The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team is in action at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola for this weekend’s seventh Superbike World Championship round. Rider Eric Granado is getting to grips with what is another new circuit for him, while Roberto Tamburini, who stands in for injured Hafizh Syahrin, is riding the Honda CBR1000RR-R for the first time.
In the morning’s first free practice, Granado worked to gain confidence around the new track, the rider able to make gradual progress throughout this first 45-minute phase. Setting a best of 1’51.505, the Brazilian placed twenty-fourth at the session’s end. Local rider Tamburini has the benefit of knowing the Imola track very well but does not know the CBR1000RR-R, which meant that he spent the first session working with the technicians to adapt the bike to his riding style and the track. By the end of the phase, the Italian was lying twenty-second with a time of 1’51.120.
FP2 got underway mid-afternoon and on a much hotter track (air temp. 32°C, track temp. 52°C). Despite three interruptions to the sessions due to incidents for other riders, the PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda duo worked systematically to improve their feeling with the bike. Tamburini was able to make a good step forward with respect to the first session, lowering his time by almost a second a half to close with a best of 1’49.777, a result that saw him place twenty-first overall at the end of day one. Granado was also able to improve on his earlier time by almost a second, a best reference of 1’50.622 putting him twenty-third in the day’s combined standings.
Roberto Tamburini P21
“It’s not easy coming here to WorldSBK with a new bike but at least I know the track of course. This morning we were making quite big changes, modifying the setup to suit my riding style and so on, and then we made some further improvements this afternoon. We made a good step between FP1 and FP2 and have been able to improve both the bike and my feeling with it, so I’m quite pleased with how this first day has gone. Tomorrow we’ll try to work in the same direction and take another step with the aim of doing as well as possible. A big thanks to everyone on the team as they’re all very supportive and working really hard to help me.”
Eric Granado P23
“It’s a beautiful track but also a very technical one where it’s hard to find the right lines, so I struggled a little at first to understand the layout. At least we had two dry sessions that allowed us to make the most of the track time, but it’s also very hot and so pretty hard physically. I’ll need to rest up in preparation for the next two days. We’re still trying to find some solutions that can help us to take another step – so we hope to be able to do that in tomorrow’s sessions so that we’re better prepared for the races.”