Ducati may race V4 in WorldSBK before season end

Ducati V4 laps Jerez for race development

Rea opens 2018 on top at Jerez

Images by GeeBee

Motul FIM Superbike World Championship riders began their 2018 season in style as they completed their first day of testing overnight in Spain. 16 WorldSBK riders, five WorldSSP riders and three STK1000 riders put in six hours of on track activity at Jerez to start getting up to speed on their 2018 machines.

Ducati were also in attendance  preparing for 2019 with the new Panigale V4 as the Italian firms new machine took to the track alongside WorldSBK riders at Jerez overnight.

Lorenzo Zanetti has been the rider in charge of the testing the bike, with the goal of developing ready for the start of the 2019 season, but Team manager Serafino Foti has not ruled out racing the Panigale V4 late in the 2018 WorldSBK season. “There is a lot of work to do but if by the middle of the season the bike is ready, then we can perhaps test with Chaz and Marco, although the goal is to have it ready by February 2019.”

Zanetti put in 64-laps onboard the Panigale V4 and ended the session with a best of 1m41.665, placing him 15th for the day.

Ducati V4 laps Jerez for race development - Image GeeBee
Ducati V4 laps Jerez for race development – Image GeeBee

Working on the ZX-10RR under the new regulations for 2018, Kawasaki Racing Team have a solid testing structure in place which is clearly working well for reigning world champion Jonathan Rea, who set the fastest time of 1.39.862 putting him only 0.202 seconds ahead of his rivals.

Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea

On the other side of the KRT garage, Tom Sykes took a relaxed attitude to the opening day on track and wasn’t in a rush to pit out. However this didn’t hinder the Brit, as he finished in third, with a lap time of 1.40.178.

The Aruba Ducati duo of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri have worked to adapt their Panigale R’s to the updates to the rules this season. Adapting the electronics, chassis and engine to the regulations, Davies finished the day in the top five with a lap time of 1.40.704, whilst Melandri was fourth with a time of 1.40.238.

Chaz Davies
Chaz Davies

Joining the team-mates was Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who is moving up into WorldSBK with the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team, as they are set to take on all the European WorldSBK Rounds in 2018. The reigning STK1000 Champion heading out on his second outing with the team, and is improving his pace with a best lap time of 1.41.202.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark came out fighting in Spain, as they were able to finish in the top six, putting up a strong fight throughout the day. Working on chassis parts and engine components on day one, it was important for the team to become re-established following the winter break. Lowes was able to put in a stunning opening day’s performance to finish in second position, 0.202 behind Rea.

Alex Lowes
Alex Lowes

Milwaukee Aprilia were present with both Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori, taking a top ten finish on Tuesday. Irish rider Laverty, who’s lap time of 1.40.775 put him in seventh has been working on engine braking and the swingarm positioning of his RSV4, which were problems he suffered with last season.

Continuing to impress with his new team, Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) put in another strong day on the blue Fireblade, clocking over 50 laps and ending in the top eight, running at 1.40.888. It was a big day for Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), who participated in his first test with the Honda team despite competing with them for three rounds last season. Hoping to spend the day understanding the bike and testing it without feeling the pressure, Gagne finished with a lap time of 1.42.060 with a stunning number of laps – 83.

Jake Gagne
Jake Gagne

Loris Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) makes his return to the paddock this year, and has finished day one of the 2018 test in 11th, with a lap time of 1.41.129. Continuing to work on adapting to the bike and the team, he has mainly been focusing on the electronics with the German machine on day one.

Yonny Hernandez (Pedercini Racing) is undergoing his second test on board the Kawasaki ZX-10RR machine, and is continuing to work on his feeling with the Pirelli tyres as well as the new bike and team. Still riding the 2017 machine, he finished in the top 15, with a lap time of 1.42.035.

Another rider changing colours for 2018, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has spent the day using two bikes to check electronics on one, and new engine parts and longevity on the other. With over 60 laps logged, his time of 1.41.314, put him 1.4s behind the front man Rea.

Alongside Torres, new WorldSSP riders Raffaele de Rosa and Ayrton Badovini have been testing around Circuito de Jerez, and the De Rosa finished in the top SSP position overall ahead of Kenan Sofuolgu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in second. Okubo, Badovini and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) ended in fourth.

Making the move over to Orelac Racing VerdNatura for 2018, Leandro Mercado spent the first day at Jerez working with different materials; his brakes, showa suspension, electronics and the revs according to the new rules. Working on his relationship with the team to ensure a strong relationship is built, the Argentinean rider finished day one with a lap time of 1.42.143.

Guandalini Racing had a tough start to their 2018 season, and were unable to head out on track for day one of the test. Spending today building the Yamaha machine ready to take on the Jerez Circuit, they were able to take to the track in the final hour, working hard to make up for lost time.

Jerez Test Times Day 1

WorldSBK / STK1000 / WSS / BSB
  1. Jonathan Rea 1m39.862
  2. Alex Lowes 1m40.064
  3. Tom Sykes 1m40.178
  4. Marco Melandri 1m40.238
  5. Chaz Davies 1m40.704
  6. Michael Van Der Mark 1m40.758
  7. Eugene Laverty 1m40.775
  8. Leon Camier 1m40.888
  9. Niccolo Canepa 1m41.034
  10. Lorenzo Savadori 1m41.038
  11. Loris Baz 1m41.129
  12. Michae Rinaldi 1m41.202
  13. Jordi Torres 1m41.314
  14. Leon Haslam 1m41.438
  15. Lorenzo Zanetti 1m41.665
  16. Yonny Herndandez 1m42.035
  17. Jacob Gagne 1m42.060
  18. Leandro Mercado 1m42.143
  19. Toprak Razgatlioglu 1m42.168
  20. Luke Mossey 1m42.605
  21. Raffaelle De Rosa 1m43.738
  22. Alessandro Delbianco 1m43.924
  23. Kenan Sofuoglu 1m43.998
  24. Hikari Okubo 1m45.010
  25. Ayrton Badovini 1m45.273
  26. Nacho Calero 1m45.491