Pata Yamaha and KRT riders this week took to the track at Aragon and got plenty of laps in on the afternoon of day one before rain blew in to rule out any useful test data being obtained from the planned second day of testing.
Andrea Locatelli completed 59 laps yesterday, utilising just a half day of testing from 1pm onwards as the morning’s wet conditions improved and enabled the team to finalise development testing for the 2021-specification Yamaha R1 WorldSBK.
“Yesterday I had a strange feeling with the bike which was maybe due to the condition of the track. It was very different compared to the last test, but in the end we continued to work on the bike and were able to confirm some new parts for 2021. This was the main thing to work on for now, even if for me the performance level yesterday was not perfect. I am sure that when we come back here, we will have some areas for improvement and will also try and improve the feeling on the bike. But I am happy for this test because we were able to work on the data to confirm some 2021 developments, and now we will return with a clear focus on the performance.”
The shortened running means that Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK will return to MotorLand Aragón as a complete team, with both Locatelli and Toprak Razgatlıoğlu, next month with track running from Tuesday 4 May.
Andrew Pitt – Locatelli Crew Chief
“Turned out we didn’t get a lot of running but fortunately we got out yesterday for a full afternoon of dry time. It seemed as though track conditions changed quite a bit due to different temperatures and a lot of car testing here in between the two tests. We left the first test here at Aragon very happy with the feeling and quite positive going forward into this next test, with the aim of trying to refine the package a little bit. We looked at a lot of data with Loka and together with our Öhlins technician Luca [Federzoni] to assess and look at areas where he could improve. The afternoon unfortunately became a little bit of a rush, we tried to get as much done as we could – and due to the fact that Toprak was not here, the responsibility of helping to define the final pieces of the 2021 package fell largely on Loka’s shoulders. We had a lot of components to work through, and kept him in “workman” mode providing clear feedback and ticking things off the list. Loka, as a racer, obviously wanted to improve his performance and it is a delicate balance to manage, but we got through every item on the list for Yamaha and additional feedback for Pirelli. It was very constructive from that point of view even if we did not get the chance to focus on pace. Our next test before the first race will be working on giving Loka a stable bike and work on his outright pace so that he can come to the first event full of confidence.”
Razgatlıoğlu returned to Turkey following his Covid-19 isolation period in Barcelona, he feels physically fit and is eager to test developments to his #54 Yamaha R1 WorldSBK in preparation for the FIM Superbike World Championship’s opening round on 21-23 May.
KRT were also present with Jonathan Rea joined by Alex Lowes as the #22 continues to get back up to speed following a pre-season injury that had prevent him from participating in some of the earlier test sessions staged this year. The wet start and the track being recently used by cars – which take different racing lines and leave rubber on the track surface in different places from bikes – combined to provide less than ideal surface conditions but intense work from all involved saw the required programme of work completed for both riders.
As well as making set-up improvements on the new Ninja Lowes confirmed that the after-effects of a recent shoulder injury have been put behind him, feeling much closer to 100 per cent than he did after the previous tests.
“Unfortunately, on day two it was raining so we have English weather in Spain! At one stage it looked like both days would have rain but luckily yesterday I did 73 laps and my shoulder felt much better than during the most recent Montmelo tests. This is really positive. From the bike side of things we worked on some corner exit electronics and chassis settings, trying to improve my feeling in this area. It is the same work that we did in Jerez and Montmelo, and we continued that same testing plan in Aragon; it was really positive. I think this is the best I have felt since my first ride on the Ninja ZX-10RR. We have three or four things just to tick off the list before the first race but I am really happy. We did a good job here with the guys so now I am looking forward to chilling out and coming back fresh for the next test.”
Marcel Duinker – Crew Chief for Alex Lowes
“We understood yesterday that the final day would be possibly wet so we did 73 laps and managed to test all the items we had. Of course the opening race weekend is coming closer now so most of the day was spend in preparations for a race weekend. We are very confident because the speed was there, the consistency was there. The bike is performing well, the rider is happy so in the next test it will be a case of fine tuning our preparations for the first round.”
Rea only rode in the afternoon of day one but still completed all his testing tasks, including one fast time attack lap at the end, on what is a new model Ninja in road and WorldSBK specification for the 2021 season.
Kawasaki’s latest Ninja ZX-10RR features engine, chassis and aerodynamic changes from the previous model, including a higher rev ceiling and internal front winglets that generate significant extra downforce at high speed.
“The test has been really positive. Even if the track was a little bit ‘green,’ because we had a lot of water on the surface and we had to wait until lunchtime to ride, we were able to confirm a lot of items we tested at Montmelo. The track is different but it also has some similarities, so that means the outcome is positive. These items were mostly chassis related, so it means we could really start to put the package together. I could feel my rhythm was getting better lap-by-lap. We rode a lot on our race set-up, understanding all our potential and starting to really get ready for race weekend in a few weeks. We saw that day two would be wet so we decided to do one time attack at the end of the first day and we were able to be quite fast. We will now move on to more testing before the race. I feel really good with the bike and the team; everybody has been working really hard and I now am excited to get back home and then finish off my preparations.”
Pere Riba – Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea
“On the first morning of this test the track was still a little damp so we decided to only ride in the afternoon and use half a day of testing time, from 1 until 6. There were cars on the track before us and the grip was a little bit strange but we followed the plan and confirmed some things that we had already testing in Portimao and Montmelo. Step-by-step we have been arriving at the starting point for the first race of the season here at Motorland. We did not just focus on a lap times but finally Johnny was happy with the bike and he made a good lap time. His physical condition was good. Of course some more time on track would be good because this year we have not been so lucky with the weather. Everywhere we have been there has been rain on some days, but this is something we cannot control. We will keep working and the next test will be here at Aragon again. I hope we are more lucky with the weather but overall we made all we wanted to at this test and we will keep on building our base and speed from Jonathan.”
Both Kawasaki and Yamaha will undertake one final pre-season test, again at Motorland Aragon, between 4-5 May. The first round at Motorland, from 21-23 May, will be followed one week later by round two at Estoril in Portugal, making it a busy start to a season that has already been delayed by ongoing restrictions related to the global Covid pandemic.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.