First official WSBK Test of 2020 at Jerez this week
With seasoned riders moving teams, temporary replacements and the much anticipated first public test of the HRC Honda team, there’s plenty to keep an eye on across the two days.
The Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK field both Jonathan Rea and new team-mate Alex Lowes at the Spanish circuit. The pair were first and fourth respectively the last time they visited Jerez, with Rea finishing with nearly a full second advantage over nearest rival.
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager
“This is an important test to prepare for the opening Australian round. We have all technical jobs done so we have to check a few details at this time; then give the riders the opportunity to make some more kilometers with their bikes on track. More important now is for them to start set their rhythm. I know Johnny and Alex are working even more than ever, so in this area I’m quite calm. I’m totally convinced we have them ready and very well trained. The motivation from Jonathan to continue winning is amazing. How Alex took the chance to improve on his third position from 2019 – to try and surprise everybody in Australia – is incredible. I know very well that we will start racing in Australia, were unfortunately they have suffered many bush fires in the last weeks. We hope we can bring a nice show to provide good entertainment to all the Australian fans and give some positive moments to help a little with all the difficult times they have passed through.”
The Ulsterman comes into the test with positive feelings, have been crowned Irish Motorcyclist of the Year on Friday 17th January.
“It is super-nice to start the year with a test at Jerez. We will try to continue on from where we left off last year, when were both fast and consistent. The nicest thing is catching up with the team again and putting all our ideas together. It is important to continue improving the base set-up of our Ninja ZX-10RR. We just need to confirm some different directions we took in November and then get ready for Australia. This Jerez test is more about understanding where we left off last year and confirming some things. We just need to keep an eye on the weather forecast, as it is always a gamble in January. We are as far south in Europe as we can be to guarantee consistent weather, but you never really know. Hopefully we can get some good work done. I will enjoy riding my bike again to set us up for going down under in a few weeks’ time.”
For Alex Lowes, he will be eager to carry on dialling in his feelings and developing the ZX-10RR to his liking. Lowes will be eager to crack the top three this time around.
“I am looking forward to the tests after the winter break and it is going to be nice to get back out riding. With only these two days scheduled before we get out to Australia for the opening round I am hoping for some decent weather to get back up to speed and blow the winter cobwebs off. We will start getting focused and dialled in for the first race. We had a good first test back in November and since then there have been a few little things that we highlighted I wanted to improve. Even still a few little things with riding position, things like that, so we will focus on them and get as comfy as possible on the bike. That is actually the only target I have got; make sure the bike feels like my own before we get over to Australia and get the year started.”
A prominent force back in November and with a new rider in their set-up, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team are eager to narrow the gap to Rea at the top of the timesheets.
Andrea Dosoli – Yamaha Road Racing Manager
“2020 marks the fifth season since Yamaha’s return to WorldSBK competition in 2016 with the YZF-R1 and now we also have the new 2020 YZF-R1 to help us challenge for victories. Alongside this, Yamaha’s Official Team has one of the most exciting rider line-ups ever seen in WorldSBK, as Toprak Razgatlıoğlu joins Michael van der Mark to create a talented, young, aggressive team that we hope will allow us to challenge for the World Championship title, our ultimate goal.
“The GRT squad embarks upon its second year of WorldSBK competition with a strengthened team structure and, more importantly, a full season of experience to draw from. Supported as our Junior Team for 2020 onwards, the GRT Yamaha platform is an important addition to the bLU cRU rider development program, allowing talented younger Yamaha riders to progress to the very top of the production racing pyramid. Having shown winning ability and fighting spirit in 2019’s MotoAmerica series on his Yamaha USA YZF-R1, we are delighted to welcome Garrett Gerloff to WorldSBK, who joins 23-year-old Italian Federico Caricasulo, last year’s World Supersport runner-up on his R6, in the GRT squad. Both these riders are very ambitious, and we look forward to seeing them progressing as the season develops and challenging the fastest riders in the Championship.
“Our fifth Yamaha R1 rider in the 2020 series, Loris Baz, continues his partnership with the Ten Kate Racing team further to very encouraging performances since re-joining the Championship in the sixth round of 2019. The Ten Kate Yamaha team has a proven pedigree and, combined with Loris’ talents and Yamaha’s support, has shown that the R1 machine can be immediately competitive as a customer package. Going into 2020, we expect some exciting results from Loris, a rider who always gives 100%!”
Michael van der Mark was right on the pace at Jerez in November, frequenting top position half-way throughout the second day before finishing third overall with 177 laps complete.
New team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu also shone brightly on the opening day last time before finishing seventh at the close of the test. The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team are getting ready for the 2020 season in style, with the next batch of testing looking positive.
MotorLand Aragon testing was certainly a positive experience for the ARUBA.IT – Racing Ducati team, but they didn’t top any day of the test at Jerez. Rookie Scott Redding was the best rider from the Italian manufacturer in fifth, whilst Chaz Davies managed ninth, both riders working through a variety of set-ups towards finding a suitable balance for the V4 R. Both riders will seek to be within a second of the top time and make steady improvements across the two days, with Redding yearning more track time.
Both BMW riders were inside the top ten at the close of testing at Jerez last time out, with Tom Sykes flying high in sixth and Eugene Laverty in tenth. 2013 Champion Sykes wrapped up his first title at Jerez and heads to the Spanish venue with positivity and happy memories. Team-mate and 2013 title rival Eugene Laverty has been training intensely throughout the off-season and comes into the Jerez test revitalised and rejuvenated. This will be Laverty’s second test on the S 1000 RR and hopes to refine his feelings aboard the bike with more experience.
The fifth factory team and one of the most anticipated is the HRC Team of Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam. This will be the first public test for the bike, as Honda have been testing and developing behind closed doors, meaning that this Jerez test will be the first glimpse of the all-new CBR1000RR-R in WorldSBK trim.
Bautista completed a successful test with his Ducati at Jerez in 2019 and will look to repeat that achievement over at Honda this season as they shake down the all-new Fireblade SP. Team-mate Haslam will be keen to develop the Honda into a contender; both riders having experience and good versatility.
Headlining the charge of the Independent’s brigade are the Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha team, featuring Loris Baz. The Frenchman was a stand-out performer at Jerez last time out, finishing second on day two and being inside the top five for most of the test. With 181 laps done, Baz is a man to watch out for across the two days.
GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team bring their line-up of Federico Caricasulo and Garrett Gerloff to the famed Jerez track too. Caricasulo is another rookie on the 2020 grid, whilst American teammate Garrett Gerloff has been quietly going about his business and has impressed many so far.
Other Independent teams in attendance include the Barni Racing Team, who will not be with Leon Camier as the British rider recovers from injury. Sandro Cortese replaces him for the two days, with the German racking up miles aboard the Ducati and yet to be confirmed on the 2020 grid. Team GoEleven bring Michael Ruben Rinaldi to Jerez, with this being his first test with the team ahead of 2020.
The Motocorsa Racing team will also be there with their Ducati and Leandro Mercado, who returns to the manufacturer in 2020. The Brixx Performance set-up are also at Jerez, testing with their rider Sylvain Barrier. One more rider to keep a close eye on will be Chile’s Maximilien Scheib, who teams up with the Orelac Racing VerdNaturasquad and readies for his first test of his full-time debut in the 2020 season.
From the WorldSSP class, Andrea Locatelli (Bardahl Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) will return to Jerez, when he was top of the WorldSSP class in November.
2019 WorldSSP Champion Randy Krummenacher (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) will look to be back on top, with his team-mate Federico Fuligni joining him. They will be on track with Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha), Jaimie van Sikkelerus (MPM Routz Racing Team), Loris Cresson (OXXO Yamaha Team Toth), GMT94 YAMAHAduo Jules Cluzel and Corentin Perolari and also WorldSSP rookie, Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team).