After the restart of the 2020 WorldSBK season with the two rounds recently held in Jerez (Spain) and Portimao (Portugal), many WorldSBK riders this week visitied the Motorland circuit of Aragon (Spain) for two-days testing in view of the double round that will take place on the same circuit across the two consecutive weekends between late August and early September.
Hot and sunny weather made way for drops of rain as the second of two days of testing came to an end on Friday, with Britain’s Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) topping the second day of running. Lowes was the only rider to lap the 5.344km MotorLand Aragon circuit under 1’50s, showing promise before Motul FIM Superbike World Championship heads for two Rounds at the circuit.
Alex Lowes – P1
“Today was good because like I said yesterday we learned a lot and put all the pieces together. Even on the first day I felt a little bit better in the hotter conditions than I did at Jerez or Portimao. The front of the bike felt a lot better. I had a lot more confidence on the brakes to turn the bike and this was really encouraging for me. On the rear of the bike, right at the end of the day we made some changes. Unfortunately, because of the rain that finally arrived we could not quite confirm if this was better or worse. We will have to focus on this on the Friday when we come here for the first race weekend. But today was very positive for us.”
Marcel Duinker – Crew Chief for Alex Lowes
“We had some difficult races in Jerez and Portimao. Through winter testing in Phillip Island we had a nice track condition, a lot of grip available but in the last two hot races at Jerez and Portimao we had some difficulties in more slippery track conditions. So the target of this Motorland test was to improve mainly in this area. We did a good amount of laps and followed our test programme. In the end we reached our target. I have got a rider with a smile on his face so we are ready for the Aragon race weekend.”
Rea made it two Kawasakis in the top three as he lapped nearly four-tenths slower than his KRT team-mate, with Rea not working on anything new but looking for an improved setup for the ZX-10RR.
Jonathan Rea – P3
“It has been a really positive two days, first to come here and do a lot of jobs that we would have to do in the race weekend – like understand the tyre options, defining the base set-up and also working on tyre set-up. I feel we are quite sure of our base set-up now to start on Friday morning of the first race weekend. We are also just familiarising ourselves with this track. We had some new chassis items here, to try and get some more front confidence. We still need to confirm them in the winter tests, as that work was more about 2021. All in all, we worked with everything we wanted to test and I felt good with the track straightaway. I understood the bike and we worked in a good way. Our effort was very constant, my lap times were constant and I feel we can leave here in a positive frame of mind.”
Pere Riba – Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea
“After the Covid situation, a long break, the championship changes, and then the recent races being held in a really hot conditions, the approach was a bit different here. Already in Jerez the bike was working well and we made a different balance to save the tyres in hot conditions. We kept this base and this bike balance and we just tried to give time to the rider to understand the limits. Afterwards, we can improve the weak points with this base bike. Motorland is one of the tracks with a long straight and normally it has been a track not so easy for our package, especially in the last sector. But this Motorland test has been positive and the focus was to find turning with our base bike for the starting point of race weekend. We will have two consecutive weekends here, so six races, and I think this will mark the result of the championship a lot. I am very proud of the job everyone did at this test. We also tried to improve the electronics and suspension and to continue to collect information for the future. It has all been very positive.”
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha) was Lowes’ closest challenger on day two, with the Dutchman lapping almost three-tenths slower than Lowes.
Michael van der Mark – P2
“The main objective was to find the right set-up with the track temperature. On the first day, we tried a lot of different things on the bike and we had plenty of data to look through ahead of Friday. We had a really positive second day and I was much more comfortable on the bike. We tried many changes, which we never would be able to do on a race weekend. The team managed to find a good set-up for the front of the bike that worked well with the rear, so I was really happy. We also found improvements for the warmer conditions and I was able to be more consistent. A really positive test overall.”
Turkish sensation Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) was seventh fastest following day two running, just over a second away from Lowes’ pace setting time, with Razgatlioglu attempting to improve rear grip on the YZF-R1.
“We had a good start to testing, trying many parts and in the afternoon the bike felt much better. I had more rear grip, which we had targeted as an area to focus on, so overall it was a good first day. We continued to test a number of things on Friday, focusing again on the rear grip throughout the day. This is very important for the Aragón races. We didn’t have a chance to put the qualifying tyre on this afternoon, so didn’t get to go for a fast lap. Overall, we are happy and I’m looking forward to the next race.”
Paul Denning – Pata Yamaha Team Principal
“These two days in Aragón have been very useful and important, despite the extended, tough schedule for all the crew. We were able to clarify the advantages of some development parts previously introduced in the Barcelona test and to further understand how we could use the strong points of these components, while avoiding compromises elsewhere. Of course, with two back-to-back race events coming up at this circuit, we also had to work on specific track set-up and make sure we can compete strongly in a couple of weeks on our return to Aragón. Thanks to all the team and to Yamaha’s engineers – it has not been easy adding this test to the Jerez and Portimão races, but everybody has shown full commitment and we have been able to make some definitive steps forward.”
Leon Haslam (Team HRC) was the sole Honda rider present on day two with the British rider finishing the day in fourth place. Haslam, and Honda, have been evaluating new items for the bike throughout races since racing resumed, but with the MotorLand Aragon allowing to test and evaluate in a calmer way with more track time available. Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) did not test on day two having taken part on day one, with Haslam riding over the two days.
“As this is a new project, we’ve been trying to develop and test during race weekends which isn’t easy of course. So we’ve worked on many things across the Jerez and Portimão weekends where, like here, it was cooler in the morning and then very hot in the afternoon, but the difference is that here we’ve been able to test things more calmly and make clearer evaluations as to where we are right now and where we need to work. I think we’ve had a very productive two days here, and I’m pleased with what we’ve got done and my overall performance, particularly in terms of my pace on day two.”
“This test has been useful as we finally had chance to test a few items that HRC had already brought to the last rounds but that we didn’t have time to try there. Having completed our work programs on day one, we did not ride on day 2 to keep the extra test day in case we need it further down the line. We collected a lot more data and now have clearer ideas ahead of the Aragón races. They are going to be tough, and hot just like Jerez and Portimão, but our goal is simple – to improve both our feeling with the bike and our performance. The target is to continue to take steps forward while also closing the gap to the leaders. I feel increasingly comfortable on the bike and am looking forward to improving further in the next races.”
Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and Ducati team-mate Chaz Davies were fifth and sixth respectively. British rookie Redding was focusing on improvements in the braking area as it’s an area Redding believes Kawasaki and Yamaha are strong, after spending day one working on grip and the front end; Redding completing the most laps during day two with 67. Davies continued to focus on race pace as he looks to improve his already good record at Aragon.
Scott Redding – P5
“It has been a productive two days. We have been concentrating a lot on working with used tyres in the sigh of the next two weekends here at Aragon and we have been able to make some good progress since the first day of testing. We didn’t try the qualifying tyres but it wasn’t important. Now we will enjoy a few days off to return to Aragon in ideal conditions“.
Chaz Davies – P6
“I’m satisfied for these two days of testing also because after the two races at Jerez and Portimao we had the chance to test solutions that are part of our development program. We had positive indications on many aspects while for other details we will have to work in the next few days to understand how to improve further. The feeling, however, was positive“.
Roman Ramos claimed top Independent honours during the test as he lapped around 0.6s seconds slower than Razgatlioglu as the Spanish rider tested a race engine, having used a test engine on day one. He was faster than Maximilian Schieb (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) with the Chilean focusing on long-run pace and tyre management to improve feeling throughout the second half of the races. Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) rounded out the field of all-day runners with the Frenchman working on the front end to give him more confidence onboard his Ducati Panigale V4 R, with Barrier believing they need to make a small step forward.
WorldSBK Aragon Test Top Six
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’49.807
Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) +0.286s
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.389s
Leon Haslam (Team HRC) +0.442s
Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.528s
Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.702s
Pole Record 1’49.049 (167,61 Km/h) A.Bautista (Ducati Panigale V4 R, 2019)
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