World Superbike: Davies Quickest In FP2 At Motorland Aragon (Updated)

World Superbike: Davies Quickest In FP2 At Motorland Aragon (Updated)

© 2021, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

SBK FP2

SBK FP1 + FP2 combined

 

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Davies first in WorldSBK FP2 despite Red Flag, Razgatlioglu fastest overall

A surprise may well be in store this weekend, with all manufacturers inside the top ten, which is covered by less than a second…

 

Toprak Razgatlioglu (54). Photo courtesy Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (54). Photo courtesy Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.

 

A frantic first day of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season provided numerous stories and headlines with the much-anticipated start of the season not disappointing. On the combined times, it was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) who fended off a flying Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) and Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

Toprak Razgatlioglu took top spot in the morning, with Yamaha finding good form in the morning session in the cooler conditions. The Turkish rider has historically struggled at Aragon, as have Yamaha, and in the higher afternoon temperatures, they did drop off once more. Razgatlioglu was fastest overall on the combined times but the Independents were in fine form on Friday too.

Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) finished second overall, also taking top Ducati honours. The Welshman was also on top form in the afternoon session and is the most consistent at all times of the day, a possible sign of what is to come throughout the rest of the weekend. Joining him inside the top three was American Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), with the Texan on fire in the morning but towards the bottom end of the top ten in the afternoon. Third overall, it’s a strong start for Gerloff.

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) led the charge of the Kawasakis, having led the morning session at points before eventually finish fourth, whilst he was sixth on the timesheets in the hotter afternoon outing. Reigning Champion teammate Jonathan Rea was only fifth after the opening session, but in contrast to Lowes, took charge of Kawasaki’s assault in the afternoon, by finishing second. Both Kawasaki riders trialled the SCX tyre in the afternoon, a major talking point throughout Friday. With Lowes and Rea fourth and fifth respectively, expect them to improve on Saturday.

The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team had a fairly unassuming day of action at MotorLand Aragon. Michael Ruben Rinaldi was sixth overall on the timesheets and relied on his FP1 time from the morning, whilst Scott Redding was only 11th in the morning but shaved half-a-second off his time in the afternoon, placing him seventh at the close of the day. Plenty of work to do for the factory Ducati, but they were winners at Aragon in 2020, so they have the potential to bounce back to the front.

It was a mixed Friday back in action for Team HRC, with Alvaro Bautista fourth in FP2 but only eighth in the combined times, whilst Leon Haslam was one place behind him in FP2 in fifth, but tenth overall. Both Bautista and Haslam worked well throughout Friday and will be eager to showcase their strength at a circuit they achieved a podium at in 2020. Both riders tried using the SCX tyre throughout the afternoon, perhaps contemplating it as a possible race option for tomorrow, just as Bautista did last year.

Over at BMW, it was Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) who was flying the flag, but only from his FP1 time in the morning. He was ninth overall, although teammate Michael van der Mark had a torrid first day at the office at Aragon, as he crashed at Turn 8, bringing out the Red Flag. He was OK but missed the rest of the session, leaving him down in 11th overall and completing just 19 laps, the fewest of anyone throughout the day. The other BMWs were also struggling, with Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing) in 14th and Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) only 16th.

The rookies battle was also intense further down the order, with honours eventually going to Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in 12th. He was just ahead of ex-MotoGP™ star Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team) who completed his first day of action at a WorldSBK round in 13th, ahead of Jonas Folger and then Japanese sensation Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).

Christophe Ponsson (Alstare Yamaha) was 18th but suffered a Turn 5 crash in FP2 but finished ahead of the Kawasaki rookies of Isaac Viñales (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) took 21st ahead of Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) and his teammate Samuele Cavalieri.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team HRC:

Team HRC begins its 2021 WorldSBK campaign at a sunny Aragón

The 2021 Superbike World Championship is finally underway at the Motorland Aragón facility in Spain. Team HRC and its factory riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam are highly motivated ahead of the weekend and have completed today’s opening free practice sessions with promising results.

The Superbikes took to the track for the first free practice of the 2021 season earlier this morning. Weather conditions were good, remaining warm and sunny throughout the day, which meant that Bautista, Haslam and their respective teams were able to make the most of the 45-minute session. Essentially starting from where they left off at the recent Aragón tests, Team HRC focused on set-up, working to adapt the CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE to the Spanish track. While Haslam was able to set a fastest time of 1’50.907, Bautista’s best reference was a 1’51.049, times that saw the riders place eighth and tenth respectively at the end of FP1.

Bautista was one of nine riders able to improve on their lap times during the afternoon’s hotter second practice. Setting a 1’50.814 in the early stages, the Spaniard finished fourth, followed by the Brit, fifth with a 1’51 flat. In the combined standings, Bautista rounded out day one in eighth place, with Haslam less than one tenth behind in tenth.

Tomorrow will see Team HRC return to the track for the third and final free practice, followed by the Superpole session and then the first of the weekend’s races, set to get underway at 2pm (CET).

 

Alvaro Bautista (19). Photo courtesy Team HRC.
Alvaro Bautista (19). Photo courtesy Team HRC.

 

Alvaro Bautista  19

FP1 P10 (1’51.049) – FP2 P4 (1’50.814)  COMBINED P8

“We’ve finally started the season and I’m happy that I felt physically good today. In FP1, we tried the new Pirelli front tyre that I never had chance to test over the winter. It has a lot of positives, especially in terms of stability, I think. We also made some adjustments to the electronics to better suit the track conditions, a little cooler compared to when we tested here a couple of weeks ago, and the feeling with the bike was good. This afternoon the temperature was a lot higher, so it was harder to find the same feeling I had this morning. We tried to adapt the set-up to these conditions anyway, as the races will probably take place in similar temperatures. I say ‘probably’ because the forecast says it could be cooler again so it might be a bit hard to prepare, but it’s the same for everyone of course. I’m happy with our first day, and with my feeling with the bike. We are working hard and have more ideas for tomorrow, as we try to make another step and start the season with a good result.”

 

Leon Haslam (91). Photo courtesy Team HRC.
Leon Haslam (91). Photo courtesy Team HRC.

 

Leon Haslam  91

FP1 P8 (1’50.907) – FP2 P5 (1’51.000)  COMBINED P10

“Today hasn’t gone too badly. The lap times seemed to come quite easily at first, although we lost a little time working with the tyres while other riders made a bit of a step up. But we’ve found better consistency, I think. The grip levels weren’t as good as they were during the recent tests, so we need to adapt to that situation, the same as everyone else of course, to try and find the right stability. But the lap times are not far off, and I think conditions tomorrow and Sunday might be cooler, which could help. We’ll see what tomorrow and Sunday bring and continue to work hard to be as prepared as possible for the first races of the season.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Strong First Day For KRT Duo

The 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship began for real for the KRT pairing of Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea at Motorland Aragon, with Lowes fourth fastest and Rea fifth after the first day of practice.

On the new Ninja ZX-10RR Lowes set his best lap time in the cooler morning session, while Rea found enough set-up improvements to improve his best time in FP2 and enter the overall top five.

Warm and dry conditions welcomed the opening day of competitive action but the afternoon rise in temperature made the track surface much hotter than during FP1, offering up less grip as a consequence.

Both KRT riders have tested at Motorland recently but the official track temperature did not reach the 48°C level experienced in FP2 today.

Now all the WorldSBK riders will face a short FP3 session early on Saturday morning, 22 May, to be followed by Tissot Superpole qualifying and then a full distance race one, scheduled to begin at 14.00 local time in Spain.

Sunday 23 May will then offer up a short ten lap Tissot Superpole Race and then a final full distance race at 14.00 again on Sunday afternoon.

Should Rea post a win during this weekend it would be his 100th race victory in WorldSBK. If Alex scores a race win it would be his second in Kawasaki colours, having taken victory in race two at Phillip Island during the opening round of the 2020 season.

Aragon in Spain takes over the honour of being the first round this year due to global Covid restrictions, but for many previous seasons Phillip Island provided a long haul start in Australia for the WorldSBK riders.

 

Alex Lowes (22). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.
Alex Lowes (22). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.

 

Alex Lowes, stated: “We did all the work here in the tests so today so we did not change too much on the bike. This afternoon’s session we had a higher track temperature and I just tried to ride and ride. In the hotter conditions I have not done so many laps on the bike because in the winter tests it was always cold. So I have not much experience and just stayed on track and tried to be a little bit smooth to understand this bike a bit better in these conditions. I didn’t do anything more than that. It looks like tomorrow is going to be a bit cooler again. We have a pretty good setting on the bike.”

 

Jonathan Rea (1). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.
Jonathan Rea (1). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.

 

Jonathan Rea, stated: “First day at ‘school’ but not the same nerves as a Phillip Island build up to round one. Aragon is quite a usual track for us because we do a lot of testing here. It is just nice to get underway. Today the track was a little bit greasy, not so much rubber down and high temperatures, so it was a little bit different to what we had in the tests. So we are just working through that, understanding the set-up a little bit. We are trying not to get too carried away because on Saturday it seems like the temperature is going to drop a little bit. That window of five or ten degrees is huge. For day one I feel OK on the bike but I think there is a lot to improve for these kinds of conditions, so we’ll see what conditions tomorrow brings and be ready to react.”

Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki rider Isaac Vinales Kawasaki placed 19th in Friday’s combined timesheets, with another WorldSBK rider entering his rookie season, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), in 20th place. Loris Cresson and Samuele Cavalieri (both TPR Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) were 22nd and 23rd respectively.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Aruba.it Racing Ducati:

#AragonWorldSBK FP. Rinaldi and Redding ended in 6th and 7th position respectively after intense Friday free practices

The 2021 WorldSBK season officially kicked off with the first two free practice sessions at the Motorland circuit in Aragon (Spain).

Michael Rinaldi and Scott Redding closed respectively in 6th and 7th position at the end of a day in which the very high temperature did not make the Spanish circuit particularly performing.

Free Practice 1

Both Rinaldi and Redding worked on the set up of their Ducati Panigale V4 R. The Italian rider completed 15 laps finishing in 5th position with a time of 1’50.741, recorded in the last run with the new tire. Scott Redding worked throughout the session with the same rear tire completing 17 laps (11th position – 1’51.203).

Free Practice 2

Despite the higher temperature of the asphalt in the afternoon (48°, 17° more than in the morning session), Scott Redding was able to improve his best lap time by almost half a second, finishing in third place with a chrono of 1’50.780, 90 thousandths of a second behind Rea (Kawasaki).

Michael Rinaldi has worked throughout the session on the race pace completing a convincing race simulation of 19 laps and closing the session with a best time of 1’51.179.

 

Michael Ruben Rinaldi (21). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (21). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Michael Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #21)

“Today was a very special day. It was my debut with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team for an official session, that’s why I am very happy and full of pride. I have to admit that both FP1 and FP2 were a bit special. We had to face some inconveniences that we did not expect but despite everything, my race pace is not bad and this gives me great confidence ahead of tomorrow. I’m sure the team will work hard to put me in a position to be competitive”.

 

Scott Redding (45). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Scott Redding (45). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #45)

“I think it was a difficult Friday for all the riders. With my team, we have worked a lot on the choice of tires without focusing on the fast lap time but trying to find a good pace with both solutions. The red flag has interrupted our work but I think we have found positive indications. It’s difficult to compare the feeling I had today with last year’s race, especially because the grip was really lower”.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Barni Racing Team:

Rabat signed his debut in Superbike with a P13 in Free Practice at Motorland Aragon

Alcaniz (SPA), 21 May 2021. For the Barni Racing Team and its rider Tito Rabat the first day at Motorland Aragon, where the first round of the WorldSBK 2021 is taking place, ended with a thirteenth place overall in the combined timesheet. Riding the Ducati Panigale V4 R, Rabat started his new adventure in Superbike with a good pace in FP1, and his best lap (1’51.245) placed him in P12. During the afternoon session, however, the summer temperatures of the Motorland put a strain on the Spanish rider. With almost 30°C in the air and the tarmac that reached 48°C, Rabat complained of a lack of feeling with the bike and the team had to work during the session to find a new setup that would allow the rider to ride at his best. Rabat lapped 1’52.306 in FP2 and he was P16 in the session. Tomorrow the Superbike will be back on track at 9.00 am for the third Free Practice session, while at 11.10 am the Superpole will be held. The first race of the year will start at 14.00.

 

Tito Rabat (53). Photo courtesy Barni Racing.
Tito Rabat (53). Photo courtesy Barni Racing.

 

Tito Rabat, #53 

“After a good FP1 where we were able to make a good time, in line with the riders who lapped with the SC0, in the afternoon, I struggled a bit more riding the bike. I had some problems with the front due to the hot track. However, we have not to lose our confidence; we know where we have to work and if we will be able to find the right setup, I think we can have a good race tomorrow.”

Marco Barnabò – Team Principal 

“In the morning Free Practice the lap time was quite good, the conditions were similar to those we found in the tests and we were able to interpret the track well. In the afternoon, the temperatures rose a lot: it was the first time we rode with such a hot asphalt forcing us to change the setup of the bike. With over forty degrees on the asphalt, we found ourselves in trouble, and that’s why we are working to find the right setup even with high temperatures.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport WorldSBK Team:

BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team kicks off the 2021 WorldSBK season at MotorLand Aragon.

The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team today completed day 1 of the 2021 World Superbike Championship at MotorLand Aragon. Fresh from the pre-season test here just two weeks ago, this would be the first time that all competitors would be on track together.

In FP1, both Tom Sykes and Michael van der Mark did well, consistently staying in the top part of the standings however with bike set-up being the focus of the session. Tom spent majority of the session within the top 3, however dropped places in the final moments as he opted to remain with his used tyre throughout – gaining valuable data.

Michael equally went about his FP1 well, still getting to know his BMW M 1000 RR the team made some minor adjustments during the session which resulted in him finishing in P9. (1’50.966) +1.014 behind session topper Toprak Razgatlioglu.

In the final session of the day the track temperature soared meaning lack of grip hindered both riders. Michael had an unfortunate crash at T8, which resulted in him sitting out the session, thankfully he was unharmed. Sykes missed out on the top 10 positions, finishing in P13 (1’52.061).

On combined session times, Tom Sykes finished in P9, Michael van der Mark in P11.
 

Shaun Muir, Team Principal

“FP1 was reasonably okay, we found a good setting for both riders which was pleasing. Tom went out and used only one tyre this morning, Michael used two rear tyres as he found a setting which was comfortable for him.

Michael then went back out in FP2 on that used rear tyre from FP1 and unfortunately lost the front at T8, which is an easy crash to make but thankfully he is OK and there is not too much damage on the bike. However, this meant that Michael’s session was over, which was a shame as we needed the laps in the hot conditions for the race.

Tom started off the weekend well and was within the top 8, but this afternoon he struggled and lost his way a bit, so we are having to go back as he did not have the same feeling in the hot conditions as he did this morning. This is something we need to work on”
 

Tom Sykes (66). Photo courtesy BMW Motorrad Motorsport.
Tom Sykes (66). Photo courtesy BMW Motorrad Motorsport.

 

Tom Sykes

“Straight into FP1 the majority of riders were using the SC0 tyre, which straight away worked for us and we had a good feeling with the bike. Towards the end of the session people started using the “X” tyre, which pushed us down the order as we opted to stay with the SC0.  This afternoon’s session obviously got a lot warmer and as we had a few items to try out this affected overall lap time performance. But, tomorrow is another day and we will keep working”
 

Michael van der Mark

“I think the first session this morning for us was good. We lacked a lot of grip at first but during the session, but we managed to find it, which meant at the end of the session I was able to do some good laps. We also understood some areas we can work on especially in the braking phase, so this was a good step for us.

The afternoon session was a lot warmer and very different conditions. I was feeling okay but unfortunately, I had a crash at T8 which was a shame as I planned to do some long runs in the hot conditions.  A lot of work to do for the boys tonight unfortunately, but we will come back again strong tomorrow”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Go Eleven:

GREAT START IN THE GO ELEVEN BOX, CHAZ DAVIES IS THE FASTEST OF THE AFTERNOON!

Chaz Davies and Team Go Eleven are protagonists on the Motorland Aragon track. Free practice ended in the best possible way for the Welsh rider, who set the best time in the afternoon session, after the second position set in the morning.

A really positive start for the Italian team, which was able to take advantage of the first Friday of the year to create a good set-up that would sew the Panigale V4-RS with the aggressive riding style of the number 7. In the morning the cooler temperatures, around 28 degrees of asphalt, allowed us to set the best times of the day; Chaz stopped the chronometer a few tenths from the Yamaha rider Toprak, immediately finding himself at ease with the track conditions.

For the afternoon session, the asphalt reached temperatures close to 50 degrees, slightly changing the values. Chaz Davies started using the used tyre from the morning, to evaluate the drop for the race distance. In the last few minutes, just enough time to change tyres, and it was immediately time to see Chaz back on track. With his usual, spectacular slidings, he took the Ducati Go Eleven in the lead with a time of 1.50.400, about two tenths faster than his rivals.

The forecasts, both for tomorrow and Sunday, announce a drop in temperatures, which could reshuffle the cards on the table. The choice of the rear tyre will be crucial, which will depend a lot on the weather conditions. We just have to wait impatiently for tomorrow’s race and qualifying. By now, however, concluding in the top 3 on Friday gives a further boost for the rest of the weekend!

Tomorrow, 11.10 Superpole and 14.00 the first start of the season!

Denis Sacchetti (Team Manager):

“We couldn’t have expected a better start! It’s only Friday, and we are only at the first sessions of a long championship, but it was important for both us and the rider to measure ourselves on these results, and to have feedback on the work done in the winter tests. The race will be very tough, because we are at the limit with tyre drop, but the spirit is high and I think the values on the field are the same, so I think we will live really amazing races!”

 

Chaz Davies (7). Photo courtesy Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.
Chaz Davies (7). Photo courtesy Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.

 

Chaz Davies (Rider):

“It has been a very positive day, it was the first day of the real season, quite late in May. We have been second quickest in the coolest conditions this morning and quickest this afternoon in the hot. It’s a positive start with the Go Eleven team and I have to be happy with the way we worked today; we set a plan yesterday and we followed that. Today the conditions were much hotter than what we tested in, so we have a set-up even in cooler race conditions. It looks like it has gonna be cooler for the next two days, so I am not sure how relevant this afternoon session will be. It could be a good thing, because hotter conditions we have to work with the bike, not fo the tyre, but for the feeling. We are very close, it’s just details. We hope to continue the progress tomorrow, I couldn’t have asked for a better start of the season!”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

Razgatlıoğlu Untouchable in Aragón Combined Friday Free Practice 

Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu drew first blood as the fastest man on track, as the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship kicked off at MotorLand Aragón today.

The 24-year-old Turkish sensation was the only rider to break the 1’50 barrier with a blisteringly-quick lap time in the morning’s cooler Free Practice 1 session. A 1’49.952 put Razgatlıoğlu more than three-tenths clear of his nearest rival, Chaz Davies on the private Team GoEleven Ducati.

As track temperatures topped 48°C (air: 27°C) at 15:00 for Free Practice 2, across the field the focus shifted to used-tyre stints and race simulation work. Razgatlıoğlu demonstrated a mature approach in working to understand the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK’s performance under varying grip conditions, as he and his teammate were the only riders to complete full race distance runs in the heat.

On the opposite side of the pit box, Andrea Locatelli had a difficult start to his first race weekend in WorldSBK, struggling to match the faster pace set by the front runners in Free Practice 1. However, after taking the middle part of the day to reset and work with his crew, the 2020 FIM Supersport World Champion bounced back in the afternoon to enjoy improved confidence and a positive long run in preparation for Race 1 tomorrow.

Both riders will have one final Free Practice 3 session tomorrow morning with 30 minutes to make any final adjustments ahead of the all-important Superpole qualifying at 11:10 (CEST), where they will have just 15 minutes to set their fastest lap time to establish grid position for both Race 1 at 14:00 and Sunday’s 10-lap Superpole Race.

 

Toprak Razgatlioglu (54). Photo courtesy Yamaha.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (54). Photo courtesy Yamaha.

 

Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: P1 – 1’49.952

“Today was a very good start! I am happy because everything worked really well together. In the afternoon, we tried a full race simulation which was a good improvement compared to last year, and we understand a lot about how the bike and tyres behave after the first 10 laps. This is very important for the race to understand where and how I can be faster. We continue working because in Free Practice 3 we will try some small changes to see if we can improve more. We will see if we can fight with the top riders tomorrow, not easy at this track but I will try!”

 

Andrea Locatelli (55). Photo courtesy Yamaha.
Andrea Locatelli (55). Photo courtesy Yamaha.

 

Andrea Locatelli: P17 – 1’51.781

“In the end, I think we did a much better job this afternoon because the feeling with the bike returned to how it was during the last test here in Aragón, which gives me more confidence. We made a proper long run during the afternoon also to understand the tyre and see if it is possible to race on the softer compound. I am happy because the feeling is now good, we just need to work on the exit of the corner. Now I can brake and stop the bike well, this area is very good and I hope we can improve in all areas tomorrow ahead of the first race. We will see! It is the first race for me and for sure, I need to enjoy it and also learn for the next races on Sunday.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal

“We’re used to being in Phillip Island from the middle of February to start the WorldSBK season, so it’s great to finally be able to begin here in Aragón. It’s been a very positive start and honestly a little bit better than expected! Toprak showed great outright pace in this morning’s FP1 and backed it up with a full-distance race simulation this afternoon in the heat – which was difficult, and we suffered with quite a drop in grip as the simulation went on, but the information gathered is absolutely invaluable and also shows Toprak’s improvement as a professional to do the hard work in preparation for the races. Andrea had a tough start to his career as an official Yamaha WorldSBK rider this morning – maybe a little bit too much tension and a little bit too much expectation. But he bounced back very well this afternoon, helped by his teammate allowing him to follow at the start of the long run, and Andrea did well to increase his pace compared to this morning in this afternoon’s hot temperatures. Tomorrow afternoon we race for the first time in 2021 and we’re looking forward to it!”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by GRT Yamaha:

Changing track conditions complicate GRT’s day 1 in Aragon

 

Garrett Gerloff (31). Photo courtesy Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.
Garrett Gerloff (31). Photo courtesy Dorna WorldSBK Press Office.

 

With the long winter break now over, the FIM Superbike World Championship paddock reunited today at the MotorLand Aragón to get the first round of the season under way. FP1, normally used by the teams and riders to start acquiring confidence with the track and the bikes’ setup, proved instead to be the one in which most of the fastest laptimes were set, due to much lower track temperatures in comparison to the afternoon’s FP2 (31°C, as opposed to 48°C).

For the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team the first day of the weekend represented an important opportunity to test the performance of the R1 with different grip levels. In the cold FP1 things looked to be headed in the right direction, with both riders feeling competitive and satisfied with their bikes’ setup. Although, in the afternoon things changed: the single-lap performance of the R1 was negatively affected by the limited grip offered by the warmer track, leaving both Garrett Gerloff and Kohta Nozane distant from the top of the speed charts, whereas the long run pace remained strong. The GRT Team remains confident, as the temperature is forecasted to be lower tomorrow.

In this morning’s FP1, Gerloff picked up where he had left off in the winter tests, and was immediately quick enough to clock in the third fastest time, a 1’50.442. In the FP2, instead, he struggled due to the aforementioned lack of grip, but still managed to set a 1’51.238, good enough for tenth position. The 34 laps run throughout the day allowed him and his crew to collect information and data that will be crucial for the choice of tomorrow’s race setup.

Nozane, instead, focused on building over the experience made during the Aragón tests from last month, in order to start getting closer to his teammate and the leaders. His Friday started well, with a 1’51.376 in the FP1 which gave him the 14th fastest time and which, more importantly, placed him 1,4 seconds behind Razgatlioglu’s chart-topping 1’49.952, the closest he has ever been to the leader. In the FP2, though, he did not manage to improve his laptime, and was 15th, a 1’52.238 being his fastest lap of the session. He completed 33 laps in total throughout the day.

Garrett Gerloff: 1’50.442, 34 laps

“It seems like this track has a lot more grip when it’s cooler, as we witnessed today. The bike worked really well both in the morning and in the afternoon, but in the FP2 there was just way less grip, so it was more difficult to carry the corner speed that Yamaha is known for. We are a little bit off laptime-wise, but our race pace is actually pretty good in comparison to the other riders. Tomorrow should be cooler anyway, so it will be good for us. I am happy to be here because we finally get to go racing, and also because, even though we didn’t get the results to demonstrate it, this is the track where we really made our big step forward last year. We are working well with Les (Pearson, chief engineer) and the team, and the goal for this weekend is to do my best.”

Kohta Nozane: 1’51.376, 33 laps

“Despite all the laps I ran here during testing, I was super nervous at the beginning of the day so it was a bit difficult to get into the right rhythm. In the morning I managed to set a good lap, and I was expecting to improve further in FP2, but unfortunately the conditions of the track and the temperatures didn’t allow me to do that. Still, I learned a lot today, and that is very positive. Tomorrow I will try to do the best that I can.”

The on-track activity will resume tomorrow, with FP3 getting the day started at 9 AM, followed by the Superpole at 11:10 AM, and by race 1 at 2 PM, local time.

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