‘Best weekend in WorldSBK… We can be fast during the season!’ – Locatelli aiming high after Race 2 podium

Monday, 27 February 2023 07:17 GMT

Italian rider Andrea Locatelli left Australia second in the Championship standings after taking his first podium at Phillip Island in WorldSBK

Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) ended his 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign with three top-five finishes at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and he started his 2023 campaign with the same statistic, but this time adding a podium during the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round. He took third place during Race 2 in 2023 for his first podium of the year and at the iconic Australian circuit, leaving him on 34 points and his highest-scoring opening round since he debuted in WorldSBK.

Locatelli’s weekend started with a crash in Free Practice 2 on Friday, but his pace and potential were evident throughout as he finished second in the combined standings at the end of the day’s running, sitting behind only Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati). On Saturday, he took ninth in the Tissot Superpole session but fought his way up to fourth in Race 1 in wet conditions. He was ten seconds behind teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu in that race as the Turkish star claimed a podium finish.

In Sunday’s action, Locatelli once again fought his way up into the top five from ninth on the grid as he finished in fifth place, giving him a second row start for Race 2. He utilised this to great effect in Race 2 as he launched himself into the top three on the opening lap and stayed there during the full 22-lap race distance. During the early stages, he was able to stay with the Ducati duo of Bautista and teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi, but he was unable to go with them in the second half of the race and finished nine seconds down on Bautista.

Reflecting on his Race 2 podium, Locatelli said: “It was an interesting race for us. We were closer in the first part, especially in the first five laps, but then we knew it was a bit difficult to follow the Ducati in front. We were competitive to be on the podium. In the end, we finished the weekend with one podium so I’m really happy especially because we are at Phillip Island. I’m really proud of my team because we worked well during the Test and also the weekend. Unfortunately we crashed during FP2 and maybe we lost a little bit of the feeling especially at the front but, in the end, I think it was one of the best weekends in our life and my life in WorldSBK because to get the podium at Phillip Island is something special. We’re looking forward to it and next week we have a new opportunity.

“It was important to not make a mistake. It was the first weekend, but we also tried pushing to get some points because we worked especially well during the test. In general, I think we worked well during the off-season. We were ready to be fast here. This is what we can get for now. In the end, no mistakes. Maybe the only mistake was to start from ninth place, so it was a bit difficult especially in Race 1 in the wet conditions and also in the Superpole Race. We’re looking forward and I think we can be fast during the season.”

Can Locatelli build on his strong start and claim a first WorldSBK victory? Find out using the WorldSBK VideoPass!