WorldSBK: Locatelli leads the Yamaha charge, while Rea starts recovery

Published on February 20, 2024
By Luke Newman

Pata Yamaha riders Andrea Locatelli and Jonathan Rea took to the track at Phillip Island, with a one-day Official Test ahead of the opening round of the 2024 World Superbike Championship this coming weekend. 

In the morning, Locatelli lead the way for Yamaha on his favourite circuit and checked off 43 laps on the way to fourth place on the overall timing sheet – with a fastest lap time of 1’29.190 – one of the four riders under the outright lap record for WorldSBK.

Late in the afternoon, the ultimate pace increased further and “Loka” went one better to finish the day in the top-three with an incredible time of 1’28.835 on his penultimate lap of the day.

Rea’s running programme was reduced following a high-side crash at Turn 11 just prior to the lunch break – and after completing 33 laps in the morning, he was 12th overall. The Northern Irishman suffered painful bruising to his left knee and some nasty abrasions but returned to the track to complete a further 31 laps and finished the day in an unrepresentative 15th place on the timesheets.

After finishing in the top three Locatelli said: “So, it was an interesting day! Unfortunately, it was just one day of testing – it is not easy to do everything but we were working well this morning and especially during this afternoon to understand which was the best rhythm to do on the race tyre.

“Everything was working well, my confidence on the R1 feels amazing – I was fast in every run, so this is something positive for us. In general, I am really happy – I can’t wait to start the weekend and I am really excited to start the first race here in Phillip Island. Our target is the podium, we are here for this – and maybe try to win.”

After picking up an injury during the test a battered and bruised Rea added: “It’s been a difficult day – I feel comfortable on the R1, but really pushing on the limit and understanding how to push the bike to the maximum is still coming.

“The outright pace at the front is incredibly fast, so when you go chasing that ultimate lap time it can feel a million miles away but to be honest, the rhythm for me is not actually too far when we put everything together.

“I have a lot of bruising from the crash early this afternoon, but we have a few days rest now before Friday and I expect by the weekend I will be 100%.”


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