WSBK Imola Day One | Jonathan Rea back on top

2019 World Superbike
Round Five – Imola
Friday Report

Quick times were coming thick and fast as day one at the Imola circuit as the final Friday session concluded with the sun beating down on Imola.

Four-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea continued his positive start to the Pirelli Italian Round, running at the front again in FP2. Despite not improving in his lap time from the morning until late on in the session, eventually nobody was able to challenge Rea at the front. Rea looked in fine form, stringing a run of fast laps together to continue Kawasaki’s good form in Ducati’s backyard.

Jonathan Rea – P1

“We tried to focus on understanding the different combinations of front and rear Pirelli tyres we have this weekend. We have some good information for tomorrow, especially looking through our split times. We still have a margin to improve in some splits where we are missing something, although we are not too far off. We will try not to compromise too much by looking for more in the other areas. At the end, I felt comfortable on the bike on used tyres and I tried hard, especially when I saw that my name was not on the top! It shows that it is there, the bike is there, and we will put everything together tomorrow. I feel comfortable with the bike making this rhythm.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Rea
Jonathan Rea

His teammate, Leon Haslam, likewise did not improve his time in the second session until late on in the session but dropped overall, concluding the opening day in seventh position.

Leon Haslam – P7

“This morning I felt quite comfortable. This afternoon we did not have a good session because we tried a different tyre option that was not as good at the end. The lap times were not so great as a result but my feeling this morning was quite positive, so we will keep pushing overnight to be ready for tomorrow. The track is good, from what I remember of it, and there are a few areas I need to work on with my riding style. Generally, I love this circuit because it is fun to ride. Hopefully it will be good racing too.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Haslam
Leon Haslam

Ducati continued their strong start to the Pirelli Italian Round, as Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) marched his way into top position, at a circuit at which he has achieved four WorldSBK race wins at in his career. The Welshman blitzed into the lead with just a few minutes left in the session.

Chaz Davies – P2

“It’s been a while since I’ve ended Friday in the top 3 so that was pretty good and we made a big step forward. Honestly the momentum has been going the right way in the last couple of races and Imola is a good time to try and turn over the page a bit. Having said that, I’m not 100% happy with the feeling with my Panigale V4 R so I hope I can turn things around for tomorrow because I feel I’ve got some good margin to improve the lap time. If we can make the right changes, I don’t see why we can’t fight for the win tomorrow.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Davies
Chaz Davies

Alvaro Bautista continued to adapt to the tricky Imola circuit and was seemingly struggling, making various little mistakes that he has not displayed all season. The Spaniard completed the day in fourth, with 0.712s between him and Rea.

Álvaro Bautista – P4

“Today was a positive day because it’s the first time I have ever raced at Imola. Right away I found a good feeling with the track, while unlike the other races, I still have to improve the feeling with my bike, especially in corner turn-in, but in the afternoon we made some changes and the feeling was better. Today we always worked in view of the race and we did more than the total laps with quite a good pace. Probably we still have to improve the stability of the bike because on this track the bike is almost always leaning and you don’t have any breathing space.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Bautista
Álvaro Bautista

Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had a relatively quiet session in comparison to those around him, making plenty of progress through the session. The 2013 WorldSBK champion is a double winner at the Imola circuit and looks primed for another strong showing, this time for the German manufacturer. Completing the session in third place, Sykes will be hoping to continue improving on Saturday. His teammate, Markus Reiterberger, struggled again and was only 13th.

Tom Sykes – P3

“We’ve again worked really consistently here in the Free Practises just trying various parameters with the chassis and also the tyres as we have more of a selection here. I have to say I’m really enjoying riding my BMW S 1000 RR at the moment, this track is always fantastic and the Italian fans are incredible so to be third fastest today makes me happy. I’m looking forward to tomorrow as I feel we can still improve, the target is certainly for front row and try and utilise the chassis of the S 1000 RR during the race.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Sykes
Tom Sykes

If Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was rattled by not completing FP1 as top Independent, then he certainly made up for it in FP2 by rounding out the top five. The Turkish rider was pursuing Alvaro Bautista in the closing stages and made big gains, to end the opening day at Imola in a strong fifth place.

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Razgatlioglu
Toprak Razgatlioglu

Other Independent riders to feature inside the top ten after Friday included wildcard Lorenzo Zanetti (Motocorsa Racing), who was ninth and one place ahead of fellow countryman, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) in tenth. Zanetti ended the day as top Italian.

Sixth position went to Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who maintained his FP1 position whilst vastly improving his time. The Dutchman’s continuity through the opening day at the Pirelli Italian Round bodes well for the remainder of the weekend.

Michael van der Mark – P6

“A solid start today. Imola is always a difficult track at which to find a good set-up, especially coming from Assen, which is very different in character. This morning I felt quite strong from the start and we managed to improve the bike further during the session. This afternoon we initially went a little bit in the wrong direction, but we stayed calm, wound back the changes slightly and, at the end, I felt really strong on the bike again. We had an issue with getting the bike stopped but, again, we managed to find some improvements in this area. My time would have been better but for hitting traffic on my fastest lap, but I’m really happy with the bike now and I think we can still improve further tomorrow. Overall, it’s been one of my best days in Imola so far.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday VanDerMark
Michael van der Mark

His teammate, Alex Lowes, also improved his time but was only eighth at the end of the day. The rider, who sits third in the championship behind Bautista and Rea, will have work to do overnight if he is to keep tabs on those ahead of him in the title race.

Alex Lowes – P8

“I’ve been struggling with a bit of a stomach bug since Wednesday, so I didn’t have too much energy today. On the bike I felt a little bit sick, so it was a case today of trying to learn as much as we can in the minimum number of laps. We actually got a lot more done that I thought possible; we’ve got a good direction and the bike feels good. Now I’m looking forward to having a bit more time to rest and recover and, hopefully, coming back a bit stronger tomorrow for the first race.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Lowes
Alex Lowes

Notable names outside the top ten included Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) who was 11th at the end of the day, with Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in 12th whilst his teammate, Sandro Cortese, was 14th and suffered a crash.

Marco Melandri – P12

“I struggled a lot today with the same issues as before. There wasn’t one area in which I was feeling bad or feeling good, I just feel it’s everywhere, so I’m missing confidence. The guys are working so hard to find a solution to suit me and we will find a way, step-by-step, but it’s not so easy. We don’t need a big improvement; even a small improvement would allow me to build confidence, ride a bit more how I know and reduce the gap to the front but, at the moment, we haven’t found what we need. Here I was expecting much better, so I’m obviously disappointed, but we will keep working.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Melandri
Marco Melandri

Sandro Cortese – P14

“This morning wasn’t too bad and I was P12 while learning the track aboard the R1. This afternoon we wanted to try a long run on the hard front tyre but I think this was maybe a mistake on the opening day with my limited experience of this track. But we did it and I crashed, which wouldn’t have been an issue at any other track but with no service road here in Imola it’s impossible to get the bike back to the pit box before the end of the session, so that was the end of my first day. So, at the end, it was a bit of a tough day but it’s race day tomorrow and, in the race, anything can happen, so I’m staying positive.”

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday Cortese
Sandro Cortese

The Moriwaki Althea Honda Team concluded day one at Imola with Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari in 15th and 16th respectively.

Leon Camier – P15

“To be honest we are not that far away from the group in front. I think there are still a couple of little things we can do to improve the bike’s setup. I just hope the others don’t make another big step so that we can get closer tomorrow. We made some small improvements already this afternoon and were able to lower our lap times a little bit. We know that the weather forecast is looking a little uncertain for the next couple of days, Sunday especially, but I look forward to riding the bike in the rain, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Ryuichi Kiyonari – P16

“Before today, I had only ridden at Imola on one other occasion, around ten years ago, and to be honest today was more difficult than I expected. The track is very technical and demanding. It took both sessions to get used to it again, but finally things got better and at the end of FP2 I was much more comfortable. We tried some different tyre compounds and worked hard on the bike setup. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to take another step forward.”

WSBK Imola Day One Combined Times
Pos Rider Bike Combined Times Gap
1 J.  Rea  ZX-10RR 146.374 0.000
2 C. Davies Panigale 146.529 0.155
3 T.  Sykes  S1000 RR 146.766 0.392
4 A. Bautista Panigale 147.086 0.712
5 T.  Razgatlioglu  ZX-10RR 147.124 0.750
6 M. Van Der Mark YZF-R1 147.214 0.840
7 L.  Haslam ZX-10RR 147.419 1.045
8 A. Lowes YZF-R1 147.537 1.163
9 L.  Zanetti Panigale  147.587 1.213
10 M. Rinaldi Panigale 147.638 1.264
11 J.  Torres ZX-10RR 147.870 1.496
12 M. Melandri YZF-R1 147.973 1.599
13 M. Reiterberger S1000 RR 148.113 1.739
14 S. Cortese YZF-R1 148.457 2.083
15 L.  Camier CBR1000RR 148.528 2.154
16 R. Kiyonari CBR1000RR 149.099 2.725
17 H. Barbera ZX-10RR 149.274 2.900
18 A. Delbianco CBR1000RR 150.063 3.689
19 E. Laverty  Panigale 151.747 5.373

World Supersport

The 2019 FIM Supersport World Championship roared back into life at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola. The Italian saw home-hero Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) who ended day one on top. In FP2, two red flags were shown; the first due to a crash between Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) and Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) at Acque Minerale and a second from Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) at the Variante Alta.

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday WorldSSP Friday Action Caricasulo
Federico Caricasulo

Federico Caricasulo will be hoping that topping day one at the Pirelli Italian Round was no fluke, as the Italian rider goes in a quest to win a second consecutive WorldSSP race. The Italian wasn’t able to improve on his time in FP2 and suffered a crash on the exit of Variante Alta in the final ten minutes. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) was looking back to his old self and placed second overall but was on top in FP2, whilst Randy Krummenacher was third despite his crash and consequential problems.

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday WorldSSP Friday Action Krummenacher
Randy Krummenacher

In fourth overall, Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) continued his good form at home and was top Kawasaki rider whilst being the first non-Yamaha rider too. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was in fifth place but suffered a crash in the closing stages. Sixth position belonged to Thomas Gradinger, who suffered a similar crash to Caricasulo at Turn 15. The Austrian rider, however, is in the mix for another podium challenge.

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday WorldSSP Friday Action Cluzel
Jules Cluzel

Up next, a brace of Italians; Massimo Roccoli (Team Rossa Corsa) was seventh on his wildcard appearance and ahead of regular rider, Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), who concluded the opening day in eighth overall, being pushed back at the end of FP2.

Japanese star Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was once again a frontrunner and placed well within the top ten overall, in ninth, but complete FP2 in seventh. In combined times, the top ten was rounded out by Federico Fuligni (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) as he made a welcome reappearance in the top ten.

World Supersport Imola Friday Times

Pos No.  Rider Bike Combined Times Gap
1   F.  Caricasulo YZF R6 151.278 0.000
2   J.  Cluzel YZF R6 151.583 0.305
3   R. Krummenacher YZF R6 151.811 0.533
4   A. Badovini  ZX-6R 152.003 0.725
5   L.  Mahias  ZX-6R 152.058 0.780
6   T.  Gradinger YZF R6 152.158 0.880
7   M. Roccoli YZF R6 152.247 0.969
8   R. De Rosa F3 675 152.309 1.031
9   H. Okubo  ZX-6R 152.334 1.056
10   F.  Fuligni  F3 675 153.346 2.068
11   L.  Cresson YZF R6 153.367 2.089
12   G. Ruiu YZF R6 153.417 2.139
13   L.  Ottaviani YZF R6 153.425 2.147
14   H. Soomer CBR600RR 153.494 2.216
15   P.  Sebestyen CBR600RR 153.582 2.304
16   I.   Vinales YZF R6 153.732 2.454
17   C. Perolari YZF R6 153.842 2.564
18   J.  Danilo CBR600RR 154.028 2.750
19   M. Herrera YZF R6 154.075 2.797
20   J.  Van Sikkelerus CBR600RR 154.577 3.299
21   R. Hartog ZX-6R 154.638 3.360
22   G. Van Straalen ZX-6R 154.859 3.581
23   N. Calero ZX-6R 155.034 3.756
24 K. Smith  ZX-6R 155.067 3.789
25  A. Coppola CBR600RR 155.221 3.943
26  C. Stange CBR600RR 156.799 5.521
27  F.  Massei YZF R6 157.333 6.055
28  G. Matern  ZX-6R 205.423 14.145

World Supersport 300

WorldSSP300 was back on track at Imola for their 2019 campaign, returning after a four-week hiatus. From back-to-back rounds at a busy Aragon and a weather-affected Assen, the WorldSSP300 category now takes to the historic Imola circuit in Italy. After the first day of action, it was 2017 WorldSSP champion Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) on top, but there’s plenty of time left for the others to catch up.

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday WorldSSP Friday Action Garcia
Marc Garcia

Having dipped below the existing lap record in FP2, Group A were once again dominant in the leading positions on combined times. Marc Garcia’s time of 2’07.028 placed him ahead of Mika Perez (Scuderia Maranga Racing) and Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha). Garcia won at the Imola track back in 2017 and will be hoping that he can use this weekend as a platform to elevate himself up from a lowly 14th in the championship.

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday WorldSSP Friday Action De Cancellis
Hugo De Cancellis

Fourth on the time sheets was Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing), who led for the majority of the session. The Indonesian rider was 0.442s from the top time by Garcia.

In fifth place was the first of the Group B entrants, with Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) continuing his impressive form on from Assen. Kevin Sabatucci (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) made it a 1-2 in Group B for Italy and finished sixth overall, making for an exciting prospect for the rest of the weekend.

WSBK Rnd Imola Friday WorldSSP Friday Action Perez
Mika Perez

World Supersport 300 Friday Times


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