2019 Buriram WorldSBK Friday Press Releases

Press releases from some of the teams and the organizers after the first day of practice in Buriram:

#THAWorldSBK– Day 1

Alvaro Bautista leads the charge at the end of Day 1 in Thailand

Ducati rider ends first day on top, with Rea and Cortese close behind

MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship action concludes at the Chang International Circuit, with Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) being the first rider to tackle the soaring temperatures. The Spanish rider had a strong opening day and heads into the first of two race days firmly in number one spot.

In what is officially the fastest Friday at Buriram in terms of lap times, Alvaro Bautista steadily improved throughout the session, dipping in and out the pits to refine the Ducati Panigale V4 R settings. Remaining at the top with a 1’32.971, he consolidated his pace ahead of his rivals. Teammate Chaz Davies did not enjoy such a great session and was left disgruntled in 11th.

Seven-time Buriram race-winner Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) looked to work on his settings in FP2, remaining in second place and with a consistent pace. He has an impeccable record in Buriram and will look to retain come racing on Saturday and Sunday. Teammate Leon Haslam was one of the biggest improvers in the session, taking just under a second off of his morning time. He finished seventh.

Rookie Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) took over as leading Yamaha rider, with a stunning charge to third position. His first time in Thailand World Superbike looks set to be a memorable one. Veteran teammate Marco Melandri was firmly inside the top six, finishing in sixth. GRT Yamaha WorldSBK look very strong going into Saturday and Sunday, with vast improvements from both riders.

Leading the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team charge, Alex Lowes was fourth on the combined timesheets and was one of the first riders to improve, continuing to improve throughout the session. The Lincolnshire rider, who achieved a podium at Buriram last season, was ahead of teammate Michael van der Mark, who improved later on in the session. He was able to slot into fifth overall, with Yamaha as a manufacturer looking extremely competitive.

Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) finished in eighth position and as second Ducati rider. The Irishman, who has never managed a race finish better than ninth in Thailand, will hope to translate his pace from today into Saturday’s Tissot Superpole Session.

Britain’s Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea HONDA Team) placed ninth on combined times and at one point of the session, had the track to himself, enabling him to put in some fast times and work on race pace. Teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari improved his time but dropped places. The Japanese star was only 16th at the end of Friday’s track action.

Making it five manufacturers inside the top ten, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was tenth and continuing to develop the new S1000RR. The 2013 WorldSBK champion completed an important 34 laps throughout the day, whilst German teammate Markus Reiterberger finished in 12th position, just 1.3s from Bautista. 63 important laps were racked up for the team between the two riders across two sessions.

Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) goes quickest in Friday’s first free practice sessions at the Buriram circuit in Thailand. Chaz Davies improves on his morning time, but ends the day in eleventh

Álvaro Bautista, winner on his debut three weeks ago at Phillip Island, continues to astound at the Buriram circuit in Thailand, where he set the best time in both of Friday’s free practice sessions. The 34-year-old Spanish rider, after going quickest in the morning run, then shaved another tenth of a second off his time in the warmer afternoon session to end up with a best lap of 1'32.971, three-tenths faster than his closest rival Jonathan Rea on a Kawasaki.

Team-mate Chaz Davies had a bit more difficulty today after working hard in the two sessions to improve his feeling with the Panigale V4 R. Despite a couple of minor inconveniences, the 32-year-old Welshman finished the day in eleventh place on the timesheets and a best lap of 1'34.093.

Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 1’32.971 – 1st

“For sure it’s only Friday, but I’m quite happy because the most important thing was to confirm our potential on a track that is different from Australia. This morning I started to understand the track and the reference markers, which are a little bit different from the MotoGP bike, so I needed some laps to adapt my riding style. Then I just worked on the bike settings without making any big changes, just some adjustments for the set-up on this track. In the afternoon we tried a different type of rear tyre to see what the new compound was like. There were positives and negatives, so we still have to decide for the race tomorrow. The feeling with the Panigale V4 R is good and I’m satisfied with the result of this first day.”

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1’34.093 – 11th

“On the timesheets my position doesn’t look good, but the feeling is actually better than what we managed to show today. On the last run we tried a different front tyre, but for the moment it didn’t feel good. We also made a set-up change that didn’t give me such a good feeling, but we’re working hard and I feel like there is a margin to improve. The race is long and it’s hot here, for sure we need to work hard and focus on tyre life especially towards the end of the race. Our aim is to be able to fight for the podium in the races on Saturday and Sunday.”

Rea Second Quickest After Day One

Kawasaki Racing Team duo Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam took part in the first two free practice sessions of the Buriram WorldSBK weekend today, with Rea finishing second quickest and Haslam seventh.

In hot conditions at the 4.554km-long Chang International Circuit the racing line proved to be clean from the start as Rea and Haslam began their build up to the first Buriram WorldSBK race on Saturday.

The heat and humidity in Thailand mean that front and rear tyre duration comes into play over full race distance, so both KRT riders spent time working on clarifying their raceday options, as well as finding set-up improvements specific to this circuit.

Rea made use of his 2019 Ninja ZX-10RR’s enhanced upper rev limit in finishing second overall today, noticing more top end performance on the long straights at this stadium-style track. He also concentrated his efforts on braking performance.

The opening day challenge was a stiffer one for Haslam at this venue, as he had to relearn a circuit he last rode at in 2015, and which features some new areas of asphalt compared to the only previous time Leon has raced here.

Now Haslam and Rea will move forward to FP3 on Saturday, followed by Superpole qualifying and then the first 20-lap race of the weekend. It is scheduled to start at 16.00hrs local time in Thailand, on Saturday the 16th of March.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “We were building into it this morning and we got off to a good start. Step-by-step we improved the bike and were getting into a rhythm in that second free practice session, where we started to make some steps with set-up. I wanted to do a consistent long run but we had to confirm which tyre we will use for tomorrow, at the front and the rear. In some areas of this track I also want to improve my braking. We found some positives in all that so - putting it together - I felt pretty good out there. We can look at the finer details tonight but already we are on the way.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “I thought I had a good handle on the track after racing here four years ago but it has taken me a little bit of time to get my head around the layout again. We stuck to our strategy and just used one tyre in each session, feeling a good rhythm, but we just need to find a little bit more pace. There is a lot of different tarmac from when I last rode here in 2015, so I am working out where those new bumps are, where it is grippy and where it is not. I am still finding braking points, which is just taking a bit of time. We are chipping away every lap, feeling better and better. It is hot out there but it is the same for everyone.”

Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was the fastest Kawasaki independent rider today, 13th overall, with Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 15th. Local wildcard rider Thitipong Warokorn (Kawasaki Thailand Racing Team) placed 17th and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) 18th.

Top Three for Cortese as Yamaha Start Strongly in Thailand

Free practice

The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK and GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK riders enjoyed a strong opening day at Round 2 of the FIM Superbike World Championship in Thailand, with all four riders finishing inside the top six. It was Sandro Cortese who led the way, with a late run in this afternoon's second free practice session securing the German third place on the timesheet. Close behind in fourth place was Alex Lowes, with his Pata Yamaha teammate Michael van der Mark in fifth and GRT Yamaha's Marco Melandri in sixth. The four Yamaha riders were separated by just two-tenths of a second.

It was van der Mark who made the early running in this morning’s opening free practice, which was run in sweltering conditions at the 4.554km Chang International Circuit. The Dutchman was immediately on the pace and continued to improve his lap time throughout the session to end third on the timesheet, one place and one tenth ahead of Melandri. Lowes and Cortese enjoyed a steadier start in the first session, finishing sixth and seventh respectively.

In the second and final free practice of the day, with the track temperature peaking at an incredible 56 degrees Centigrade, it was Lowes who initially led the Yamaha charge in third place on the timesheet. However, a fast lap of 1’33. 465 from Cortese right at the end of the session saw the WorldSBK rookie jump up the order to third, pushing Lowes back to fourth.

Van der Mark continued to refine the set-up of his Yamaha YZF-R1 during FP2 this afternoon and was rewarded with an improvement in his lap time compared to FP1. A time of 1’33.562 was enough to see him finish the day fifth, one place ahead of Melandri, who secured sixth place on the timesheet with a time of ‘1.33.624.

The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK and GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK riders will return to action in FP3 at 11.00 local time tomorrow, before lights out for Race 1 at 16.00 local time.

Alex Lowes

Pata Yamaha WorldSBK - P4 - 1'33.550

"It was a solid start for us today here in Thailand. This track is a little bit less technical than a lot of tracks that we race at the lap times are always really close, as you can see from the fact that the four Yamaha riders are all close together on the timesheet. I was quite happy with today, I managed to string together a lot of laps at a very consistent pace but we do still need to find some more small improvements, especially mid-corner to exit, where I feel like I'm running out of track a little bit. That's what I'll be focussing on tonight and, hopefully, tomorrow we'll see some improvement in this area."

Michael van der Mark

Pata Yamaha WorldSBK - P5 - 1'33.562

"This is a track I enjoy riding and I always seem to go well here. This morning I felt good from the start, with just a few small changes to the bike enough to see me finish the session in third place. I was happy with that. This afternoon we tried a few more changes to try and improve the turning and increase the amount of rear grip available, with mixed results initially. However, we made some small improvements towards the end of the session and I was able to improve my lap time on my final run. The pace is there, as is the consistency, so I'm satisfied with where we are right now, but I'm missing a bit the feeling with the front still, so that's something we need to look at tomorrow. If we can put everything together then we'll be in a strong position for the first race."

Sandro Cortese

GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P3 - 1'33.465

"Today was a very positive one for me and the team. We started this morning with the set-up from Phillip Island as the base and, of course, we had to make adjustments to suit the characteristics of this track, with its heavy braking zones. After FP1 we sat down and started to work in the right direction ahead of FP2. Of course I'm happy to finish P3 today, but I'm also realistic and keeping my feet on the ground, because the race is tomorrow. We need to keep calm and keep working. If we can do this then the results will come, of that I'm sure. A big thanks to Yamaha and the team for their incredible support, as this is also a big motivation for me."

Marco Melandri

GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P6 - 1'33.624

"I'm a little bit concerned at the moment, as I'm experiencing the same issues that I had here last year. The bike is very unstable on the straight and I can't understand why. On a new tyre the first lap is good, but then on the second the stability problem appears and then gets worse with each further lap. Maybe it's a combination of my size and weight together with the casing of the tyre causing the issue, but I don't really know. It's strange that I should have the same problem on two completely different bikes though. We will sit down tonight and go through the data to see if we can find a solution for tomorrow."

P10 for Sykes and P12 for Reiterberger on opening practice day in Thailand.


Chang International Circuit

BMW Motorrad WorldSBK’s Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger were keen to get down to business today during the first two free practice sessions of the Pirelli Thai Round at Buriram. With temperatures climbing to highs of 40 degrees centigrade they continued to develop and set-up their BMW S 1000 RR machines despite the difficult conditions.

Tom Sykes was quick off the mark during FP1 and lapped a 1'34.029 putting him in a solid fifth position, +0.940 behind the championship front runner Alvaro Bautista. Team mate Markus Reiterberger respectively lapped a 1’34.993 on his RR’ slotting him into thirteenth, +1.844 behind the leader in the opening session of on the day.

The afternoons session didn’t quite go to plan for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team as both riders failed to challenge the top 8 positions, however collected valuable data in both outings.

Sykes looked to change a few things throughout the day and in particular adjusted the ride height and also made different some changes to the gearing as he ended FP2 in tenth position with a 1'34.022, -0.004 quicker than his time set in FP1.

Markus similarly went faster during his second session finishing just outside of the top ten in P12, after also making adjustments to his ride height and some minor front spring changes. A 1’34.327 was his best time of the day which left him in P12 overall in combines sessions.

The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK can take lots of positives going into tomorrow as they look to mount a challenge on the top 8 racers ahead of Tissot Superpole and the opening race of the weekend.

Shaun Muir – Team Principal

"FP1 was really good for us today. Tom and Markus both found a good direction, so everything went positive. We had three exits for each rider and all took steps forward so that was promising.

In FP2 we had more test items. While we were pretty happy after FP1 we did not make quite the progress we had hoped for in FP2. We went in a different direction with Tom which unfortunately was the wrong way so had to come back, FP3 tomorrow we will hopefully go in a better direction.

Markus had some gremlins that cost a bit of time but overall we can’t be too disappointed. We did not use any additional tyres in FP2 so the times that we put in were pretty much on 15 to 20 lap tyres, so overall I am quite happy with that.

Regarding our expectations for Superpole, I think the group from third down to tenth is quite tight and is achievable, so to have a top six for Tom and a top nine for Markus would be a realistic target."

Tom Sykes (GBR)

"This morning I was pretty happy with our speed over the distance. In the afternoon we focused on exploring where we can go and what we can do, so we tried a couple of things and we got a good direction for tomorrow in order to try to be even more competitive.

Everyone could see that in the first and second sector with the big straight is our biggest limitation, but tomorrow is another day and we will focus on where the bike is strong.

BMW are working hard and we must not forget that the first day for the bike on track was the 18th of December, so to be consistently in the top five of a world championship is pretty impressive in my opinion. It is a project with work in progress and apart from the issue we have on the straight, everything else is working quite well so given a bit more time I am convinced that this project will become even stronger."

Markus Reiterberger (GER)

"The first day was productive. We did not quite achieve our goal to get into the top ten but I am very satisfied with the day. We learned a lot that will be important in the long-term. We started with the Phillip Island setting and adapted to the characteristics of the track here. In general, Buriram is completely different to Phillip Island as here we have much more braking zones and the layout is less fluent.

In the second session when the temperatures were even higher, we made a big step with the chassis set-up and tried a harder front tyre. We just went through our test programme, also in regards to make maximum use of the engine on the long straights. We will work on getting the best package tomorrow and to further improve. "

Chang International Circuit - Friday free practices!

The Superbike World Championship is back on track! First laps made on the red-hot Thai track, the standing is really short and the heat has influenced the riders' performance: with 55 degrees on asphalt their faces, as soon as the practices were finished, were really exhausted!

In the first session, Eugene tried a completely new riding position aimed at shifting the bike's center of gravity; the team's work was entirely dedicated to finding the perfect balance of the Ducati V4-R to face the changement of weights. Laverty immediately found an excellent feeling with the track, so much so as to set an excellent and constant race pace.

In Free Practice 2 our guys have focused on electronics, trying to improve the motor brake, which is decisive for getting the best apex in the hard braking, typical of this circuit.

Free Practice 1: P 9 + 1.202

Free Practice 2: P 8 + 0.928

Eugene Laverty:

“We have continued our forward progression and I’m very content to finish day one in 8th position. The most satisfying point is our consistency as my race pace is similar to my outright fastest lap from today. It’s a strong start for Team Go Eleven Ducati and the aim for tomorrow is to move forward again into those top six positions.”

A constructive day of free practice for the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team in the searing Buriram heat

The fact that the heat would set riders and teams an additional challenge in Thailand was to be expected, and so it was as the Superbikes took to the Buriram track for the second round of the world championship.

An air temperature of 36°C and a track temperature of 56°C characterised day one of action, which saw Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari place 9th and 16th place respectively in the combined standings after the day’s two practice sessions.

Effective set-up work allowed Leon to lower his time by around one second in the afternoon’s session and duck under the 1’34” barrier by the end of day one.

Ryuichi was also able to improve on his times throughout the day, despite not being able to retain the morning’s 14th place finish.

The final free practice will kick off at 11am local time tomorrow, before the Superpole and the 20-lap first race, which will get underway at 4pm local time.

Leon Camier 2

9th 1'33.947

“I feel we had a good second session after having spent some time sorting out a few little things with the bike setup this morning. In the afternoon I feel we made some progress, I was feeling much better on my bike and was able to put some good laps together at the end of the session. There a few key areas where we are still losing but we know what these areas are and will keep working to try and improve them. All in all, I think we are not doing a bad job at the moment, but it will be a big fight for sure. Weather conditions are incredible, it’s so hot! The end of the race will be tough for everyone!”

Ryuichi Kiyonari 23

16th 1'34.783

“Today was up and down, with some positives and some frustrating points. This morning I felt good on my bike and was able to find a decent rhythm right from the start of the session. I was looking forward to making a step forward in the afternoon and we did make some improvement, but not as much as we had aimed to. Tomorrow we’ll make some changes to the setup and will try and get closer both in terms of speed and race pace. Temperatures are really challenging but we are coping well enough and this is also positive”.

Delbianco gets to grips with the Buriram track in free practice

Buriram (Thailand), Friday 15 March 2019

Round two of the Superbike World Championship is underway at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, where team Althea MIE Racing have today completed the first practice sessions with rider Alessandro Delbianco.

The weekend’s opening sessions took place in hot and sticky conditions (air temperature 36°C, track 56°C). During the morning's first free practice, Delbianco got to grips with what is another new track for him, before beginning to focus on the bike set-up work with his technicians. Aboard his Honda CBR1000RR SP2, Alessandro made gradual improvement throughout the day, setting a best of 1’36.972 by the end of session one. The afternoon session saw him lower this reference by well over a second, to set a fastest time of 1’35.727 which saw him close in nineteenth position.

The team will continue its work tomorrow, during a final free practice, followed by the Superpole and then Race 1, which will get underway at 4pm local time (CET +6).

Alessandro Delbianco

“I immediately liked the track layout. I’m pleased in that the bike feels increasingly like mine, and during the afternoon I was able to improve my lap times. We still have a long road ahead of us but we’re getting there slowly. Tomorrow I hope to improve further; we have the potential to do so, so we will to continue to work to sort a few things on the bike, after which I will be all set to do my best in Superbike and Race 1.”

Cluzel tops the timesheet at the end of Day 1 at Chang International Circuit

French rider leads the way in Thailand ahead of Krummenacher and Caricasulo

The FIM Supersport World Championship fired into life at the Chang International Circuit on Friday afternoon, with very little to split the front runners! Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA), topped the timesheets in his bid to start his weekend on the front foot.

2016 WorldSSP Buriram race winner, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha), picked the pace up towards the end of the second session to head the field with a rapid lap time putting him comfortably at the front. Having been only third in FP1, Cluzel’s changes between the sessions clearly worked. His fellow countryman and teammate, Corentin Perolari struggled in the searing Thai heat and could only manage 14, although improving through the session.

Switzerland’s Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) was the best of the rest, with a late improvement to reduce the gap to Cluzel to 0.190. Federico Caricasulo couldn’t match his teammate on the opening day and finished second. Both riders are previous winners in Thailand, making for a mouth-watering prospect on Sunday afternoon!

Hector Barbera (Team Toth by Willirace) made his debut at the Chang International Circuit and was fourth, just under 0.600s off the top of the timesheets. The Spaniard improved throughout the weekend in Australia and will be looking to do the same in Thailand. Is he a rather unexpected podium threat on his Thai debut?

Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) was sixth quickest and over 0.8s from the top spot, leaving himself and his team with work to do for Saturday and Sunday. His teammate, Federico Fuligni, could only managed 16th. Both riders struggled throughout the session but improved at the very end.

22-year-old Austrian sensation Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) was fifth and didn’t improve on his lap time from FP1. He continues his ambition to become the first Austrian rider to finish on the podium in World Supersport. Fellow Kallio Racing rider Isaac Viñales finished in seventh overall, making his WorldSSP debut in Thailand. Loris Cresson, the third Kallio Racing rider, was only 14th.

Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was in good form and was a constant name inside the top five. He was unfortunate to be pushed down to eighth place at a circuit of which he achieved his joint-best result at in 2017 (6th). On the other side of the garage, 2017 WorldSSP champion, Lucas Mahias, was a place behind in ninth.

Completing the top ten was Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing), who was 1.3s off the top slot. Behind him was an impressive showing from Jaimie van Sikkelerus (MPM WILSport Racedays), whilst fellow Dutch rider Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) returned to action and finished 19th.

Cluzel Leads the Supersport Charge in Thailand

Free practice

GMT94 Yamaha Supported WorldSSP rider, Jules Cluzel, topped the timesheet on the opening day in Thailand. The Frenchman posted a time of 1'37.641 in the sweltering conditions of FP2 this afternoon to claim the top spot from Evan Bros. Bardahl Yamaha Supported WorldSSP teammates, Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo, who ended the day second and third respectively.

Kallio Racing Yamaha Supported WorldSSP teammates, Thomas Gradinger and Isaac Viñales, also enjoyed a strong opening day at the Chang International Circuit, finishing fifth and seventh on combined times.

Loris Cresson posted the 14th fastest time aboard his Kallio Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, while Corentin Perolari has some work to do ahead of qualifying tomorrow, after finishing 15th today.

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