REA TOPS FP1 AFTER A LATE CRASH FOR BAUTISTA INTO MILLER CORNER
The sun was out without a cloud in the sky, with a track temperature of 36.2 degrees and rising, conditions were near ideal for World Superbike’s first Free Practice session at Phillip Island Circuit since February 2020. Despite being crowned 2022 World Champion last weekend in Mandalika, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) proved his World Title won’t be holding him back for the WorldSBK Season finale, Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round.
It was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who put in the fastest lap of the opening session. Rea put together his fastest lap when it mattered, finding 2 tenths to cross the line with a 1:31.284, just 0.022 seconds clear of Bautista.
Bautista topped the timesheets early on in the session, posting his fastest time of a 1:31.306 on his 15th lap. Seemingly looking untouchable out there, it was looking like the Spaniard would lead the way for the remainder of the session, but a costly mistake into Miller Corner saw the World Champion down and out for the remainder of FP1. Proving costly in more ways than one, Bautista was unable to put in a fight to Rea to top the timesheets.
In the action, it was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) who closed out the top three spots in FP1. Razgatlioglu struggled in the first half of the session to put up a fight against Rea and Bautista, and the 2021 World Champion only just managed to scrape past Kawasaki Racing Team’s Alex Lowes by a marginal 0.006 of a second to take third.
While the hype of the Ducati’s top speed strength has been a talking point ahead of the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round, it was surprisingly Team HRC’s Rookie Xavi Vierge who topped the fastest speed of the session on his Honda CBR-1000-RR-R. Vierge had blistering pace down the iconic main straight of Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, posting a top speed of 322km/hr.
An early crash from Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) at Miller Corner wasn’t the way the French rider wanted to start his weekend. Our only two fallers Baz and Bautista were a near carbon copy of one another, with both riders unable to get their machines stopped in time for Miller Corner. Baz ultimately lost more than 20 minutes of his session due to his early fall, leaving the Bonovo Action BMW team scrambling to get the French rider back out on track.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was laying low in the first half of FP1. It wasn’t until the remaining 10 minutes of session that the Ducati rider was starting to come to grips with the fast-flowing circuit of Phillip Island Rinaldi made his way up the timesheets to finish in 8th place but found himself 1.532 seconds behind FP1 leader Rea.
World Superbikes Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round– FP1 Top 10 & fastest time
- Jonathan Rea – 1:31.284
- Alvaro Bautista – 1:31.306
- Toprak Razgatlioglu – 1:31.604
- Alex Lowes – 1:31.610
- Andrea Locatelli – 1:32.464
- Garrett Gerloff – 1:32.484
- Philipp Oettl – 1:32.666
- Michael Ruben Rinaldi – 1:32.816
- Tetsuta Nagashima – 1:32.964
- Xavi Vierge – 1:32.974