2019 Australia WorldSBK Friday: Ducati’s Bautista 0.014 Over Rea

2019 Australia WorldSBK Friday: Ducati’s Bautista 0.014 Over Rea

The Ducati Panigale V4 R and Alvaro Bautista once again topped the time sheets in 2019 World Superbike.

Bautista, who led the final pre-season test of 2019 WorldSBK at Phillip Island earlier this week, was quickest during Friday testing ahead of the season opener in Australia.

The Aruba.it Racing Ducati pilot, who debuts in World Superbike after spending nine years in the premier MotoGP class, posted a best time of 1:30.327, which was 0.24 of a second slower than his top time during pre-season testing.

To put this time into perspective, Marco Melandri holds the race record lap of 1:38.848, which was set during last year’s race while racing for Ducati (now with GRT Yamaha Superbike). The circuit record (across all sessions) is a 1:29.573, which was posted by Jonathan Rea in 2017 (Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10RR).

When Friday’s second 52-minute free practice session was complete, the Spaniard Bautista finished just 0.014 of a second over the four-time World Superbike Champion Rea, and 0.155 ahead of Rea’s new teammate, Leon Haslam.

“Even though the main aim was not to set the quickest time, today was really positive and I’m very satisfied,” Alvaro Bautista says. “We knew we had a good pace, so everything was possible. This morning we made a change to the set-up to try and improve the feeling from the tests at the start of the week, but we didn’t find what we expected. In addition, we tried a new spec of tyre which wasn’t at the test.

“In the afternoon we decided to work on race distance to verify tyre wear and all in all I’m happy. I’ve got an excellent feeling with the bike and I’m enjoying myself so we’ll try and continue like this tomorrow. As it’s my first race in Superbike many aspects are new to me, it’s not going to be easy but I hope to be able to fight with Rea. We’ll see during the weekend, but for sure I’ll give my all!”

The gap from Haslam to fourth-place finisher Tom Sykes aboard the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK S 1000 RR was 0.182 of a second.

Sykes was followed closely by Pata Yamaha WorldSBK’s Alex Lowes and Althea Honda’s Leon Camier. Rounding out the top 10 during Friday free practice at Phillip Island were GRT Yamaha WorldSBK’s Sandro Cortese; BMW Motorrad WorldSBK’s Markus Reiterberger; Pata Yamaha WorldSBK’s Michael van der Mark; and Turkish Puccetti Racing Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu.