A thrilling Tissot-Superpole saw reigning Champion Tom Sykes claim his first pole position of the season aboard his Kawasaki Racing Team machine ahead of his team mate Loris Baz.
In a restarted Superpole 1 after Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) suffered a technical problem, Toni Elias (Red Devils Aprilia) and Leon Camier (BMW Motorrad Italia) were the fastest within the session and joined the already seeded riders for the final 15 minute shoot-out, in what was a fast and furious fight on track for top spot.
At the end of the session it was Sykes that just clung to secure pole position ahead of Baz and Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) who completed the top 3.
In tomorrow’s races, row 2 will be headed by Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team), who will be joined by Jonathan Rea (PATA Honda World Superbike Team) and Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team).
After making it through into Superpole 2, Leon Camier, substitute rider for Sylvain Barrier, was the leading EVO category rider, qualifying 11th overall in his first race with the BMW machine.
Leon Haslam and Chaz Davies also fell in the session, thankfully without injury.
An exciting qualifying session in World Supersport resulted in Pole Position for Kev Coghlan (DMC Panavto – Yamaha), the first in his World Championship career.
PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) took a well deserved second position on the grid for tomorrow’s race despite a late tumble, while championship Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta RC – Yakhnich Motorsport) leader powered to the outside of row one.
Multiple World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (MAHI Racing Team India) has not the best of luck in recent races at the Spanish track but rode well to secure a row two starting position with 6th place overall, just behind Florian Marino (Kawasaki Intermoto Express) and Michael van der Mark (PATA Honda World Superbike Team) who were 4th and 5th respectively.
After topping the free practice sessions throughout the weekend so far, Barni Racing Ducati have taken the opening Pole Position of the FIM Superstock 1000ccc Cup with Leandro Mercado grabbing the top spot from his new team mate Ondrej Jezek.
Christoffer Bergman (BWG Kawasaki) stole the final front row position with a blistering final lap, pushing Pedercini Kawasaki rider Lorenzo Savadori onto the second row.
Fabio Massei (EAB Racing Team Ducati) impressed on his new team debut by claiming 5th for tomorrow’s 13 lap race alongside Matthieu Lussiana (Team GARNIER by ASPI) who completes row two.
Marco Faccani (San Carlo Team Italia Kawasaki) has won the opening round of the FIM Europe Superstock 600cc Championship after an impressive display from the Italian rookie.
A group of seven were in the fight for 2nd and 3rd, but at the flag Andrea Tucci (San Carlo Team Italia Kawasaki) and Wayne Tessels (Wayne’s Racing Team) completed the podium after a thrilling 11 lap race at the very sunny MotorLand Aragon circuit in Spain.
The Pata European Junior Cup had its first 30 minute qualifying of the 2014 season today at MotorLand Aragon, with Mika Perez (Cuna de Campeones) setting the fastest lap of the session in 2’25.079s to secure pole position for tomorrow’s 8 lap race. The local rider, who was also quickest in free practice, will be joined on the first row by Estonian Hannes Soomer (Enous OU) and Brit Josh Harland.
Cloudy skies but a dry track at Motorland Aragon for the second day of practice and the second Superpole of the 2014 season. After the strong results achieved yesterday, team Althea Racing returned to the track this morning for the third and final timed practice session, key in terms of qualification for the Superpole.
Unfortunately, despite improving by more than three tenths of a second, Niccolò Canepa, once again first among the Evo riders, closed in eleventh position, just missing out on direct entry to Superpole 2 that establishes positions on the front rows of the grid. Canepa therefore took part in Superpole 1, in which the quickest two riders progress to Superpole 2. Before the Superpole, Canepa participated in the free practice, working with his technicians to refine his 1199 Panigale. The Althea Racing rider closed sixteenth with a time of 2’00”597.
In Superpole 1, and with the soft tyre mounted, Canepa had recorded the second fastest time (2’59”255) but then just a few seconds from the session’s end Camier went eight thousands of a second quicker, thus excluding the Italian from Superpole 2.
A real pity for the Althea Racing rider who has to be satisfied with a fifth row start for tomorrow’s two seventeen-lap races. The team has nevertheless worked well over these two practice days and has good race pace that could bring strong results tomorrow.
Niccolò Canepa : “We’ve worked a great deal over these two days because we know that our rivals would have improved and that’s what we saw today. It’s a shame about the grid position – I lost out on a fourth row spot by just eigth thousandths of a second, but that’s racing. I’m nevertheless optimistic for tomorrow, as my race pace is good. It will be hard to keep up with the Superbikes, but I’ll do my best to be first among the Evo riders.”
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will start Sunday’s WSB races from the third row of the grid after another consistent showing within the top 10 at Motorland Aragon in Spain today.
Eugene Laverty suffered a turbulent morning after technical issues hindered his progress in the last timed free practice session, but the Irishman regrouped to put in a solid performance on the Suzuki GSX-R1000 leaving him eighth on the timesheets ahead of tomorrow’s two races.
Alex Lowes continued to improve on the Yoshimura-powered machine as his confidence with the Spanish track increased, finding two seconds from his Friday times. Lowes will round out the third row, lining-up next to his team-mate for his first European race of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship.
A cooler day with intermittent light showers and a highest temperature of 20°C saw a number of riders struggle with the changeable conditions, as the teams evaluated tyre choice ahead of Sunday’s new-look early race schedule. Tom Sykes regained his Superpole chalice setting a time of 1’56.479.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki is on track for the first Motorland Aragon race tomorrow at 10:30hrs local time (09:30BST) with the second instalment scheduled for 13:10hrs local time (12:10BST).
Eugene Laverty: “The most dramatic day of the year! It’s hard to be more dramatic than Phillip Island race day, but this seemed to be. We had problems with the bike smoking, so we were in and out of the pits. It seemed like the engine was fine, but we lost a lot of track time. The chassis feeling is much better than yesterday so that I can be happy with. Grid position, I usually like to be on those first two rows so it’s not ideal, but with a good start tomorrow on the Suzuki GSX-R I can try to go with them.”
Alex Lowes: “I think it’s obvious that we are struggling a little, but I made some big improvements today and I’m a lot closer than I was yesterday. It’s always hard work when it’s not quite going right and it’s a new track, but I’ll be alright. It’s obviously tomorrow that is important so we will keep working to be stronger for the races.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager: “Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s tricky Aragon weekend continued today, but with some very positive signs that we are close to finding the solutions to allow the guys to run closer to the front. Alex has found two seconds on the race tyre compared to yesterday, and Eugene has also taken a significant step forward in speed and consistency. The qualifying laps weren’t as good as either rider might have hoped, but I think we will be a lot closer to the pace over race distance than we were over a single lap.”
Pata Honda Report
Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea will start tomorrow’s two second-round World Superbike championship races from the second row of the grid after setting the fifth fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole at Motorland Aragon in Spain.
The 27-year-old British rider topped all but one of the four free practice sessions of the weekend on his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP, but was unable to maximise the additional grip of his Pirelli qualifying tyre on its one available flying Superpole lap of the 5.344km Aragon circuit.
Pole position went to another British rider, Tom Sykes, with his team-mate Loris Baz and Sylvain Guintoli completing the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s two 17-lap races, which go off at 10.30 and 13.10 local time.
Rea’s Pata Honda team-mate, Leon Haslam, made positive strides forward with the set-up on his own CBR machine in today’s two free practice sessions, but crashed early in Superpole, leaving him with a 12th place starting position on the grid.
Jonathan Rea – P5, 1m56.972s – “I’m honestly quite happy as this is the fastest I’ve ever been around Aragon and we’ve made such a big step since last year. It was quite a perfect lap from me but we just didn’t have the out-and-out speed with a qualifier in. While I’m satisfied with my lap time, I’m not with my position. Looking at the track condition this morning, I expected a 56s would be good for front row, but the pace is quite fast. We worked a lot on our option tyres this morning and checked them again this afternoon. We’re still not seeing the high temperatures that we’d need to run the really soft tyre so tomorrow’s going to be a big tyre decision. Whether the sun comes out and heats the track or not, I’m quite satisfied with the set-up we’ve got. We need to work a little mo re on engine braking tonight, but I just need to make a really good start from row two and try to go with the guys in front of me on the grid.”
Leon Haslam – P12, 1m58.376s – “The last three crashes I’ve had have spun the bike from under me on fast, third or fourth-gear corners, which is kind of frustrating. We started off on the back foot here but we’ve made progress every session and the bike felt pretty good this afternoon. I was on target for a 57s lap on a race tyre, which is in the ball park, but I’m lucky the bike didn’t high-side me like it could’ve done. But this is something we definitely need to look into and solve for the future. My race pace is quite good, although tyre life is an issue for the cooler conditions, so we’ll re-assess that in morning warm-up and decide which tyre to go with. As far as the chassis is concerned, and the progressions we made electronically before the crash, I’m quite happy.”
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator – “We can be quite pleased with Jonathan’s fifth place and his performances during the free practice sessions. His race pace looks quite strong and should give him the potential to fight for the podium, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Leon has been looking good all day after making some good steps forward, and he was fourth in the final session before Superpole. Unfortunately, he crashed and we’ll have to analyse the data in more detail to see exactly why. We’ll help him to re-discover his confidence in warm-up tomorrow and hope that he can have a good couple of races.”
Team Hero EBR Report
American riders Aaron Yates and Geoff May bettered their lap times during the final 45 minute Free Practice session at MotorLand Aragon this morning, closing the gap to the top 20 significantly.
Team Hero EBR worked hard between the final session yesterday and today to improve the EBR 1190RX and the results were clear to see.
Both riders were able to lap consistently faster and whilst disappointed to miss a Tissot-Superpole, the team is confident of two positive races tomorrow.
The encouraging thing for the entire Hero EBR squad is that improvements and steps forward are being made each and every time that they are on track.
Aaron Yates: “Today we made some improvements and I am happy with both the chassis and with the electronics. Tomorrow I will try to make two good races, and collect as much data as I can for the further development of the bike.”
Geoff May: “We are getting better every time we go out and our goal for tomorrow is try to reduce the gap to the top 20 as much as we can, finishing both races in the process.”
Aprilia Racing Report
The Aragon Superpole places Guintoli and Melandri in a position to be key players in the races tomorrow despite today’s times. In fact, the top seven riders are all within just over half a second of one another (0.584 to be precise) as a testament to the extreme balance that promises to characterise the races for the first European round of the 2014 WSBK season.
Because of these extremely small gaps it only took a few mistakes to keep Melandri from starting in the front positions. After qualifying for Superpole with the best time and with a feeling astride his RSV4 that has been building since the Jerez tests two weeks ago, Melandri made a few crucial mistakes in the first sector of the track.
This compromised the champion from Ravenna’s time in the decisive lap but had absolutely no effect on the good sensations he has had since Friday: “All in all today was an excellent day. Unfortunately I missed the mark in the most important lap, the Superpole lap. We had made some changes that I didn’t really like and even going back when we put the qualifier on I didn’t feel confident enough to push hard, making a few too many mistakes in the first section of the track. In any case I am pleased in view of the races. I’ll be expecting two close battles but we’re ready”
Guintoli, the Frenchman who leads the championship after his win and podium at Phillip Island, had a more straightforward day. In every practice session he had been working on his race pace in view of the races Sunday, only pulling out the stops for a fast lap in the decisive session. His third best time (1’56.675) places him on the front row at less than three tenths behind Sykes’ leading time and puts him in a position to make a play for the podium from the start of the race.
Sylvain Guintoli: “After a lot of work throughout the weekend on used tyres it was nice to finally put a new tyre on and push to the limit! The qualifying session, with the bike light and performing well, is my favourite time to ride. We improved again today. At the beginning of Superpole I put in a really good lap straight away on a race tyre. With the qualifier I shaved a bit more off but Sykes made a comeback as Mister Superpole. In any case I’m pleased with the position. The front row is excellent, especially if we consider our good race pace.”
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