All smiles from Bautista as he leads the way at Phillip Island, 1 second covers the Top 15
It was excitement from the beginning for the first Free Practice session of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Just 1 second covered the top 15 riders after the conclusion of Free Practice 1, proving we are in for a real treat for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round.
It was all smiles for Alvaro Bautista [Aruba.it Racing – Ducati] as he continued to set the pace, finding himself on top of the timesheets once again in Free Practice 1, with his fastest time of 1:31.032 set on his sixth lap.
Crossing the chequered flag in third for Free Practice 1, Iker Lecuona [Team HRC] made quick work of setting a fast lap time which saw him lead the first half of the Free Practice.
A great start for the Spaniard, Lecuona fired a 1:31.129 in his first flying lap of the session, proving the Honda is more capable than what we have seen in terms of results as of late.
Lecuona was, however, pipped off the top of the times by both Bautista and late-charging Andea Locatelli [Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK], to finish out the session in third by a marginal +0.097 from Bautista. A small crash in MG from Lecuona meant he was unable to put in a late charge towards the end of the session.
Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK rider Andrea Locatelli put in his flying lap of the session with 10 minutes to go, finding his way into P2 with a 1:31.069.
There is definitely no doubt there is building pressure on the Yamaha riders’. With, of course, Bautista’s consistent pace setting ability, but in fact with the strong lineup of Yamaha mounted riders in the 2023 season.
Andrea Locatelli has so far flown the flag for Yamaha, continuing his strong progression that was made in the latter part of the 2022 season.
For his teammate, 2021 World Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu [Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK], his 2023 campaign hasn’t gotten off to the strongest of starts, finishing Free Practice 1 down in eighth.
Leading the way for Kawasaski was Jonathan Rea [Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK], finishing out the session in fourth.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi [Aruba.it Racing – Ducati] was flying under the radar in FP1 sitting in 10th position for majority of the session, but put in a last stint dash to jump up five spots in the timesheet, to finish out in P5 with a 1:31.401.
It is becoming evident there will be a Ducati-Yamaha fight for the Independent Championship in 2023. During the Australian Official Test, it was a dice for the Independent lead between Philipp Oettl [Team GoEleven] and Remy Gardner [GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team].
Coming out on top for the Independent riders in Free Practice 1 went to Philipp Oettl, but following directly behind was Australian rider Remy Gardner. Gardner put in his fastest lap of 1:31.655 to see out the session in P10.
Written by Tayla Relph