Derivatives pick up where they left off three months ago. The two days of testing on the beautiful Australian track represent the first real confrontation between the 2023 riders
February 19, 2023
In the tests you don’t win anything, but the two days of testing which will take place on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 on the Phillip Island track they are the ones that come closest to a race, both because they are the prelude to the start of the season and because they represent the first real opportunity for Superbike and Supersport riders to meet each other.
The long winter break is therefore drawing to a close, and the derivatives world championships are exactly starting up again where they ended three months ago: from the beautiful Australian track, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
A very particular track with a particularly abrasive asphalt, on which tire management assumes a decisive importance. An aspect on which both the riders and the technicians will work a lot during the two days of testing, during which some teams will focus only on setting up their bikes in relation to the track, others will still have to test some components, and still others will find that competitiveness vainly sought after in Jerez and Portimao.
As far as we have seen in Spain and Portugal the most in order seemed to be the usual three, viz Alvaro Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Reawho finished in that order last year.
An excellent impression was made by Michael Ruben Rinaldi, to which the new preparation seems to have done a lot of good and not only from a physical point of view. The Spaniard starts as the favorite not only for winning the title in 2022, but above all for what he showed in the first tests of 2023, including the “tempone” scored on the Portuguese track. The two riders of Team Aruba.it adapted immediately and very well to the Panigale V4 version 2023, something that all the other standard bearers of the Bolognese company have not managed, starting from Daniel Petrucci and Axel Bassani, who in Portimao achieved times very different from those of the leaders. For them, the Australian tests represent a very important opportunity.
Though still reeling from the tragedy that has rocked his country, Toprak Razgatlioglu is among the riders to beat on the track where in 2020 he scored his first victory with Yamaha. The Japanese bike has been updated and the Turkish rider said he was satisfied with the improvements. At Yamaha, eyes will be focused not only on Andrea Locatelli, awaited for definitive consecration among the top riders of the category, but also on the new entries, the two GRT team riders Remy Gardner and Dominque Aegerter, who still have two days of testing at willingness to adapt definitively to the Superbike with the aim of immediately joining the leading group.
At Kawasaki, there is more optimism than last season, mainly due to the novelty introduced by the Akashi company on the ZX-10RR, namely the variable height intake ducts which allow for better use of the engine and smoother delivery. As the KRT technicians have repeatedly admitted, the Ninja’s engine should be strengthened. This novelty does not add horses but allows you to make the most of those that are there. Regardless of Jonathan Rea’s certainty, Alex Lowes hopes to repeat the success achieved at Phillip Island in 2020 precisely to the detriment of his multiple-titled teammate. For the fans of green greens, the novelty is represented by the return of Tom Sykes on the Ninja. Even if it is no longer the official one, the Englishman will be able to count on the professionalism and enthusiasm of Kawasaki Puccetti Racing.
Work in progress for both Honda and BMW teams. In previous tests Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge showed interesting improvements and said they were happy with the work done and the progress shown. We’ll soon know if it was just a flash in the pan or if indeed the Fireblade is on the right track. Pitch dark at BMW, despite the new M1000RR. Both in Jerez and in Portimao, all four of the German manufacturer’s riders struggled to reach the top ten, but the Munich technicians didn’t stop working, hoping that the Australian tests will finally show a competitive bike.
Great uncertainty in Supersport
In winter testing Nicolò Bulega was always the fastestbut the other Ducatis aren’t far away and they’re all worth keeping an eye on, starting with those of Federico Caricasulo, Raffaele De Rosa, Nicholas Spinelli and son-in-law Oli Bayliss, who will aim decisively at the big target on his home track.
To remain World Champion Yamaha relies on the Ten Kate riders Jorge Navarro and Stefano Manzi, but also the new Evan Bros. team Andrea Mantovani. MV Agusta will be able to count on one more year of experience for the young talent Bahattin Sofuoglu and on Marcel Schrotter’s desire for revenge, who will ride the F3800 vacated by Niki Tuuli, who moved to Triumph. Can Oncu is the Kawasaki reference rider who presents a ZX-6R with some new features including the ride by wire. All to be discovered is the new John McPhee, who comes from Moto3 and this year races for the rookie Team Vince64.