint exactly what it is; the bike is very difficult to ride. We’re trying to rule out the problems and we’re changing the setup of the bike quite a lot but not touching on it. Fundamentally, something is not right and it’s not exactly how I imagined day one of the season to start but we are where we are and I have full confidence in the team to find the root of the issue and try to be stronger tomorrow. We’re so far away to be thinking about a chance. First, we need to have a good feeling with the bike and then nail the pitstop and see where we are. Hopefully, we can start in the right way.”

SOLUTION NEEDED: “We need to find the issue otherwise it’ll be the hardest race of my life.”

Talking in his media debriefs, Rea explained further: “We’re working as a team through the items, trying to eradicate it. Right now, it’s unacceptable; something’s not right and we need to find the problem. I’ve been told I can’t say too much but it’s frustrating for me as well as I’d love to say the full story… it’s been a difficult day, one of the most difficult. I have full belief in the guys that we’ll find it but it’s not how I dreamed of starting the World Championship. We’re really on the backfoot; I knew that when I was running out of time, I had to register a lap time. Maybe they were the sketchiest three laps I’ve ever done! Even with the issue, I’m not riding the R1 in the best way, but I need to get the bike close enough to me to exploit my strengths. We need to find the issue otherwise it’ll be the hardest race of my life.”

DENNING’S WORDS: “Our responsibility to improve and give him the package”

Speaking in pitlane on the World Feed, team principal Paul Denning commented on Rea’s struggles and his big testing crash at Turn 11 on Tuesday: “Physically, he’s not bad, he’s better than expected. He’s got restricted movement in one of his legs, his left leg, and it’s quite hard to move his foot back and forwards for the left handers around here but it’s actually better on the bike when the adrenaline was flowing than it was statically. He did three timed laps but he still didn’t have confidence and feeling with the bike. The R1 itself is working great when you look at the performance of Locatelli, and Gardner and Aegerter were fast in FP1. The bike’s got all the potential, a six-time Champion’s got all the potential as well, we’ve just got to match Jonathan’s confidence with the bike. It’s obviously hereditary from the crash on Tuesday.

“He has a history of being a very different animal when the lights are on and it’s time to actually race. We need to rebuild his confidence; after nine seasons with different people, team and philosophy and bike, it’s not easy. His first test and feeling with the R1, going second quickest at the Jerez test in November, we’ve just not quite translated that through Portimao and Phillip Island. A few problems have got in the way to make that more difficult. That’s our responsibility to improve and give him the package that helps him use 100% of his talent.”

TOPRAK SHRUGS OFF FRIDAY CONCERNS: “I think we can fight for the podium…

Starting with Razgatlioglu, who set an all-time WorldSBK lap record during the Official Test earlier in the week, he spent a lot of time on track with teammate Michael van der Mark and featured inside the top five at times but didn’t stay there. He slipped down the order to finish P10, although for all riders, difficult weather – which isn’t expected to continue – means you can’t read too much into the placings, especially given the #54’s pace from the tests.

Speaking at the end of the day, the Turkish star said: “We started not very strong as today’s conditions were completely different and everyone pushed for a lap time. The wind was very strong and the bike wasn’t working or turning. I tried to adapt to the situation. In P10, I’m not thinking about this because Saturday is a different day and I’ll try my best to improve the bike a little bit. Tomorrow morning, I think we can start strong to do a different setup. We’ll need to do a good Superpole and then in the race, I think we can fight for the podium. It looks like we’re strong but it was my first time riding the BMW with the strong wind today and I was fighting a little bit, it felt a bit heavy. Tomorrow, the weather looks a bit better.”

Talking about following Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) and Bautista in FP1, Toprak said: “I wasn’t pushing, just following them to understand some corners. The Ducati sometimes uses a different line and I was looking at that; I’m working for the race as I need to see who I’ll be fighting with. I forgot this morning to do a good lap time but it’s only FP1 and FP2; on Saturday, I think we’ll start strong.”

“I STOPPED A LOT OF TIMES” – electronics issues and setup dramas limit Bautista

In the red corner – and with extra kilos on his bike to contend with – Alvaro Bautista was seen shaking his head and gesticulating when he was entering the pitlane in the final quarter of the session. The reigning double Champion comes into the season without an ideal testing experience, having been injured and unable to really push to his usual limit. He’s won eight of the nine races he’s took part in for Ducati on ‘The Island’ but, in his own words, isn’t the favourite for success.

Setting just 18 laps across the two sessions, Bautista commented on his first Friday of the season: “It was a very special Friday for everyone as in both Practice sessions, it started raining just before, so we didn’t do a lot of laps. Then, in FP2, we found issues with the electronics parts and we also tried a different setup to try and improve my feeling and it didn’t work. I stopped a lot of times and didn’t do a lot of laps. However, in the few laps I did with the setup in the morning, I was happy as I was good and consistent. My physical condition is good and I feel more flowing on the bike. My feeling is coming and that’s the important thing of today. About the position, everyone is going very fast and the times are very close, so I’m not worried about it. I can say it’s been a short but positive Friday.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Lecuona ruled unfit for season-opener at Phillip Island following testing crash

The Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round kickstarts the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship but one rider will be missing from the grid: Iker Lecuona (Team HRC). The #7 Honda rider suffered a highside during Tuesday’s test in the morning session and sustained a shoulder injury. He took to the track across the two sessions on Friday but following a further assessment after FP2, has been declared unfit for the remainder of the weekend. Last year, Lecuona achieved two top six finishes for Honda at Phillip Island in what was one of his strongest weekends of the season. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) will be the sole factory Honda on the grid for the races.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

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