OUTSPOKEN AHEAD OF MANDALIKA: "We’ll forget last weekend… normally we’re strong here"
Asia welcomes WorldSBK action with passion and excitement as Indonesia readies for another chapter of close racing, with some of the pre-season favourites declaring a fight back
Just days after the season fired into life, the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is already preparing for round two and the Motul Indonesian Round. The Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit is ready for a third year on the calendar, albeit in a new slot at the start of the season, and there promises to be plenty of fighting at the front. We caught up with some of the main stars, to get their thoughts on another unforgettable weekend in prospect from one of WorldSBK’s most passionate countries.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK): “Normally we’re strong here!”
“I have good memories. This year, we will see. The first round was not really a strong weekend for me, but this circuit is my favourite. Last year, I had the same feeling when we went to Phillip Island. The bike felt different because we used the harder tyres and it’s a different track. It’s not like my style. My style is usually hard braking. Mandalika is my favourite circuit and I try to do my best again last year. Last year, we had three wins. This year we will see because everybody is very fast and very strong; everybody’s improved their bike. Normally, we are very strong here. I hope we have a strong start and are fighting again for the win.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “I want to win a race and get my season off to a proper start”
“It’s been a tough week leaving Australia without the points we set out to gain. Everything was going quite smoothly up until race day. Hard to draw any big conclusions as to why. The bike balance is quite different to what we had during testing. Back to square one this weekend with a bike we know should work. We need to try and be more competitive. We’ll forget last weekend, we want to be strong this weekend whether it’s wet, dry, windy, whatever. I think we have a good chance this weekend to fight for podium. Our target is much more than that. I want to win a race and get my season off to a proper start.”
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “Last year, Toprak went fast, Jonathan was really competitive, so I expect them to fight for the victory in all three races!”
“We were celebrating as Champion here but now we are in a new season. I have good memories here and also after last weekend at Phillip Island. Last year, we struggled a bit here, so maybe we have many things to think about. With the weather here, it’s unpredictable, so you have to adapt a plan depending on the track condition. The biggest problem was on the front as Pirelli didn’t bring the tyre, I had used for most of last season. This year, they have brought it, so I’m looking to forward to see if the problem I have felt has gone. With what we saw at Phillip Island, I don’t think it is 100% true, as we had tests before the round, so many riders had a good setup and it’s a very particular track. This season, the rest of the riders are closing the gap and when you have a bad day, you have more riders in between. What is sure is that here last year, Toprak went fast, and Jonathan was really competitive, so I expect them to fight for the victory in all three races.”
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “I think we can be competitive!”
“We should improve during the wet conditions because maybe here, if it is raining, we should be in the fight for a podium. But overall, I am quite happy with the start of the season. What I learnt is that the base in the wet is not good, so I spoke to the engineers and said ‘if we want to fight all year in top positions, then we have to improve in all conditions’ as it’s not acceptable to finish in P14. If it rains, we’ll have another setup and so I’ll be comfortable. Here is a different track compared to Phillip Island, but I think we can be competitive, but the other riders will be closer. I don’t think one rider will be break away. On the Imola announcement, it is one of my favourite tracks; I won there in STK1000 and I have good memories! I want to ride there as it’s special, like Misano, so I couldn’t be happier about that news!”
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK): “We will enjoy again… we are confident!”
“In Yamaha, we always try to improve the bike and to work together to understand and compare data. We need to continue to do this as it’s important to work together and improve the bike, and to try and improve ourselves. It’s the same objective we have every year. We need to see what happens here at Mandalika because it’s always a bit strange for the hot conditions. Last year and the first year were great. We will enjoy again! In the end, if we can finish in the same positions as last year, it won’t be so bad but if we can improve and try to fight for the podium in the long race, we will see… it’s always difficult to say before the weekend, but we are confident. When I saw the news about Imola, I was smiling because for me, it’s one of the best tracks! I was really excited, and I can’t wait to ride this bike on that track. It won’t be easy because it’s July and it will be really warm but to get a good result there, we’ll be able to go on the beach a bit more relaxed!”
Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “We’ll be more competitive than Phillip Island”
“They weren’t the results we were hoping for but if we look back on my weekend, it wasn’t that bad. I wasn’t that far away from the fight for fourth place but unfortunately the pace dropped a lot at the end of the race. It’s not where we want to be but from my side, I think it was quite positive. We’re not that far away and I feel like we improved the package, but in general we need more corner speed and drive grip. It’s not easy but this weekend we have Mandalika, where it’s a different kind of a track and I’m curious to see how the bike works here. It’s always nice to be in Indonesia! My grandmother is from Indonesia, so I really enjoy this country and the people are really friendly. I’m confident but I have to stay calm; our bike works well in the wet but I’m looking forward to it, and I think in the dry, we’ll be more competitive than Phillip Island.”
Hafizh Syahrin (PETRONAS MIE Racing HONDA Team): “At the start of the season, scoring one point is better than nothing”
“It’s very close to my home and it’s one of the tracks that I really like. It won’t be easy, but I will try to do better than Australia. This track is suited to my style and we will see what the weather brings this weekend. I wanted to score more points in the Australian Round. I couldn’t challenge where I really wanted to. At the start of the season, scoring one point is better than nothing. We tried to take this motivation or spirit to Mandalika.”
ROUND 2 AWAITS: enjoy the action LIVE and OnDemand with the WorldSBK VideoPass!