Bautista unstoppable in final Practice while Aegerter charges to second
Final preparations for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round at Phillip Island Circuit have drawn to a close for World Superbikes.
As the minutes closed in on the final Free Practice session at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, it was the reigning World Champion Alvaro Bautista [Aruba.It Racing – Ducati] who set the pace for the weekend to come.
Bautista put in 46 laps in the final Practice of the day, with no one coming close to his time set early into the two-hour long Free Practice session of a 1:30.404. While there were no improvements in his overall fastest time, Bautista took overall honours in the combined standings throughout the two days.
Alvaro Bautista: “I think from the first day with this bike I felt good, we didn’t have to make big changes on the bike, just small details. Today we were more focused only on tyres to get the maximum feeling. I did many laps during these two days. Yesterday I did 88 laps and today I did 80 or so, so the tyres were on the limit. For me, I prefer this because you can work more specifically for the race and less for the time attack mode.
With less than two minutes remaining, a late attack from two-time World Supersport Champion and Rookie Dominique Aegerter [GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK] jumped up the times to complete his fastest lap of the two-days with a 1:30.739. This time was strong enough to place him second in the final session of the day, as well as secure the top spot for the Independent riders. Aegerter just pipped Philipp Oettl [Team GoEleven] Independent lead, with Oettl’s fastest time over the two-days set this morning of a 1:30.838.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi [Aruba.It Racing – Ducati] remained at the higher end of the time sheets during the final day of testing, but the Italian’s session was halted after a small crash at MG with 40 minutes remaining. There was minimal damage on his 2023 Ducati Panigale V4 R as he rejoined and made his way back to the pits. Rinaldi rejoined towards the end of the session, ultimately finishing the final session of the two days in third just behind Aegerter.
Remy Gardner [GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK] was one of few riders who improved their time in the final session of the two-day Official Test. Despite a valiant effort in pushing for a lap time, Gardner’s session ended abruptly in his final time attack of the Official Test.
For Yamaha, it was another positive day for Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), as he was second in the morning session, having topped the corresponding session on day one. Running inside the top two for the majority of FP2 on day two, Locatelli continued working like he did on day one and was doing short race simulations throughout both two-hour sessions, finishing as top Yamaha.
It was yet another challenging day in the office for Jonathan Rea [Kawasaki Racing Team] who went down for a second time at Miller Corner on his 29th lap of the session. Similar to Rinaldi, the low speed crash caused minor damage to the #65 machine and he was able to remount and return to the pits. Rejoining the session with less than 10-minutes to go.
Despite finishing the test in P10 and P11 respectively, Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) crashed together at Turn 4, bringing out the first red flag of FP2 on day two. Both were on their feet but taken to the medical centre for a check.
Top six on the fourth and final Free Practice session, full results here:
- Alvaro Bautista [Aruba.It – Racing Ducati] – 1:30.404
- Dominique Aegerter [GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK] – 1:30.739
- Michael Ruben Rinaldi [Aruba.It Racing – Ducati] – 1:30.996
- Andrea Locatelli [Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK] – 1:31.046
- Remy Gardner [GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK] – 1:31.073
- Jonathan Rea [Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK] – 1:31.200