MotorLand Aragon launches European WorldSBK season
Following a dramatic encounter in the new destination of Thailand, the eni FIM Superbike World Championship returns to familiar soil this weekend with the Aragon Round. The MotorLand Aragon facility, a stone’s throw from the town of Alcaniz, made its debut on the calendar in 2011. However, for this year a different track configuration is to be used for the first time, as the riders will take the long double left-hander leading into the start/finish straight. On previous occasions, the tighter hairpin was used at the end of the back straight.
Of the quartet of events to be staged in Aragon thus far, race wins have been shared equally amongst as many riders, all winning two races apiece. Italians Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri each took a victory in 2011 and 2012, while in the more recent two seasons impressive doubles have gone the ways of British riders Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes.
Championship leader Jonathan Rea – having picked up three of the four 2015 race victories to date – heads with new machinery to Aragon, the same track where he had his first outing aboard the Ninja ZX-10 last November, in a two-day private test. Having collected a remarkable 95% of the maximum points available up to this point, the British rider surely has good reason to be confident as he heads out into the Spanish hills.
This could be a crucial weekend for 2013 WorldSBK title winner Tom Sykes. The Englishman may have picked up his first rostrum of the season in the opening Buriram race, although he lies some 45 points in arrears of his team-mate and has ground to make up. If history is anything to go by, he should head to Spain with confidence as last year Huddersfield rider Sykes successfully won both races from the Tissot-Superpole, in each of the Sunday encounters leading home French Kawasaki team partner Loris Baz.
If Rea’s start to the season has been spectacular, then Leon Haslam’s cannot be described as anything other than immensely strong. He may have beaten his compatriot only once, but Haslam remains very much in contention thanks to a trio of second places finishes which ensure he heads to Aragon only ten points behind Rea. Furthermore, he now hopes the Moto2 experience of team-mate Jordi Torres at the MotorLand Aragon circuit will only add to the challenge from the Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils riders this weekend. However, Haslam does admit that the next three rounds at Aragon, Assen and Imola will be key damage limitation exercises before heading to venues on which he expects to be at his strongest.
Spanish fans certainly have a lot to be excited about. Not only is Torres on the charge, but Althea Racing Ducati’s Nico Terol is a former Grand Prix winner in Aragon, while David Salom (Team Pedercini), Santiago Barragan (Grillini SBK Team) and Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) have all demonstrated their capabilities of strong showings.
In a further reinforcement to the Spanish Armada, Xavi Fores returns to the grid for the double-head of Aragon and Assen – race meetings separated by the space of just one week. Fores will take up the helm of the second Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team bike, becoming the latest substitute for the recovering Davide Giugliano after three-time World Champion Troy Bayliss elected to call time on his WorldSBK career after Thailand. Hailing from Valencia, Fores teams up with 2013 Aragon double winner Chaz Davies who himself is looking to bounce back from a weekend full of troubles last time out.
A rider with momentum is Alex Lowes. The Voltcom Crescent Suzuki man clinched his third World Superbike podium finish and the first of 2015 in Thailand’s second race and is now looking to move up from seventh place in the Riders’ Championship. Elsewhere, Pata Honda World Superbike Team are striving for top three results themselves, with World Champion Sylvain Guintoli continuing to carry the famed number one alongside Michael van der Mark ahead of the latter’s home race event at Assen next weekend.
2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship (2 of 13 rounds completed)
1 Jonathan Rea 95 pts GBR KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team
2 Leon Haslam 85 pts GBR APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils
3 Tom Sykes 50 pts GBR KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team
4 Sylvain Guintoli 41 pts FRA HONDA Pata Honda World Superbike Team
5 Jordi Torres 39 pts ESP APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils
6 Chaz Davies 38 pts GBR DUCATI Aruba.it Racing-Ducati Superbike Team
7 Alex Lowes 32 pts GBR SUZUKI Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
8 Matteo Baiocco 30 pts ITA DUCATI Althea Racing
9 Nicolas Terol 26 pts ESP DUCATI Althea Racing
10 Leandro Mercado 21 pts ARG DUCATI BARNI Racing Team
11 Michael van der Mark 20 pts NED HONDA Pata Honda World Superbike Team
Suzuki Preview WorldSBK
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki heads to Aragon in Spain this week as Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet prepare for their first 2015 World Superbike race on European soil.
Looking to capitalise on his podium-securing pace, shown consistently throughout the last round in Thailand two weeks ago, Lowes is eager to continue the progression on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R. With a year’s worth of knowledge and two races at the Motorland circuit under his belt, the British racer is determined to improve on the positions from his rookie appearance and reaffirm his challenge on the Championship frontrunners.
De Puniet’s season starts afresh at the Teruel track, having overcome the injury sustained during testing at Phillip Island in February. A regular at the circuit throughout his long-standing career – the Frenchman last raced here in 2013 and completed testing duties midway through 2014 – this week will see his first visit to Aragon aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000 and he has his sights set on regaining his confidence on European shores.
Motorland Aragon’s 5,078m circuit is located approximately 250kms from Barcelona and 100kms from the region’s capitol of Zaragoza, in the heart of the historic street-racing area of Alcaniz. The circuit itself provides a combination of four Herman Tilke designed track layouts, while the overall complex merges technology, sport and culture within its vast facility. The FIM designated layout runs anti-clockwise and presents the World Championship with 17 corners and countless undulations as it twists its way across the Spanish hills, providing an exciting challenge for the Superbike racers as they showcase the best machines the production class has to offer.
The Championship’s third round also heralds the deadline for the ECU development programme under the 2015 rule changes, with all systems used in competition for the Spanish outing being employed for the remainder of the season. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will use Aragon to introduce the GSX-R’s switch from MoTeC to Magneti Marelli electronics for 2015.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s opening timed-for-qualifying practice commences at 11:15hrs local time (10:15BST) on Friday April 10th with the second outing on track at 15:00hrs (14:00BST). Saturday’s Superpole qualifying will take place at 15:00hrs local time (14:00BST) with Sunday’s races returning to the European schedule of 10:30hrs (09:30BST) and 13:10hrs (12:10BST).
Alex Lowes: “I’m looking forward to Aragon and we’ll continue to work hard step-by-step. We plan to have the new Magneti Marelli electronics so that may throw up some problems as we work through any new set-up issues, but we have to approach it with a calm, clear mind and get the most from the weekend that we can. I can’t wait to ride my Suzuki again so I know I’m going to keep having fun, enjoy it and do the best I can come race day!”
Randy de Puniet: “We have two important races coming up back-to-back, but I think they can be two good races for us. I know the Aragon track well from my MotoGP career, and I really enjoy the circuit. This year the SBK Championship is using the final corner layout as used in GP so for me this is good as I have experience of this layout and I don’t need to learn anything. Unfortunately I am not at 100%, as I had wished to be, after falling ill with a fever in Thailand which is still affecting me, but I am hoping to feel better ready for Aragon. We have not had much luck so far this year, so I am hoping to start my season again, we have two days testing at Calafat which will be good training for me just a week before the event, so I’m confident and will give my best for the weekend’s two races.”
Ducati Preview WorldSBK
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team concludes a two-day test at Misano and travels directly to Spain for Round 3 of the 2015 Superbike World Championship.
The factory team is ready for the third round of the World Superbikes, and the first European round, taking place this coming weekend at the Spanish track of Motorland Aragón. At Round 3 (and also Round 4), factory rider Chaz Davies will be joined in the garage by Spanish rider Xavier Forés, substituting for the injured Davide Giugliano.
The team has today concluded two days of development tests at the Misano World Circuit in Italy, the last test before the ‘test ban’ that comes into effect as of the first European round. Favourable weather conditions allowed Chaz Davies, substitute rider Xavi Forés and test rider Luca Scassa to complete a great deal of work over the course of the tests, providing the team with a lot of useful data ahead of the next races.
Having concluded testing, the team immediately turns its attentions to round 3. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Motorland Aragón circuit, inaugurated in 2009, will host the Superbikes. In recent years, Davies has obtained some excellent results at the Spanish track, doing the double in 2013 and also stepping up to the podium in 2012. The last time that Forés raced at Aragón was in 2013, when he crossed the line second in the CEV championship. Davies and Forés are ready to take to the track on Friday morning for the first practice session of this third 2015 championship round.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team #7) – “These two days of testing have been very useful in order to better understand and work on a couple of issues that we had at Chang. And it’s always useful to lap before a race weekend in order to get back into the rhythm. I’m confident ahead of Aragón, as it’s a track I really enjoy and where I’ve scored some good results in the past.”
Xavier Forés (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team #12) – “I’m pleased to have had the chance to ride for two days at Misano prior to the race. I immediately felt comfortable with the bike, and we’ve carried out some set-up tests which have given me a further confidence boost. I can’t wait to get this Aragón weekend started and I trust that I’ll be able to do a good job.”
Aprilia Preview WorldSBK
After the first two rounds in Australia and Thailand, World Superbike arrives in Europe for the Spanish weekend at Motorland de Aragon. Team Aprilia Racing – Red Devils turns up at the first continental round after collecting a win and three second place finishes with Leon Haslam in the first four races. The English rider, now lying second in the overall standings, proved from his first few yards on the tarmac that he is in perfect harmony with the Aprilia RSV4, the bar setting bike in recent SBK seasons with 7 world titles won since 2010.
On the fast and spectacular Spanish track the duo will once again be making a play for the top spots, but they’ll have to reckon with some particularly fierce competition. In fact, based on performance thus far in the championship, the competitive level of the 2015 WSBK season is decidedly high.
Leon Haslam: “It has been a rather long break and now I can’t wait to get back onto the track. Aragon is a circuit where I have personally struggled in the past, but at the same time the Aprilia has always been fast here and this year we’ll be using the GP track which seems to be better. So I hope I can improve on my personal statistics!”
After just missing the podium in the Thai races, Jordi Torres wants to take advantage of his “home” round to continue improving. As a rookie in World Superbike the Spaniard took the first two rounds to familiarise himself with a bike that is brand new for him, in any case bringing home encouraging results and showing consistent progress. The Motorland de Aragon track, one that Jordi knows well, could be the ideal place to ride his RSV4 RF to a podium finish.
Jordi Torres: “I’m happy to be racing my first European round at home, in front of my Spanish fans. I know the Aragon circuit well, but I’ll have to be clever enough to figure out how a Superbike should be ridden at Motorland, adapting my points of reference quickly. This is a very important round because the characteristics of the track may let me take another step forward in terms of riding style. There are some tight turns, other wider ones and direction changes, plus the track is long and very complex. I think that working well on this track will be an advantage for the rest of the season. We have already made good progress, but this weekend will be a sort of final exam for me and my riding style.”
KRT Riders More Than Ready For First 2015 WSB Round In Europe
For championship points leader Jonathan Rea (KRT) and third placed Tom Sykes (KRT) their imminent arrival at a revised Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain offers each the chance to score more valuable points after the season opening rounds in Australia and Thailand.
Rea’s induction to the KRT squad has been nothing less than sensational, with ‘JR’ only five points from perfection in the first four races, making the most of his Ninja ZX-10R in race situations under new and more stringent technical rules.
Sykes scored his first podium in the new WSB era last time out in race one in Thailand as he makes the transition to the new technical landscape, after experiencing so much success in the previous three years, including his championship win with KRT in 2013.
So far Rea has scored three race wins and a second place. In doing so he has taken a ten-point championship lead as he approaches the first European round, to be held between 10 and 12 April at a Motorland circuit Kawasaki has enjoyed great recent success at.
Sykes scored a double win in Aragon last season – from pole position to boot – while his then team-mate Loris Baz took two second places. Last year Rea scored a podium finish at Motorland, while riding for another manufacturer, but this year hopes to be able to take his first race win at the impressive Spanish circuit, located near the town of Alcaniz. Rea currently has 18 career WSB race wins, with Sykes on a total of 22.
This year, in addition to new technical rules that should limit top speeds somewhat on the extensive back straight at Motorland, the circuit has been modified from its previous WSB format, by losing the sharp hairpin extension that once led to a tight final chicane.
The Superbike riders will now use the same circuit layout as the MotoGP class has been running for some years, making the track to be used next Sunday 5.077km long. The 2015 WSB layout therefore now features 17 corners and has a much faster final left-hand curve for the riders to catapult to the finishing line from.
Jonathan Rea: “I left Thailand with such a good feeling and I have been speaking with my guys already about the plan for this weekend. We need to start at zero again, not get carried away, and it is going to be super-tough. We are back in Europe where everybody has a lot of data, so it should be much, much more competitive. We just have to see where we stack up on Friday and Saturday and work methodically to make sure we have a package to compete at the front. The final corner at Motorland has been changed from the one we used in 2014. I enjoyed the previous one but I also like faster corners and the new layout makes the lap more exciting, simply because it is faster. I enjoy either layout and I am just excited to get back on the bike again.”
Tom Sykes: “I am very much looking forward to Motorland in its new layout as the last corner is more exciting than the previous one – but it will be the same for everybody. I got on the podium in Thailand but we are still finding the best way to give a better bike set-up for me. We have a plan and we now need to see if we can make it work. I have had some success recently at Motorland but honestly I look at every circuit as a chance to try and achieve something. In Aragon I am looking forward to it more from the point of view that we have some reference from there and we will see how this bike compares to last year’s. We have some ideas to try and help me and hopefully we can put them into practice in a good way.”
David Salom (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) will have a home round to look forward to in Motorland Aragon after experiencing contrasting fortunes at the beginning of his season. Injured and unable to race in Australia, the 2014 WSBK Evo Champion for KRT scored strongly on two occasions in Thailand and now sits 12th overall.
Pata Honda riders confident as WSBK returns to Europe
After the opening two rounds in Australia and Thailand, round three of the 2015 World Superbike championship sees Pata Honda riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark return to Europe for this weekend’s third-round encounter at Motorland Aragon near Alcaniz in Spain.
The 5.077km Hermann Tilke-designed Aragon circuit features a revised, shorter layout for WSBK’s return, eliminating the tight hairpin at the end of the long back straight and instead utilising the faster left-hander used in MotoGP to bring the riders back on to the start-finish straight.
Following the season’s opening two rounds, Guintoli currently sits in fourth place in the championship standings but the 32-year-old reigning world champion from France knows there is still work to do with his team to be fighting for podium places this weekend.
Guintoli’s Pata Honda team-mate, meanwhile – Dutch rider Michael van der Mark, 22 – is enjoying his rookie year in the series after winning last season’s World Supersport championship.
Sylvain Guintoli – “Aragon is about playing catch-up really, because it’s clear that we haven’t been fulfilling our potential in the first races of the season. My physical condition is still improving and I’m feeling better than I was in Thailand, so that’s all going in the right direction, but we need to improve our overall performance so that we can fight at the front. We’re all working hard to realize the potential of the package, especially in the areas of engine brake and power delivery. Testing conditions were not very good when we were at Aragon in January but the weather should be better this weekend. I’m looking forward to getting back there on the CBR, though; it’s a good track and I’m happy they’ve taken out the hairpin at the end of the lap, which kind of broke the flow.”
Michael van der Mark – “I really like the track at Aragon because it has a great mix of fast-flowing corners and tighter, technical sections. I think it will improve with the faster left at the end of the straight instead of the hairpin. I certainly enjoyed riding it when we tested in January but the weather was really cold so we couldn’t achieve very much. I’m quite happy with my performances over my first few races in World Superbikes. Thailand was great but the first round in Australia was really good and I’m hoping for the same feeling this weekend in Aragon. We knew that my rookie season would be about learning new things and that it would have some ups and downs, but so far I think we are more or less in the place that we expected to be.”
Althea Racing Round 3 Aragon Preview
World Superbikes return to Europe for the third round of the season after Australia and Thailand, taking place in Spain, at the Motorland Aragon circuit, on 10 April.
Team Althea Racing, after a very positive Asian event, will attend the first European round in its full configuration, with Superbike riders Nico Terol and Matteo Baiocco, but also the riders who will take part in the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup, Raffaele De Rosa, and Luca Salvadori.
Strong from its fourth place standing in the team classification and the results obtained in the first races of the series for production-derived machines, Genesio Bevilacqua’s Italian team is ready to fight at the Spanish track. Matteo Baiocco and Nico Terol, who have not stopped training since the Thai round, will face this weekend with greater motivation and with the intention of fighting for the positions that count.
Nico is ready to race at home, in front of his fans who will undoubtedly show their support at a track that the Spaniard really enjoys and at which he has already won in the past, in both 125 GP and Moto 2. His feeling with a heavier bike, in a championship that is new to him, continues to improve and Nico will surely be looking to make all of his experience and talent count.
Matteo, who was the first Ducati rider across the line in both of the races at the Chang International Circuit, and stimulated from having led champions of the calibre of Troy Bayliss, is determined to continue along the growth path seen between Phillip Island and now. After his significant performance at Buriram, the Italian champion is quickly making up for the fact he hadn’t been in such a high-level championship for some time.
Having already won the Superstock 1000 title, in 2011 with Davide Giugliano on board the Ducati 1198, Team Althea makes a return to one of Team Owner Genesio Bevilacqua’s favourite categories. This year the Stock 1000 appears to be more competitive than ever, with some key names ready to relaunch the category.
Team Althea renews its faith in this championship and in its riders chances of showing their worth, and will line up with the Ducati Panigale R 2015, a product in which it strongly believes. Luca Salvadori and Raffaele De Rosa will be on the starting line, two young riders in which the team has great faith ahead of the coming season.
Raffaele De Rosa, though young, is strong from his experience in international series such as the 125, 250 and Moto 2 championships. In the past he has battled with champions such as Marquez, Iannone and Simoncelli and has been closely followed by Genesio Bevilacqua who believes in his potential and provides him with a team structure that will provide him with the best possible materials.
Luca Salvadori, after competing in the 2014 Superstock 600 championship, finishing eighth overall, as well as winning the National Trophy in the 600 class, is ready for this step up in category, which will allow him to grow and where he will strive to improve race after race. Luca has some solid experience and this is his first real chance with an important team such as Althea Racing.
Motorland de Aragon is located close to Alcañiz in the Aragon area of Spain. It is 5.344 km in length and was designed by the famous German architect Hermann Tilke in collaboration with McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa, a sporting consultant on the project. Since 2011 the track has hosted the Spanish round of the Superbike World Championship, with the first edition taking place on 19 June 2011.
The closest airports to the city of Alcañiz are those of Saragozza and Barcelona, rounds 2 hours drive from the Spanish town. Temperatures are expected to reach 18°C but, in this almost desert-like environment, weather conditions can change quickly.