Big names, big changes: what does the Aragon test have in prospect?
With plenty of rider swaps and team changes, as well as fresh rookies, the MotorLand Aragon circuit hosts WorldSBK testing across the next two days!
Despite the season having come to an end, the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship beckons and the first look at new riders and new alliances will come at the Aragon test on the 13th and 14th of November. The Spanish venue will once again provide the opportunity for teams and riders to become accustomed to their new surroundings and build a solid platform to work from. With six teams – of which five have new line-ups – all in attendance, there’s plenty to look out for in the coming days.
Reigning Champions Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK will be in action at MotorLand Aragon, with Jonathan Rea keen to start his title defence as soon as possible. The British rider secured a record-smashing fifth consecutive title in 2019 and will want to go on and achieve a sixth in 2020. However, he has a new teammate and for the first time, Alex Lowes will be seen in action in green. The 2018 WorldSBK race winner and reigning bronze-medalist is to set his sights on bedding in well with the Kawasaki ZX-10RR and gel well with the Provec Racing squad.
Having clinched second place in the Riders’ and Teams’ standings for the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season, the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati outfit are eager to go one better in 2020. The season for them starts at the MotorLand Aragon test where Chaz Davies and new teammate Scott Redding will be keen to get down to a strong pace and get the right feeling for 2020. Davies has unrivalled success at Aragon and loves the fast, flowing and dramatic nature of the circuit. For Scott Redding, it will be his first visit to the circuit in two years and his first ride out on a WorldSBK-spec Ducati Panigale V4 R, adding to the exciting spectacle.
There’s a partial new look for the team who finished third overall too, as the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team field Michael van der Mark for a third season, whilst also recruiting Toprak Razgatlioglu for 2020 too. With both riders being tall and aggressive, there will be a common ground to work from for next year. Van der Mark will be eager to hit the ground running from the start whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu will, like Lowes and Redding, me making his debut with his new machinery. The 23-year-old is an exciting prospect in 2020 and will look to be one to watch from the off.
Bedding into his new manufacturer will be Leon Camier (BARNI Racing Team), who throws his leg over the Ducati Panigale V4 R for the first time, in his bid to return to the top six. The British rider, who has nine WorldSBK podiums to his name, will get his first taste of Ducati power during the Aragon test. Understanding the bike and eradicating any teething problems will be a priority for the 33-year-old, who is with his third manufacturer in four seasons.
One of the most exciting teams on paper going into 2020 are 2019 rookies GRT Yamaha, who field World Supersport runner-up Federico Caricasulo and MotoAmerica Superbike race winner, Garrett Gerloff. Both riders will be at the Aragon test on Wednesday and Thursday for their first taste of World Superbike action. Caricasulo will be eager to repeat what Sandro Cortese achieved in his first year, whilst Garrett Gerloff will to take to MotorLand Aragon for the first time, as well as get aboard the WorldSBK-spec Yamaha YZF-R1 and get used to Pirelli tyres.
During the morning on Wednesday, Manuel Gonzalez and Ana Carrasco will get to have four laps each on Jonathan Rea’s Championship-clinching ZX-10RR. This is a reward for delivering the Japanese manufacturer the WorldSSP300 Riders’ and Manufacturers’ Championships across the last two years.
More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki Motors Europe:
New KRT Line-Up Takes First Steps Together
Five-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea will be joined by his new KRT team-mate Alex Lowes on track for the first time tomorrow, the opening day of a two-day test session at the Motorland Aragon circuit in the north of Spain.
After the culmination of the 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship under floodlights at the Losail circuit at the end of October, the 2020 season effectively begins on Wednesday 13 November. Despite this short turnaround Kawasaki’s new-look official rider-line up of Rea and Lowes is fully ready to make the most of this first testing opportunity together.
For Rea the goals of the test are to find even greater overall set-up improvements than it is possible to find in a normal race weekend, and in particular to improve the performance of his race set-up at the 5.077 km long Motorland Aragon circuit itself.
Rea will rejoin his technical crew, led by Pere Riba, for the Motorland sessions before the whole team heads to the South of Spain, and the Jerez circuit, for the final on-track test of the calendar year. That two-day outing will be held between 28 and 29 November.
Latest KRT signing Lowes is keen to get going on a championship-winning bike that will be all new for him, as well as working with his crew chief Marcel Duinker and other technical staff. A proven WorldSBK race winner, and most recently a nine-times podium scorer in the 2019 season, Lowes was third in the overall championship standings this year.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has only been a couple of weeks since the end of the season but I am more than ready to get back on the bike. I feel excited. We left Qatar with good sensations from the ZX-10RR and I hope to improve that in Motorland. We had some challenges there this year during race weekend, so we will confirm that by comparison with the base settings we ended the season with, and also simply try to enjoy the bike. I am looking forward to seeing all the guys again and getting back to business. I will be keeping an eye on the weather and I hope we can get in a solid two days of testing.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I am really looking forward to the new challenge; starting the new project. Obviously my first objective in Aragon is to start working with Marcel and all my crew, to get those relationships started. Obviously, that is just as important as the feeling with the bike. Apart from the normal things like just going to work and getting used to everything, giving myself the chance to get up to speed, I am looking forward to enjoying it. It is a big change from what I have been used to over the last few years, riding the same bike. So, nice and steady away; I feel really fresh and motivated to get started.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “There are two main targets at this test. One is for Jonathan continuing his work after an incredible season. He has arrived at a strong level and now we will see how we can adapt the set-ups we have used through the year. We will try to cover all the set-up ideas we had in mind but could not test during race weekends. We will work to clarify some ideas to improve, to let Johnny go faster at some circuits and be more comfortable doing it. This is one aspect of the test. Of course, the target now for Alex is different. It is a new bike and new team for him, and a new rider for the team. So we need to understand him, what he needs to go fast, how he starts to work with his crew chief Marcel. Their communication, feelings and understandings are important. We need to make this step-by-step together and work calmly, then take good notes of how to continue this relationship in Jerez at the next test.”
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2019: Races 37, Wins 18, Podiums 34, Superpoles 7
Career Race Wins: 88 (73 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 168 (126 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 23 (19 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 37, Wins 0, Podiums 9, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 20 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
7 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
5 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017, 2018 & 2019)
5 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 146 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 433 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 88 – second overall