FRIDAY FORM GUIDE: is a surprise on the Misano horizon?

Friday, 10 June 2022 15:03 GMT

Whilst the top three in the Championship occupy the top three positions on Friday at Misano, don’t expect it to stay like that, particularly if one home-hero has something to say about it…

The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has rolled into the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” in Italy for the fourth round of the season. The Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round is a unique challenge for riders with it often giving close racing with an unusual result. With five slick options to try, including two new SCX development solutions, it’s a lottery as much as any indication from Friday, but looking at the timesheets, we’ve crunched numbers to see who is where on the race pace analysis.

TITANIC TRIO: remaining unbeatable, or have they finally been caught?

All the form guide, both through the Friday Free Practice and the past rounds of 2022, suggests that once again, Championship leader Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) and his battling rivals of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) are once again the riders to beat. Bautista’s pace in FP2 was quite remarkable, with the Ducati star able to do 15 laps in the 1’34 bracket, including eight of his final ten laps under the 1’34.5 mark (the other two laps were cancelled). A winner at Misano for Ducati before, Bautista will be one of the riders to beat come racing action, but he’s got stiff opposition.

Second in the Championship to Bautista, Jonathan Rea was a match for his rival. FP2 saw Rea likewise go out and do 15 laps in the 1’34s, however, the Ulsterman did his 15 in one run, with only one lap in his 16-lap run being cancelled. In total, Rea accumulated 20 laps in the 1’34 bracket, more than anyone else managed throughout the afternoon session. He may not have got down to the 1’34.0s that Bautista managed but Rea was on the pace and may well be able to topple Bautista come racing.

Over in the Yamaha camp, despite finishing second on the combined times, Toprak Razgatlioglu managed ten laps in the 1’34 bracket and was right on the pace of Bautista, just over a tenth behind the Spaniard. With two of his fastest laps of the session cancelled, including one which was just 0.003s behind Bautista session-topping time, Razgatlioglu has little reason to panic. After an Estoril test spent working on rear tyre life and rear grip at the end of the race, can he be in the battle right until the end?

HOME FAVOURITE AND A SURPRISE: Rinaldi in contention, Oettl ready to surprise

It’s no secret that Michael Ruben Rinaldi ( Racing – Ducati) is one of the circuit specialists at Misano and right from the start of the day, he’s been in contention. Finishing fourth overall, Rinaldi set ten 1’34s in FP2 at ease and was a consistent force to be reckoned with, as he’s just under two tenths away from Bautista. A hampered final run means it’s hard to compare his final run to his rivals ahead of him, but he’s in touch. Can he repeat his success from 2021?

However, there’s another rider who is right on Rinaldi’s case and that’s Philipp Oettl (Team Goeleven), the German rookie is returning from injury this weekend but made it three Ducatis inside the top five on Friday. Of course, with an injury, it’s hard to distinguish whether it was a one-lap show or actual race pace, but looking at his runs, Oettl managed three 1’34s but none of them were back-to-back. He needs to find consistency to stay there, but there’s no reason why a surprise can’t be launched as he aims for a first top six.

The other rider inside the top six is Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), and he’s looking strong too. He did a race simulation at the start of Free Practice 2, consisting of 16 laps (not including the out-lap and in-lap. This run showcased three 1’34s, all of which came in the final six laps and whilst there was some inconsistency at the start of the session with times dipping into the 1’36s and one even in the 1’37s, Gerloff pace looks strong. He went for a time attack at the end of the session where three further 1’34s were achieved, so Gerloff has the pace, he just needs to replicate it when the lights go out.

TIME TO FIND: the big names further back, but no need to panic…

After losing much of FP1 due to electronics issues, Scott Redding (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) finished ninth on the combined times at the end of Friday. Lapping consistently in the 1’35s and doing a time attack at the end of the session and getting into the 1’34s, Redding is by no means a long way off, and he’s in a congested fight for the top seven with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Iker Lecuona (Team HRC). All three are covered by a little over a tenth of a second, whilst Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) is a further half a tenth back. All four riders were battling for the top five at Estoril, and all were able to get into the 1’34s. Can they improve their times by a tenth or two a lap over a race duration compared to their rivals ahead and be in and around the top six?

Two Italian who will be hoping for more after the second session of the day are Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing). Locatelli was the only rider in the whole field who didn’t improve his time in the afternoon. Only one 1’34.9 was set by the home-hero but his times in the second, longer run until the end of the session were very respectable, so despite being down on the outright leaderboard, Locatelli’s pace would have him in the top six. For Bassani, he was in and out of the pits and again, did 1’34s but with the lack of a lengthy run like his rivals, his pace is relatively unknown over race distance. However, his raw speed is there; can he get a good Superpole result and be in the fight from the off?

Get more FP2 race pace information here, whilst enjoying the action LIVE with the WorldSBK VideoPass!