Redding and Davies capitalise on Rea absence to top Aragon Test
Final three hours see most of the day’s action, with Ducati dominating the timesheets
Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) set the pace ahead of his teammate Chaz Davies on the final day of testing at Aragón
The battle lines for the 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship have begun to be drawn after two days of testing at the Spanish circuit of MotorLand Aragon. Despite the heavily limited dry track time on both Wednesday and Thursday, the visit to the Alcañiz circuit has allowed us a first glimpse into what awaits the Championship next year, with nine top WorldSBK riders participating over the course of both days.
Many questions naturally remain unanswered; one that does not is whether Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) can adapt to this new chapter in his career. The Gloucestershire rider, who was suffering from food poisoning hours before the test was due to start, finished day two at the top of the timesheets. One of just three riders to go out on wet conditions as well, Redding clocked in a best time of 1’49.929 after 60 laps, beating teammate Chaz Davies by two tenths of a second – both faster than Rea’s best time from the day before.
Leon Camier (BARNI Racing Team) was the first WorldSBK rider to set out in the morning and occupied first place on the timing sheets until the final three hours of running, yet his day was over nearly as quickly as it started. A slip at Turn 9 left the English rider feeling significant pain in his left shoulder – the same one he had surgery on last July – which prompted a quick visit to Alcañiz hospital. Thankfully, Camier was back in his garage a couple of hours later, although the day was over for him with just four laps completed.
That was four more than Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made on Thursday. The reigning Champion already opted to skip the wet hours of Wednesday testing, and with improvements uncertain for the afternoon both the team and he decided to reschedule their programme for Jerez.
That left Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) as the only rider waving the Kawasaki flag on day two. The 2019 bronze medallist already mentioned the day before that 25 dry laps were “not enough to understand the bike completely”, so Thursday’s inclement weather will not have helped. Heading onto the track shortly before 2 pm, Lowes nonetheless managed 50 laps and improved his performance from the day before, closing the gap with the leading riders and even dipping into the 1’50s. Jerez will hopefully give the 29-year-old more time to work on a set-up suited to his riding style.
Over to his old colleagues in Yamaha, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) continued his calm approach to pre-season while he awaits the 2020 YZF R1. A small crash at Turn 11 was the only blotch on an otherwise positive day in Spain, with 20 timed laps completed.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) meanwhile – testing with two bikes and a teammate for the first time in his career – was still focused on getting more laps under his belt yet managed to improve his fastest lap from Wednesday by six tenths of a second, finishing the day as best Yamaha and fourth overall. With two riders of a similar build and both relying strongly on front-end feeling, much of the work on both sides of the Pata Yamaha garage has been in the same direction, in terms of set-up.
On the GRT Yamaha side of things, Garrett Gerloff topped his efforts from day one by a full seven tenths of a second, propelling him into sixth on the timesheets and only 0.05s behind van der Mark’s fastest time. The US rookie, testing Pirelli tyres for the first time on Wednesday, has lauded the performance of the front compound while also finding the rear tricky to understand in these early stages. Going by his Thursday improvements, the 24-year-old is a quick learner – although a nasty, late crash at Turn 2 will keep him on his toes for next time (rider OK).
Closing the timesheets from the other side of the garage, Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) nonetheless closed the gap with the more experienced riders in front of him, dropping into the 1’52s. The Italian youngster has been working on electronics and his riding style, as he makes the steep jump from Supersport machinery to WorldSBK – not just in terms of power, but set-ups, braking and weight.
Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) was the sole non-WorldSBK rider who took to the Aragon tarmac, putting in 55 laps on day two with a best time of 2’09.070 – half a second quicker than on Wednesday.
The next test on their radar will be in Jerez, in two weeks’ time – one final meet-up before enjoying a well deserved winter break.
Aragón Test Day Two Unofficial Times:
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’49.929 – 60 laps
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’50.185 – 30 laps
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’50.653 – 50 laps
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) 1’50.657 – 36 laps
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) 1’51.088 – 20 laps
Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) 1’51.133 – 25 laps
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) 1’52.477 – 39 laps
Leon Camier (BARNI Racing Team) 2’03.047 – 4 laps
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), no time recorded – 0 laps
More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:
Rea And Lowes Complete First Joint Test Sessions
Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes have completed successful tests at Motorland Aragon in Spain, in changeable track conditions, as the new KRT pairing took their first steps toward the 2020 FIM Superbike World Championship season.
Five-time World Champion Rea set a best lap time of 1’50.416 on day one of the test before opting to sit-out the wet start to day two, and ultimately the entire second day itself.
Rea had already tried some new set-up ideas and components on his championship-winning machine, and now looks forward to the next tests in Spain at the end of this month.
Lowes, taking part in his first tests on the official KRT Ninja ZX-10RR, took to the circuit each day and eventually reduced his best lap time to 1’50.653 when the weather improved this afternoon.
The 5.077km long Aragon circuit, in the north of Spain, provided a wide variety of different track conditions for the riders and the team’s technical staff to deal with over these first two days of winter testing, accelerating Lowes’ familiarity with his new machine.
After the completion of the Motorland Aragon tests the next track outing for Rea and Lowes will be another two-day test session, to be held at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit between 28 and 29 November.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “We have been a bit unlucky with the weather and the only track time we could use was in the afternoons. Even in windy and cold conditions we were able to be fast and we have a consistent understanding of some new components in our test plan. While we have nothing revolutionary to try we will continue to evaluate some ideas that we have to improve our ZX-10RR in the next tests at Jerez, where we hope to find consistent conditions to complete our test plan.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “It was a good test and great to get out on the bike. With the weather conditions we got one full day out of two days on track, but today was good. I am adapting to the bike really well and, more importantly, adapting to the team really well. They understand my comments and going forward that will be a big help to improve the bike set-up. I really enjoyed the bike and I feel that is a more natural way to ride for me. It was really positive and I am really happy to have started the next chapter with the KRT team. I am really happy and a big thank you to all the team for welcoming me at the first test.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “We had a good test in general. The first day it started out wet, and then it was cold and very windy. In the end we put in some real priority items into the schedule yesterday because I knew it was going to rain again today and our time was going to be limited. We tried the biggest items and we will try them again in Jerez. The results were positive and Jonathan was fastest yesterday – and the most consistent – because he did many laps inside the 1’50s. He has a good feeling with the bike the way it is now. At Jerez we will have another two days to work with and I hope it will be dry to continue working for the new season.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “This test was a very nice experience. Of course the weather took away 50% of our track time but everybody is smiling, so this shows that everything was positive. I am impressed by the way Alex is building up his speed. He is able to give us very clear and to the point feedback. This is the way we need to work so that was very nice. He was able to go into the 1’50s fairly easily today. We are fully in schedule. He used a Q tyre to give Alex the first impression of what it does with this bike, just for information for the future. He understands how to extract more from it already. I am a happy man and that was a very pleasant first test with Alex.”