Pata Honda Report

The Pata Honda team is leaving Jerez after concluding a satisfactory three-day test yesterday and the Netherlands-based squad is preparing to return to Spain next week for round two of the 2014 World Superbike championship at Motorland Aragon.

The Jerez outing followed another three-day test at Cartagena last week and both Pata Honda riders, Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, are happy with the progress that has been made by the team on their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines.

With the help of Italian test rider Michele Magnoni, the British pair used the Jerez test to try a variety of different chassis settings and components, as well as refining the traction control and engine braking on their CBRs.

Jonathan Rea – “We’re still a little bit away from outright domination and probably have some more work to do to get on the podium here, but overall I’m quite happy with the progress we’ve made. The traction control is now working pretty well, although there’s still a bit more work needed on engine braking. We’ve definitely made some steps forward though. The weather’s been a little up and down – today was wet and the second day was quite windy. We tested some new Pirelli qualifiers and I was quite fast, but we need more ultimate pace on race tyres. I’m OK when they’re old and a bit worn, but need a little more from the new tyre. We also tested a heap of different chassis settings on the first day.”

Leon Haslam – “I only got eight laps in today because the weather was not so good, but it was still useful and I was pretty happy with the steps we made on the first two days. I struggled a little with the qualifiers but we have definitely made some progress on the race tyres and I was able to lap in the low 41s here. That’s a massive improvement on the race at the end of last season, but that was one to forget really. I’ve been quicker than I’ve ever been around Jerez during this test and it’s always good to come back here and measure progress.”

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator – “With Cartagena last week, these six days of testing have been pretty good for us and allowed us to make some useful progress. We’ve definitely stepped forward and we are closer to our competitors. We’re certainly in much better shape than during the Jerez race last season. Aragon next week will present us with a different track and new challenges, but we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to apply a lot of what we’ve learned over these six testing days and target some more positive results.”

World Superbike 2014 - Jerez Test - Leon Haslam
World Superbike 2014 – Jerez Test – Leon Haslam
World Superbike 2014 - Jerez Test - Jonathan Rea
World Superbike 2014 – Jerez Test – Jonathan Rea

Ducati Report

Two days of testing planned by the Ducati Team at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit in Andalusia, Spain concluded this afternoon earlier than scheduled.

Today’s changeable weather conditions, following overnight rain, did not allow the track to dry out completely, and as a result the riders and the team were unable to take full advantage of the time available in preparation for the Jerez MotoGP race, which will be held on this circuit from 2 to 4 May.

Neither Crutchlow and Dovizioso, who yesterday afternoon were also involved in shooting a promotional video, recorded significant lap times in the two days, but they were able to confirm to Borgo Panigale engineers that the “full-factory” electronics fitted to their Desmosedici GP14 machines after the Qatar GP were working correctly.

The next appointment for the Ducati Team will be the Grand Prix of the Americas, the second round of the MotoGP World Championship, which will be held next week from 11 to 13 April at the COTA circuit in Austin, Texas.

Aprilia Report

The long break after the Australian first round at Phillip Island gave the World SBK teams and riders a chance to recharge their batteries in view of the first European round which will be held at the Spanish Aragon circuit on 13 April. In order to regain familiarity with “race mode” and to hone their weapons in view of the next round, the Aprilia Racing Team had three days of testing on the Jerez track in Andalusia, where current championship leader Sylvain Guintoli and team mate Marco Melandri, third in the standings after the first round, were hard at work.

The first two days, marked by sunny skies but a lot of wind and mild temperatures, gave the Aprilia Racing Team standard bearers a chance to get a lot of laps in, completing a heavy workload and gathering fundamental information to develop the RSV4. While for Sylvain this was an opportunity to further increase his confidence on the track since he skipped the winter test sessions, at the same time trying out some new electronic and chassis solutions, Marco Melandri took advantage of the tests to explore the potential of the RSV4, a new bike for him in his first Aprilia SBK season. During the more than 150 laps he took the rider from Ravenna was able to test a variety of setups and electronic configurations aimed at increasing his familiarity with the bike, in addition to refining his riding style in search of the best harmony with the bike which is the reigning Champion of the Manufacturer Championship.

Winner of Race 2 at Phillip Island, Sylvain Guintoli put in a total of more than 160 laps at a good pace, confirming the positive feeling he demonstrated after the first race. His right shoulder, injured last year and operated on twice during the winter break, also held up well under stress which means that this can now be filed away as an overcome problem.

Marco Melandri: “Fortunately we were able to get a lot of work done, focusing on what we didn’t like about Phillip Island. On the first day we concentrated on shock absorption on the bumps and going into turns, whereas on the second day we tried to lap and get the RSV4 to close out the turns better. It was difficult but in the end we managed to put together a package that will allow us to improve. We had some other ideas we wanted to try out as well but unfortunately we weren’t able to do a lot of work on the third day. At Aragon I expect to see a leap of quality which is what we need to win.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “For us these three days were important, first and foremost to get back into the saddle after Phillip Island. This has been a very long break and I needed to get some kilometres in with the bike. We also had quite a few details we needed to test, besides new electronics strategies, so these were some pretty intense tests. I’m happy with the refinements. When we get to Aragon we’ll be strong and motivated and that’s what’s important.”

Romano Albesiano: “These were three very useful days of testing for the development of the RSV4. There are still a few improvements to focus on, both from electronics and a chassis point of view. Final race pace performance is not bad, but it still isn’t enough. At Jerez we gathered some important information that helps us to have a very clear idea on which direction we need to go.”

World Superbike 2014 - Jerez Test - Sylvain Guintoli
World Superbike 2014 – Jerez Test – Sylvain Guintoli
World Superbike 2014 - Jerez Test - Marco Melandri
World Superbike 2014 – Jerez Test – Marco Melandri

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Report

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki began its Spanish preparations with a three-day test at the Jerez circuit this week ahead of the second round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Aragon, with Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes both riding their Suzuki GSX-R1000’s for the first time since the opening races of the season at Phillip Island in Australia on February 23rd.

Laverty spent much of the track-time testing a new rear swingarm, with a focus on improvements to grip and corner exit stability. He also assessed an upgraded engine specification provided by the team’s engine partner, Yoshimura, which yielded interesting results, and will be assessed further, back at the Crescent HQ, and at the Imola test in May. Laverty finished the test in positive spirits after finding a significant improvement in the GSX-R’s turning ability late on day-two.

Despite a small crash on the morning of the first day, Lowes performed consistently, despite some physical restrictions from his recovering foot, broken at the Phillip Island event. Despite poor weather on Wednesday, Lowes looked and felt more comfortable and posted the second-quickest time in the brief dry portion of the day. He was also able to test the new swingarm with promising results – it is likely that both the riders will start the Aragon race weekend with this new part, developed with British chassis and fabrication specialist FTR.

Bright and sunny conditions, and an air temperature of 20°C, allowed a full schedule of track-action at the Andalucian circuit on the first two-days, despite the strong southerly winds which resulted in Lowes’ early off. The British-based team made the most of the dry conditions in the initial stages, as the forecast changed to persistent rain for the final day, severely hindering proceedings. Despite a more frustrating test than anticipated by the team and riders, with both suffering from a lack of front-end confidence, turning ability, and weather set-backs, the team is confident that the information gained, and lessons learned, will be invaluable should they confront similar issues in the future.

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will now head back to its UK Headquarters to evaluate the data and progress made so far, before continuing its preparation for the next round of the Championship at Aragon, in Spain, on April 13th.

Eugene Laverty:  “It was a tough test and we came across issues we haven’t experienced elsewhere, but I was happy that it finished well and that we learned a lot. We tested the new swingarm, and found some clear positives as well as some possible question marks, so now we need to decide on our starting point for the next round at Aragon. My first ever test on the GSX-R in Jerez wasn’t easy so maybe the track has something against us, because the bike has been brilliant elsewhere! That said, we ended up only 0.5s off the fastest race tyre time, and with a solid base to go forward from, so I’m looking forward to Aragon!”

Alex Lowes:  “It has been a very difficult test but that’s good coming off an injury, and a difficult round one. I have learned so much over the past month, and feel a lot better for it. We improved the bike on the final day even though the conditions were not as good, and I’m leaving in positive spirits for Aragon. A week ago I wasn’t even sure I would be able to test, so everything learned this week is a big bonus for me, and I am hoping to be even fitter or close-to 100% when I turn up to round two. The whole team has worked so hard over these three days, and I really appreciate their efforts.”