Locatelli Looking Impressive in Friday Free Practice at Phillip Island

February 23 2024

Locatelli Looking Impressive in Friday Free Practice at Phillip Island

Locatelli Looking Impressive in Friday Free Practice at Phillip Island

Pata Prometeon Yamaha rider Andrea Locatelli continued to impress with a super strong showing in Friday’s Free Practice sessions on Day 1 of the opening round of the 2024 FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island in Australia today.

Rain put a dampener on pre-planned preparations during Free Practice 1 this morning, but not enough to stop 27-year-old “Loka” becoming the first rider to officially break the WorldSBK lap record with a 1'29.197 in the final moments of the session. With just three timed laps to his name and damp sections remaining on track, the feat was made even more impressive.

Only traffic in FP2 stopped the Italian from repeating a potential P1 overall, but it was a goal secondary to completing a long run simulation with pit stop – as required for the two feature races taking place “Down Under” this weekend.

New Pata Prometeon Yamaha teammate Jonathan Rea started the day down in P12, also completing only a small handful of laps within the last 10 minutes of FP1 as the track dried. While still experiencing some discomfort from bruising due to his violent crash on Tuesday, the six-time WorldSBK Champion’s physical condition was better than expected on the first day of running.

Rea noticed some issues on corner exit in the morning session that the team tried to improve with electronic and chassis setting adjustments, but unfortunately during FP2 the feedback did not improve. Despite this, “JR” was able to set a strong 1’30.097 lap time, with improved corner entry feeling a significant step forward from the Official Test.

Tomorrow, the 2024 WorldSBK season really begins with Race 1 at 16:00 local time (UTC+11) – not before one final Free Practice 3 at 10:00 and the all-important Superpole qualifying at 13:00.

Andrea Locatelli: P3 – 1'29.197

“It was a tricky Friday, I think for everyone! We were waiting a lot in the box during FP1 because of the conditions – but when we went on track in the last few minutes, I felt immediately good on the bike and made a good lap time. This afternoon I think we did a really good job because we tried to do a simulation to prepare for the race and the rhythm was good! It was not so easy, unfortunately I found some riders and I needed to overtake a lot especially after the pit stop to change the tyre – so I couldn’t improve the lap time but I think we can fight in the race. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to start Race 1 tomorrow. It’s a positive day – I think we can stay in the front group, I won here in 2020 in Supersport – it would be nice to win again, but let’s see tomorrow! We are here to try to win, we’ve shown the potential so let’s see what we can do.”

Jonathan Rea: P16 – 1'30.097

“Super difficult day, as you could see I didn’t do many laps on track – not only due to the weather. We suffered some issues straight away this morning, probably continued on from the test and struggled to pinpoint exactly what the problem is. The guys are still trying to understand why the bike was very difficult to ride – we’ve been changing the set-up and trying to get on top of it. It’s not exactly how I imagined “Day 1” of the season to start but we are where we are, and I have full confidence in the team that we can find the root of this issue and be stronger tomorrow. In terms of the crash, I feel much, much better than yesterday – and yesterday better than the day before – every day it’s getting better. Of course, I still have some growing to do with the R1 so now is the time to be calm and if tomorrow I can roll out of pit lane as “Day Zero” as they say and I can find the rhythm fast enough, I say with optimism that hopefully we can fight for a good result.”

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