Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista has fired a warning shot across the bows of world champion Jonathan Rea after setting the pace on the opening day of WorldSBK testing at Phillip Island ahead of the 2019 season opener, back at the famed grand prix circuit this weekend (February 22-24).
The 34-year-old Spaniard set today’s benchmark time of 1min.30.743secs in this morning’s opening two-hour session, proving that his all-new V-four machine is adapting well to the unique stresses and demands of the 4.445km circuit – which has the highest average speed of the 13 venues where WorldSBK will visit in 2019.
Bautista’s hot lap eclipsed the current lap record of 1:30.848 as the former MotoGP rider and 125 GP world champion continues to make a solid transition into the production series.
Meanwhile Rea (1:30.189), chasing an unprecedented fifth WorldSBK title in 2019 on his Kawasaki, was third fastest on day one, behind Yamaha’s Alex Lowes (1:31.146) and in front of Tom Sykes (BMW, 1:31.300), Leon Haslam (Kawasaki, 1:31.349), Melandri (Yamaha, 1:31.445), Michael van der Mark (Yamaha, 1:31.458), Sandro Cortese (Yamaha, 1:31.639), Markus Reiterberger (BMW, 1:31.992) and Turkey’s Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki, 1:32.050).
Sykes, quickly coming to grips with the completely revamped BMW S 1000 RR, Haslam and Razgatlioglu were the only three riders to circulate faster this afternoon as a swirling 22-knot wind made setting fast times difficult.
Leon Camier (Honda) finished the day in 11th, while world No. 2 Chaz Davies (Ducati) was 13th. Australia’s Troy Herfoss (Honda) was 19th on his Honda in a challenging day for the reigning national superbike champion.
In WorldSSP, Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher was fastest on his Yamaha, with Aussie teenage wildcard Tom Toparis (Yamaha) just outside the top 10.
Day two of the final pre-season test will again see the WorldSBK and WorldSSP riders out on track in two separate sessions, as they finalise race setup ahead of the season opener.
See you Trackside at the Island for a Triple-Treat
A three-day General Admission is $120* secured in advance, or $230* when you add camping to your purchase.
If you feel like splashing out, step up to a Bar SBK ticket at $265* (with camping $375*) and enjoy undercover facilities at Doohan Corner, Siberia and Lukey Heights.
World superbikes is FREE** for kids 15 and under, and so is your bike.
As an extra bonus at WorldSBK, all three-day ticket holders are gifted FREE paddock access.
For more information go to www.worldsbk.com.au or call the toll free WorldSBK Hotline 1300 728 007
*All ticket prices quoted purchased in advance and subject to Ticketek service and handling fees.
**Children 15 and under are free and must be accompanied by a paying adult.