2019 Imola WorldSBK Friday Press Releases

Press releases from some of the teams after the first day of practice at Imola:

Reigning World Champion Rea on top again with Davies and Sykes close behind

Jonathan Rea is back ahead of the opposition, whilst Bautista can only manage fourth

Day one at the Imola circuit concluded for WorldSBK, as quick times were coming thick and fast. With the sun beating down, action unfolded and yet again, it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who remained in the number one position, ahead of Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and the BMW of Tom Sykes, making it three manufacturers inside the top three positions.

Four-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea continued his positive start to the Pirelli Italian Round, running at the front again in FP2. Despite not improving in his lap time from the morning until late on in the session, eventually nobody was able to challenge Rea at the front. Rea looked in fine form, stringing a run of fast laps together to continue Kawasaki’s good form in Ducati’s backyard. His teammate, Leon Haslam, likewise did not improve his time in the second session until late on in the session but dropped overall, concluding the opening day in seventh position.

Ducati continued their strong start to the Pirelli Italian Round, as Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) marched his way into top position, at a circuit at which he has achieved four WorldSBK race wins at in his career. The Welshman blitzed into the lead with just a few minutes left in the session. Alvaro Bautista continued to adapt to the tricky Imola circuit and was seemingly struggling, making various little mistakes that he has not displayed all season. The Spaniard completed the day in fourth, with 0.712s between him and Rea.

Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had a relatively quiet session in comparison to those around him, making plenty of progress through the session. The 2013 WorldSBK champion is a double winner at the Imola circuit and looks primed for another strong showing, this time for the German manufacturer. Completing the session in third place, Sykes will be hoping to continue improving on Saturday. His teammate, Markus Reiterberger, struggled again and was only 13th.

If Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was rattled by not completing FP1 as top Independent, then he certainly made up for it in FP2 by rounding out the top five. The Turkish rider was pursuing Alvaro Bautista in the closing stages and made big gains, to end the opening day at Imola in a strong fifth place. Other Independent riders to feature inside the top ten after Friday included wildcard Lorenzo Zanetti (Motocorsa Racing), who was ninth and one place ahead of fellow countryman, Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) in tenth. Zanetti ended the day as top Italian.

Sixth position went to Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who maintained his FP1 position whilst vastly improving his time. The Dutchman’s continuity through the opening day at the Pirelli Italian Round bodes well for the remainder of the weekend. His teammate, Alex Lowes, also improved his time but was only eighth at the end of the day. The rider, who sits third in the championship behind Bautista and Rea, will have work to do overnight if he is to keep tabs on those ahead of him in the title race.

Notable names outside the top ten included Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) who was 11th at the end of the day, with Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in 12th whilst his teammate, Sandro Cortese, was 14th and suffered a crash. The Moriwaki Althea Honda Team concluded day one at Imola with Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari in 15th and 16th respectively.

Determined Rea Leads On Day One

Official KRT rider Jonathan Rea put his name at the top of the Friday free practice times at Imola after two intense periods of practice in preparation for the first race on Saturday. Leon Haslam placed himself seventh on the day one timesheets at the fifth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship.

Having led the opening morning session at Imola Jonathan Rea rode on used tyres late in the afternoon period of WorldSBK action to retake the leading position he had enjoyed for most of FP2. The next closest rider was 0.155 seconds behind Rea at the end of Friday’s track action.

Rea and his team had ultimate race performance in mind as they worked on evaluating tyre options for the first 19-lap contest of the weekend, which is due to take place at 14.00hrs on Saturday.

Haslam was fourth fastest in the morning session but went to seventh overall after evaluating a tyre that did not suit his machine set-up quite as well in FP2. He now knows which direction to head in with his pre-race options on Saturday morning, and will use FP3 to make his final race set-up.

On Saturday the KRT riders will face their final free practice session in the morning, then Tissot Superpole qualifying and finally Race One. Sunday will then feature a ten-lap Tissot Superpole Race and a final 19-lap race to complete the full WorldSBK programme at Imola.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “We tried to focus on understanding the different combinations of front and rear Pirelli tyres we have this weekend. We have some good information for tomorrow, especially looking through our split times. We still have a margin to improve in some splits where we are missing something, although we are not too far off. We will try not to compromise too much by looking for more in the other areas. At the end, I felt comfortable on the bike on used tyres and I tried hard, especially when I saw that my name was not on the top! It shows that it is there, the bike is there, and we will put everything together tomorrow. I feel comfortable with the bike making this rhythm.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “This morning I felt quite comfortable. This afternoon we did not have a good session because we tried a different tyre option that was not as good at the end. The lap times were not so great as a result but my feeling this morning was quite positive, so we will keep pushing overnight to be ready for tomorrow. The track is good, from what I remember of it, and there are a few areas I need to work on with my riding style. Generally, I love this circuit because it is fun to ride. Hopefully it will be good racing too.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) tried a new set-up on his bike at Imola in the afternoon and placed fifth on the Friday timesheets as a result. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) is still working on finding the optimal front end set-up to face Saturday’s first race at Imola. Hector Barbera (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) is a first-time Imola rider, and was 17th today.

Positive start to the Imola weekend for the Aruba Racing.it – Ducati team: Chaz Davies and Álvaro Bautista second and fourth respectively after the first two free practice sessions

The fifth round of the Superbike World Championship at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola got off to a positive start for both riders of the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team.

Right from this morning’s first free practice session, Davies showed he had a good feeling with the Imola circuit, where the Welsh rider has already won four times and today he was able to set second quickest time behind the Kawasaki of Rea. In the afternoon session, Chaz then knocked another four tenths of a second off his time to remain in second place in the provisional timesheets behind his northern Irish rival.

It was a good first outing on the Imola track for his team-mate Álvaro Bautista, championship leader with 11 wins out of 11. Third in FP1, the Spanish rider shaved a further two-tenths off his best time in the afternoon to end the day in fourth place.

Tomorrow the third and final free practice session will be held at 09:00 CET, followed two hours later at 11:00 by Superpole qualifying for the starting-grid line-up for Race 1, which gets underway at 14:00.

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 2nd (1’46.529)

“It’s been a while since I’ve ended Friday in the top 3 so that was pretty good and we made a big step forward. Honestly the momentum has been going the right way in the last couple of races and Imola is a good time to try and turn over the page a bit. Having said that, I’m not 100% happy with the feeling with my Panigale V4 R so I hope I can turn things around for tomorrow because I feel I’ve got some good margin to improve the lap time. If we can make the right changes, I don’t see why we can’t fight for the win tomorrow.”

Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 4th (1’47.086)

“Today was a positive day because it’s the first time I have ever raced at Imola. Right away I found a good feeling with the track, while unlike the other races, I still have to improve the feeling with my bike, especially in corner turn-in, but in the afternoon we made some changes and the feeling was better. Today we always worked in view of the race and we did more than the total laps with quite a good pace. Probably we still have to improve the stability of the bike because on this track the bike is almost always leaning and you don’t have any breathing space.”

Sykes finds early Free Practise pace at Imola for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team


Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari

The Pirelli Italian Round saw a welcome return to action this morning following on from the Motul Dutch Round just a few weeks ago. Sunny skies greeted the riders at Imola and Tom Sykes was able to take early advantage of this by firmly placing himself into the top 5. Meanwhile, Markus Reiterberger just missed out on a top 10 finish in FP1 as he ended the session in P11.

In the afternoon’s FP2 session both the pace and the weather hotted up, Tom Sykes started strongly and kept his lap times close to the top of the sheet setting mid 1'47.00 laps, he would then go on to post a 1'46.766 with minutes to go on the clock putting him in P3 on combined times. Markus Reiterberger however struggled with his BMW S 1000 RR during FP2 as he missed out on the top 10 positions, he ended the session with a fastest of 1'48.113 landing him in P13 on combined times at the end of day 1 in Imola.

Shaun Muir – Team Principal

"A good day for Tom, he's been comfortably in the top 5 all day and tried a few different parts and set ups with the bike which puts him in a good position for tomorrow. He's also followed on from his good FP1 and FP2 in Assen so hopefully he can consolidate and get onto the front row in tomorrow’s superpole and have a good race.

Markus got a good base setting in FP1 but couldn't make a step forward during FP2, he had a small electrical issue which lost him some track time and effectively is realistically around the P12 position if not P10. We hope to make another step forward tomorrow and hopefully get into the top 3 rows for superpole."

Tom Sykes (GBR)

"We've again worked really consistently here in the Free Practises just trying various parameters with the chassis and also the tyres as we have more of a selection here. I have to say I’m really enjoying riding my BMW S 1000 RR at the moment, this track is always fantastic and the Italian fans are incredible so to be third fastest today makes me happy.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow as I feel we can still improve, the target is certainly for front row and try and utilise the chassis of the S 1000 RR during the race."

Markus Reiterberger (GER)

"Honestly, I am a bit disappointed not to be within the top ten especially after the weekend in Assen. I’ve come here with according expectations but today I struggled with pretty much the movement in the chassis which prevented me from holding my line, this is why I did not find into my rhythm.

We will keep working hard to analyse this and make another step forward. We actually improved some details in the second practice but we’re still missing the feeling towards the front. That’s our target for the next days: work hard and keep progressing."

Solid Start in Imola for Van Der Mark as Sickness Strikes Lowes

Free practice

The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK and GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK riders made a solid rather than stellar start on the opening day of proceedings at Round 5 of the FIM Superbike World Championship in Imola. It was Michael van der Mark who led the way for Yamaha, ending the day sixth on combined times and declaring it one of his best days in Imola to date. Alex Lowes was eighth fastest on the opening day, despite still suffering the effects of a stomach bug picked up earlier in the week. Marco Melandri didn't quite get the start he wanted to his home race weekend and will be looking to improve on 12th place ahead of qualifying tomorrow. After a positive start this morning, a lowside crash brought FP2 to a premature conclusion for Sandro Cortese, who ended the opening day 14th on the timesheet.

Van der Mark was quick to find a set-up on his R1 to suit the demands of the 4.936 km Imola track this morning in FP1, which he finished with the sixth best lap time. The Pata Yamaha rider and his crew continued to refine the set-up of his R1 throughout this afternoon’s second free practice session, with improvements allowing van der Mark to better his previous best lap time to again finish sixth. The 26-year-old was happy with the progress made on the first day in Imola, a track that has proved unkind to van der Mark in the past, as he looks to continue his good form following a double podium in Assen.

A stomach bug picked up earlier in the week took its toll on Lowes today, with the 28-year-old Briton forced to limit the number of laps during both free practice sessions due to his physical condition. Despite feeling sick on the bike and weakness due to dehydration, the Pata Yamaha rider managed to work with his crew to find a good feeling with his R1 around the technically demanding Imola circuit, ending the day just three tenths behind his teammate. Lowes will now focus on his recovery, as he looks to return at full strength for qualifying and the first race tomorrow.

Melandri continued to struggle with the set-up issues that have plagued him during the last three rounds here in Imola today. The problems meant the veteran Italian lacked the confidence needed for a fast lap time and he was disappointed to end the day 12th in front of his home crowd. Melandri remains adamant, however, that he and his crew will find a solution to the issues, allowing him to rediscover the form that saw him finish the opening race of the season on the podium.

Cortese fell foul of one of Imola’s less endearing characteristics today, after crashing during the early stages of FP2 this afternoon. With no service road surrounding the 4.936km track there is no way to return a fallen bike and rider to the paddock, leaving any rider unfortunate enough to crash sitting on the side-lines until the end of the session. Despite the premature end to his opening day in Imola, Cortese remains upbeat and is looking forward to Race 1 tomorrow.

Qualifying, which for 2019 is a single 25-minute Superpole session, will take place 11.00 tomorrow, with lights out for Race 1 at 14.00.

Michael van der Mark

Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P6 – 1’47.214

"A solid start today. Imola is always a difficult track at which to find a good set-up, especially coming from Assen, which is very different in character. This morning I felt quite strong from the start and we managed to improve the bike further during the session. This afternoon we initially went a little bit in the wrong direction, but we stayed calm, wound back the changes slightly and, at the end, I felt really strong on the bike again. We had an issue with getting the bike stopped but, again, we managed to find some improvements in this area. My time would have been better but for hitting traffic on my fastest lap, but I'm really happy with the bike now and I think we can still improve further tomorrow. Overall, it's been one of my best days in Imola so far."

Alex Lowes

Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P8 – 1’47.537

"I've been struggling with a bit of a stomach bug since Wednesday, so I didn't have too much energy today. On the bike I felt a little bit sick, so it was a case today of trying to learn as much as we can in the minimum number of laps. We actually got a lot more done that I thought possible; we've got a good direction and the bike feels good. Now I'm looking forward to having a bit more time to rest and recover and, hopefully, coming back a bit stronger tomorrow for the first race."

Marco Melandri

GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P12 – 1’47.973

"I struggled a lot today with the same issues as before. There wasn't one area in which I was feeling bad or feeling good, I just feel it's everywhere, so I'm missing confidence. The guys are working so hard to find a solution to suit me and we will find a way, step-by-step, but it's not so easy. We don't need a big improvement; even a small improvement would allow me to build confidence, ride a bit more how I know and reduce the gap to the front but, at the moment, we haven't found what we need. Here I was expecting much better, so I'm obviously disappointed, but we will keep working."

Sandro Cortese

GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P14 – 1’48.457

"This morning wasn't too bad and I was P12 while learning the track aboard the R1. This afternoon we wanted to try a long run on the hard front tyre but I think this was maybe a mistake on the opening day with my limited experience of this track. But we did it and I crashed, which wouldn't have been an issue at any other track but with no service road here in Imola it's impossible to get the bike back to the pit box before the end of the session, so that was the end of my first day. So, at the end, it was a bit of a tough day but it's race day tomorrow and, in the race, anything can happen, so I'm staying positive."

Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari begin their preparation for the Italian round at Imola

Moriwaki Althea Honda’s Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari took advantage of the mild temperatures and sunny conditions which blessed the opening day of the Italian WorldSBK round, the riders and technicians alike working hard to adapt the setup of the bikes to the technical and challenging Imola racetrack.

By the end of the day, Leon had set the fifteenth fastest lap time in 1’48.528, improving on his morning’s performance by roughly eight tenths of a second.

Ryuichi also improved on his lap times over the two sessions, by almost a second, closing day one in sixteenth position with a fastest time of 1’49.099.

The two Moriwaki Althea Honda Team riders will be back on track tomorrow morning for the third and final practice at 9am, before the Superpole at 11am and Race1 at 2pm local time.

Leon Camier 2

15th 1'48.528

“To be honest we are not that far away from the group in front. I think there are still a couple of little things we can do to improve the bike’s setup. I just hope the others don’t make another big step so that we can get closer tomorrow. We made some small improvements already this afternoon and were able to lower our lap times a little bit. We know that the weather forecast is looking a little uncertain for the next couple of days, Sunday especially, but I look forward to riding the bike in the rain, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Ryuichi Kiyonari 23

16th 1'49.099

“Before today, I had only ridden at Imola on one other occasion, around ten years ago, and to be honest today was more difficult than I expected. The track is very technical and demanding. It took both sessions to get used to it again, but finally things got better and at the end of FP2 I was much more comfortable. We tried some different tyre compounds and worked hard on the bike setup. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to take another step forward.”

Althea MIE Racing gets to work at home track Imola

Imola (Italy), Friday 10 May 2019

The Althea MIE Racing team is competing on home turf this weekend, round five of the 2019 Superbike World Championship taking place on the stage that is the Imola circuit in Italy.

Local rider Alessandro Delbianco was out for first free practice at 10.30 this morning, in warm and sunny conditions. Starting the set-up work on his CBR1000RR SP2 along with his technicians, the Italian worked hard, making the most of the clement weather conditions. By the session’s end, Alessandro had set a fastest lap of 1’50.750, thus closing in eighteenth position.

In the subsequent afternoon session, the young rider strived to improve both his sensations with the bike and his lap times. He was able to lower his earlier time, by more than seven tenths, and with a best of 1’50.063, he rounded out day one in eighteenth place.

Alessandro Delbianco

"I’m not overly happy with how today’s gone because I’d have liked to be further forward at a track I like so much. Unfortunately, the problems we’re having here are similar to those that emerged in Thailand, with all the tight turns. I feel good though, despite the fact that I broke a finger two days ago; that’s a little painful but doesn’t condition my riding. I’ll be aiming to work well tomorrow because we have good potential here at Imola.”


Bad injury for Eugene Laverty!

During Free Practice 1, few minutes after the start of the session, the Northern Irish ace fell at the exit of the "Acque Minerali" turn.

A frightening highside threw him into the air, falling violently to the ground.

The impact caused the fracture of both wrists: in the right one the x-rays showed a broken Radius and Scaphoid, and the stilled of the Ulna; in the left one the Radius distal to the previous surgery and the base of the first metacarpal.

The rider is already on his way to Barcelona, where tomorrow morning he will be promptly operated by Dr. Mir.

The Go Eleven Team wishes him a speedy recovery and is confident of seeing him back on his V4-R as soon as possible.

Good luck for the operation, Eugene, your team is waiting for you stronger than ever!


Two years after the romantic story of Vizziello that, after traveling all night to reach Imola, replaced the 2016 Go Eleven rider Roman Ramos, the Team found itself in the same situation today!

Eugene falls during the first free practice session and broke both wrists; as soon as the news arrived, our Team Manager immediately set to work to try not to disappoint the public and the many guests who will come here on the Santerno to see the Panigale V4-R by Go Eleven in action.

An instant phone call was enough to get in tune with the desire to get involved with Tommy Bridewell, one of the strongest riders of the renowned BSB, currently first with same championship points of Tarran MacKenzie!

Fresh from a double second place obtained in the Round of Oulton Park, he hastily prepared suit, helmet, boots and gloves, climbing on the first available plane; will arrive at the circuit late in the evening but will regularly race in FP3 tomorrow morning!

Thus, at 30 years old, his first opportunity to compete in the maximum category arrives: the Team has no claim from Tommy, but we are sure he will give 110% to prove his worth!

Denis Sacchetti (Team Manager):

"We are very sorry for Eugene, here at home we wanted to do well and we had the cards to do it, we had built a good base together to fight in front and we just had to take the results. It's a real pity, and we are sad, now we hope that he gets well as soon as possible because we are already missing him in the box!

On the other hand, Tommy is one of the fastest at the moment with the V4-R, in England he is showing great things and he already knows the Imola track. After I talked to him by phone, from his enthusiasm and desire to get involved in the WorldSBK Championship, I realized he was the right rider for us. This weekend we can't ask too much, he will have a day less work than his opponents, so we just want him to have fun and make us have fun! "

Tommy Bridewell (Rider):

"I am really happy for this opportunity to race for Team Go Eleven in the iconic Imola Circuit in the WorldSBK Championship. It's a fantastic place with an amazing heritage, so the opportunity is amazing for me! I look forward doing the best job I can for the Team and we can make some great races!"

WorldSSP: Caricasulo tops day one of his home round in Imola

Five Italians inside the top ten as action packed opening day in WorldSSP concludes

The 2019 FIM Supersport World Championship roared back into life at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola. The Italian saw home-hero Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) who ended day one on top. In FP2, two red flags were shown; the first due to a crash between Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) and Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) at Acque Minerale and a second from Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) at the Variante Alta.

Federico Caricasulo will be hoping that topping day one at the Pirelli Italian Round was no fluke, as the Italian rider goes in a quest to win a second consecutive WorldSSP race. The Italian wasn’t able to improve on his time in FP2 and suffered a crash on the exit of Variante Alta in the final ten minutes. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) was looking back to his old self and placed second overall but was on top in FP2, whilst Randy Krummenacher was third despite his crash and consequential problems.

In fourth overall, Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) continued his good form at home and was top Kawasaki rider whilst being the first non-Yamaha rider too. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was in fifth place but suffered a crash in the closing stages. Sixth position belonged to Thomas Gradinger, who suffered a similar crash to Caricasulo at Turn 15. The Austrian rider, however, is in the mix for another podium challenge.

Up next, a brace of Italians; Massimo Roccoli (Team Rossa Corsa) was seventh on his wildcard appearance and ahead of regular rider, Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), who concluded the opening day in eighth overall, being pushed back at the end of FP2.

Japanese star Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was once again a frontrunner and placed well within the top ten overall, in ninth, but complete FP2 in seventh. In combined times, the top ten was rounded out by Federico Fuligni (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) as he made a welcome reappearance in the top ten.

WorldSSP300: Garcia returns to the top after day one of Imola

2017 champion is back to his best ahead of championship contenders at Pirelli Italian Round

WorldSSP300 was back on track at Imola for their 2019 campaign, returning after a four-week hiatus. From back-to-back rounds at a busy Aragon and a weather-affected Assen, the WorldSSP300 category now takes to the historic Imola circuit in Italy. After the first day of action, it was 2017 WorldSSP champion Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) on top, but there’s plenty of time left for the others to catch up.

Having dipped below the existing lap record in FP2, Group A were once again dominant in the leading positions on combined times. Marc Garcia’s time of 2’07.028 placed him ahead of Mika Perez (Scuderia Maranga Racing) and Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha). Garcia won at the Imola track back in 2017 and will be hoping that he can use this weekend as a platform to elevate himself up from a lowly 14th in the championship.

Fourth on the time sheets was Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing), who led for the majority of the session. The Indonesian rider was 0.442s from the top time by Garcia. In fifth place was the first of the Group B entrants, with Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) continuing his impressive form on from Assen. Kevin Sabatucci (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) made it a 1-2 in Group B for Italy and finished sixth overall, making for an exciting prospect for the rest of the weekend.

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