A busy day for WorldSBK as our return to Imola headlines, but 2024 seats remain crucial with lots of major players still yet to put pen to paper

Round 7 of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has arrived and the media day for the Championship gave plenty of major talking points before a wheel had even been turned. From declarations about 2024 to hoping to indulge in some Imola success, we caught up with the main stars of the show and got their thoughts about how the weekend could shape up and how 2024’s grid will eventually shake out.

Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “The only expectations that we can have for this weekend are battles!”
“It’s another important round for Ducati because it’s their second home round. It’s an important weekend for me as I don’t have a lot of experience in this track. I just raced here once, in 2019, and it was hard because we had to cancel Race 2 due to the weather. I have good memories of the track; the layout is really nice. There are no expectations because we have to build up the references and the feeling with the bike at this track. It was the same as I said at Donington. I think Donington, Imola and Most are the three most difficult races for us. We have to be thinking step by step. It’s difficult to make some expectations because it’s like we start from zero. The important thing is to find the feeling that I had at Donington or other tracks. I’m sure that if we can get that feeling, I can be competitive. This is a track that we saw many battles in the past. The only expectation that we can have for this weekend are battles. I don’t know whether it’ll be for the win or the podium or other positions but there will be battles because there are a lot of points for overtaking. The way to approach the weekend is basically the same. We must be more careful with the gearing because, in the end, it’s the most critical. We have to try to understand which areas we lose more in and try to work more in those areas.”

Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “I think on Sunday, there’ll be an announcement of where I’m going”
“This is a place that I want to have fun at. The track looks so iconic and there’s a lot of history here; I did a couple of laps with the bicycle last night and I had goosebumps. A motorcycle could always be different but it just looks amazing. The trees, buildings, up and downs, I’m really excited to go and ride this track. It’d be nice if the bike was nice to me this weekend and I didn’t have to focus so much on the settings and I could just focus on riding the track. I think on Sunday, there’ll be an announcement of where I’m going and what I’m doing for 2024.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “I know the tricks of the trade around here”
“I’m really excited to be back here! It always brings back fond memories; I have had some great races here. It’s a unique part of the world to race in a park, with the undulations and it’s steeped in history. Our track record here has been quite good too. My favourite sector at Imola… it’s hard to give just one! The most iconic part is the drop down from Piratella into Acque Minerali, and then the jump out of there. It’s so difficult to master but when you get as close to perfect as possible, it’s an amazing feeling. You accelerate out of there, uphill and it’s really hard, fighting with the bike. Imola is about having a bike that is easy to ride but that stops very well; we’re stopping really hard in three or four areas of the track. We know we can be stronger here than the first part of the year, to fight for podiums is the minimum we can aim for. I know a few tricks of the trade round here. It’s hard to know whether to go back to our 2019 setting or our current setup.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK): “I’m only looking at Jonny… I hope we fight for the win”

“I’m very excited to come back to Imola. I remember 2019, I have good memories here as I took a podium. In 2015, I had a big fight with Caricasulo in Stock 600! My goal is to fight for the win again. Jonny is normally very strong here. I hope we are fighting with him; I am only looking at Jonny. Also, I think Alvaro will improve this year as the bike has changed a lot. He will be very strong here. I hope it can be a good weekend to recover some points. This year, I’ll try to win in a long race. I hope we fight for the win.”
Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team): “It would be a dream to get a podium here!”
“It’s really special because I haven’t been to Imola since 2011. However, I was already with Barni Racing and I have good memories. I can’t wait to ride again on the track again, because it’s one of the most beautiful around the world. Nothing is chosen about my future; as I said at Donington Park and at the start of 2023, I want to win a race here. I am here to do that. With Alvaro, Toprak and Jonny and others, it’s difficult. Maybe I need one more year to try and win and be more consistent in the Championship. After the podium at Donington Park, we want to repeat that performance but we will see because both at Donington Park and Misano, we had a new track surface. This time, we’ll have something a bit more normal, so it’s a good test for us to see if we can fight for the podium regularly. It would be a dream to get a podium here.”
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “We’ve been dreaming about this!”
“I’m excited for him and the team! We’re really close but to have another good team in the WorldSBK Championship is good and maybe in the future, it might even be two riders. For such a good team in Moto2™ to arrive here is only going to make the Championship stronger. Marc van der Straten is a fantastic guy and his personality will be great. On the other side, about my brother, it’s fantastic! We’ve been dreaming for a long, long time since we were kids, to race motorbikes and maybe race together one day. On a personal note, away from the track, I am so, so happy. With our current schedules, we spend a lot of time apart but to race together, travel together, it’s going to be fantastic. The team have been World Champions and Sam has won a Grand Prix just two months ago, so the level he is riding at is fantastic so we can expect him, the bike and the team to be strong.”
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati): “I love this track… it’s unbelievable to ride!”

“It was a hard crash at Donington Park but this morning, we decided with the doctors to at least try and ride the bike. I feel pretty good; last week, I didn’t feel too good, so we have done more examinations, especially with the head. It’s the hardest part to check and to make sure it’s in the right way for racing bikes. I feel good with the head now, the ankle is still not so good but it’s not broken, so I’ll try my best to ride the bike and get good results. I love this track and it deserves to stay on the calendar; it’s unbelievable to ride here. My best memory was when I won the STK1000 race after a strange race with two red flags, three starts and on the last one, my mechanics had to change the clutch! It was tough as they finished changing it when the pitlane was open and we only 50 seconds to exit the pitlane! About my future, I hope that there will be updates, but for the moment, the focus is to get back on the bike with a good feeling.”

- Advertisement -