The Spanish rider finished ahead of reigning Champion Toprak Razgatlioglu in Friday’s combined classification
Friday highlights – WorldSBK
P1 – Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
The Championship leader was fastest on Friday at Mandalika, setting a best time of 1’33.626s.
He was 0.462s faster than 2nd-placed Razgatlioglu and was the only rider in the 1’33s.
Bautista will be able to clinch the title in Race 1 if he outscores Razgatlioglu by 17 points and Rea by one point as he needs to have a 99-point margin to both Rea and Razgatlioglu (only full length race wins are used in the event of a tie, which currently stands at 12 for Bautista and five for Razgatlioglu with four remaining).
“Today, basically, we tried to understand the track to have some reference with a Ducati and also, in FP1, our goal today was just to put rubber on the track. In the afternoon, the track improved a little bit. I was a bit inconsistent during practice because, when I didn’t see very clearly when I could be safe in the corner, I just rolled off and didn’t take any risks. It’s better to have more Ducatis in front because it means that maybe it’s a track that fits not so bad for our bike but, at the same time, it depends a lot. Tomorrow we will see improvement from the track and then we see the performance of each rider. This kind of weekend is difficult to understand from the first day because everything is changing a lot. You have to be focused and try to get the maximum every time you go out to the track. My feeling with the bike has been positive.”
P2 – Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK)
Razgatlioglu was second with a best lap clocked in 1’34.088s in FP2.
He was one of the busiest riders on track over the two sessions, completing 38 laps with only Bautista and Baz recording more.
“This morning, we started with a dirty track and in the afternoon, it felt much better. I’m feeling good and ready to race. We tried some different setups for the race and I’m very happy with the long run and the race simulation. I’m looking now to tomorrow because it will be an important day for me. Now, there is just one clean line but it’s not completely clean. In the races, it won’t be easy to pass because outside the line is very dirty. I hope it doesn’t start to rain because, otherwise, I think tomorrow will start like today.”
P3 – Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
Rinaldi posted his best time in 1’34.590s, finishing third in the combined standings.
He was 0.964s behind his teammate.
“Friday has been pretty good because, last year, here I struggled a lot. The track is different, and the asphalt is new, so it was difficult this morning to get a rhythm. This afternoon was much better, so everyone pushed for lap times. We tried the tyre because it looks like the SCX is damaging too much after a few laps. So, we go for the hardest compound, and I really like it. My lap was quite good. I think that at the moment we don’t have the pace to be on the podium, we need to improve a little bit. I think it will important to be in front and follow the slipstream of the top guys for a podium or a top four.”
P4 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
Rea was fourth with a personal best time of 1’34.595s, 0.969s slower than Bautista.
“It was a difficult day honestly. I’ve felt that this morning it was very difficult the track. It was more a case of just understanding the layout, warming up. And then in FP2 the line was very narrow. I didn’t feel great with my bike. We guessed a bit balance change in the bike to try to generate some grip on the tyre. It’s just not really my base setup. I wasn’t feeling good. I think it’s more a case of back to basics tomorrow. Trying to get a bike that is more natural turning and then start to work step by step. We need to pay attention to the weather because the forecast and being in this microclimate here, we can have rain or we can have sun. The track temperature today was very high. We just don’t know what we’ll face tomorrow.
P5 – Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
Gerloff was the fastest Independent rider in the top six finishing in fifth.
“Today was difficult. This morning the track was so dirty. It’s awesome that the track put the new asphalt and everything, the commitment they have to racing and to have the best possible asphalt and circuit is really good. Really difficult this morning, especially for me. We just stayed on one set of tyres, just trying to get laps in and basically not waste any stickers with the track conditions not the best. FP2 went a lot better, as long as you stay on that line, you’re fine, but if you go off line a little bit you have a big time.”
P6 – Xavi Fores (BARNI Spark Racing Team)
Fores was sixth overall, as he completed his best time in 1’34.871s.
“This morning was a little bit crazy because the track was so dirty, and it was like riding on ice. I took my time to learn the layout and I was taking care of the bike because I was a little bit lost, especially in the first laps of FP1. This afternoon, in FP2, I’ve felt more comfortable with the bike. We changed some things compared to this morning. I put some new tyres on and the pace was ok. I was inside the top eight and top five during all the session. I’ve felt comfortable, and especially I didn’t feel like I was pushing too much to do a lap. This is something that makes me happy. This morning I was a bit frustrated because the level is so high and coming in this time of the season, it’s not easy to be on the level. But anyway, I’m feeling confident and comfortable with the bike.”
Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) finished in eighth as the best Honda rider. FP2 was red flagged after a huge highside for Iker Lecuona (Team HRC). He was diagnosed with a low back contusion and has been transported to RSUD NTB Mataram Hospital for further assessments. Hafizh Syahrin (MIE Racing Honda Team) also had a crash in FP2 which brought out the red flags, but after being evaluated at the medical centre was declared fit.
WorldSBK action resumes on Saturday from 08:30 (Local Time) with the FP3 session, followed by Tissot Superpole at 10:40 and Race 1 at 13:30.