The only rider to set a lap time in less than 90 seconds, Bautista leads the charge into Race 1
After a wet FP3 earlier in the morning on Saturday, it was almost a fully dry Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit that hosted the final Tissot Superpole session of the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season. Getting down to setting a fast lap time come the end of the session and looking to go into his first round as World Champion in style, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was in good form to take just his second pole of the 2022 season, as he aims for a repeat performance of his 2019 debut display.
GETTING GOING: damp but drying at the start
As the riders hit the circuit, all were on slick tyres as the track conditions improved. Initial times weren’t far from Friday’s completely dry running, although Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) did set a respectable 1’31.712, before it was Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who completed his first lap to go top with a 1’30.609s. Newly-crowned World Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was straight on the pace too and on his second lap, set a 1039.304, extremely impressive considering the damp patches which were still prominent not far from the racing line. At the end of the first run, it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who took over second from his teammate, whilst German rookie Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven) was an impressive fifth.
With second and final runs getting underway within the last six minutes, the field set their sights on getting an improved time, whilst those in the pole battle aimed to set the first sub-90-second lap of the weekend. Out of kilter with the rest of the field, Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) stayed out for the majority of the session and with less than five minutes to go, took sixth spot. Behind him, a rather ragged-looking Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) improved his time for 12th, whilst the main bunch, led by Jonathan Rea and debutant Tetsuta Nagashima (Team HRC), made their way across the line to start their final pole attack.
FRONT ROW: Bautista majestic on ‘The Island’
With two minutes remaining, Rea went top, but Bautista bolted in a 1’29.815s to take provisional pole. There was a disaster for Nagashima who crashed at Miller Corner, the latest crasher at Turn 4. He was up and OK but it did bring out the yellow flags, meaning lap times would be cancelled. The chequered flag came out and it was Bautista who held onto his pole time as spots of rain in the third sector seemed to be costing time to his opponents. It’s only a second pole of 2022 for Bautista, who aims to repeat his 2019 domination come racing action commencing. Jonathan Rea held on to second place and will be keen to strike at the start of the race, whilst Alex Lowes took third.
ROW TWO: It’s all about Yamaha
Going into his final races with the #1 plate, Razgatlioglu was able to take fourth but never truly looked like a pole threat, whilst teammate Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) consolidated Yamaha’s top five pace with fifth and will start from the middle of the second row. It’s a Yamaha lock-out on the second row as Garrett Gerloff’s different strategy paid off and he held onto his sixth place, as he hopes to end his tenure at Yamaha on a high at the circuit at which his WorldSBK career started at in 2020.
THIRD ROW: Oettl outqualifies Rinaldi
The third row consists of Philipp Oettl, with the German rider impressing on his first showing in the WorldSBK class and taking his best Superpole result of his rookie 2022 campaign. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) had a quiet session and could only manage eighth, the third Ducati inside the top ten, whilst Team HRC’s Xavi Vierge took ninth place and a third top ten Superpole result on the bounce. The late fall for Japanese substitute teammate Nagashima cost the #49 a chance to improve, but he took tenth place anyway, the first top ten for a Japanese rider after Superpole since Ryuichi Kiyonari at Magny-Cours in 2019, when ‘Kiyo’ was ninth.
THE REST: BMW with a mountain to climb
Outside of the top ten, there’s a pack of BMWs; Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) took his Kawasaki to 11th ahead of Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who was top BMW in 12th. Eugene Laverty (Bonovo Action BMW) took second BMW honours ahead of his final races of his career, whilst Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) is 14th, his joint-worst Superpole result of 2022, along with Estoril. Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) took 15th, ahead of Xavi Fores (BARNI Spark Racing Team), both of whom have achieved podiums at Phillip Island in previous years. Hafizh Syahrin (MIE Racing Honda Team) was 17th and was one place ahead of Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), who starts on the sixth row after Superpole for the first time since San Juan in 2019. Kohta Nozane (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was 19th, ahead of Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) and Kyle Smith (TPR Team Pedercini Racing), who was outside the 105% rule but did suffer technical issues at the start of the session.
Top six after WorldSBK Superpole at Phillip Island, full results here:
1. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’29.815s
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.211s
3. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.238s
4. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.428s
5. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.765s
6. Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.912s
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