Round one of the 2023 Superbike World Championship is now in play at the Philip Island circuit in Australia. For the PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team, competing with riders Hafizh Syahrin and Eric Granado, the opening practice sessions proved challenging but constructive.
The first practice of the new season got underway at 11.30 am local time (CET +10). Building on the work they completed earlier this week during the official tests, riders Syahrin and Granado worked systematically with their technicians, completing eighteen laps apiece and seeing gradual improvement as the session progressed. Malaysian rider Syahrin set a fastest time of 1’33.881 in the final stages to place twenty-first. Category rookie Granado, who is still getting to grips with his new bike, concluded twenty-second with a time of 1’34.799.
The day’s second session ran in hotter conditions but despite this, both PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda riders were able to improve on their earlier performance. While Syahrin was able to set a best of 1’33.713, Granado was able to lower his earlier lap time by more than half a second to finish with a 1’34.175. Unfortunately however, he followed this up with a crash at turn 10. Luckily the Brazilian was unhurt, but the team now has additional work as it sets about repairing the damaged bike. Placing twenty-first and twenty-second in the day’s combined classification, Syahrin and Granado will be looking for more in tomorrow’s third and final practice as they prepare for the subsequent Superpole and opening race of the season.
“A challenging first day, to be honest. We’re working hard to understand why we’ve been having trouble since the tests. We have a new engine but clearly have work to do in different areas in order to improve. At the moment we are lacking grip at both the front and rear perhaps also due to the hot conditions, and the bike isn’t working so well with the current geometry. I hope we can find a way to move forward tomorrow and be ready for race one.”
“The track was a little worse in the afternoon and offered less grip. We’re working with a new engine but are still looking for the best set-up in terms of the electronics. I’m not totally comfortable yet and can’t ride the bike as I want. This also saw me crash in FP2, which was unfortunate because I missed the second half of that session. But luckily I’m OK and the team and I will continue focusing on the areas where we need to improve, looking ahead to tomorrow when we hope to find an effective set-up for the first races of the season.”