Lap-Record Pace for Locatelli in Phillip Island Official WorldSBK Test

February 20 2024

Lap-Record Pace for Locatelli in Phillip Island Official WorldSBK Test

Lap-Record Pace for Locatelli in Phillip Island Official WorldSBK Test

Pata Prometeon Yamaha riders Andrea Locatelli and Jonathan Rea finally took to the track at Phillip Island in Australia today, with a rescheduled one-day Official Test ahead of the opening round of the 2024 FIM Superbike World Championship this coming weekend.

After a long and tense wait for Pirelli’s shipment of tyres to be delivered, the test eventually took place over a single day with two four-hour long Free Practice sessions available. In the morning, Locatelli lead the way for Yamaha on his favourite circuit and checked off 43 laps on the way to fourth place on the overall timing sheet – with a fastest lap time of 1'29.190 – one of the four riders under the outright lap record for WorldSBK set in 2020 of 1’29.234.

Late in the afternoon, the ultimate pace increased further and “Loka” went one better to finish the day in the top-three with an incredible time of 1'28.835 on his penultimate lap of the day (78 of 79).

Recent asphalt resurfacing of the coastal venue has created challenging conditions for all teams and riders. While higher grip levels allowed the ability to set faster lap times than ever before, the key focus was to work on race tyre management and set-up for the circuit’s long left-hand corners in preparation for the two 22-lap main races on Saturday and Sunday.

Rea’s running programme was reduced following a high-side crash at Turn 11 just prior to the lunch break – and after completing 33 laps in the morning, he was 12th overall with a fastest lap time of 1'29.988. The Northern Irishman suffered painful bruising to his left knee and some nasty abrasions but returned to the track to complete a further 31 laps and finished the day in an unrepresentative 15th place on the timesheets.

With two full days of recovery before track action resumes with Free Practice on Friday morning, Rea is confident of a 100% return ready for Round 1 of the 2024 WorldSBK Championship this weekend from 23-25 February.

Andrea Locatelli – 1'28.835

“So, it was an interesting day! Unfortunately, it was just one day of testing – it is not easy to do everything but we were working well this morning and especially during this afternoon to understand which was the best rhythm to do on the race tyre. Everything was working well, my confidence on the R1 feels amazing – I was fast in every run, so this is something positive for us. In general, I am really happy – I can’t wait to start the weekend and I am really excited to start the first race here in Phillip Island. The track was changing a lot, with the new surface grip is quite high, so let’s see what we can do. We have some days to check the data and try to improve a little bit more, but we did really well today. Our target is the podium, we are here for this – and maybe try to win.”

Jonathan Rea – 1'29.966

“It’s been a difficult day – I feel comfortable on the R1, but really pushing on the limit and understanding how to push the bike to the maximum is still coming. The outright pace at the front is incredibly fast, so when you go chasing that ultimate lap time it can feel a million miles away but to be honest, the rhythm for me is not actually too far when we put everything together. Step-by-step, the plan is to just work with the guys over the next couple of days to understand how to ride the R1 in the best way possible around here and also get the set-up a bit closer to what I need, and I believe we will be more competitive come the weekend. I have a lot of bruising from the crash early this afternoon, but we have a few days rest now before Friday and I expect by the weekend I will be 100%.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Prometeon Yamaha:

“After the enforced late start to the test here, there was a lot to cram into one day today! We had a tale of two very different test experiences across the team. For Loka it was a very smooth day, the test went very much as planned – he was able to be fast over race distance and also make a very impressive lap time at the end of the test on the SC0 rear tyre. A good start to the race season for Andrea, together with his crew he is pretty much ready to start the race weekend and we’re looking forward to seeing that “next step” we know he is capable of taking. For Jonathan, we had a couple of technical issues which hindered the test programme in the morning. Sometimes when things aren’t going smoothly, the world has a way of making things more challenging – and a Turn 11 high-side didn’t make things any easier. JR is a fighter and did very well to get back to the bike and keep working, even if the laps he did were very limited this afternoon. Ultimately, we are thankful that his injuries were not any worse and that he will be able to compete at the weekend. We now have two days for him to repair and recover as much as possible and for us to find some solutions so that JR can use all of his undoubted speed and talent.”


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