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Nov 17, 2016

Honda's Bradl, Ducati's Melandri Quickly Up To Speed During WSBK Testing In Spain (Updated)

Stefan Bradl (6) nearly matched the pace of teammate Nicky Hayden in his first test on a 2016-spec Honda CBR1000RR SP World Superbike.

The Honda WorldSBK Team has completed the first test of the winter season today at the MotorLand Aragón circuit in Spain. This has been the first outing on board the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machine for new signing Stefan Bradl, who with Nicky Hayden completes the team’s line-up for the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship.

The two days on track were blessed with glorious weather which, despite low temperatures in the morning, allowed all teams to make the most of the 7-hour per day track-time available to them. Using the same machine he raced for the whole 2016 season, Hayden tried some new components with an eye to the future, including new electronics complying to next year’s regulations, a new 2017-spec front fork from Öhlins and new brake components. Hayden’s 1’50.8s was the fastest lap-time among the 132 recorded by the 35-year-old American over the course of the two days.

Only a few days after the end of his MotoGP season, Stefan Bradl joined the Honda WorldSBK Team on track for the first time as he got to grips with the Fireblade machine, as well as with Pirelli tyres and steel brakes. The former Moto2 Champion quickly got up to speed and was able to start working with the team on some early set-up changes. Despite not focusing on pure speed in what was his very first experience of production-based motorcycle racing, Bradl clocked a fastest time in 1’51.1 and completed a considerable amount of laps (134), which included two encouraging long runs.

The Honda WorldSBK Team will return to action next Monday for a two-day test at Circuito di Jerez in southern Spain.

Nicky Hayden 69

Well, I think overall we have been pretty fortunate with the conditions: it wasn’t beach weather, but for being late November we’ve had a couple of really nice afternoons. We did a good number of laps and were able to go through some stuff; of course, we kept working with the 2016 bike trying to develop what we still can. Yesterday we spent a lot of time evaluating Pirelli tyres with a couple of positives from that side of things. We worked on what we think will be the same on next year’s bike but for other things like the clutch, for example, we aren’t sure yet whether it’ll be the one we’ll use in 2017. But we did work on brakes and suspension settings that we can put to good use for the future. Overall we can be happy with what we’ve done.

Stefan Bradl

It has been a busy two days of testing. Almost everything was new to me so we had a lot to learn, but I think we’ve done a good job. I was able to adapt to the bike quite quickly and the two long runs definitely taught me a lot, as they gave me a good feeling for the future and told me how to modify my style with regards to tyre wear. We tried a couple of things with the front and rear suspensions as well as with the geometry of the bike; we played around with the set-up, found our own way with things, and the feeling improved outing after outing. It’s been a very useful test to know how the bike and the team work, and I think everyone can be happy with what we’ve done so far.

Pieter Breddels

Technical Manager

Today with Stefan we kept working on the front of the bike, changing springs and positions for preload. In the end he was happy with what we found, so we turned our attention to the rear of the bike. We then did a long run and that turned out to be really a good one: he was lapping in the low 1m 51s area and after we put a new set of tyres he did another long run, in which he set his fastest lap for the test – and then he matched it again! We compared the two bikes with different setups and he also did some practice starts, which again were positive. After only two days of testing, his performance has been remarkable. Nicky continued with the programme we scheduled for the winter. He tried some things but the breakthrough came when we changed the suspension settings at the rear. We evaluated some modifications to the rear brake but we were not fully happy with it, so we’ll continue working on that area. Overall we had some interesting results and now we can look forward to Jerez next week.

More, from a press release issued by Racing Ducati:

First winter test for the Racing - Ducati team with Marco Melandri alongside Chaz Davies

Two weeks after the WorldSBK season finale in Qatar, the Racing - Ducati team took it to the track again in Aragon (Spain) for a two-day test in preparation for 2017. The test also coincided with team’s first outing in its new roster, with Marco Melandri joining Chaz Davies in the pits.

Both riders were able to make several comparisons and evaluate some engine, chassis and electronics upgrades developed for the Panigale R, with positive feedback. Melandri, moreover, finalized the work on ergonomics and riding position, which was defined a month ago in Valencia with the test team.

Davies and Melandri clocked 106 and 118 laps respectively, completing their programs. The Racing - Ducati team will resume action from November 23rd until the 25th in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) for the last tests of 2016.

Chaz Davies ( Racing - Ducati #7) 1:50.4

“Going into this test, we had a good list of parts to try for 2017. We got some good confirmation about the new front fork, and we also tried a different fuel tank to optimize aerodynamics, as well as some electronic upgrades. Of course, it’s still early and we have just started to work on the new package, but I’m quite confident we’re going in a good direction. I didn’t lap with my preferred setup and I only used a soft tyre at the very end of the last session, so the lap times could have been better probably, but that wasn’t our priority. Now we’ll go to Jerez, a very different track, to make some more evaluations and further benchmark our potential.”

Marco Melandri ( Racing - Ducati #33) 1:50.7

“It has been an emotional experience to step on the bike with the team colors and make my debut with the new crew. This two-day test turned out to be challenging and productive. I quickly found the feeling on the bike, and overall we’re not far from the front, especially in terms of pace. We still have room for improvement, which is normal at this stage, but we know what areas we must focus on. We still struggle a bit under braking, despite having made huge strides today to this end, and I still have to make the most of my strengths as a rider. That said, I’m really pleased with the bike overall, both in terms of engine and chassis, and I’m also getting closer to an optimal shape physically. Surely, the trend has been positive throughout. In the next tests, we’ll try to define a few more upgrades, but we can start working on the details now.”

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Winter Test One Complete For Rea and Sykes At Motorland Aragon

The 5.077km long Motorland Aragon circuit hosted a two-day test session for the official Kawasaki Racing Team and its riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, with Rea going fastest and Sykes the second rider on the unofficial timesheets.

Held between 16 and 17 November the test was the most significant yet as the team started to make the transition between the official 2016 machine and the new for 2017 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR. With a new Ninja to race winter testing will take on a whole new level of importance from now until the first round of the new season, to be held in Australia in February.

Rea, who set fewer laps on day one than on day two, left Motorland with the fastest lap time of all. His 1’49.8, which is relatively close to the track best, was well under the official race lap record of 1’50.421.

Sykes put in 150 laps of Motorland over two days. While using harder SC1 tyres he set a best of 1’50.4, which was the second fastest time of the test and almost exactly on lap record pace. After working with some new engine specifications Sykes moved on to work on his chassis and suspension, all the while with a race set-up on his Ninja.

With a stated aim of going 1-2 in the championship again in 2017 the KRT squad has made a very strong first real step into a future that again promises much for riders, team and Kawasaki as a manufacturer.

Next up for all in the team is another Spanish test, this time at Jerez de la Frontera, starting on 21 November. Four days of track action are planned in all.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “The base bike was working quite well here and the track was in quite good condition on both days. We lost a bit of time on day one but on the second day we got really stuck into our test plan. Kawasaki has been working hard on the engine side and we had some upgrades on the chassis, which were positive. Showa have been working well and brought a new shock and forks to try. We are pretty happy and we can continue our work on the suspension side in Jerez next week. On the engine side we have been much more consistent than we have ever been here with race tyres. We were able to do a lot of laps today and it was a very encouraging test.”

Tom Sykes, stated: “We have had two bikes in the garage at this test to try and use the time more efficiently, so we are relatively happy. On hard tyres we have good showing on initial performance and over race distance, so I am pleased. We have been working a lot with the chassis and trying to find a better balance. We have gone absolutely everywhere with the chassis settings as we obviously cannot do that during a race weekend. We have been working to the new 2017 technical rules and overall we have had quite a few little tweaks to the gearbox, clutch, suspension, electronics and chassis. Thanks to the boys in the team and Kawasaki as they have been working so hard. They have hardly put their spanners down.”

Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Step-by-step we have been working well and at the end of day one Jonathan had a good feeling, with quite a lot of laps already on the tyres. He was still doing the lap times, so that was positive. On day two we kept working to understand the new development and follow the testing plan. We reached nearly all the parts we wanted to test. We focused more on the chassis side and the suspension, as we had some new items to test. Jonathan was riding fast, riding really well, and this makes it easier to understand all the test items. We have been working strongly with the four Japanese staff that were at Motorland. We collected a lot of information and at the same time Jonathan was the fastest rider. Now comes the work to analyse everything to prepare for the next test at Jerez.”

Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Tom Sykes, stated: “We only used the SC1 race tyre for both days as it gave us stable performance over 25 laps and our pace was strong with it. The track conditions were also good and the track was clean and consistent, so it provided a high level of grip. We tried mostly chassis and suspension components to suit the new engine character we will have next year. We have reached the targets we set ourselves for this test. Before we started we set a target for lap time and consistency and we have gone even better. I think Tom did around 150 laps over the two days so we worked on a lot of things and took our time over the new items.”

More, from a press release issued by Pata Yamaha:

First Steps Taken Towards 2017 as Lowes and Van Der Mark Complete Aragon Shakedown

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team returned to Spain this week as preparations began for the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Completing two days at Motorland Aragon's 5,077m circuit, the YZF-R1's were put through their paces as the Yamaha crew evaluated a raft of hardware and electronics updates. Alex Lowes and new teammate Michael van der Mark were satisfied with the progress made and new information discovered.

Totalling 141 laps across the 14 hours of track time, Lowes concentrated on multiple race simulations to evaluate the new season parts, witnessing improvements to consistency and lap-times on old tyres from that of his 2016 pace and confirming the appropriate direction for continued development. New chassis components also provided additional success both in initial analysis and under detailed longer runs, while multiple geometry and suspensions settings were fine-tuned to improve the Briton's feeling further.

Van der Mark's introduction to the Pata Yamaha team and machine also proved productive. Initially concentrating on basic set up, balance and understanding his YZF-R1, the Dutchman quickly got comfortable with his new Superbike allowing consistent and impressive pace throughout the test - without pushing for outright times - and already improving on the Yamaha's level of performance achieved during April's race visit.

With the extensive testing program complete and additional areas now identified for targeted development, Lowes and van der Mark are looking forward to 2016's final on-track analysis ahead of the winter break, as the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team travels to Andalucía for three days of testing, scheduled at Circuito de Jerez next week.

Alex Lowes 

"We've worked really hard over the past two days and it's been a good test overall here at Aragon. The final day was probably the best testing day I've had on the R1, with some great consistency and pace during the long race simulations, so I am leaving happy.

"The technical developments have been positive but also the new additions to the team and the way the structure is working seems a good step forward. Michael looks good on the bike and is relaxed and smiling so that's a positive too!

"After these two interesting days we know where we must improve and I feel like the team are working in a good way to achieve that, so I'm looking forward to continuing the work at Jerez next week."

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