An almost perfect Friday
On the first Friday of the 2023 WorldSBK season, Team Go Eleven and Philipp Oettl showed exceptional shape both in the cooler conditions, in the morning, and in the afternoon, when the asphalt warmed up to 47 degrees. Race simulation, fast lap, without using the soft qualifying tyre, everything worked out at its best.
In FP 1, the team worked constantly on race pace, using the same tyre for all the 45 minutes available. The German rider was able to maintain a good pace, completing over 20 laps, positioning himself close to the Top 8, just half a second from the leader. It should be underlined how in this session Philipp rode the Ducati Panigale for the first time in full 2023 version, immediately adapting to the different engine power delivery, which proved to be smoother.
FREE PRACTICE 1:
P 1 A. Bautista 1.31.032
P 2 A. Locatelli + 0.037
P 3 I. Lecuona + 0.097
P 9 P. Oettl + 0.581
FP 2 took place in hot conditions, over thirty degrees in the air and almost fifty on the asphalt, which slightly changed the performance of bikes and riders. With the high level present today in Superbike, a small detail is really enough to change the rankings. Once again the number 5 focused on race pace, taking advantage of a similar time to that of the Main Races. 18 consecutive laps at a really strong pace, in line with the category references. In the final stages, he used a new set of tyres, but without using the Super Soft yet, which will be used in qualifying. Third place in the session, in a Ducati quartet, led by Alvaro Bautista.
FREE PRACTICE 2:
P 1 A. Bautista 1.30.623
P 2 M. Rinaldi + 0.534
P 3 P. Oettl + 0.826
Tomorrow will be the time to focus on the fast lap, the all-or-nothing one, to gain a good position on the grid. There could be showers tomorrow afternoon, but the weather here in southwestern Australia changes very quickly, so much so that it is impossible to make long-term forecasts. The important thing is that since we’ve been here in Phillip Island, Philipp has always felt comfortable on the bike, constantly improving and showing himself excited, aware of his own potential. We can’t wait for the first Race of the season!
Philipp Oettl (Rider):
“Today it has been a really great day, we did a fantastic job, cause we couldn’t try the new engine till the FP 1, so I am so happy that everything worked well. It’s Team work and they did a super job. The 2023 engine is smoother, but it’s difficult to make a real comparison with the old one after two days of break. My Ducati is really enjoyable to ride, we based our focus on the race pace for the 99% of time, I think it will pay off also in the future. My time attack was not so perfect, I found a slower rider in the very first lap, but we managed a solid time for the afternoon. Let’s see what tomorrow will give us!”
A love-hate relationship with the rain on Saturday
What a Pity! What a pity for the rain that came just before Race 1; but it’s part of the game, races in the wet count and are important, so it’s essential to grow and improve even in poor grip conditions. So far Philipp has very little to complain about his Australian weekend, very fast in the dry and improving with the Rain!
By now, if the track is dry, Oettl places the Ducati up front; in the Australian morning, he conquered the third time taking advantage of the time attack on the soft tyre, spared up to that moment by the Go Eleven Team, so as to get closer to qualifying little by little. Everything perfect, any particular problem and Ducati Go Eleven ready to face Superpole.
FREE PRACTICE 3:
P 1 I. Lecuona 1.29.764
P 2 A. Bautista + 0.179
P 3 P. Oettl + 0.353
Superpole saw Philipp Oettl ready and excited from the first minute; a first tyre took him to 30.4, finishing in the first 6 places, but as often happens, the second tyre is the one that really defines the starting grid. The German rider breaks down the barrier of 30, takes a momentary third position with an exceptional second and fourth sector. In the final stages he was beaten by a couple of riders, but still remained the best qualifying ever, just three tenths off pole position, second Ducati across the finish line. What a ride, pure show!
P 1 T. Razgatlioglu 1.29.400
P 2 A. Bautista + 0.184
P 3 D. Aegerter + 0.235
P 4 J. Rea + 0.315
P 5 P. Oettl + 0.374
When everything seems to be going your way, the inconvenience is always around the corner. During the Supersport Race, half an hour before the start of Race 1, the long-awaited and feared rain made its appearance, changing all the teams’ plans. As we know from last year, Philipp is not the classic “rain wizard”, so it was a defensive race, aiming to score points. Although the eleventh final position is certainly not the result hoped for after the excellent practices, the Go Eleven rider took a clear step forward compared to last year, still showing himself to be fast and ready for the Top Ten area. Good battles with Aegerter and Gardner, separated by a bit of gap in the last laps, and with Gerloff, who instead emerged victorious, livened up the race.
P 1 A. Bautista 37’48.672
P 2 J. Rea + 3.471
P 3 T. Razgatlioglu + 6.168
P 11 P. Oettl + 44.142
For tomorrow the forecasts seems much better, and it will be a completely different story; 22 dry laps at Phillip Island are really tough and many things could mush up the standings, one above all, the management of the rear tyre. Oettl will start from fifth position for the Superpole Race, where the goal is to keep the row, before going all-in in Race 2. Temperatures should drop slightly, while the wind will not, which could be another determining factor. In any case, Team Go Eleven’s Saturday was quite positive, with the feeling of being really good and ready for a good result. Fingers crossed, we’ll catch up tomorrow!
Philipp Oettl (Rider):
“The Superpole was amazing today, we finished in P 5, that is perfect both for Race 1 and Superpole Race. The main race was in full wet conditions, so we finished eleventh, and that was not our goal, but it was good for us to understand our position in the Rain. I am fifty-fifty; happy for the race in the rain, I improved a lot since last year, and I understand more or less how to be fast for the Top ten, on the other side we were on the top in all sessions, so that’s a pity Rain came just before Race 1. I think we can look forward in a positive way!”
Denis Sacchetti (Team Manager):
“The Wet Race, after all the dry sessions, certainly changed the values on track. Philipp went very fast both in FP and in qualifying. The fifth fastest time, so close to the front row, confirms the excellent work done from the team and the rider. This was his first real wet race on a Superbike, and I think it went well, we certainly made an important step in terms of performance in wet conditions, so we are happy with how it went, we couldn’t ask much more; anyway I am a bit upset, because we knew that in the dry we could have fought for the front positions, but this is racing and we have to be competitive in all conditions!”
A Sunday to remember
P 6 in Superpole Race, P 5 in Race 2 at the end of a great battle; a weekend ended (almost) in the best possible way for the German rider on his Ducati. Fluid, fast, regular and able to close races with a comeback, managing the tyres perfectly! Best result in WorldSBK for Philipp and best result ever for Go Eleven at Phillip Island; so, why that “almost” perfect? Because the Best Independent narrowly escaped, and in Race 2 the potential to dream the podium was there, but we lost some time in the battle at the start of the race!
Even on Phillip Island Sunday, the weather alarmed everyone in the morning. During the Warm Up, the rain bothered the riders, especially in the first and fourth sector, forcing the protagonists to keep a safety margin, in order to avoid damage just before the races.
P 1 A. Bautista 1.29.798
P 2 T. Razgatlioglu + 0.322
P 3 A. Locatelli + 0.768
P 6 Philipp Oettl + 1.160
In the Superpole Race Philipp looked rather tense before the start, aware that he had a good race pace, but also nervous because for the first time he found himself battling with the big names of the category. Everybody with softer tyres, the German rider has a good start, then in turn two he collides with Lowes and is forced to lose a couple of positions. However, the pace is that of the best, so lap after lap he closes the gap with the group battling for fourth place. Once in the game, he tries to get his claws out, inserting himself in a couple of overtakings; in front of him Gardner and Aegerter crash in a contact at Turn 4, the famous slow corner scene of many contacts. Behind Philipp, an aggressive Rea tries to recover, but the Go Eleven rider doesn’t concede anything, not even in the closing laps. Compared to the 6 times world champion, he really gains in fast turns, then loses a bit in changes of direction. Sixth place conquered, second row defended and head to Race 2. Ah, 1.2 seconds from the podium, after ten laps!
P 1 A. Bautista 15’14.958
P 2 M. Rinaldi + 2.462
P 3 T. Razgatlioglu + 3.060
P 6 P. Oettl + 4.215
Race 2 was exceptional, ten riders, all fighting for positions close to the podium, with constant overtaking, contacts, plot twists of the standing. In all of this, Locatelli was able to take advantage of the fights and creates a bit of gap, getting himself out of “trouble”. Philipp has a not exactly perfect start, losing a couple of positions, then the race gets complicated by staying behind Petrucci, a really tough rider in the battle. In turn 1, developing a lot of speed out of the last two on the left, Oettl goes inside, passes two of them, avoiding contact with Aegerter by millimetres. From that moment on he is one of the fastest riders on the track, easily closing in on the group made up of the two factory Kawasakis, by Toprak, Axel and Lecuona. Thanks to a contact between the last two, he passes them both; Lowes and Toprak touch and go down, leaving Rea pursued by Bassani and Philipp. The Italian manages to free himself a moment earlier and takes a second advantage, the number 5 passes the Northern Irishman in turn 1, and launches into a desperate comeback to fight for the Best Independent. He comes close, to a few tenths, but perhaps one lap is missing to really ignite the battle. Fifth position, an amazing race, but a bitter taste remains in the mouth; both because the podium was really close at hand, and because we could fight for the Best Independent. In any case, if you regret a fifth place, it really means that the potential is there and expectations are high!
P 1 A. Bautista 33’40.779
P 2 M. Rinaldi + 6.191
P 3 A. Locatelli + 9.099
P 4 A. Bassani + 11.680
P 5 P. Oettl + 12.020
After a thrilling Sunday, both in front of the TV and in the box, where tension was high, the WorldSBK circus moves to Indonesia, the Mandalika International Circuit. Last year Philipp proved to be competitive and really fast starting on Friday, only to end the weekend prematurely in the hospital due to the heavy crash in race 1. Now we’re back there, but awareness of the potential available and motivation will be completely different!
Philipp Oettl (Rider):
“I am super happy with both Races today, we took a P 5 and a P 6, that’s my best results ever! Probably in race 2 I had a little bit more pace, but in the end we had a great battle, I fought against the Top Riders and bikes all day, and I could bring home so many points. I enjoyed it a lot! Let’s see what Mandalika will bring, I am happy for the Team, too, they did a great job and the bike was fantastic. I re-paid them with a good result! For the next week, it’s a track I really like, but last year we went to the hospital. Now let’s take a small break, and then we will refocus on the Race there!”
Denis Sacchetti (Team Manager):
“Two strong races today! Seeing Philipp fight to overtake Rea and Toprak is a satisfaction you don’t experience every day! I think predicting a better start to the Championship would have been difficult for us. Analyzing Race 2, if we hadn’t lost all that time behind Petrucci, and in the fight with Toprak, we could also aspire to something better, because we were faster than the final result obtained, maybe we could have fought with Locatelli. Now the important thing is to confirm ourselves also in the next races, and to be constant in all circuits. See you in a few days in Indonesia, even more motivated!”