Day one of testing for MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship teams and riders at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve concluded on Tuesday as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) headed the eight-strong WorldSBK field in Portugal. Rea, in his third test of the off-season, finished the day around a tenth clear of his nearest rivals after seven hours of testing.
Top 3 separated by 0.132s
Day one of testing was the first time Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) shared a track together since the end of the 2021 season, but they remained close together in the times in Portugal. Rea, who was looking to confirm items that he and KRT had tested in two previous tests at Jerez, as well as trying new chassis and electronic components, posted a best time of a 1’40.621s after completing 71 laps on his ZX-10RR.
Razgatlioglu ended the day in second place after posting a 1’40.722s and completing 69 laps on his 2021-spec Yamaha YZF-R1 machine. The team has brought electronic updates to the test to try once Razgatlioglu and teammate Andrea Locatelli got up to speed having not ridden the R1 since Indonesia, as well as some new components to aid with rider positioning on the bike.
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed third place on a strong day for the Spanish rider as he returns to Ducati, finishing just 0.132s down on Rea’s fastest time. Although Bautista’s primary aim for the day was to work on finding speed and re-adjusting to the Panigale V4 R, he was able to try out a new swingarm on his machine as well as a new item around the fuel tank of his bike. Bautista completed 82 laps, the most of the entire field, on day one of his second test with Ducati since re-joining, with a best time of 1’40.753s.
Keeping the top 3 in sight
Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) comeback from injury sustained in Indonesia culminated in the Portimao test with the Italian finishing in fourth place after day one. The Italian was aiming to try out a new swingarm for his Ducati Panigale V4 R machine and then having to decide whether to stick with the 2021 spec or switch to the 2022 spec swingarm for the upcoming season. Rinaldi’s best time was a 1’41.261s after he completed 81 laps.
Despite a crash at Turn 14 around halfway into the afternoon running, Locatelli was able to finish fifth in the standings with a best lap of 1’41.440s and 70 laps to his name. Like with Razgatlioglu, Locatelli’s main focus throughout the test was getting back on the bike after so long without riding and while the crash cost him some time, he was still able to put in plenty of laps as he racked up a total of 73.
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) claimed sixth place in the standings on day one as he, like teammate Rea, looked to confirm new items as well as test a new component on the rear of his ZX-10RR. The British rider also had new electronic components to try but the majority of the focus was on the chassis. Lowes completed 80 laps on day one with a best time of 1’41.477s.
Rookies and independent riders
Just two tenths behind Lowes was rookie Philipp Oettl (Eazi-Grip supported Team GoEleven) on his first day on the Ducati Panigale V4 R as he makes the step up from WorldSSP to WorldSBK. Oettl’s main goal for the day was to understand the bike and team as he prepares for his maiden WorldSBK campaign, with the German rider completing 57 laps on his way to sixth in the standings, with a best time of 1’41.707s. French rider Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha) was seventh in the standings as he got back on his Yamaha YZF-R1 machine for the first time since the end of the 2021 season, with Ponsson trying new components aimed at improving his position on the bike. He racked up 57 laps on day one with a best lap time of 1’43’167s. Another rookie, Luca Bernardi (Barni Spark Racing Team), rounded out the WorldSBK field on his return from a back injury sustained at the 2021 French Round. Riding the Panigale V4 R for the first time, the Sammarinese rider completed 61 laps with a best time of 1’44.053s.
Bulega leads the way in WorldSSP
Three WorldSSP riders took to the Portimao track on Tuesday with Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) leading the way. The Italian claimed top spot in the class with a 1’44.683s after completing 74 laps, ahead of fellow rookie Maximilian Kofler (CM Racing). The Austrian put in 40 laps on his first day with the Ducati Panigale V2 but lapped more than two seconds away from Bulega, who was on his second test with the bike. Oli Bayliss’s (Barni Spark Racing Team) day came to a premature end after he had a crash at the left-hand hairpin of Turn 5 in the early stages of the day, with the Australian completing nine laps.
WorldSBK times at the end of day one:
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’40.621s, 71 laps
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 1’40.722s, 69 laps
3. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’40.753s, 82 laps
4. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’41’261s, 81 laps
5. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) 1’41.440s, 73 laps
6. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’41.477s, 80 laps
7. Philipp Oettl (Team GoEleven) 1’41.707s, 67 laps
8. Christophe Ponsson (Gil Motor Sport-Yamaha) 1’43.167s, 57 laps
9. Luca Bernardi (Barni Spark Racing Team) 1’44.053s, 61 laps