The weather has not been kind to the World Superbikes who headed to Aragon for testing. The first day was lost to a wet track, and while the track dried on the second day, cold temperatures limited the usefulness of the test. 2013 world champion Tom Sykes did not bother going out at all, not wishing to risk injury on a cold track just for the sake of turning some laps.
Sykes' Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea did spend some time on track, though for him, too, conditions meant that lessons were limited. Rea spent time working on gearshift set ups, and clutch strategies for race starts. It was important for Rea to spend some more time on the Kawasaki ZX-10R, after having spent so many years on the Honda CBR1000RR with the Pata Honda team. It wasn't just bikes that Rea is switching, the Ulsterman showing off his Monster Energy colors for the first time, leaving Red Bull behind. That is a major change for Rea, who has been backed by Red Bull almost from when he first started racing motocross, before switching to circuit racing.
Pata Honda riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark both took to the track, putting in the majority of their laps in the afternoon, but work was restricted to finding a base set up. The weather was far too cold to be able to get anywhere near a competitive lap time, so there was not much performance testing to be done. Team Pedercini's David Salom, and the Grillini duo of Santiago Barragan and Christophe Ponsson also put in a few laps, having also ridden on Monday.
The teams now head south, to Jerez and Portimao, where they will be joined by the majority of the other teams. Prominent absentees could be Toni Elias, Ayrton Badovini and the JR Racing team, the BMW team backed by Troy Corser. According to reports on the German-language website Speedweek, the team has yet to take delivery of their BMW S1000RR machines. The bikes are being held by a dealer in Stephanskirchen due to non-payment by the team, according to Speedweek. There have been reports of financial problems since last year: the team's backers are based in the Dominican Republic, and transferring funds from the Caribbean island to the team's base has proven problematic. If the bikes are not ready for the Jerez test next week, then that could put their participation in the opening rounds at risk. The World Superbike machinery is due to be flown to Australia by Dorna straight from the Jerez test, and if the bikes aren't present, the JR Racing team would have to ship the bikes to Australia at their own expense. For a cash-strapped team, that could prove to be prohibitively expensive.
Below are the press releases issued by Kawasaki and Pata Honda after the Aragon test:
Cold Weather Interrupts KRT Motorland Test Plans
The official Kawasaki Racing Team pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea found low track temperatures at Motorland Aragon during their expected two-day winter test session, meaning only Jonathan went out for a few shakedown laps on his Ninja ZX-10R in afternoon of the second day.
With track temperatures in the low single figures all through a damp first day and then in the morning of day two, neither KRT rider ventured onto the track as no meaningful performance testing could be done on such a cold surface.
As the track temperatures crept over the double-digit mark in Celcius during the sunny second afternoon new KRT recruit Rea ventured out to do some tests on gear shift and clutch settings, but track conditions dictated that he did not try to make any long runs or attempt any pure performance testing.
Sykes elected not to run on the second day and the team now relocates to the Jerez circuit in southern Spain for their final two-day private test in Europe next week, on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 January.
Afterwards they will head to Australia for the official pre-season test sessions at Phillip Island, shortly before the first round of the year in late February.
Jonathan Rea: “To be honest we were not able to get any meaningful performance testing done but we managed to work on some ideas in relation to gear shifting and clutch set-ups for race starts. If I consider the amount of hours I have ridden with the bike it is not a lot so we need to work on our performance at the next test rather than on general set-up. We will work on getting the best out of me and the bike now at the next test in Jerez.”
Tom Sykes: “We are still in the middle of January and we got dealt this set of cards because of the cold weather, so we will move on from that. It would have been nice to have turned some wheels to try various things but I cannot lose sleep about this because we will be out on the bike at Jerez in a matter of days. We will hopefully try it all then.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, said: “Yesterday there was rain and today sunshine but it is still too cold. We have had some bad luck because the cold only started on Sunday. On Friday the temperature was incredibly good and the last three weeks have been really nice in this area of Spain. That’s life and we understand that in the period between December and January, in terms of probability of finding good weather Europe, the best place we can test is Spain. Sometimes it is good, sometimes not. We have still used these two days to do a lot inside the box, on the new electronics system. Not from the riding side but from some other sides, these days have been very useful. In any case, next week we go to Jerez for two more days on track.”
Guintoli and van der Mark complete Aragon test
The Pata Honda World Superbike team concluded back-to-back pre-season tests today at Aragon in Spain, following a two-day test last week at Portimao in Portugal.
Unfortunately, the weather at both tests prevented riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark from completing a full scheduled programme on the 2015 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machine that they will campaign in this season's World Superbike championship.
However, in spite of some rain at Portimao and very low track temperatures at Aragon, both riders declared themselves happy with the progress that was made in developing this year's CBR alongside new technical regulations for the series.
Reigning World Superbike champion, Sylvain Guintoli, said: "In spite of the rain in Portimao last week, the test was good there for the first time out on the 2015-spec CBR; and the times were quite good, even on 25-lap tyres. I was feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike by the end. Aragon has also been good, but it's been really cold. We worked on power delivery, engine brake and bike balance with some interesting findings. I cannot wait to race in Australia."
Guintoli's 2015 team-mate, current World Supersport champion, Michael van der Mark, was equally positive, despite a lack of track time: "The test was quite good for what we were able to do," he said. "This afternoon I did many laps of Aragon and tried many different things, but of course, the track was not in an ideal condition for the tyres. But I'm happy with the laps we were able to make and I'm looking forward to testing some more in, hopefully, drier and more normal conditions."
The team's technical co-ordinator, Pieter Breddels, said, "After yesterday's wash out, we were able to do some laps today and cross-check the settings found in Portimao last week. Michael tested new front geometry, which Sylvain already tested last week, and we tried some softer springs and a higher bike for Sylvain to give him a little more feel and transfer. All in all, considering track conditions and the number of laps, we leave with a positive feeling for our third and final test this month where we hope to see some more dry track time."
The two world champions will now make their way to Verona in Italy where the full 2015 Pata Honda rider line-up will be presented to media and race fans at Motor Bike Expo this Saturday 24 January.
Following the team launch, both riders will return to Spain for a further two-day test at Jerez on Monday and Tuesday next. After this final European pre-season outing, the Pata Honda bikes and equipment will head north to the team's workshop in the Netherlands to be packed into flight cases for Australia, where round one of the 2015 championship will take place on 22 February.