Tag Archives: word supersport

WHAT WE LEARNT: debriefing Round 1 and predicting what’s to come in WorldSBK 2024

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is going to be a blockbuster, of that there is no doubt. However, the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round was something quite spectacular, as new names emerged whilst others sunk despite pre-season hype. So, what did we learn? Nothing. That’s the short answer; it was a weekend that we’ve left with more questions than answers and more uncertainties than many other seasons. In any case, we put the small findings below!

BULEGA IS THE REAL DEAL: full gas for ‘Bulegas’ in 2024 after maiden win

Reigning WorldSSP Champion Nicolo Bulega rewrote history on Saturday as he strolled to victory from pole, perhaps one of the biggest shocks – even if he did look fast in testing. Racing is a different kettle of fish but Bulega, whilst with many things still to learn, was absolutely phenomenal on Saturday and had he not over-conserved on tyres in Race 2 on Sunday, could have been a podium man again. We know he’s going to be fast going forward and Barcelona could be a circuit where he challenges teammate Alvaro Bautista – something nobody’s done whilst the Spaniard’s been on Ducati at the track.

LOWES AND LOCATELLI RISE TO SHINE: the ex-number 2s come good

Having been fast throughout testing, there was an element of surprise that Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) converted into meaningful race-pace and a Sunday double in Australia. He had some serious pace in the Free Practice sessions too and with the modifications to the engine for Kawasaki, the ZX-10RR held its own in a straight line too. With a Kawasaki leading the Championship for the first time since 2022, let’s turn to Yamaha and Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha), who out-shone new recruit Jonathan Rea no end. Two P2s and what could’ve been a race win in Race 2 but for a last lap crash in battle, ‘Loka’ was riding exceptionally well and has clearly gelled instantly with new crew chief Tom O’Kane. Let’s see if it continues in Barcelona, not necessarily a track that Lowes nor Locatelli have shone at before. They have strong pace and you’d have got good odds on both being inside the top three overall after Round 1.

BAUTISTA THE ONLY TITANIC TRIO MEMBER SHOWING BIG STRENGTH: but it’s still not convincing

With Jonathan Rea leaving Australia with precisely 0 points and Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in contention but lacking rear tyre at the end of races – as well as the engine blow-up he suffered in Race 2 – only Alvaro Bautista featured as a real race threat in Australia. The #1, reigning double Champion, was right in contention despite languishing on row three in Superpole. He got himself into contention in Race 1 before Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) ran him wide at Turn 9 and then, when fighting back through, crashed at Turn 10. The Superpole Race saw him strong but he went back at the end and was, ironically, unable to draft by Toprak on the Gardner straight, whilst he was mugged in a final lap classic in Race 2. He didn’t win at Phillip Island and whilst he’s down on meaningful testing, there’s work to do for the #1 going forward.

ROOKIES ARE FAST: a new guard and generation enter contention

We’ve already spoken of Bulega but Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) and Sam Lowes had strong races too. Iannone qualified on the front row, grabbed the holeshot in both Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race and walked off with a podium and a taste of ‘what could’ve been’ on Sunday morning had it not been for a handlebar grip coming off. For Lowes, a pit-stop drama in Race 1 pushed him outside the top ten but he featured in the leading group throughout the weekend, not easy with him and the team being new to WorldSBK. ‘The Maniac’ was close to a second podium in Race 2 whilst Lowes took a solid P7; Barcelona will be very interesting to keep an eye on those two.

BMW REALLY HAVE MADE A STEP: and not just with Stoprak

Toprak Razgatlioglu may have stormed to an impressive podium in the Superpole Race to end BMW’s year-and-a-half wait for a podium (in just his second race) but there’s a big picture for the German manufacturer. Toprak wasn’t the only BMW looking strong; teammate Michael van der Mark blasted up the order after a P16 Superpole result to take P7 in Race 1, whilst it was another top ten in Race 2 in P9. Then, Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), whilst not featuring as high up as he’d have liked, took P9 and P8 in a solid first weekend of the year and because of that, those three BMWs are in the top ten – don’t ask the last time we saw that. The only one that did struggle consistently through the weekend was Gerloff’s teammate Scott Redding: a P11 the only thing to write home about. As BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers said, they can leave “satisfied”.

WorldSBK IS BACK: 7 podium finishers, 4 manufacturers in contention and unpredictability

Social media was alive with reaction on Saturday and Sunday to the new era of World Superbike and we got the start we wanted and somewhat deserved. The new rules have clearly worked and the shake-up on the grid has really jumbled up the order. Those who struggled will come good, those who were strong Down Under will come undone at some point. We really are in for a vintage year of racing but we knew that anyway. Perhaps that’s the only thing we really can learn from Phillip Island: that in racing, it’s going to be as wild as we all hoped.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

ROOKIE REVIEW: how well did the new kids do on the WorldSBK block?

The 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship stormed into action last weekend and what a start to the season it was, with records smashed at every possibility as well new characters emerging into contenders. We look at the rookies and how they went over the weekend, with a pretty obvious place to start.

Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) – second in the standings, a maiden race winner

The reigning WorldSSP Champion became the first rider to achieve a WorldSSP and WorldSBK pole in consecutive events but that isn’t the big claim; a maiden pole and maiden win in his maiden race, only John Kocinski managed that before. He looked comfortable on the bike in Race 1 and had to deal with a pit-stop, which he got absolutely perfect too. After that and once he broke clear of the pack, he eased to victory. However, there’re still aspects to learn; dealing with being bullied in the opening laps is one, as he dropped down to P10 in Race 2 as well as not being afraid of scrapping it out in the first stages. It’s a dog eat dog world in WorldSBK, there’s no time to chill.

Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) – fourth overall, maiden podium and good race craft

What can we say about Andrea Iannone? ‘The Maniac’ is back to World Championship competition with a bang and got the holeshot in his first two races back too. He rolled back the years with some vintage Iannone passes and it really was like he’d never been away. A podium in his maiden race was sublime and it was a story of what could have been in the Superpole Race, had a handlebar grip not come off; he was looking on for a victory. That shoved him down field on the grid for Race 2 but he came through and was still near to the podium, so the race craft is there and he’s not ring rusty like we perhaps expected him to be. Let’s see how he goes in Barcelona and beyond but it was a promising start for life in WorldSBK for #29.

Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) – 11th overall but results don’t tell the story

It was a solid debut for Sam Lowes in WorldSBK, with he and the ELF Marc VDS squad in the mix throughout the weekend and taking a double top eight on Sunday, with a best result of P7 in Race 2. All the results came after a huge crash at Turn 12 in Free Practice 3, so it wasn’t the most ideal way to kickstart the first of two race days. The pit intervention time was something new for him and the team and he lost 5.4s there, which may have put him inside the top ten for Race 1. However, good time in the lead pack and an encouraging base to build from on slightly more indicative tracks.

Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) – the hardest round out the way

There was little to expect from Tarran Mackenzie, given that he’s had limited testing and that it’s the first weekend of the year but having been 3.9s off in Superpole to then, after 11 laps, being 3.6s off Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) ahead of him. All in all, Tarran can be satisfied and again, with more ‘normal’ tracks ahead and places he knows well like Donington Park and Assen, he’ll be a bit closer to the front.

Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) – similar to teammate Mackenzie

Again, for Malaysian hopeful Adam Norrodin, there was very little he could have hoped for more. Maybe the target for him was to be closer or ahead of Tarran but with the #95’s Superbike experience, it wasn’t a bad display for Norrodin to be where he was. Both will be wanting more one-lap performance and to work their way closer to the points but as we’ve seen in previous years with Midori Moriwaki’s team, that will come through the season. Let’s see how their gap evolves to the factory Hondas throughout the year.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

"So important… good for the Championship" – Huertas reflects on maiden WorldSSP podium

Adrian Huertas (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) made his Ducati debut in the FIM Supersport World Championship with mixed fortunes. A maiden pole position and a podium in Race 2 were the highlights for the Spaniard at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, while an issue before lights out in Race 1 took him out of contention. It was a strong start for the #99 following his switch from Kawasaki machinery to the Panigale V2, even if results across the whole weekend didn’t reflect his pace.

Huertas had been competitive through the off-season, and during the Official Test, as he adapted from the Kawasaki ZX-6R to the Panigale V2. In the sole Free Practice session on Friday morning, the Spaniard was three tenths off Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) out in front, before finding a huge amount of time in the Tissot Superpole session. His 1’31.407s – a new lap record – secured him a maiden pole position for Race 1.

However, a technical issue just before lights out meant his bike was taken off the grid and the Spaniard was unable to take part in the race. With the Race 2 grid for the first three rows based on the fastest laps set in Race 1, the Madrid-born rider started tenth for Sunday’s race. He was able to charge through the field to finish third, his first WorldSSP podium, finishing just 1.658s away from Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) who took both victories Down Under.

Discussing his Race 2 rostrum, Huertas said: “It was a really difficult weekend although we were really strong at this track. Starting from tenth was quite difficult because I needed to push too much at the beginning. I struggled with the tyres a little bit, and just as the leaders pushed in the last laps, I couldn’t catch them. I am happy with the pace I’ve shown, the work I’ve done with the team, and we solved the problem from Race 1 on Saturday. I think we will keep getting better together and having good results.”

Huertas made his WorldSSP debut in 2022 after taking the 2021 WorldSSP300 title, racing with what was then the MTM Kawasaki outfit. He was close to the podium on several occasions, taking a best finish of fourth, but was just shy of the rostrum. However, in his first round with Ducati, the #99 was able to take his first podium and speaking after Race 2, Huertas explained how important it was for him to get the first one as he looks to mount a title challenge.

He said: “I think it’s so important, more for the team than me, because I wanted to show them that we are all a team, and we can do good things together. This is good for the Championship overall, not just the points because we lost some points this weekend, but for our future and our relationship together.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Montella’s magic on ‘The Island’: “It was something that nobody expected!”

It was a winless 2023 where he came so close, yet to far, on many occasions; however, 2024 started with a big declaration of intent as he came good from the start Down Under. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) leads the Championship with a perfect 50 points from the first two races of the year and with 22 still to go, anything can happen but that can also mean he will get stronger.

Race 1 saw Montella pull a masterstroke in the pitlane with a perfectly-timed pits-stop. He was 0.6s over the 78-second pit intervention time, so not quite Nicolo Bulega levels of perfection in World Superbike but pretty good nonetheless. He then rolled it home after checking out from the opposition, finishing with an advantage of 6.666s seconds – he was a devil after all. In Race 2, which didn’t feature a pit-stop due to it being shortened, things were much closer as Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) kept the Italian honest until the flag, although it wasn’t enough to deny him a double.

Speaking after the round had finished, Montella said: “It’s been really incredible for sure; I think it was something that nobody expected. I’m happy; I want to stay focused on the next race but at the same time enjoy the moment. Race 2 was a strange race because after all of the delay, we tried to stay focused. My plan was to push on the first lap to make a gap and it worked, so I’m happy for that.”

Continuing about whether Montella’s Championship lead changes his mentality for the overall picture and the title charge, he stated: “It’s just the first race and I have 22 in front of me. My focus is on Barcelona and the Championship is something I am not thinking about. Last year, Barcelona was the worst race of last year but I hope to be better, to show the potential like this. Then, let’s see how it goes.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com

Yamalube R3 bLU cRU Latinoamerica added to SBK® Roadway programme in 2024

Dorna WSBK Organization proudly unveils the integration of the Yamalube R3 bLU cRU Latinoamérica into the SBK® Roadway programme for the 2024 season. In partnership with FIM Latina America, this series seeks to establish a vital platform for emerging talents in motorcycle racing within Latin America.

The 2024 Yamalube R3 bLU cRU Latinoamérica series, spanning from April to November, serves as a developmental stepping stone for talented riders to showcase their skills and progress within the realm of motorcycle racing.

The championship will serve as a roadway for the winner of the “Talent” category (ages 14-19) to secure a two-year deal for participation in the FIM Yamaha R3 bLU cRU World Cup. Additionally, the runner-up will receive financial backing from Yamaha Racing Brasil for one season, marking a key progression towards the global stage.

Helio Ninomiya, Yamaha Motor Brasil Commercial Director said: “The entire trajectory of growth and achievements of the Latin American R3 bLU cRU championship is a source of great pride and the result of a lot of effort. Seeing this work recognized internationally gives us more determination, strength, and focus to move forward.”

Gregorio Lavilla, WorldSBK Executive Director added: “The inclusion of the Yamalube R3 bLU cRU Cup Latin America into the SBK® Roadway programme is a significant step in the global expansion of opportunities for emerging talents in motorcycle racing. We are thrilled to witness the growth and recognition of the Latin American championship, and we believe this initiative will provide a crucial platform for young riders to develop their skills and pave the way for a future in WorldSBK. We look forward to seeing the impact of this collaboration and the continued success of the Yamalube R3 bLU cRU Cup Latin America on the international racing scene.”
 

2024 Yamalube R3 bLU cRU Latinoamérica Calendar

1- April 26-28 / Goiania
2- May 24-26 / Curvelo
3- June 28-30 / Interlagos
4- August 16-18 / Cascavel
5- October 18-20 / Santa Cruz do Sul
6- November 8-10 / Goiania

Entry list

1. Alex Schultz (Brazil)

2. Arthur Aragão (Brazil)

3. Aymon Bocanegra (Peru)

4. Carlos Eduardo Massuia (Brazil)

5. Cauã Buzo (Brazil)

6. Cauã Nunes (Brazil)

7. Cauã Rodrigues (Brazil)

8. Edinho Picoloko (Brazil)

9. Fabrício Zamperetti (Brazil)

10. Facundo Medina (Argentina)

11. Flavio Trevizan (Brazil)

12. Gabriel Dias Marchi Silveira (Brazil)

13. Gustavo Garcia (Brazil)

14. Gustavo Nonis (Brazil)

15. Heitor Ourinho (Brazil)

16. Italo Santana (Brazil)

17. João Fascineli (Brazil)

18. João Teixeira (Brazil)

19. Jonas Jose Vieira (Brazil)

20. Juan Jeronimo Gonzáles (Colombia)

21. Leonardo Marques Barbim (Brazil)

22. Leonardo Marques Silva (Brazil)

23. Marcos Vinicius (Brazil)

24. Mario Salles Neto (Brazil)

25. Matias Sebastian (Chile)

26. Mauro Sapico (Brazil)

27. Murilo Gomes (Brazil)

28. Néstore Guarino (Italia)

29. Pedro Balla (Brazil)

30. Santiago Gossa (Argentina)

31. Silvia Nathalia Ochoa (Paraguay)

32. Simon Brun (Colombia)

33. Thiago Nicolas Torréz (Paraguay)

34. Tiago Crespo (Brazil)

35. Tomislav Macan (Ecuador)

36. Valentin Valor (Argentina)

37. Vitor Hugo (Brazil)

38. Caio Tiburcio (Brazil)

39. José Emiliano (Mexico)

40. Felipe Simões (Brazil)

41. Xarly Mendez (Spain)

42. Bruno Brito (Brazil)

43. Thiago Gonçalves (Brazil)

44. Isis Avila (Chile)

45. Caio Baldoino (Brazil)

46. Fernanda Marçon (Brazil)

47. Cristiano Cabral (Brazil)

48. Alex Fernandes (Brazil)

49. Marcelo Borghesi (Brazil)

Source: WorldSBK.com

STATS ROUND-UP: Bulega joins exclusive club with Kocinski, Toprak matches Haga and more

In what was quite a remarkable opening round of the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round gave massive headlines and an abundance of stories. However, when delving deeper, there are some highly interesting stats too, whether it’s numbers adding up, a new circuit top speed record or an emphasis in just how impactful the ‘new era’ is being. Check them all out below!

2101 – For the first time since they’ve raced together, Jonathan Rea, Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu didn’t win a race during a WorldSBK weekend. In fact, the last time that a weekend went fully without one of them winning was in 2018 at Donington Park, when Michael van der Mark took a double win for Yamaha, a gap of 2101 days.

335.4kph – Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) set a new top speed record for the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in WorldSBK at 335.4kph.

199 – With Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) taking tenth in Race 2, Yamaha have a 199-race streak of consecutive points-scoring, meaning they’re one away in Barcelona from 200. The last time they didn’t score points was Lusail 2017, when no Yamaha finished. The last time Paul Denning’s outfit didn’t achieve points was Misano Race 1, 2019, when Alex Lowes crashed from the podium and Michael van der Mark didn’t start due to a Free Practice crash.

182.015kph – With a maiden pole, Nicolo Bulega’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was the first lap time ever in the 1’27 bracket in WorldSBK at Phillip Island – with a 1’27.916 and an average speed of 182.015kph (113.098mph).

180 – A fourth career win, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) gave Kawasaki their 180th.

116 – Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) took a 116th podium of his career in the Superpole Race, matching the all-time third-place tally set by Noriyuki Haga.

90 – For the first time in all races at Phillip Island with Ducati, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) failed to win.

79 – Nicolo Bulega became the 79th different winner in WorldSBK history. Of those 79 winners, 46 have been winners from pole position and 16 of them had their first win come from pole position. However, only two have been able to take a debut pole position and convert into a win in their first race: John Kocinski and now, Nicolo Bulega.

71 – Bulega became the 71st rider in WorldSBK history to achieve pole.

50 – Lowes’ 50 points to lead the Championship is not only the lowest amount during the three-race era but it’s the lowest tally since 1992, when Raymond Roche led the Championship with 49 points – albeit the points-scoring system was also different then, with only 20 available for a win.

31 – For the first time in 31 years, there was an Italian 1-2 on the grid after Superpole with both on Ducatis: the last time was Misano 1993 when it was Mauro Lucchiari and Giancarlo Falappa. The last Italian 1-2 in general was 11 years ago with Ayrton Badovini on Ducati and Marco Melandri on BMW at the Nurburgring.

29 – On 29 points, the #29 of Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) returned to World Championship action with a bang. He was also the 29th rider to achieve a front row in MotoGP™ and WorldSBK and whilst finishing third in Race 1, he stood on a podium next to the 29th different winner at Phillip Island, Bulega. With his Anthony Gobert tribute helmet from 2000, Gobert’s last win – using that helmet style – was with a margin of 29 seconds at Phillip Island.

27 – Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has just 27 points after the first three races of the WorldSBK season; this is his worst tally with Ducati and his third-worst in WorldSBK after scoring just eight after Round 1 of 2021 and 20 in 2020, both times with Honda.

19 – There have been 19 races at Phillip Island decided by less than a tenth of a second after Lowes defeated Bautista in Race 2 by 0.048s.

14 – Andrea Locatelli’s (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) crash in Race 2 from a top three finish means Yamaha’s streak of 14 consecutive races on the podium comes to an end.

11 – A Ducati rider with the #11 has won a race in WorldSBK for the first time since Magny-Cours Race 2 in 2003 by Ruben Xaus – who ironically won 11 WorldSBK races.

11 – Bulega became the 11th rider to win in both WorldSSP and WorldSBK and was the first to set back-to-back poles in WorldSSP and WorldSBK.

7 – Seven different riders on the podium in WorldSBK is a joint-record after the first three races. Other years include 1991, 1992, 2000 and 2004. Across the round, it was: Bulega, Locatelli, Iannone, Alex Lowes, Razgatlioglu, Bautista and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team).

4 – Four races without a single point, the first time ever for Jonathan Rea (excluding injuries).

4 – Danilo Petrucci became the 83rd rider in WorldSBK to achieve four podiums. The last rider to manage it was Nicky Hayden in 2016 for Honda.

4 – Toprak became the fourth rider for BMW to score a podium from their first three starts.

4 – Four manufacturers took a podium in WorldSBK across the opening three races, the first time since 2014 when Suzuki, Aprilia, Kawasaki and Honda featured on the box.

2 – For the first time in nearly two years, a Kawasaki rider leads the World Championship; the last time was Jonathan Rea after the Superpole Race at Assen.

1 – After Superpole, history was made: in their debut weekends, Bulega and Iannone made it the first time ever that rookies had qualified 1-2 in their maiden weekend.

1 – Razgatlioglu is the first rider to achieve a podium for Kawasaki, Yamaha and BMW.

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Source: WorldSBK.com

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.

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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.”

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Source: WorldSBK.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.

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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.”

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Source: WorldSBK.com