HOT HEADLINES FROM MANDALIKA: "Jonny will come back very strong… I need some help"
Round 2 has been signed off and it was another round packed with drama and unpredictability
The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has completed two rounds from 12 so far and already, there’re major stories and question marks. As is normal after each round, we’ve got our ears to the ground to get all the insight from the stars of the show, with new riders making a name for themselves as well as Championship contenders making bold claims in this week’s hot headlines.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK): “Jonny will come back very strong… we need to fight Ducati and I need him; I need some help”
Looking ahead to the next round after scoring more points than anyone else at Mandalika, Toprak Razgatlioglu assessed arch-rival Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) start to 2023: “I hope that this year at Assen, we are focused on the race with Jonny, and I hope that we don’t crash! We need a good position, especially Jonny. For Jonny, it’s not been an easy weekend and I think it’s a similar problem. His front tyre dropped a lot like in Race 1, but in the hot conditions, the Kawasaki doesn’t work well. Jonny is still very strong, and I believe he will come back very strong, especially at Assen. We’ll see, we need to fight Ducati and I need him; I need some help. Locatelli’s first two weekends are very strong and maybe we’re fighting Ducati together.”
Xavi Vierge (Team HRC): “I have the level to fight for the Championship, I’ll work so hard to do that with Honda”
Speaking after his first WorldSBK podium, Xavi Vierge was ecstatic on Sunday: “I have no words right now! We’ve fought so hard for this since the first day I jumped on the bike, but it hasn’t been easy. It looks like we’ve made a step forward; the reality is that I think we are getting closer, and I hope we can continue working in that direction to always be inside the top six. As a rider, you always need to think that you are the best; if not, you start off already losing. It’s true that in this world, it is easy to lose that if the results aren’t coming. Unfortunately, in my career, there are some really good moments but then followed by really bad moments, and I didn’t understand why. I tried to keep all the experience from all the years to then take the maximum. I think I have the level to fight for the Championship and I will work so hard to do that with Honda.”
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “If I was on my own, then I wouldn’t crash”
Still the Championship leader, Alvaro Bautista discussed his Turn 12 crash in the Superpole Race: “I entered to Turn 12, and Jonathan got the inside. Both of us wanted to go on the good line and then we both went off the line! I tried to pick up the bike and be smooth with the gas, but I just touched it a bit and then I lost the rear. Jonathan was the same! I think at another circuit, I wouldn’t crash. If I was on my own, then I wouldn’t crash, but it was a normal manoeuvre. The problem is that when you have a thin racing line and both of you want the same bit of track, it’s impossible. I don’t want to just let him pass, I wanted to stay! He wanted to stay, we touched a little bit, and I crash. It was a good overtake, aggressive but I didn’t crash because of that, I crashed because I was off the line.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “Very difficult weekend with not so many positives… I was riding over my head”
With just 13 points scored over the weekend, it was another tough weekend for Jonathan Rea: “It has been a very difficult weekend, with not so many positives. We, step-by-step, found a better direction. The track here in Mandalika has been quite inconsistent from Friday, when the grip level was really low, but we understood on race day that the grip level was incredibly high. So, we never nailed the setup perfectly, but I felt that we got better. In the races I felt my rhythm was OK but unfortunately in the Superpole Race I found some traffic in front. I am frustrated and I found it very difficult to pass anyone on acceleration or on the brakes. I was riding over my head sometimes on the brakes and in the corners trying to stay with the group.”
Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team): “He ruined the race of Baz and for me…”
A strong weekend for rookie Danilo Petrucci, who outlined his podium target, but also aired thoughts on Alex Lowes, following the pair’s collision in the Superpole Race: “I’m really happy, I didn’t expect to be so fast, especially with the lap times. In Race 2, I didn’t change the tyre as I was feeling confident. I am happy for the team as now, we’re back in parc ferme. I said after Race 1 that I was happy but not completely satisfied as our target is to stand on the podium. I think we have this potential. In the Superpole Race, it’s like going bumper car racing! I don’t understand the behaviour of Lowes… in the first start, he ruined the race of Baz and for me, and then we had a red flag. I was in front and from the images and from race direction, they said that he made a mistake. He hit me from behind and destroyed my exhaust. It’s not OK to justify a mistake; it’s the first lap but you ruin a race of two other riders.”
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) “When I saw the red flag at 2.5s, I said ‘f**k’… I need to be smarter”
A great shame for Michael Ruben Rinaldi on Sunday as a podium went begging, but a clear step has been made by the Italian: “Since Friday, with a new front tyre, I do some laps and then it drops, and I can’t ride. This is what happened in Race 2. When I restarted the race, not everyone has a new tyre, so at the beginning, I felt OK with the bike, and I pushed and gained 1.5s. Then, I couldn’t push anymore as I had no grip; Alvaro arrived and passed me, so on the last lap, I just tried not to crash. On the exit of Turn 8, my bike shook a lot and I looked at the handlebar to try and control it but then I looked ahead, and I missed the braking point. It’s a shame. When I saw the red flag at 2.5s, I said ‘f**k’, because I knew the problem I’d face. When the race restarted, I felt good but in the last four laps, I didn’t have a card to play. The speed is there but we need to work a little bit better, and I need to not make mistakes; I need to be smarter.”
Andrea Locatelli: (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) “We didn’t need to do anything crazy; he tried and basically destroyed my race”
Third the Championship and the only rider to finish in the top five in every race this season, Andrea Locatelli spoke about Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in Race 2: “In the second restart, we started from P7. The problem was that in the first part of the race, after I overtook Toprak, Bassani took me out wide at Turn 12 and I lost a lot of positions. This was a bit wrong. We got two podiums though, so we need to be proud. I think he needs to be calmer as it was just the second lap. I was fast and I had a good feeling. I think he can try to stay behind me, follow me and then, we have 21 laps… it’s important to start well and I was in P1, and he was in P2. I thought we didn’t need to do anything crazy, but he tried and basically destroyed my race a little bit.”
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