Bautista surfing to the win in Race 1 with Pirelli DIABLO Rain
Ducati riders protagonists on the first day of racing at Phillip Island; Bulega wins on WorldSSP debut
The first day of racing in the opening round of the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship held in Phillip Island, Australia, was dominated by the Ducati riders: Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.It Racing – Ducati) won in the premier class, Nicolò Bulega (Aruba Racing WorldSSP Team) triumphed on his debut in WorldSSP. A Saturday strongly influenced by the uncertain weather which, especially in the WorldSSP race, put the teams and riders to the test as regards the choice of tyres to use due to the continuous alternation of dry and wet conditions. Pirelli DIABLO Rain tyres were chosen in both races and, especially in Supersport, they played a key role to the race success.
GIORGIO BARBIER INGLESE
Tyre choice was crucial in uncertain weather conditions
“In recent seasons, the Australian weather has enjoyed playing tricks on the riders of the Superbike World Championship. Conditions like today’s, in which dry alternate with rain, are extremely difficult for the riders and teams to manage because, even more than usual, the choice of tyres to start with becomes crucial. On top of that yesterday it never rained so there was no way to check the wet set-up before the races. Today we saw it above all in Supersport where the race started with the asphalt a bit wet but no rain and then, with a few laps to go, it started to rain. In these conditions, the riders who at the start decided to mount rain tyres benefited in the finale compared to those who had slicks, intermediates or a combination of these solutions. In these cases, the credit undoubtedly goes to the strategy adopted by the team, but there is also some luck: races are made up of that too. We are satisfied because both with few drops and a lot of rain the full wet tyres have shown good performance”.
In Superpole, reigning World Champion Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was the first to take to the track, followed closely by other riders. Pole was set by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) in 1’29.400, one tenth from the absolute track record. Bautista and Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) complete the front row with a gap of about 2 tenths from the poleman. All the riders used the standard SC0 soft solution on the rear and the standard SC1 medium option on the front.
In Race 1, given the completely wet asphalt, almost all the riders opted for DIABLO Rain tyres in SCR1 front compound and SCR1 rear compound. The BMW riders were the only ones to mount the other standard full wet solution, the SCR2, at the rear.
Starting from second position on the grid, Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.It Racing – Ducati) won the race by overtaking Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on lap 10. The Northern Irishman will have to settle for the second step of the podium ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha), third at the finish line.
Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) gained Superpole with a time of 1’32.814 ahead of the Turkish Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and another Italian, Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team).
Despite a few drops of rain and the asphalt not completely dry, in Superpole all the riders used slick tyres: standard medium SC1 front and development medium SC1-A (specification A1128) rear. At the start of Race 1 the riders confirmed the same solutions used in Superpole, therefore all on front standard SC1 and rear SC1-A (A1128 specification), with the exception of Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) who has mounted the SC1-B (B0625 specification) at the rear.
After the race was stopped due to an accident, at the restart the laps to go were first 12, then further reduced to 10 due to uncertain weather conditions. Choosing tyres, with somewhere dry and somewhere wet track, becomes complicated and, for this reason, there was a variety of tyres on track, with different combinations front and rear with slicks, wets and full wet tyres.
Nicolò Bulega (Aruba Racing WorldSSP Team) wins a race heavily affected by the weather. In the final laps, the rain began to fall more abundantly, putting the riders who were on slick or intermediate tyres in difficulty and favoring those on full wet tyres, used by all three riders on the podium.