Pata Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu was back on top for the opening WorldSBK Superpole of 2023 at Phillip Island on Saturday.
A 1’29.400 returned the 2021 Champion to his commanding position, two tenths faster than title-rival Alvaro Bautista on the Aruba.it Ducati, with GRT Yamaha’s Dominique Aegerter securing the spotlight thanks to a maiden front row start on his debut in the Superbike class.
Qualifying got underway at a dry but cloudy Australian circuit, a light smattering of rain now dispersed having briefly disrupted the earlier Supersport action. A confident Iker Lecuona took to the track after a strong morning showing, the Spaniard topping FP3 on his first visit to PI with Honda, having missed out on last year’s season finale due to injury.
Aruba.it Ducati’s Michael Rinaldi led the initial times as the shootout fired up. Alex Lowes running second on the 22 Kawasaki before Bautista demoted the Brit and KRT teammate Jonathan Rea took charge overall with the first sub 1’30 of the weekend. A 1’29.715 holding court by three tenths of a second while Lecuona rounded out the top five.
The second runs found Danilo Petrucci pushing the Barni Ducati up to fourth as Bautista improved to second. GoEleven’s Philipp Oettl quickly denying the reigning champion as he moved to within 0.059s of the leading KRT man before double WorldSSP champ Aegerter swept through to provisional pole on the GRT R1 with two minutes to go.
A Yamaha battle developed out front as Razgatlioglu took charge on the Pata Prometeon with Bautista quickly back up to second as Rea dropped to fourth. Remy Gardner delighting the home fans as the Australian secured seventh on his GRT debut from Lowes, Andrea Locatelli and Petrucci as the chequered flag dropped.
Lecuona settled for 11th as the 15-minute session concluded. BMW’s Michael van der Mark and Scott Redding sat 12th and 13th respectively with Motocorsa’s Axel Bassani and GMT94’s Lorenzo Baldassarri completing the top 15.