Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing –
Ducati) stormed to the top of the timesheets again on Tuesday at Phillip Island
Grand Prix Circuit with a best lap of 1’30.303, a whole 0.440 seconds faster
than his best from the previous day and nearly half a second quicker than
four-time world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), fourth
fastest at the Aussie racetrack.

Tuesday morning saw kinder winds and warmer conditions than the opening day of
testing. Despite this, the bar that Ducati’s Spaniard had set on Monday
remained unsurpassed by all but three riders. Bautista has emerged as the early
and clear frontrunner for the opening race of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World
Championship, and it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, can match the
hairsplitting pace he’s put on display here.

Nonetheless, six more men did manage to set sub 1’31 laps, with second-placed
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and fifth-placed Marco Melandri (GRT
Yamaha WorldSBK) split by two tenths of a second.

In between them in fourth sat Jonathan Rea, who had previously topped nearly
every pre-season testing session in 2018 and 2019. No one will be disregarding
the reigning World Champion any time soon however. It bears repeating that Rea
is still on an 11-race winning streak and when he is on his game there are few,
if any riders capable of going the distance with the four-time champion. But
for now, the gap between the two men has been striking: just in the first
Tuesday session, Bautista recorded seven laps faster than Rea’s then best of
1’30.761.

Testing is much more than setting fast lap times however, and there was again
much work to be done on Tuesday in Australia. Rea’s teammate Leon Haslam
(Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made great strides on the ZX-10RR, putting in
more laps (74) than anyone out on track. The Englishman’s base setup is very
similar to the reigning champion’s, with Haslam’s crew now focused on tweaking
it to his own style. It seems to be working well, as a late flurry of times
pushed the 35-year-old above Rea on the timesheets.

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) meanwhile managed to cut down his best
lap time from Monday by a full second, as he continues to find his feet on the
Panigale V4 R, although the Welshman was still nearly 1.5s behind his
teammate’s pace.

2018 double Aussie winner Marco Melandri closed Tuesday as fifth best after
hard work was put in to the front of his Yamaha YZF R1. With an optimal setup
now in place, attention veered towards finetuning in the afternoon. Ditto for
the rookie Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), eighth at Phillip Island.

A big midday crash down Turn 1 and a late tumble across turn 4 for Alex Lowes
(Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) were the main setbacks on Tuesday for the
Crescent Racing squad. Neither the Brit – ninth – nor Michael van der Mark
(Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) – seventh – were far off the pace,
however, with their attention focused on finding a good balance for the always
treacherous Aussie track.

A series of red flags in the morning hindered many a race simulation around the
paddock, but it was still a good day’s work for the BMW Motorrad squad as both
Sykes and Markus Reiterberger – struggling yesterday with a small shoulder
injury – tested different chassis solutions, with both men meeting
expectations.

A tricky opening day for Moriwaki Althea Honda Team led to improved
performances on Tuesday, as they fight against the clock to find a good base
setup for Phillip Island. Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) crept into
the top 10 throughout most of the day with a best lap of 1’31.443 (eventually falling
to 13th), while Ryuichi Kiyonari ended in 15th position.

A late fastest lap pushed Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) up to a
fantastic sixth in the Tuesday standings. The Turkish starlet is still going
through the 2019 updates on the ZX-10RR, as was the case for Jordi Torres and
Team Pedercini Racing, while Tati Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) focused on
improving tyre preservation. Steps forward were also taken by Eugene Laverty
(Team Goeleven) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), although the
former suffered a technical problem close to the end of session one. Alessandro
Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) and wildcard Troy Herfoss (Penrite Honda
Racing) closed the timesheets.

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