The second Italian WorldSBK round of the 2023 season is in full swing at Imola, with the PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team having contested the day’s Superpole session and first Superbike race.

The day kicked off with the third and final free practice, which riders Eric Granado and Roberto Tamburini used to their advantage, making further modifications to the setup of their CBR1000RR-R machines and improving on Friday’s lap times. Progress was made on both sides of the garage, with both riders feeling optimistic as they headed into the subsequent Superpole. Taking part in his first Superpole of the 2023 season, Tamburini set a best of 1’48.718 during the brief 20-minute phase. The Italian closed just one tenth of a second ahead of team-mate Granado (1’48.803), who is competing at Imola for the first time. These references translated into an eighth row start on the grid for both PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda riders in the afternoon’s 19-lap Superbike race.

Riders faced hotter conditions for the first of the weekend’s full-length races, which got underway at 2pm local time. Twenty-first on the grid, Tamburini made up a position through the early stages of the race, while team-mate Granado held his starting position, lying twenty-second. Part of a group of five riders, Roberto and Eric did their best to get into a good rhythm and gain ground, but unfortunately lap thirteen brought a crash for the Brazilian that put a premature end to his efforts today. Positioning twentieth through the central phase of the race, Italian rider Tamburini did well to make up two places in the final stages to cross the line eighteenth in his first Superbike race of this 2023 season.

The squad will now make preparations for tomorrow’s third and final day of action, which comprises the ten-lap Superpole race and the second of the weekend’s 19-lap SBK races.

Eric Granado DNF

“We had made a good step in both FP3 and Superpole with respect to yesterday’s performance. Then in the race, I didn’t make the best start but felt I was gradually able to pick up the pace and find a rhythm that allowed me to battle with a group of riders, which was already more than I felt I could do at Donington. But I’m still struggling to stop the bike and find the right line through the corners honestly, which means I’m always on the limit. Unfortunately I lost the front at a certain point and today’s race ended there for me. At least I haven’t hurt myself and so will be able to go again tomorrow. We’ll see what we can do.”

Roberto Tamburini P18

“Having never raced with the Honda before, I tried to do my best during the practice sessions and set-up the bike to suit both the track and my riding. In today’s race I tried to maintain a consistent pace, which I don’t think was bad in the end. It was difficult in these hot conditions of course, both physically and in terms of the riding. But I’m pleased I was able to complete the race so that we have a lot of data that we can use to prepare for tomorrow. If we can put it all together, hopefully we can take a step tomorrow and improve our result in the final two races.”

Full Results *Courtesy of WorldSBK