26th Feb 2024


RACE 1: Pit Stop to P2 Podium for Locatelli in Phillip Island Thriller

Andrea Locatelli scored a sensational P2 result for Pata Prometeon Yamaha in Race 1 at Phillip Island during the opening round of the 2024 FIM Superbike World Championship.

The 27-year-old Italian played it smart in the 20-lap feature race with a clever late pit stop strategy, collecting the race lead on Lap 9 after starting sixth on the grid and making progress in “clean air” during the three-lap window in which the full WorldSBK field was required to make a compulsory tyre change.

With fresh rubber underneath him for the second part of his race, “Loka” had full confidence to make decisive passes on Toprak Razgatlioglu (BMW), Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) and Andrea Iannone (Ducati) in quick succession before consolidating his position to celebrate second place in the first race of the season.

It was unfortunately a different story for teammate Jonathan Rea, who was unable to qualify higher than 11th on the grid during a record-breaking Superpole session. Rea made progress in the first stint of the race, despite some difficulties with the feedback from his R1 WorldSBK. However, to make matters worse, a small issue never seen before by the team in the compulsory pit stop meant Rea lost significant time – which destroyed any chances of at least a reasonable points-scoring finish.

Tomorrow is the final day of action in Australia, with two further tests of mettle and determination in the Superpole Race from 13:00 local time (UTC+11) and Race 2 at the same time as today with lights out at 16:00. The WorldSBK field will also have the opportunity for a short shakedown during a 10-minute Warm Up session at 10:30.

Andrea Locatelli – SP: P6 / Race 1: P2

“I think this is one of the best races I’ve done! We were fighting a lot with the guys, especially on the second tyre, so we need to be happy to get to the front of this group! I struggled a little bit in the beginning of the race so this was a little disappointing, it was tricky and I tried to recover after the start but it was not easy – but then in the second stint I pushed a lot on the bike and the feeling was much better. I overtook three strong riders in front of me and finished in second position, so it’s a good start for us for sure! We got P2 and a lot of points, I take good confidence from the result and we will try again tomorrow. We need just to start a bit more in front after the Superpole Race – and try again in Race 2. The potential we have, especially on the race rhythm, is high – I think we can fight for the podium, and maybe the victory, again.”

Jonathan Rea – SP: P11 / Race 1: P17

“It was really difficult today, right from when the lights went out in Race 1 – I had quite a bad start, but I made some good headway in Turns 1 and 2. Then I was in a consistent rhythm, fighting with Domi at one point then van der Mark. I decided to pit at the earliest possible moment and unfortunately, we just had a small issue that prohibited me from getting back on track so I lost quite a bit of time outside the pit box. I exited with Bautista – and I could ride with him at his rhythm for a few laps, until the last four or five laps when I started making some mistakes, but once I cleared him and found my line I started to find my rhythm again. Frustrating, because it feels like we can’t catch a break – we’ve had a lot of curve balls thrown our way, but fortunately we’re still here to keep showing up. Tomorrow we will try some set up changes because I’m not happy with how the bike is handling and we know that with WorldSBK so competitive now, you need to be confident on the bike to push to the maximum. I know when I feel good with the bike, like I have done Jerez and at times in Portimao, that I can fly – so it’s a case of exercising patience and knowing that we have really good potential ahead of us.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Prometeon Yamaha:

“It was always going to be a stressful race with the compulsory pit stops which puts a lot of pressure on all the teams – and indeed the riders – to make the right calls and execute everything correctly. We couldn’t have asked for more from Loka – he was disappointed to be only P6 on the grid, but by running for two extra laps in clean air compared to the guys in the front group, he was able to make up a lot of time and rode fantastic in and out-laps. It still meant he was P5 when he exited pit lane for the second stint, but he had fresher tyres than the riders around him, and with high motivation and an R1 WorldSBK that was working well beneath him – he did a brilliant job to claw his way through to P2. Congratulations to Andrea, to Tom – his new Crew Chief, who’s had a great “first day” at the office – and to all of Loka’s team. It’s clear that Jonathan’s start to the 2024 championship has been frustrating, going all the way back to the Tuesday test – and we have not yet been able to get him comfortable on the bike here at Phillip Island. That being said, in the race he bit the screen, got into the top 10 and recorded his best lap time of the weekend on race tyres – it was really a good sign to make progress through the field. Unfortunately, the pit stop was a disaster with a problem at the rear of the bike that we have never had before. An added disappointment after how the week has been going on that side of the box – but, we have 20 laps of data and three chances including Warm Up to get Jonathan more comfortable and take some steps forward. Today was a bad start for JR, but we are here to help him win again.”

RACE 2: Locatelli Close to Maiden WorldSBK Win after Securing Second in Superpole Race

Pata Prometeon Yamaha’s Andrea Locatelli was painstakingly close to a maiden WorldSBK win in Race 2 of the opening round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, until a high-side at Phillip Island’s notorious Turn 4 hairpin.

After another sensational second-place finish in the Superpole Race this afternoon, the #55 R1 WorldSBK rider looked set to seal his first ever victory in the premier class – and fight he did as he led the field in the opening laps of Race 2.

The WorldSBK Sunday feature race took place later than expected at 17:15 local time (UTC+11) following delays due to conditions on track. As “Loka” got away at the front with defending champion Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) there was drama further back as Toprak Razgatlioglu (BMW) suffered a visible technical problem at Turn 9 on the second lap.

A lap later, Pata Prometeon Yamaha teammate Jonathan Rea – who had been making positive progress, taking more confidence from his R1 WorldSBK and fighting within the top six in the opening laps – crashed out at Turn 10 causing the race to be red-flagged. The Northern Irishman was taken to the Medical Centre for checks but released shortly after.

A new 11-lap Race 2 had Locatelli start from second-place on the grid once again – the Italian initially dropped back to sixth in the pack but he clawed his way through with some of the best overtakes of the weekend. Closing in on the lead and a three-way fight for the history books with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) and Alvaro Bautista (Ducati), the team’s Italian rider was ready to make a move on Lowes when he devastatingly crashed out of contention.

Both Pata Prometeon Yamaha riders and the team now have two and a half weeks to reset and regroup before a two-day test at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya ahead of Round 2 of the season at the same venue.

Andrea Locatelli – SPRC: P2 / Race 2: DNF

“The feeling was amazing in Race 2, I think in the end this weekend we did a really good job and we never made any mistakes. Unfortunately, we are checking on the data and we don’t know yet what was the reason but the bike was in neutral – so then I was wide and when I tried to put again the gear, I made a mistake and I lost the rear. It is a big shame because everything was working well and it was just the last lap and we were fighting for the race win. Feels a bit like a bad dream, but at the same time I want to say thanks to Yamaha and the team because we were working well during the weekend – we were fast in every condition and every session in front – so this is for sure something good for us and let’s see what we can do in the next race. We will be on track for two days of testing before the Barcelona round, we need to improve a little bit more but the confidence on my R1 is good so let’s see what we can do.”

Jonathan Rea – SPRC: P10 / Race 1: DNF

“First and foremost, physically I’m ok, I hit my hip quite hard in the crash but no further injuries from Tuesday. They were two big crashes this week but I’m still in one piece thanks to Alpinestars and Arai. I’m really frustrated because the crash came as a big surprise, it was as I was building my confidence on the bike and feeling quite good. I took some “track profit” when Toprak had engine troubles and found myself in a good place in the race, but as soon as I started to feel really confident I crashed. We just have to rebuild from zero, look into everything and try to improve the feeling for me. You can see with how competitive Loka is that we can get there – I want to go home now to regroup, reset and come back stronger in Barcelona.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal, Pata Prometeon Yamaha:

“Ultimately, a disappointing end for Andrea after a simply stellar performance across the whole event here at Phillip Island. At the beginning of the 11-lap restart, he didn’t quite have the same feel for the bike that he’d had earlier, but as the bike came to him – he again showed his race-winning potential by grinding his way back to third position with every chance of winning the race given how he’s been passing other riders. The crash Loka had when trying to pass Alex into Turn 4 was so unfortunate and we have to say well done to him and his entire crew for their efforts. Everything that’s happened here, including another brilliant P2 in the Superpole Race indicates that he’s taken a big step in 2024. Whilst today was ultimately disappointing in terms of pure result for Jonathan – the steps taken in pace in the Superpole Race, finishing within five seconds of the winner and then showing his championship-winning aggression even after such a difficult weekend, by climbing from P11 to P5 and closing on the front group just demonstrated his determination to succeed. Obviously, we’re relieved that he got away with the Turn 11 crash and we’ll reset with JR at the Barcelona test and we’ll be looking for much better from here forward.”