Jonathan Rea tops WorldSBK Test
HRC MotoGP Test rider Stefan Bradl quickest on track, by a whisker…
Images by GeeBee/2Snap
Reigning World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took to the track early on what was a warmer second day of testing at Jerez. The four-time world champion was able to return at the top of the timesheets with a 1’39.160 benchmark to head the regular WSBK runners after testing a number of small updates to the pace-setting ZX-10RR.
“That was positive, very positive. I felt much better on the bike today and we found some good tyre consumption results. Yesterday the track was really green and I struggled a bit with that. Pirelli have brought some different tyres that we had to put in the plan today. Aside from that we just kept working with the chassis set-up and we found some big improvements. We are continuing to work with electronics but we are not doing too much fine tuning. We played around with wheelbase length a little bit. We had a clear direction in the last winter test and I preferred the bike a certain way. Here I just sacrificed a little bit of turning-in performance and that is what we tried to look for today, to make the bike a bit a little bit more manageable. I enjoyed today and started to ride with a smile on my face. Finding good improvements throughout the day kept motivation high and the track was in much better shape. I felt like over one lap, and in terms of consistent pace, we are in a really good place.”
Also on track though was HRC MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl, the German ended the day fractionally faster than the Pirelli shod WorldSBK spec’ Kawasaki ZX-10RR. Bradl only a slender 8-thousandths of a second ahead of Rea on the production based machine.
There would certainly have been some effort made between the pair to try and set the pace as top dog, and the times also an interesting comparison pointing to the comparable performances between the Pirelli WorldSBK runners and the MotoGP Michelins…
Alex Lowes was next best on 1’39.372 as he continued to make progress with the Pata Yamaha YZF-R1 as he completed 102 laps around the Andalusian race track today.
“It’s been a good two days here in Jerez. My best lap today was done on a qualifying tyre. I managed a 1’39.8 with the race tyre, so I found half a second on the qualifier, which is quite good because I think there’s not as much of a gap as there used to be. The bike felt good in qualifying trim and we did a good long run in race trim. The new track surface was quite hard on the tyres, especially the front, but it’s good to have this information now, ahead of the race. We tried a lot of things on the bike today, confirming some of the changes we made yesterday, which was positive given the change in track conditions. This afternoon we worked on the front of the bike and, at the start, we went a little bit in the wrong direction, but then came back and found some improvement, so a proper testing day. Now I’m looking forward to Portimão, where we’ll test what we’ve learnt here on a completely different track. Big thanks to the team and to Yamaha for the work they’ve done over the winter; it certainly looks to have paid off.”
Working on improving the acceleration of his bike and testing new parts for the YZF R1 machine, his teammate Michael van der Mark closed in seventh position with a fastest lap time of 1’40.145.
Michael van der Mark
“It’s been a really positive test. For me it was important to see how my wrist is after the winter break and I’m feeling quite good with it. I’ll certainly be fully fit once we get to Phillip Island for the first race. Once the track had cleaned up yesterday afternoon we tried so many things on the bike, with some big improvements that I like a lot and I think Alex thinks the same. There’s obviously been a lot of hard work done over the winter and it’s good for the people who put in the work to see their efforts rewarded at the first test of the season. I’m happy with what we achieved here in Jerez and now I’m looking forward to Portimão.”
Focusing on getting more comfortable on his new bike, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had a positive two-day test, as he closed also just 0.342 s off his teammate in third position. The British rider was fast on both days, building confidence with the ZX-10RR.
“This test was really good. We made some big steps and played around with a lot of set-up and adapted my style quite comfortably. From a race tyre point of view I am really happy. I am a little frustrated because I messed up while using a qualifying tyre. I was less than a tenth off until the last split and then a made two mistakes on both the qualifiers that I used. So I was actually slower on the qualifiers, but the race tyre lap time was really positive. To finish third with a race tyre, I am really happy with that.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) continued to impress, the Turk ranking fifth fastest.
Making an important step forward, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) brought his Ducati Panigale V4 R to fourth position.
“It’s been a couple of positive days. After the winter break, it was important to get back on track, in order to readjust to the speed but also to get accustomed to the new bike. The new tarmac made it a bit more difficult for us. The grip was very low and so were the temperatures, so we couldn’t find a good feeling in day one. Today, however, we managed to work better. The track improved and it was warmer outside. We’re still focusing on riding position and the base setup in general. We tried some changes that I’ve liked, and now we’ll make more evaluations at Portimão, a track that I don’t know, so it’ll be very interesting.”
The Spaniard had a busy day gathering as much information as possible to work on, and design the best base set-up for their all-new Ducati machine.
On the other side of the garage, Chaz Davies sat out on the opening hours of the day and took to the track later in the afternoon putting in only a few laps, closing the day in tenth. Davies was feeling some pain in his back after the crash he had on Wednesday and decided to take it easy as he aims to be back at his full strength for the next pre-season test that will be held later this month in Portimao.
“Today we focused on the engine, and in the end the lap time was OK given the short amount of time we had on track, but I think we could have made bigger improvements. Unfortunately, it’s been a tricky day. I just felt some pain in my back yesterday. It had nothing to do with the crash, but it got worse overnight. I managed to get treatment twice so I was still able to get some laps in, which was very important. It seems we’re going in the right direction. Next stop is Portimão, a completely different track, and the foremost priority will be to complete our full program before we head to Australia.”
Independent team riders Michael Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), finished ninth and twelfth respectively. The pair worked alongside their new teams producing valuable feedback that will be used also by the factory team to improve their Ducati beast.
Continuing to adapt to a new team structure, GRT Yamaha WorldSBK rider Marco Melandri had a busy day as he put in a total of 87 laps onboard his Yamaha to finish eighth overall.
Teammate Sandro Cortese had his progression slowed by a small crash he suffered early in the morning. The German walked away from the accident on his feet but had to wait for his bike to be recovered and repaired before returning to the track in the afternoon and setting the sixth fastest time.
Towards the end of the day, the BWM Motorrad WorldSBK riders Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger finally fitted timing transponders to their new S 1000 RR machines. They registered the 14th and 15th best times.
Among the WorldSSPriders Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) continued to lead the way also on day two with Frenchman Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) closing second just 0.222 s behind him.
Making her debut in the class, Maria Herrera was also out testing aboard the Yamaha YZF R6 of MS Racing. The Spaniard focused on getting acquainted with the new bike and finished her second day of testing with a fastest lap time of 1’46.957, the debutante the slowest of the 12 World Supersport riders that took to the track.
Whilst the Jerez Test may have finished some of the WorldSBK and WorldSSP riders who attended the two days will now head down to Portugal for the final pre-season test on European soil from 27th-28th January at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve Portimao before the first round of the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship season in Australia.
WSBK Jerez Day Two Unofficial Times
- Stefan Bradl (HRC MotoGP Test Team) 1m39.152
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’39.160
- Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) 1’39.372 +0.212
- Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’39.502 +0.348
- Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’39.620 +0.460
- Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) 1’39.942 +0.782
- Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha Team) 1’40.075 +0.915
- Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) 1’40.145 +0.985
- Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha Team) 1’40.469 +1.309
- Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) 1’40.540 +1.380
- Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’40.621 +1.461
- Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) 1’40.794 +1.634
- Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) 1’40.879 +1.719
- Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) 1’41.066 +1.906
- Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’41.206 +2.046
- Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’41.231 +2.071
- Alessandro Delbianco (Althea MIE Racing Team) 1’42.353 +3.192