More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
More history made: Rea takes 100th WorldSBK with Race 1 victory at Aragon
The six-time World Champion continues to make history with a lights-to-flag victory at MotorLand Aragon
The start of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season brought more history for the record books as Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) claimed a stunning victory in Race 1 at MotorLand Aragon to claim his 100th race victory in WorldSBK, the first man to win 100 races in a single class of FIM road racing world championships.
Rea led a Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK 1-2 with Alex Lowes coming home in second place, four seconds away from Rea after challenging him in the early stages of the races. Lowes was under pressure from Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) and finished in second place by just 0.043s ahead of the Turkish rider, who had battled through from tenth on the grid.
Rea was able to retain the lead of the race but was immediately put under pressure by teammate Lowes – looking to be the one who would deny Rea his 100th WorldSBK victory for the time being.
Scott Redding (Aruba.It Racing – Ducati) ran in third in the early stages of the race but was unable to keep up with the pace of the Kawasakis out in front, ensuring Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) and Razgatlioglu, who started tenth, were able to stay in podium contention but not challenge the Kawasakis in the early stages.
Razgatlioglu was the first rider to get by Redding on the inside of the left-hander of Turn 1, allowing the Turkish rider to start chasing down the Kawasakis out in front. Davies followed a lap later with a sensational overtake on Redding at Turn 2 with Davies looking to add to his win total at Aragon.
After getting past Redding, the Turkish star had his eyes set on Lowes who was his next target for second place, with Razgatlioglu able to get past Lowes before he started to move his target towards Rea. Razgatlioglu was unable to break away from Lowes and Davies but started lapping faster than Rea with around five laps to go, although not fast enough to put pressure on Rea in the closing stages of the race.
On Lap 16, Lowes tried to re-pass Razgatlioglu at Turn 4 and briefly got ahead but the Turkish rider was able to brake later on the brakes, a theme that ran throughout the last few laps of the race, keeping Davies in contention for second place. At the final corner, Lowes again briefly got ahead but Razgatlioglu was able to just about defend his position although the British rider finaly got by at Turn 1 on Lap 17. The battle was not over as the race came to a conclusion as the pair duelled it out, with Lowes winning out on a drag race to the line for a KRT 1-2; both Lowes and Razgatlioglu claiming their 25th WorldSBK podium.
The battle allowed Redding and Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) to close in on the battle for second, although Redding dropped Bautista as he approached the battle creating a four-way battle for second place; although Bautista crashed out of the race on the final lap at Turn 2, forcing the Spanish rider to retire. After losing out earlier in the race, Redding was able to get by former teammate Davies for fourth place as the final lap started, with Redding finishing fourth and Davies fifth.
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was unable to convert third on the grid to a podium finish but, after a difficult start, was able to manage his SCX tyre to come home in sixth place in the M 1000 RR’s first race. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.It Racing – Ducati) was another who managed the SCX tyre with seventh place, around two seconds clear of Leon Haslam (Team HRC).
American star Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) claimed a top ten finish at MotorLand Aragon, seven seconds clear of factory Yamaha rider Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) who claimed a top ten finish in his first WorldSBK race. Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) finished 11th on his debut for BMW, with Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in 12th.
Three more rookies secured points finishes on their WorldSBK debut with Isaac Viñales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) rounded out the top ten, with Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Action), Christophe Ponsson (Alstare Yamaha) and Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) the last of the runners.
Rookie Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team) was the first to retire from the race with a technical issue in the early stages of the race after securing a top-12 starting grid spot, while Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) brought his Honda machine into the pitlane on Lap 8 with the Argentinean rider not finishing the race. Rookie Samuele Cavalieri (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) was another retirement from the race around the halfway stage, bringing his Kawasaki machine into the garage. Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) brought his BMW machine back to the garage on lap 14 of 18 with an issue after running close to the top ten for the majority of the race.
More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:
Rea Reaches Landmark Of 100 Wins
Jonathan Rea (KRT) took his 100th career World SBK race win and his 85th victory for Kawasaki with a start-to-finish leading performance in the first race of the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship season. Alex Lowes (KRT) shadowed his team-mate Rea in the early laps and showed great fighting qualities to finish second, starting the season with a Kawasaki 1-2 debut for the new Ninja ZX-10RR.
After a long winter the WorldSBK season began in great style for Kawasaki and the latest Ninja ZX-10RR, culminating in a podium-topping display from Rea and Lowes against a strong group of rivals.
In Superpole Rea set a new track best lap time of 1’48.458 in the relatively cool morning conditions of day two at Motorland. Lowes placed fourth after Superpole, putting himself at the head of the second row of the grid.
In the early laps of the opening race, started at 14.00 local time in Spain, Rea led and Lowes was second, stretching a joint lead of one second on the chasing pack in just two laps. That lead was extended to two seconds for Rea and he would have a calm and controlled ride all the way to the flag to take his famous win by almost four seconds.
Lowes started to drop back from Rea after experiencing two front end slides and he was eventually caught and passed by Toprak Razgatlioglu on lap 11. He was able to control his pace and then make a final push, using his advantages at just the right point of the final lap to take second place by 0.043 seconds.
Now Rea and Lowes will face two races on Sunday May 23; the short ten-lap Tissot Superpole ‘sprint’ race and then a second full distance 18-lap race to complete the first weekend’s return to race action since last October.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “We reached 100 race wins today and it was done with a lot of hard work. Over the off season Kawasaki really dug in with a new bike and we were able to make a step. Also in the off season I worked really hard on myself and I know I improved in all areas. I was born with the dream of racing motorbikes, and going with my parents to ride around Motocross tracks in 1993, ’94. The history is mad. Getting the opportunity to come to the world championship, in 2008 in Supersport, and straight away after my rookie season going to Superbike. Taking my first race win at Misano in 2009 as a rookie and now with 100 wins… It’s mad! Each and every race win is special, and I have never been a statistics guy, but when I was closing in on 100 wins that was a big goal. It is such a cool number and a career landmark. I am very proud of it. We had been a little bit unlucky in the winter tests with bad weather but my team have left no stone unturned and turned up at every test we could. They reorganised and rescheduled things so huge thanks to all the staff. Not only the management but all the mechanics and their families for making this sacrifice. We have been away from home so long this off season, often for no laps, but we are in a good position now. To win the first race starts our championship off 25 points better than last year! That was a good way to start.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I I felt good all weekend, I have been really strong and got lots of laps in. In the race, maybe on lap six or seven, I found some problems, struggling with the front of the bike. I did not expect that. I had two slides on the entry to turn five, then turn ten. I thought that as this is the first race of the year, if I crash now it is just for nothing. I thought to myself, find your rhythm, let Jonathan go, then when somebody passes you, try to fight. Then I realised it was Toprak and he is so good on the brakes! In this area, for some reason, I didn’t have the same feeling like I had in the practice sessions. Luckily Toprak used an SCX rear tyre and he started to slide a lot. I was quite smooth, managed well and started to battle with him again. The second part of the race was quite tough but with the difficulty I had I didn’t expect to be there at the end for second. The positive point was that qualifying was good, the start was good and I was riding well at the start, so we can try to improve for tomorrow.”
Isaac Vinales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 13th in his first WorldSBK Race, with Kawasaki Puccetti Team rider Lucas Mahias 15th – both scoring points first time out. Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 18th as his team-mate Samuele Cavalieri retired from the opening race.
More, from a press release issued by Aruba.it Racing Ducati:
#AragonWorldSBK Race-1. Not an easy Saturday for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team as Scott Redding and Michael Rinaldi ended the season opener in 4th and 7th position respectively.
Scott Redding and Michael Rinaldi finished fourth and seventh in the first race of the 2021 WorldSBK season.
A quite complex Saturday for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team that will be back on track tomorrow for the Superpole Race and Race-2 of the Pirelli Aragon Round.
After a convincing FP3, Scott Redding did not take any risk in the first run with the “X” tire. Then he pushed to the maximum with the “Q” tire, setting the momentary track record (1’48.733) before the final fastest time set by Rea (Kawasaki).
The low temperature did not help Michael Rinaldi, as he couldn’t get the best out of his qualifying tire and he had to settle for the third row (P9) with a time of 1’49.516.
Scott Redding’s start was quite difficult and from the third lap he has started to lose contact with the Kawasaki duo.
The English rider did not find grip with the rear tire and between the 5th and 6th lap he was overtaken by Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) and Davies (Ducati).
Redding had the merit of not giving up: after having overtaken Davies, he came back in contact with the podium group during the last three laps, but he finished 4th only 2 tenths of a second behind Razgatlioglu (Yamaha).
It was not an easy Saturday for Michael Rinaldi, too. He started the race with the “X” tire and after having fought with Bautista (Honda) during the first 3 laps, from mid-race on the Italian rider found a better pace passing first Haslam (Honda), then Gerloff (Yamaha) to finish in 7th position.
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #45)
“It was a very difficult race for me. Since the first laps, I felt I didn’t have enough grip to keep the pace with Rea and Lowes. The temperature went up compared to the morning, and it might have been a problem, even though that same condition seemed to be an advantage for us last year. I’m sorry I couldn’t be competitive to stay with the two Kawasaki’s. We have to analyze the data and understand where we can improve but I have full confidence in my team and I’m sure we can find some solutions to be more competitive tomorrow.”
Michael Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #21)
“I can’t be satisfied with today’s race because I wasn’t able to express my potential. I wasn’t able to find the feeling I needed to push as hard as I could. Obviously, we need to work on this. I wished for a different debut in my first race with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team but at the same time, we really brought home the best possible result, given the circumstances. We will work hard tonight, focusing on the data, which are strategic. I explained well to my team what happened during the race and I’m sure we’ll find some answers for tomorrow”.
More, from a press release issued by Barni Racing Team:
Rabat forced to retirement due to a technical issue in Race 1 at Motorland Aragon
Alcaniz (SPA), 22 May 2021. Tito Rabat’s first Superbike race lasted only two laps. The Barni Racing Team rider was forced to retire due to a technical problem on his Ducati Panigale V4 R when he was in P11, fighting for the top 10. Thanks to a good performance in FP3, confirmed in Superpole (1’49.761), the Spanish rider lined up on the eleventh spot of the grid. After a good start, the #53 overtook Nozane and joined Bautista, but before he could attempt an attack he was forced to retire. Thanks to the improvements shown in practice, the Barni Racing Team and Rabat will try to make up for it tomorrow in the Superpole Race (11:00 am) and in Race 2 (2:00 pm).
Tito Rabat, #53
“After a slightly complicated Friday we had found a set-up that would allow us to have a good race. The start was good enough and the feelings in the first two laps were positive. For this reason I believe that without technical problems tomorrow we can take what bad luck has taken away from us today.”
Marco Barnabò – Team Principal
«I’m very disappointed for the result of the race, but trying to look at the positive side I can say that both in FP3 and Superpole we were able to find a good compromise allowing Tito to ride well. The rider was satisfied and he confirmed the feeling even in the only two laps of the race. Probably this is the most important thing: I’m sure that, without the technical problem, we could have been fighting for the Top 5. On one hand there is the regret for not having started the season as we would have liked, but on the other hand we are aware of having shortened the gap we had with other riders».
More, from a press release issued by Team HRC:
Bautista deprived of a possible podium, Haslam a solid eighth in race 1
Motorland Aragón is the stage for the opening round of the 2021 Superbike World Championship, one on which Team HRC Alvaro Bautista showed podium potential today while Leon Haslam scored some solid points, finishing race 1 in eighth place.
The morning’s final practice allowed the riders to refine the set-up of their CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADES and make some final adjustments with their technicians ahead of the qualifying session. Bautista was able to improve on his best of yesterday by eight tenths (1’50.085), to finish fifth, while Haslam’s fastest lap, a 1’50.916, saw him close the session in twelfth place.
The Superpole ran in cooler conditions (16°C) with respect to yesterday’s sessions and both Bautista and Haslam completed two fast laps apiece during the now shortened 15-minute session. A best of 1’49.246 for the Brit saw him close seventh, while the Spaniard finished in eighth position with a fastest time of 1’49.338. References that put both riders on the third row of the grid for the weekend’s first race.
The season’s opening race, contested over 18 laps, got underway at 2pm (CEST). The Team HRC riders retained their positions off the line, lying eighth (Haslam) and ninth (Bautista) through the first turns. The pair lapped with similar pace through the opening stages, swapping places with each other and working to catch Sykes immediately ahead of them. Picking up the pace, Bautista passed the BMW rider on lap five, to move into seventh position. By the mid-race point, the Spaniard was in fact the quickest rider on track, passing Gerloff to take sixth position. He continued to lap with a very strong rhythm, moving ever closer to a possible podium finish. Unfortunately, these hopes were dashed when the Spaniard crashed on the very last lap, at turn 2, the incident a result of an electric problem. Haslam lost a little ground towards the mid-race point, lying tenth, but was able to make up two positions in the final stages to cross the line eighth.
Alvaro Bautista 19
RACE 1 – DNF
“It’s really a pity about today because we were running a very competitive, high-performance race. Through the first laps, I lost a little bit of time fighting with other riders. This caused a little bit of a gap to open between me and the group ahead, but once I’d found my rhythm and made some passes, I was able to lap strongly and catch up to the podium contenders. I had a good chance to stay there and fight until the end but unfortunately, three or four laps from the end, I started to have some gearing issues. Every lap it got a little worse and then right at the end I crashed at turn two. When we analysed the data, we saw that there was an electronic problem with a sensor, and so in the middle of the corner I was at full power and lost the rear tyre. A shame, but luckily, I am unhurt and, if we look on the positive side, we can be happy with our race performance. Tomorrow we have two more opportunities and so we’ll see how it goes. I am happy with the work we’re doing because we are getting closer and closer to the leaders and hopefully tomorrow, we can finish the races with good results.”
Leon Haslam 91
RACE 1 – P8
“The race was pretty tough to be honest, as I was struggling a little with front traction, which meant I didn’t feel I could really push. We managed the situation fairly well though and won a battle with the Yamaha on the final lap, but my performance was a little up and down over the course of the race. My pace wasn’t far from that of the top five but I didn’t feel I was in a position to really fight. We’ll work to try and improve things ahead of tomorrow’s races, so that I can hopefully be in the mix for the positions that count.”
More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport:
BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team starts from third on the grid and claims first top-six result for new BMW M 1000 RR in the opening race of 2021 WorldSBK.
Season-opener for BMW Motorrad Motorsport in the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship at MotorLand Aragón.
BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: Third place in Superpole and sixth place in the race for Tom Sykes, eleventh for Michael van der Mark.
Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing) ends race one in 16th place; Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) has to retire from the race.
Alcañiz. Making its race debut in the FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK), the new BMW M 1000 RR claimed a top-six result on the first attempt. Tom Sykes (GBR) from the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team ended race one at MotorLand Aragón in sixth place, only two seconds from a podium position. The Spanish circuit is hosting the opening round of the 2021 WorldSBK season. His team-mate Michael van der Mark (NED) came home eleventh in race one, after enduring a difficult Saturday.
In the first Superpole of the season on Saturday morning, Sykes secured a starting place on the front row of the grid; the Englishman finished third in qualifying. Van der Mark was 15th. In the morning’s free practice, van der Mark could only do one timed lap as a CAN-Bus failure occurred in the supplied tyre pressure monitoring system TMPS, mandatory by FIM, that could not be identified immediately.
Sykes lost a few positions in the first lap of the race. For long stretches of the race, he was running eighth. However, he then climbed into sixth in the closing stages, partly being the fastest rider of the field. Van der Mark moved into eleventh place early on in the race, and eventually crossed the finish line in the same position.
Jonas Folger (GER) started the race from 18th place. After 20 laps of racing, the rider from BMW satellite team Bonovo MGM Racing finished 16th, missing out on the points by just one position. Eugene Laverty (IRL) from BMW satellite team RC Squadra Corse started from 12th and was on course to score points but had to retire with five laps remaining.
Reactions after race one at MotorLand Aragón.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “I am very happy with our performance. In the end, Tom was just 2.5 seconds off a place on the podium. It was an impressive race. After the issues we had in yesterday’s warm conditions we did pretty well today. In Michael’s case, it is just good that he now has a race under his belt. After his crash yesterday and the technical issue this morning, he was only able to complete multiple laps in qualifying. We must now take a look – it was the first long run he has managed here, and I am sure it will allow us to take another step forward. On the whole, my summary would be: satisfied.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “From where we were in the free practices and in qualifying, I had my personal predictions and I am really pleased that Michael and Tom kind of got where I hoped that they would be. Michael was almost in the top ten after the crash he had in yesterday’s practice and the issue this morning so it was good for him to get a race under his belt and I think he will come back much stronger tomorrow from that. With Tom I am really pleased; he did a superb job to get third in Superpole. In the race, he went with the ‘X’ tyre which isn’t normally his style but we convinced him it was the way to go and he got started to become strong when the other guys were battling and he managed to bridge the gap. He crossed the line just two seconds off the podium and if you would have asked me before that weekend had started, I would have taken that. So delighted for top-six for Tom, and Michael will do big steps forward. Overall, we are happy.”
Tom Sykes, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “We came here and we still had some test items that we needed to do and honestly I thing we got a good compromise because we have been trying things in free practice and still got to try to work on a race set-up, so overall I think it was not too bad. I still don’t have the package to do want I want in the first quarter of the race. Then I could see that towards the end of the race that we had quite a good pace, certainly better than the guys in front. It is still early days and to be honest, considering the limitations I felt I had, I think that P6 is not bad. Now we have time to sit down and have a look and make some changes for tomorrow. So overall, it was not a bad start.”
Michael van der Mark, BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “We were really unlucky this morning. We lost a lot of time as we had that problem with the bike. At the end, the guys fixed it and I could do one lap in FP3 but still I need more laps after losing yesterday. Superpole was not so bad but it was the first time with a qualifying tyre for me and the bike changes a lot so you have to get used to it. In the race, I had an okay start and the first few laps I was feeling very strong but at one point of the track I was losing too much to stay with the other guys. Just one particular sector. That was a bit of a shame because then I tried to push more and stressed the front tyre too much and started to lose time. But overall it was important to finally do a long distance and we can learn a lot from this. Tomorrow is a new day and with all the information we have now, tomorrow should be better.”
Jonas Folger, Bonovo MGM Racing: “It was a tough race. We have to find some solutions, as I do not feel comfortable on the bike. It is unfortunate, as we have tried out a lot of things. So far, however, we have not yet found the right set-up. At the moment, we are on a bit of a low. I did the best I could, but it was a disappointing race.”
Eugene Laverty, RC Squadra Corse: “Qualifying was actually really good, even if a 12th position is not on the front rows, but the bike felt very good. Unfortunately, in the race, we had some small problems from the beginning and in the closing stages something strange happened. The bike stopped and we are still investigating the cause. But the potential of the bike this year is much better. That’s the positive thing I can say. In qualifying the bike was feeling much better than last year here at Aragón.”
More, from a press release issued by Team Go Eleven:
A “FIGHTER” CHAZ DAVIES IN RACE 1, HE ENDS CLOSE TO THE PODIUM!
What a tension!! The first race of the season is an incredible mix of emotions, from the “fear” of making some mistakes, to the hope of starting in the right way and getting a great result. The Saturday of Chaz Davies and Team Go Eleven, at the first appointment together, can be considered positive, looking at the glass half full.
Today begins with much lower temperatures than on Friday, with about 10 degrees lower in the air. In FP 3 it is immediately time for a long run to understand which rear tyre solution to use. A total of fifteen laps while remaining constant at a good pace provide important information to the team.
Superpole is a session as fundamental as it is complicated, at least on paper, for the Welsh rider. In recent years he has found himself forced many times to chase his opponents, rarely managing to improve significantly with the Q tyre. Today, Chaz came in really charged, immediately printing an excellent fourth fastest time with the SCX; back in the pits, he wanted to quickly put on the qualifying tire and without losing time, he immediately got back on track. With the “Q” he was able to improve half a second, confirming himself as one of the fastest on the track in a session that was delicate for him. Fifth time and central box of the second row for Race 1 and Superpole Race!
Race 1 starts with warmer asphalt temperatures, around 40 degrees, pushing several riders, including Chaz, to choose the rear SCX tyre. A real unknown for the final laps, but provides an advantage in the first part of the race. The number seven has a good start, he manages to defend his position fighting with the Yamahas of Gerloff and Toprak. He then immediately starts chasing the first four, but a small wide in Turn 1, during the battle with the Turkish rider, forces him to loose contact. Past Redding, lap after lap, Chaz maintains an excellent pace, chasing Lowes and Razgatlioglu for second position. At the end of the race, he finds himself struggling with a lack of grip and the Go Eleven rider must give way to Redding for fourth place, thus reaching the fifth finish just a few tenths from the second position. Overall a positive race due to the close gaps, but which leaves a bitter taste; when you chase the podium closely for 18 laps, it’s normal to believe until the very end!
Tomorrow there will be two more possibilities to attack the podium, in the evening the Go Eleven staff will try to improve a few small details here and there, to allow Chaz to insert the “light-blue” Ducati Panigale in the positions that matter!
Small, big, honorable mention to Jonathan Rea, who reached 100 victories with today’s one; a motorsport legend, a very strong opponent and a champion who continues to write the history of our Championship!
Denis Sacchetti (Team Manager):
“Chaz rode great today in the race, we knew we would have to struggle with tyre and the temperatures were on the limit between choosing the SC0 or the SCX. We are happy because we were in the game, fighting for a second place. A bit of a bitterness remained in the mouth and now we are working to take away that satisfaction tomorrow in the race. I enjoyed seeing Chaz’s sliding while entering the corner, he has an incredible style! ”
Chaz Davies (Rider):
“It’s nice to get the first race of the season done. There is always a lot of anticipations, especially after a long winter. Honestly I was hoping to at least show a will to be able to fight for the podium, but there were few issues preventing me from doing that. We chose the softer race tyre, for some reasons it was probably the right choice, but for others it was the wrong one. The race was won by Johnny, who was on a different tyre, maybe it was not the perfect one, but it could have been a good choice, too. For tomorrow we just have to have a look at weather in the morning and understand if we go on a different way or not. Anyway, it’s good to get some solid points and something to build on. We took good infos from the race, looking forward to tomorrow!”
More, from a press release issued by GRT Yamaha:
Gerloff in the Top-10, Nozane scores his first points for GRT in Race 1
The second day of action at the MotorLand Aragòn saw the FIM Superbike World Championship riders back on track to finally compete for the first points of the season. The teams used the FP3 to continue working on the adjustments made yesterday, but the weather conditions ended up not mirroring the ones found in the race. The sun, in fact, made its appearance at race time, warming up the track surface sensibly (38°C of track temperature, compared to the 21°C of the morning) and triggering a change in the behaviour of the bikes.
For the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team, Saturday was a day full of ups and downs: the riders’ performance in Superpole was definitely strong, with Garrett Gerloff first of the Yamahas and Kohta Nozane improving his fastest time greatly in his first qualifying session on the soft Pirelli tyres. On the flip side of the coin, though, the higher temperatures of Race 1 did not allow the R1 to exploit its potential fully, leaving the two GRT riders further away from the leaders than they had hoped. Tomorrow’s weather predictions seem to be exactly what the team wants to hear, as the forecasted lack of sunshine and lower temperatures should be helpful in order to fight at the front in the Superpole race and in Race 2.
Gerloff began his Saturday the right way, with the 6th fastest time in the FP3, a 1’50.223. He then was 6th again in the Superpole session, thanks to a lightning fast 1’49.185 which allowed him to be ready to attack the leaders in Race 1. This is exactly what happened at the start of the race, with the American able to immediately make his way up to 4th position. In the following laps, though, he was not able to maintain the same stellar pace, eventually taking the chequered flag in 9th. The speed is there, and the #31 will try to fight for the podium again tomorrow.
Nozane, instead, focused on continuing to improve and on making the most out of his first race at the WorldSBK level. 17th in the free practice session of the morning with a 1’51.579, he then managed the 16th fastest time (a 1’50.435) in his first Superpole outing. His first race got off to a very strong start, with the Japanese immediately able to work his way to 11th on the first lap, but he then struggled to maintain the same pace for the remainder of the race. His 14th final position still provides him with his first points, as well as experience and data which will prove crucial tomorrow and in the upcoming rounds.
Garrett Gerloff: 9th
“This morning we started off really well. We went back to our base setting and immediately had a good feeling, also thanks to the much cooler weather which really helps the R1. I felt good in the Superpole, and I was happy about the second row, since I have never been particularly good at qualifying and this track has never been the best for us. The bike felt great, so I was really looking forward to exploiting that in the race, but then the sun came out and the track lost some grip. It was a bit difficult for me to ride consistently, but we think we now know what we need to change for tomorrow. It is frustrating because we know we can do more, and I don’t want to be ninth, but we will surely be stronger on Sunday.”
Kohta Nozane: 14th
“In the Superpole I achieved my best lap time so far here. I tried to push for a 1’49 and wasn’t able to make it happen, but I’m still happy with my performance in qualifying. In the race, the start was really good, I managed to get up to 11th, but I couldn’t hold on as my pace was dropping, which was a bit disappointing. I was able to manage the race to the finish, though, and I am very satisfied with this. I discovered a lot of areas that I need to work on and improve. The fact that there are three races is very advantageous for me, I learned several things that will help me for tomorrow.”
With Saturday also done and dusted, only the Grand Finale of Sunday remains. The program includes the Warm Up at 9 AM, the Superpole Race at 11 AM, and Race 2 at 2 PM, local time.