A flag-to-flag race adds another challenge to SBK race 1 at Phillip Island

2022-11-26 00:19
Team HRC is currently competing in this season’s final Superbike World Championship round at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia. The first of the weekend’s races proved to be a race of two halves, with riders completing the first laps on a full wet track before switching over to slick tyres as the asphalt quickly dried.

It would have probably been hard to find more challenging conditions for a debut race in the category, but Tetsuta Nagashima once again impressed, finishing inside the top ten despite two crashes during the morning and a flag-to-flag race 1 that was also a new experience for the squad. After a tough start to the weekend, Xavi Vierge found sufficient speed and rhythm to achieve another solid result, eighth in race 1, the Spaniard acknowledging that he has room to improve in tomorrow’s final races of the 2022 season.

Prior to the race action, riders Vierge and Nagashima took part in the morning’s third and final practice, making the most of this last opportunity to prepare for the subsequent Superpole. The session ran on a damp track, with Nagashima suffering a crash through turn 1 in the final minutes. The Japanese rider was nevertheless passed fit to continue by doctors after a brief visit to the medical centre.

The track had dried fully in time for the Superpole qualifying session. Both riders did their best to secure a good grid position for race 1, with Vierge setting a 1’31.307 to place ninth and Nagashima recording a best of 1’31.339 to finish right behind his team-mate in tenth. Another innocuous crash in the final seconds prevented the Japanese rider from doing more, the results meaning that Team HRC lined up on the third and fourth row of the grid for the afternoon’s first race.

The first full-length Superbike race ran according to schedule at 4pm local time on a wet track, after heavy rainfall prior to the session. Getting away well, Vierge was lying ninth through the first turns, with team-mate Nagashima down in sixteenth. The Spaniard gained two places on the very next lap to move into seventh, a position he then maintained until lap ten. The Japanese rider gained three positions in the early stages and gradually began to find his rhythm, building confidence around the wet track. With a track that was drying out fast, the entire field returned to the pits mid-race to switch over to slick tyres. Vierge and Nagashima did so on lap eleven, returning to the track in tenth and fifteenth place respectively. Gaining ground thanks to a consistent pace, the Spaniard ultimately crossed the line eighth and the Japanese tenth.

Team HRC will return to the track tomorrow for the final races of this 2022 Superbike World Championship.

Xavi Vierge 97

“It’s been a really challenging day. We were expecting a dry FP3, and the plan was to try something different in terms of our dry setup but in the end, we had a wet session, which wasn’t wasted it turns out. Qualifying then ran on a dry track and, here, I must again thank the team because the setup of the bike gave me much better feeling and we were able to secure a third-row start, which wasn’t so bad. The race was a crazy one, my first ever flag-to-flag race. During the first part, we were too slow in the wet, making too many little mistakes; it was very challenging. When I entered the pits, the team was ready and they worked fast, allowing me to re-join the race in a good position and achieve a fairly good result. We learned a lot today too, both for the future but also for tomorrow as the forecast is again looking uncertain and conditions can change by the minute.”

Xavi Vierge

Tetsuta Nagashima 49

“Today was very tough with the two crashes this morning. Conditions were particularly critical in FP3 but I still don’t know how I crashed. As for the race, I didn’t push too much straight away in the wet, and I lost a lot of time and positions as a result. Lap by lap my rhythm improved, and, after the tyre change, I felt even better and my lap times weren’t so bad. I was able to make a few passes and reach tenth place. Experiencing a flag-to-flag race and such tricky conditions in my first Superbike race wasn’t ideal of course, but it is what it is, and I think it’s all good experience anyway. I want to say a big thank you to the team because they did an amazing job of repairing the bike before the race and it worked perfectly. Now we will check all the data and prepare for tomorrow.”

Tetsuta Nagashima

Results Tissot Superpole
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 Bautista Alvaro 19 SPA ARUBA Racing - Ducati 1'29.815
2 Rea Jonathan 65 GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK 1'30.026 0.211
3 Lowes Alex 22 GBR Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK 1'30.053 0.238
4 Razgatlioglu Toprak 1 TUR PATA YAMAHA with BRIXX WorldSBK 1'30.243 0.428
5 Locatelli Andrea 55 ITA PATA YAMAHA with BRIXX WorldSBK 1'30.580 0.765
6 Gerloff Garrett 31 USA GRT Yamaha WorldSBK 1'30.727 0.912

Source: HRC

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