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Imola WorldSBK Friday Practice | Three red flags as Rinaldi pips Lowes, Gerloff in FP2

Gold & Goose
Michael Ruben Rinaldi, Aruba.it Ducati, Ducati Panigale V4 R, 2023 WorldSBK, Imola, action [credit - Gold & Goose]

Michael Ruben Rinaldi proved there were no lingering ill-effects from his huge accident at Donington Park as he powered to the fastest time right at the end of Friday free practice at Imola.

One of seven Italian riders racing on home soil this weekend, Rinaldi was required to pass a medical in order to compete this weekend after sustaining concussion in a high-speed incident involving Tom Sykes last time out.

However, he was right back up to speed upon his return at Imola today, Rinaldi capitalising on a late red flag period to pop in a timesheet topping lap of 1m 47.123secs once the session restarted with just under three minutes left on the clock.

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That was enough to deny Alex Lowes a satisfying Friday boost having sprung to the top of the leaderboard just prior to the late stoppage on the factory Kawasaki ZX-10RR.

>>> 2023 WorldSBK Championship Standings <<<

An incident-filled, stop-start session featuring three red flags periods, each for crashes at the final Variante Bassa chicane, the last of those led to a frantic finish as riders attempted to use a fresh set of tyres to leapfrog up the order.

Among them was first-time Imola visitor Garrett Gerloff, who found form at the death to surge towards the summit and end his day third.

Ironically, the strong end to the session came after a disastrous start to it, Gerloff triggering an accident that led to him crashing into Bonovo BMW team-mate Loris Baz. Occurring just seconds into the session as the riders warmed up for their first laps, Gerloff got out of shape under braking for the first Rivazza and couldn’t get the M 1000 RR stopped without T-boning a rather bewildered Baz up ahead.

In fourth, Axel Bassani earmarked himself as a rider to watch this weekend, the Italian - not known for being quick of the box on a weekend - having held the top spot for much of the afternoon on the Motocorsa Ducati.

Andrea Locatelli and Danilo Petrucci made it fourth Italians in the top six positions, with championship leader Alvaro Bautista keeping a low profile en route to the seventh fastest time.

Scott Redding was another to make late gains, the Briton together with Gerloff giving BMW some optimism for the weekend as they out-paced Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu.

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Rea was to blame for one of the red flags, his fall coming early on when he dropped the Kawasaki ZX-10RR at the tricky final corner chicane. With the session stopped to clear the gravel that had been dragged onto track, identical crashes for Gabriele Ruiu and Tito Rabat led to two further pauses..

Razgatlioglu, meanwhile, had his last flying lap cancelled to explain his mid-pack position, the Turk just ahead of Bradley Ray, who showed up GYTR GRT Yamaha counterparts Dominique Aegerter and Remy Gardner by comfortably out-performing them in 11th, compared with their 19th and 14th.

Leon Haslam, meanwhile, lost a portion of track time with a technical issue on his ROKiT BMW M 1000 RR to end the day in 16th, nestled between the bikes of his former HRC Honda team.

WorldSBK Imola | Combined Friday Practice RESULTS [FP1 + FP2]

2023 Italian WorldSBK | Imola | Combiend Friday Practice Results [FP1+FP2] | Round 7 of 12
PosRiderNatTeamMotorcycleLap
1Michael Ruben RinaldiITAAruba DucatiDucati Panigale V4 R1m 47.123
2Alex LowesGBRKawasaki Racing TeamKawasaki ZX-10RR1m 47.279
3Garrett GerloffUSABonovo RacingBMW M 1000 RR1m 47.454
4Axel BassaniITAMotocorsa RacingDucati Panigale V4 R1m 47.548
5Andrea LocatelliITAPata Crescent RacingYamaha R11m 47.592
6Danilo PetrucciITABarni Spark RacingDucati Panigale V4 R1m 47.693
7Alvaro BautistaESPAruba DucatiDucati Panigale V4 R1m 47.737
8Scott ReddingGBRBMW Motorrad WorldSBKBMW M 1000 RR1m 48.802
9Jonathan ReaGBRKawasaki Racing TeamKawasaki ZX-10RR1m 47.830
10Toprak RazgatliogluTURPata Crescent RacingYamaha R11m 47.916
11Bradley RayGBRMotoxracingYamaha R11m 47.982
12Loris BazFRABonovo RacingBMW M 1000 RR1m 48.440
13Philipp OettlGERGo ElevenDucati Panigale V4 R1m 48.686
14Remy GardnerAUSGYTR GRTYamaha R11m 48.694
15Xavi ViergeESPTeam HRCHonda CBR1000RR-R1m 48.749
16Leon HaslamGBRBMW Motorrad WorldSBKBMW M 1000 RR1m 48.779
17Iker LecuonaESPTeam HRCHonda CBR1000RR-R1m 48.907
18Lorenzo BaldassarriITAGMT 94Yamaha R11m 48.961
19Dominique AegerterCHEGYTR GRTYamaha R11m 48.985
20Gabriele RuiuITAB-Max RacingBMW M 1000 RR1m 49.081
21Roberto TamburiniITAMIE RacingHonda CBR1000RR-R1m 49.777
22Isaac VinalesESPTPR by Vinales RacingKawasaki ZX-10RR1m 50.437
24Tito RabatESPPuccetti RacingKawasaki ZX-10RR1m 50.622
24Oliver KonigCZEOrelac RacingKawasaki ZX-10RR1m 50.747
25Eric GranadoBRAMIE RacingHonda CBR1000RR-R1m 50.819

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