Tom Sykes sets fastest time as Marco Melandri suffers chest and throat injuries
With more relaxed weather conditions greeting riders in Spain for the Official Test, riders took to the track for a full day of testing, hoping to work through issues encountered in the opening three rounds of the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship.
Kawasaki Racing Team riders Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea led the one-day post-race official WorldSBK test session at Motorland Aragon on their Ninja ZX-10RR machines, setting strong lap times on race tyres in almost perfect weather and track conditions.
After the windy and slightly cool conditions that characterised race weekend itself the track conditions for testing, over all eight available hours, were close to ideal. The KRT riders and crews were able to complete their planned work, despite both riders still suffering the effects of sickness and fatigue and the exertions of a full race weekend just gone.
Sykes set a near track best of 1’49.368 as part of a total of 70 laps while Saturday race winner Rea put in a 1’49.388, despite feeling in worse physical shape than yesterday. The riders had their own areas of machine setting and development to work on, with Sykes finding a happy window to work in with his chassis and suspension settings. These allowed him to do fast laps on race tyres and still maintain a strong pace over long distance.
“I did not use a qualifying tyre today and that is what makes me happy. The standard race tyres performed incredibly and the bike was working nicely. I am still feeling a bit second hand, although I had a slight improvement today on my stomach problems. It is amazing how even with such a small improvement I feel night and day better, physically, on the bike today. I did not intend to do that many laps but I was enjoying myself and overall it was a nice test. We made so many small changes to the bike, working hard with Showa, and I am happy with the progress. We are always learning, always improving. Today the track was in great condition and the Ninja ZX-10RR was working really consistently. It puts a bit of a smile on the end of a difficult weekend.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Tom Sykes
“I am happy today. We had a difficult weekend and Tom for sure had some physical limitations. Today there was still some of that illness remaining but we improved our bike settings just by using our past experience. Sometimes in life you have to make a step back to go forward and that is what we did today. We focused on improving the chassis performance. Tom made some good laps, and was consistent over race distance. Very consistent. We did not use a qualifier, just a race tyre.”
Rea did fewer laps than he may have done in a normal test, simply because of his cold symptoms, but still got through almost all his planned test items and comparisons in 42 laps.
“We did not try a Q tyre today but used the SC0 because it was hotter than it was over race weekend. I do not feel any better than yesterday, to be honest I feel horrible. I tried to make a really good effort with the laps we did do, so we tested what we needed to test. Front suspension settings, and it brought some positives and some negatives. A work in progress really. Then we worked on testing some new front tyres for Pirelli which we expect to be coming to the next races, for some feedback. I was not up for doing too many laps today but my pace was good. I don’t think I even did one lap in the 1’51s. Our package is pretty good because if I want to go out and push for a lap time I can make it happen and if I want to do a long run I can make it happen, and be consistent. We are in a good position right now.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea
“The plan at this test was to try some tyres from Pirelli and to test something on the suspension settings. We started with our base from the race and we compared to the new one. Overall we did the job, even with Jonathan not being in ideal physical condition. His times were all done on race tyres, a standard SC0 rear and an SC2 in the front. The track conditions themselves were much faster than compared to the weekend. No wind and 30°C on the track so we had the best conditions. Johnny made the effort without being in the best physical condition and the guys worked well, so everything was under control.”
Now the team will head to another test, at the returning WorldSBK circuit of Portimao in Portugal, on 17 and 18 April, before the championship heads to the fourth round at Motorland Aragon between 28 and 30 April.
Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team look for speed
Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl were able to make the most of the 8 hours of track-time available with some interesting results in terms of speed on the single lap as well as consistency on the long runs. The two riders were able to complete a considerable amount of laps while working on different settings for their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machines and new spec-tyres provided by Pirelli.
Bradl and his crew continue to evaluate different geometry, weight distribution and suspensions settings to improve turning and tyre consumption. The 27-year-old German logged a personal best lap of 1’50.685s, which was 0.3s faster than the one he set with race tyres in Superpole 1 last Saturday. But still a full-second slower than the faster riders present at the test.
Stefan Bradl – 74 laps / 1’50.685
“It’s been a long day at the office! The weather conditions were perfect and that allowed us to do a lot of laps. We mainly focused on the bike geometry and suspensions setttings, because we had to improve our pace. We found slightly more grip on the rear, which gave us the opportunity to be consistently faster in our almost full race simulation. I did lap faster compared to the two races here, so that’s a positive point. We also improved the front-end of the bike a little, so that we’re not stressing the front tyre too much. Overall we made a small step forward but surely there’s a lot more work to do, that’s why I’m looking forward to the Portimão test in two weeks.”
There were similar goals but a different approach for Hayden, who made some steps forward in terms of feeling with the front end of the bike and engine braking, as well as some consistency on the long runs. In the afternoon, the 35-year-old American broke through the 1’51s barrier as he logged a 1’50.837s time in the final hour of action.
Nicky Hayden 69 – 69 laps / 1’50.837
“It was good to have a full day of riding the bike in such perfect conditions after yesterday’s early retirement from the race. It’s been a useful day, especially after six individual races with no testing in between. We mainly worked with the general setup of the bike, trying some basic changes and I felt better. Our lap-times improved very little; surely some more improvement in that department would have been good. The guys have worked really hard, especially as some of the changes to the geometry we made took quite a bit of time. We wanted to try some new tyres at the end of the day but we had a couple of technical problems, which we thought we had sorted out after Thailand. Overall, though, I’m quite positive with how today went.”
Pieter Breddels – Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team Manager
“It was a much-needed test, especially given how things have gone during the weekend. We were able to do a great amount of work that wouldn’t have been possible to do during the round itself. We improved the bike setup with both riders: with Stefan we tried different setup combinations with geometry, weight distribution and suspensions settings and we found some more grip. We did a long run in the end and the times were not bad. We improved the engine braking with both riders and did some more work on the electronics with Nicky. We also tried a new gearbox, which worked better for him. We have a lot of data now and a couple of weeks before Portimão, which will give us a chance to try some new material.”
The team will now return to their headquarters in Nieuwleusen in the Netherlands, in order to evaluate the data and prepare for a two-day private test at Portimão’s Autodromo do Algarve, which takes place in a fortnight’s time.
Aruba.it Racing Ducati
With several electronics and chassis upgrades to evaluate, Davies and Melandri headed out on track early morning. The Welshman clocked an impressive total of 94 laps, while Melandri (26 laps) didn’t ride in the afternoon after a crash at turn 2 that made him opt for caution, given some pain to the chest and throat. The Welshman and the Italian posted a personal best of 1:49.536 and 1:50.886 respectively.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) 1:49.536
“Today’s test was so important. I was ready to go at 8:30 and I was the last guy out of the track. We had a lot of items to go through. A new kind of swingarm, which Marco has been already using, but also electronics and suspension settings to improve the traction of the Panigale R. We ticked them all off and they received a good grading from me. We needed such positive introductions to our package after these first few races. I feel that things have taken a positive turn. I’m looking forward to Assen, I’m really motivated.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) 1:50.886
“It’s a pity to have ended the test ahead of schedule. I only did three runs, but despite the crash we collected some important feedback regarding the front. Unfortunately I fell at turn 2, without warning, and after that I felt quite sore in the chest and throat. We already ran several checks at the medical center, and we’ll do more once I’ll be back in Italy, but everything seems OK. The doctors made me wear a neck brace just for safety. It should just be a muscle-related problem, so I expect to be up and running a week’s time and 100 percent well ahead of Assen.”
For Torres, the work revolved about tyre durability and grip, considering the issues the Spaniard cited during the weekend’s races. On the other side of the garage, Reiti worked to try and regain the feeling with his BMW, after what has been a rather tough start to the season. Both riders also testing various new components during the course of the test, leading to the identification of some interesting solutions that the squad will develop further during coming race weekends.
“It’s gone well, we got a lot done. I’m working to adapt my style somewhat and we looked at tyre durability. We also tested a few new elements, like a new exhaust and swing-arm, which provided us with useful indications. We lapped with some new tyres brought by Pirelli, both front and rear, but they didn’t really help me as much as I would have liked mid-turn. My pace was more or less constant throughout the day though and we were quite competitive, a useful day for us.”
“It’s been a long day, we’ve completed more than 80 laps. We’re worked on different things over the course of the day. The new electronics are interesting and are a step forward in terms of wheelie control I think. I also tested a new swing-arm and different tyre solutions from Pirelli. The final position is not as good as we expect or want, but I think we’ve found some positive solutions to use during future race weekends.”
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) ended in sixth position, as he spent his day around MotorLand working with his gearing, as well as comparing chassis’ on board his YZF-R1. Alongside his team-mate Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), who put in a strong top four performance at MotorLand with a lap time of 1.50.074, the pair worked with some solutions to their electronics issues, on top of working with their suspension.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) appeared to make some improvements with his RSV4 RF, as the Irishman made it into the top five following a steady start to the season back with the Italian manufacturer. Working on the general feeling of the bike overall, he will take away the steps made today into Assen, with a time of 1.50.306.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse
Hoping to put some serious issues behind him, Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) worked his way through the day in a methodical way, looking at many small aspects of his Italian machine. Working through them all in short two lap stints, the British rider put in 73 laps around MotorLand, with an overall lap time of 1.51.047.