Round Three – Aragon – Friday Report
Alvaro Bautista soon got down to work at Aragon to head the field once again as he edged towards the outright WorldSBK lap record at MotorLand Aragon. Rain started to fall towards the end of the session, meaning there were little improvements in the final two minutes.
Álvaro Bautista – P1
“The weekend here at Aragón has begun really well because I immediately found the right feeling with the bike, like in the first two rounds of the season. My confidence level with the Panigale V4 R continues to grow rapidly and here on my home circuit it all seems even easier. Today we did a good job but we have to keep one eye on the uncertain weather conditions for the weekend. I’ve never lapped with this bike in the wet and so in case of rain I will have to get used to the conditions very quickly. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’m very confident I can do a good qualifying run to start on the front row for race 1.”
Ducati Team-mate Chaz Davies failed to improve on his time and finished in ninth position. The Welshman had a few on-track issues, so will hope that they are put to bed ahead of the races on Saturday and Sunday.
Chaz Davies – P9
“This morning’s session was quite decent, but then I had a frustrating second session in the afternoon. We played around with the bike a little but it felt like it changed quite a lot, and I got a bit more comfortable with it at the end of the second session then three-quarters of the way round my fast lap I hit a wall of rain so had to abort. I felt we made a bit of progress with some of the vibration issues we’ve been having but it changed the bike quite a bit so there are pros and cons. With a good run I think we shouldn’t be in too bad a shape with race pace so we’ll try again tomorrow.”
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) continued his strong start to the Motocard Aragon Round, improving his time to be just over half-a-second from Alvaro Bautista’s lap time. Lowes hasn’t achieved back-to-back front row starts since the Losail International Circuit in 2017 and looks set to put the record straight.
Alex Lowes – P2
“It was a good start to the weekend today. We stayed on the same tyres for this afternoon’s session and, while I couldn’t do a long run because I’m still struggling a little bit with my wrist and don’t want to work it too hard ahead of the race, my pace was quite strong and I felt good on the bike. It was certainly the best feeling I’ve had on this track, which is really positive, and now I’m looking forward to getting back to it tomorrow and trying to improve in a couple of areas.”
Team-mate Michael van der Mark however seemed subdued and was outside of the top ten for some of the session. In the final eight minutes, the Dutchman went tenth but would finish 12th overall.
Michael van der Mark – P12
“This morning wasn’t too bad; I felt quite good on the bike, the gap to Alex wasn’t so big and it was clear in which areas we needed to improve. This afternoon we had a small technical problem which meant I missed a few minutes at the start of the session, and after that I just struggled to feel comfortable on the bike. We reverted to a set-up closer to the one we ran this morning, which felt a little bit better and, together with a new set of tyres, allowed me to improve my lap time, but not as much as I expected. We have some work to do tonight, as I was struggling a bit mid-corner, but I’m confident we can find a solution ahead of qualifying.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) continued his pursuit at the front of the field, with the reigning four-time world champion putting a good lap in towards the end of the session to cement third position and just 0.023 from Alex Lowes’ Yamaha.
Jonathan Rea – P3
“Not too bad today but this morning I struggled with some things, on the bike and with myself in the way I was riding. Things were not happening naturally. This afternoon we made some changes and I felt immediately more at home. We were just evaluating and trying to make subtle changes because we do not have too much time anymore, with two sessions on Friday in 2019. You do not have another chance now to make a change. Pirelli have also brought some different front and rear tyres to test. On the front I tried the ‘C’ option tyre which is more like the SC2 family that I liked before. We are making progress.”
Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had a quiet session and remained towards the rear end of the top ten, placing seventh on combined times and improving his time at the end of the session.
Leon Haslam – P7
“I am not too worried about our position in the rankings today but I was struggling a little bit. Not so much with the track but with the feeling while getting the bike stopped. It is one of those circuits where you have to be in a good smooth rhythm and at the minute I am not too confident getting the bike into the corners. It is something we are going to work on. The times are pretty close for the majority of them, around mid 1’50s, to low 1’51s. Round here, you have to be at that rhythm to be in the fight. I feel that we will be there, that is not an issue. I just have to get my confidence set, especially on corner entry.”
It was an impressive FP2 for 2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who put in a blistering lap time at the end of the session to go fourth overall. Sykes has won twice at Aragon and is looking to push the BMW further towards the pointy end of the field, pushing hard enough to suffer a small crash at Turn 1, losing the front end of the S1000RR.
Tom Sykes – P4
“I am really enjoying riding my BMW S 1000 RR here in Aragon, again we are still losing a lot of time in the final sector along the back straight however we are very strong in the corners. The second session we ended up in fourth which is quite good really considering many things. Rather than trying out long runs during the day I opted in making a few chassis and electronic changes so we had quite a lot to do. I had a small crash in T1 which set us back a little, but I am happy with information from today, I am expecting we put this together into an ever better package for tomorrow.”
His teammate, Markus Reiterberger, had a much better session than in the morning. The German placed in eighth overall, as the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team continue to improve their bike’s aerodynamics, as well as dominating the sector times in sector three.
Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) had his best session of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, improving to fifth overall. Top Independent rider, the Irishman has continued to build on the steps he and the team made in Thailand, making for a promising European stint of the season.
Fellow Independent team rival, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was just a fraction off the 2013 runner-up’s pace in sixth position.
Sandro Cortese – P6
“A very positive opening. We worked hard between FP1 and FP2 because I struggled a lot initially this morning, but throughout the day we managed to improve a lot by making some big changes to the set-up of the bike. Of course, it was made more difficult by the fact that this my first time here on the Superbike and, while I know the racetrack, it’s different on the bigger bike. In FP2 the pace was there and now we need to see tomorrow how the race will go.”
Italian rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) was impressive and broke into the top ten, whilst also placing top Italian, as Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) struggled in 11th position.
Marco Melandri – P11
“it’s been one of the most difficult days in the Yamaha R1 for me. I arrived with good expectations, as I have always had good results at this track, but today was very difficult. I was struggling to brake, to get the bike stopped, and getting the bike turned was also an issue, so it was not easy. We tried a lot of different things, but the result was the same. Tomorrow we will try to find a solution in the final free practice session by making some changes to the character of the bike, especially in the areas where, at the moment, I don’t feel very comfortable.”
It was a disappointing day for the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team, who were 16th and 17th with Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari respectively.
Leon Camier – P16
“Of course, I’m not fully fit yet. It will take some time to get back to normal, despite not having needed an operation. That said, we are not where we want to be with the bike’s set-up either. We made a change for the second session, but it didn’t take us in the right direction. The positive thing is that we understand where we need to go with the bike in order to be faster but at the same time it’s not so easy to achieve the right setting. It takes time. Hopefully we will be able to make some steps tomorrow if the weather stays fine”.
Ryuichi Kiyonari – P17
“This morning I rode the Aragon track for the first time, and I must say I enjoyed it, even if it was a challenge at first. There are a lot of blind corners and to find the references and good lines took some time. I was feeling quite good towards the end of the session anyway. The afternoon session was disappointing as we were not able to make an improvement in terms of bike set-up. Weather conditions did not help of course but this was the same for everyone. Tomorrow we will start again with a positive mentality and do our best to improve”.
2019 WSBK Aragon Friday Combined Practice Times
- Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’49.607
- Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.519
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.542
The World Supersport championship was the final class to take to the track at MotorLand Aragon for the Motocard Aragon Round of the season. Unfortunately, the heavens opened at the end of the WorldSBK FP2, so the track was wet for the WorldSSP riders. With no improvement in the times, our best understanding of who has the pace going into the weekend comes from the morning session.
Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) topped the timesheets and beat a pack of Yamahas behind him. With 16 laps set, De Rosa will be hopeful of the track time in the morning helping him improve the settings of his machine. Behind him, championship leader, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA). The Frenchman is hoping of extending his advantage over the field, after winning the WorldSSP race in Thailand. Completing the top three, Austrian rider Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing), who continues his quest to become the first ever Austrian on the WorldSSP podium.
Outside of the top three, it was Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team). The Italian rider was 0.416s from the top spot, whilst he had close company with Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) just 0.054s behind. Joint championship leader Randy Krummenacher was somewhat off the pace in FP1, down in sixth position and more than half-a-second from the leading MV Agusta F3 675 of Raffaele De Rosa.
Seventh was held by Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) who was top Spanish rider at the close of day one of WorldSSP action. 2017 WorldSSP champion Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was eighth and a second off of the pace set by De Rosa. Ninth position belonged to Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA), as the Frenchman continued to progress through the session.
The top ten was completed by Dutch rider, Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer), however he will not be competing for the rest of the weekend because of an injury that had only being detected at Aragon, despite occurring at Phillip Island.
The top three at the end of the wet FP2 session were Lucas Mahias, ahead of Randy Krummenacher and Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing). Despite times being way down, it remains important to gather data, as wet practice may become useful should the weather take a turn for the worst on Sunday race-day.
2019 WSS Aragon Friday Combined Practice Times
- Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) 1’55.039
- Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) +0.136
- Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) +0.313
The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship returned to action at the MotorLand Aragon circuit during the Motocard Aragon Round of the season. The curtain-raiser is set to be a thriller, with two groups vying for the top time.
In group A, it was 2018 MotorLand Aragon race winner Koen Meuffels (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) who led the way at the end of play on Friday. The young Dutch rider returning to a circuit which holds good memories for him. Behind him, Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) was close behind him, whilst popular Indonesian rider Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) completed the top three. Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) and replacement rider Marc Bayen Luna (Kawasaki GP Project) were fourth and fifth respectively.
Group B featured some big names such as Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), Maximilian Kappler (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) and Dorren Loureiro (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) making it just as competitive as Group A. At the top of the session was 18-year-old Dutch rider, Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team), with a time just 0.3s off the lap record; one that would’ve been good enough for second when combined with Group A. Behind him by 0.186s was Maximilian Kappler, whilst in third position was Scott Deroue, the Dutch rider starting his season positively.
Outside of the top positions in Group A, the reigning champion, Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP) in eighth, whilst in Group B, three-time podium finisher Borja Sanchez (Scuderia Maranga Racing) was 12th, whilst 2018 podium finisher at Imola, Kevin Sabatucci (Team Trasimeno) was 17th.
The quickest Australian was Jack Hyde in 29th ahead of Tom Edwards in 33rd and Tom Bramich in P40, in what is a huge 52-strong field of rders.
2019 WorldSSP300 Aragon Friday Combined Practice Times
- Koen Meuffels (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) 2’08.099
- Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) +0.104
- Jan-Ole Jahnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) +0.132