Friday’s free practices for the Italian Round – the seventh round of the 2023 WorldSBK season held at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola – concluded with an impressive lap by Michael Rinaldi, which granted the Italian rider the first position. It was an intense day for Rinaldi, who was declared fit to race after FP1. As he showed consistency in the morning and afternoon sessions, Michael set the fastest lap at the end of the FP2, which saw several red flags.
After finishing fourth in FP1, Bautista approached FP2 as usual without changing tires to preserve as many as possible for tomorrow’s qualifying and Race 1. The Spanish rider ended up with the eighth fastest time, half a second behind his teammate.
Michael Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #21):
“It was a special day, different from others, not only because we haven’t raced at Imola for a few years but also because the days following the Donington incident have been challenging. Besides the high temperature and ankle pain that put me to the test during FP1, we were still fast and improved in FP2. I still need to work on the final sector where there is room for improvement, but overall, it has been positive.”
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #1):
“I used this Friday to get familiar with a track where I have raced only once in 2019. The feeling with the bike wasn’t at the highest level as it has been on many occasions this season, but it’s normal, especially considering the extremely high temperature. We weren’t chasing lap times, and in fact, we didn’t change tires during the sessions. There are still several details to work on, but I’m confident we’ll improve the feeling tomorrow.”
Nicolò Bulega and the Aruba.it Racing WSSP team’s Ducati Panigale V2 set the fourth fastest time at the end of Friday’s free practice sessions.
Nicolò Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WSSP):
“Today, we faced some difficulties compared to usual. However, with the team, we have already identified the direction to take and what to work on. Tomorrow, we’ll try to do much better.