Jonathan Rea heads Marco Melandri on day one of Aragon WorldSBK
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) put in a 1’50.062 lap late in FP2 at MotorLand Aragon on Friday afternoon to complete the day as the quickest man on track, with Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) also in the top three on the timesheet.
Rea earlier carried out a 19-lap run at the beginning of the session, gathering plenty of information ahead of Saturday’s Race 1, the fifth race of the season. The year has started with four consecutive wins for the defending World Champion already.
Jonathan Rea – P1
“Today we did set-up and tyre checks this morning and then a long run and a fast lap this afternoon. That’s how it worked out. We got up to speed quite fast, honestly, and pretty much reached the limit of what we needed for the bike set-up. During the long run we went with the base setting we had in Phillip Island and Thailand, but during that run I realised it is may be not the very best for this particular track. We had a completely different front setting at the test here in November; one I was more comfortable with. It is just some chassis balance items. I don’t think we can see the full picture of everybody’s potential just from today and I think the race can spring a few surprises. But I am not thinking about the others; I am just trying to make things as good for me as possible.”
A good lap by Melandri towards the end of FP2, as he went round just 0.099s behind Rea, saw him finish the session second, with Sykes in third (+0.243).
Marco Melandri – P2
“Track conditions changed throughout the day. In the morning, the wind hindered our performance a bit, but the team has done a great job and the competitiveness of our package improved progressively. In the afternoon, we made a step forward both in terms of lap times and feeling on the bike. I haven’t done a race simulation but I think we know exactly what we need in order to improve our pace, especially in the second half of the races, compared with the first two rounds. Tomorrow the wind could be stronger, but I’m happy with where we’re at right now. I hope to ride a strong race and step on the podium, hopefully in a different fashion compared with Thailand.”
Tom Sykes – P3
“Tomorrow we will make two or three relatively small changes but at this level anything small can become a big gain on track. We finished strongly in FP1 with used tyres, which was a good confidence boost. In FP2 the initial lap time was fantastic and felt really good with the bike. I could see the rain was coming so we decided to come into the pits and make a couple of changes to the bike to give us information for Saturday. The good thing is that we have this information now, so tomorrow should be clearer and more straightforward. The rain at the end was not ideal but I stayed out on track and got some more information. In the last four minutes the rain became too heavy but we were lucky not to miss too much of the session. We have some good information for tomorrow.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) recovered from a difficult FP1 to finish fourth best in FP2, with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) completing the top five.
Chaz Davies – P4
“Unfortunately we suffered a technical problem in FP1, which resulted in basically one hour less of track time for us. Thankfully my mechanics are very prepared and were capable of substituting the engine in very little time, but we basically had to play catch-up. In the afternoon I simply tried to find my rhythm and start working on the setup, but we couldn’t do a long run to better understand tyre wear. Honestly, I still don’t feel at 100 percent. We climbed back and ended up not far from the top, but we still need to improve, especially in changes of direction and mid-corner handling. We’ll try to make the most of FP3 to be ready come race time.”
“Honestly I’m quite happy with the bike today. In the afternoon session we went backwards a little bit and that setting didn’t feel so good, but that’s no problem as we know we can go the other way now for tomorrow in the next practice. I enjoyed riding these sessions; I enjoyed the bike on the track apart from the end of the second session that was a bit dodgy with the weather. I’m looking forward to tomorrow; I think I can do a good qualifying and a good race. I’m really loving my R1 now so let’s see what happens! I need to improve my position on the bike a little so we’ll work on that in the morning practice and confirm it in Superpole to be ready for the race.”
Spaniards Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) and Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) were sixth and seventh fastest respectively, ahead of Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) in the top ten.
Eugene Laverty – P9
“It’s nice to make it through to Superpole 2 again, especially when the rain started at the end of FP2 and things got quite close. It’s easy to get caught out in mixed conditions but we timed the tyre change right. In the morning we didn’t make as much progress with the bike as I expected, but we made some changes in the afternoon and it improved quite a lot. We’ve still got work to do, but there is reason to be optimistic for the rest of the weekend. We’ve got hopes for a top 5 finish this weekend and I think that’s achievable if we have a good Superpole session tomorrow.”
Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) and Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) were both inside the top 12 but will have to try their luck in Tissot Superpole 1 on Saturday.
Stefan Bradl – P11
“We started off well this morning: we were closer to the front guys and I had a good feeling with the bike, which is the kind of progress I was expecting. Unfortunately, in the afternoon we were unable to improve further, which is obviously the disappointing side for today. The weather did not help, but also the choice of concentrating on the softer tyre option didn’t pay off. And then finishing 0.003secs away from the top-10 was frustrating as well! But it is what it is: we have an idea for direction for tomorrow, especially with the tyre choice, but overall I can say we’ve made a step forward. We’ll have to go through Superpole 1 and hopefully we’ll make it to the second session for the first time this year.”
Nicky Hayden – P12
“It has not been an easy day for us. We came here with some ideas on how to improve and we actually have made a big step with engine braking, which is now much more consistent. I definitely felt more comfortable with that. We also tried to use last year’s gearing and electronics of the old bike we found in testing last November as a reference with our current machine, but they didn’t really work with this package and that kind of threw us off a bit. I’m not happy with my pace and the lack of improvement in the afternoon was a bummer, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow!”
Just under 15 minutes before the end of the session the safety stewards around the track raised their white flags to advise the riders that spots of rain were beginning to fall, but a number of FP2 participants were still able to improve their lap times in the final minutes.
Rea was also the fastest rider in FP1 on Friday morning at the Pirelli Aragón Round, his 1’50.570 putting him ahead of his rivals at the head of the timesheet in front of Lowes and Fores.
Davies was hindered by a technical issue in FP1, only riding for a short time and ending up at the foot of the timesheet with a 1’53.896 best lap, +3.326s off the pace, with smoke pouring from his Ducati Panigale R at one stage.
On Saturday morning the riders will return to the track for FP3 at 8.45am local time (GMT +2) at Aragon, with Tissot Superpole 1 at 10.30am, Tissot Superpole 2 at 10.55am and Race 1 at 1pm.
WorldSBK 2017 – Aragon – Friday Practice Combined Times
Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team 1.50.062
Marco Melandri Aruba.it Racing – Ducati +0.099
Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team +0.243
WorldSSP: Jacobsen fastest at end of wet day one
PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) ended the first day at the Pirelli Aragon Round at the head of the combined timesheet courtesy of his best time of 1’54.751 in FP1, with Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) and Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) also in the top three. The fastest times of the day came in FP1 as rain began to fall at the beginning of FP2.
South African rider Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) and Italy’s Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) were also in the top five. On his return to action World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) ended the day sixth, having missed the first two rounds of the year due to a pre-season hand injury.
Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing), Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Alessandro Zaccone (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Robin Mulhauser (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) all made it straight through to Tissot Superpole 2, with top ten times in FP1 and overall.
In FP2 only two riders in the day’s top ten went out on track, namely Okubo and Tuuli, as the majority of the WorldSSP grid took a cautionary approach to the wet conditions in the afternoon at MotorLand Aragon.
Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag) set the best time in FP2 (2’12.944) at the beginning of the session but he ended the day at the bottom of the combined timesheet, having not registered a time in the dry in FP1.
Aiden Wagner finished day one 15th with countrymen Anthony West in 23rd and Lachlan Epis 27th.
On Saturday the WorldSSP riders return to the track at 9.20am local time (GMT +2) for FP3, with SP1 at 2pm and SP2 at 2.25pm.
World Supersport 2017 – Aragon Day One Combined Practice Times
PJ Jacobsen MV Agusta Reparto Corse 1.54.751
Kyle Smith GEMAR Team Lorini +0.450
Hikari Okubo CIA Landlord Insurance Honda +0.753
European Superstock 1000
Scheib on an Aprilia topped the Friday timesheets in European Superstock 1000 with Queensland’s Mike Jones fifth on the Aruba Ducati.
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