2012 Aragon WSBK Tire Test Press Releases: 17-inch Tires And Wheels Just As Fast as 16.5-inch Wheels They Will Replace

Press releases from Infront Motor Sports and the World Superbike teams after the official Pirelli test at Aragon, where the new 17-inch tires were debuted:

Sykes fastest on new 17-inch wheels and tyres

MotorLand Aragon (Spain), Monday 2 July - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) set the fastest time of the one-day Infront Motor Sports official tests on the new generation of 17-inch wheels and Pirelli tyres which were seen for the first time today. His lap of 1 minute 57.254 seconds compares favourably with the existing race lap record, set on race tyres not qualifying rubber, of 1 minute 58.251 seconds.

“We’ve worked hard today again after a difficult day yesterday, when unfortunately I believe that the wind affected us more than our competitors,” said Sykes. “We did a run this morning to confirm our race pace and I did a 58.8 on lap 17 so it’s a completely different story with no wind. The plan was to test the 17” tyre in the morning but we wanted to confirm what happened yesterday, then this afternoon we kept the same settings and tested the new size wheel and tyres which I was pleasantly surprised with.”

Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) was barely slower than Sykes despite not improving on his morning test session best lap, with Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) third quickest and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) fourth.

Setting outright fast lap times was not the aim of these tests, which were designed as an introduction to the new 17-inch aluminium wheels which will be mandatory in 2013, and an early comparison between the existing Pirelli tyres and the new range which will feature on the 17-inch rims.

Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) and Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) finished testing fifth and sixth, but Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) was an improved seventh. Top Honda rider was Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) eighth, just ahead of Althea Racing Ducati pairing Davide Giugliano and Carlos Checa.

Times: 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'57.254 average 164.075 kph; 2. Melandri (BMW) 1'57.313; 3. Badovini (BMW) 1'57.658; 4. Laverty (Aprilia) 1'58.034; 5. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1'58.054; 6. Haslam (BMW) 1'58.150; 7. Camier (Suzuki) 1'58.179; 8. Rea (Honda) 1'58.201; 9. Giugliano (Ducati) 1'58.283; 10. Checa (Ducati) 1'58.365; 11. Fabrizio (BMW) 1'58.816; 12. Baz (Kawasaki) 1'58.880; 13. Aoyama (Honda) 1'58.903; 14. Davies (Aprilia) 1'58.949; 15. Hopkins (Suzuki) 1'59.512; 16. Zanetti (Ducati) 2'00.063; 17. Salom (Kawasaki) 2'00.208; 18. Mercado (Kawasaki) 2'03.139; 19. Brignola (BMW) 2'03.585; 20. Toth (BMW) 2'08.447.

World Supersport

Thanks to his morning best time Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda) finished up ahead of all his rivals after the official Infront Motor Sports test at MotorLand Aragon. Parkes’ best lap of 2 minutes 02.452 seconds was just under one second quicker than the improving Josh Day (Team GO ELEVEN Kawasaki) and Fabien Foret (Kawasaki Intermoto Step). Foret, like Parkes, did not improve on his opening session time from this morning. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki Lorenzini) put in the fourth best lap of the tests, heading up Frenchman Valentin Debise (SMS Racing Honda) and Jed Metcher (Rivamoto Junior Team Yamaha). Fifteen riders in total lapped the 5.344km circuit in testing and all used the latest development tyres from Pirelli.

Points leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Lorenzini) did not take part in the test because immediately after the race yesterday he flew to Turkey for a check on his left knee, and may have to undergo an operation on his meniscus. In any case Sofuoglu should be fit for the next round at Brno on July 22.

Times: 1. Parkes (Honda) 2'02.452 average 157.110 kph; 2. Day (Kawasaki) 2'03.415; 3. Foret (Kawasaki) 2'03.516; 4. Morais (Kawasaki) 2'03.576; 5. Debise (Honda) 2'03.779; 6. Metcher (Yamaha) 2'03.800; 7. Talmacsi (Honda) 2'04.078; 8. Antonelli (Yamaha) 2'04.132; 9. Leonov (Yamaha) 2'04.151; 10. Menghi (Yamaha) 2'04.199; 11. Lanusse (Kawasaki) 2'04.282; 12. Marconi (Yamaha) 2'04.912; 13. Lombardi (Yamaha) 2'05.019; 14. Davies (Kawasaki) 2'08.779; 15. Pozdneev (Yamaha) 2'10.280.


Aragon (Spain), Monday 2nd July: the Althea Racing team and its riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano took part in today’s official Infront Motor Sports test session at the MotorLand Aragon circuit, the same track at which they raced just yesterday.

Pirelli, official tyre supplier for the World Superbike championship, brought new 17 inch tyres to the Spanish track for almost all of the Superbike teams to test today. This new tyre will be introduced into the championship from the start of 2013; it is of the same measurement as tyres mounted on production series sports bikes. Both Carlos and Davide lapped with the new tyres and their feedback was very positive.

Carlos Checa:

“I really liked the new tyre and I’d say it’s almost at the level of the 16.5. It is very stable, corners well and has almost all of the positive attributes of the 16.5 inch. In terms of performance it seems very good, also because we didn’t change the bike setting but it nevertheless performed well. We have seen a slight improvement with regard to the front, but probably this is a combination of the two, which together provide good balance.”

Davide Giugliano:

“Today we worked well and were pretty productive. I must say that I really like the 17 inch tyre. During today’s sessions I was able to find good sensation, especially at the front which allowed me to improve on my best time set yesterday. I’m happy; it’s been a positive day as far as I’m concerned.”

Infront testing – Aragón.

2nd July 2012.

Alcañiz, 2nd July 2012. The day after its victorious appearance at Motorland Aragón, Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport went on track again at the Spanish venue. Today it took part at the official Infront testing with factory riders Marco Melandri (ITA) and Leon Haslam (GBR). The conditions were good, with sunny skies, air temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius and track temperatures up to 50 degrees Celsius.

The FIM Superbike World Championship teams and riders had two sessions of 2 hours 20 minutes each, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Marco and Leon got a first taste of the new 17-inch-tyres which supplier Pirelli is developing for next season. For 2013, the wheel size in the World Championship will change from the current 16.5 to 17 inches. Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport also used the track time to work on the set-up of the BMW S 1000 RRs, starting with yesterday’s settings as a base. In total, the two factory riders did 135 laps or 721.44 kilometres of testing today. Next stop for both of them is Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER), where Marco and Leon will attend the BMW Motorrad Days next weekend (6th to 8th July).

Marco Melandri:

Best overall lap time: 1:57.313 min

In the morning, Marco did his laps with the current 16.5-wheels. He and his crew tested several tyre compounds and tried different suspension settings. In the afternoon, the Italian evaluated the new 17-inch tyres. In order to make comparisons, he first completed a few laps with a 16.5-inch size tyre and then switched to the 17-inch version of the same compound.


“It was interesting to ride the new 17-inch tyres. It was a completely different feeling from the usual Pirelli tyres we race now. The bike characteristics look more precise. For sure we still have a lot of work to do with the tyre but also with the bike to find a good set-up for this kind of tyre. I hope this is just the starting point and that I will be able to test the new solution before the end of the year just to understand which direction we need to take for next season.

This morning we tried some different suspension options, especially for the qualifying tyre, just to see if the feeling was better than on the race weekend. I think we have learned something. Overall it was a positive day and I am happy and actually I cannot wait to go to Brno.”

Leon Haslam:

Best overall lap time: 1:58.150 min

Leon’s work schedule was the opposite way round to that of his team mate. In the morning he did a few laps on a 16.5-inch tyre and then switched to the same specification in 17-inch size for comparison. In the afternoon, Leon and his crew tested different set-up options for the chassis and several 16.5-inch tyre compounds for the current season.


“I am really positive about the new tyre. Everyone was a little unsure, it is more a step in the production type direction, but for me it was an improvement. We improved the lap time and the grip and the stability were better – front and rear. Also on braking it was more stable, another positive was the corner exit. We had some issues at the corner entry, I ran a bit wide with the 17-inch but that’s because we need a slightly different set-up for this tyre. For this test we kept everything the same, but I think once we can concentrate on setting the bike up for the 17-inch tyre for me it will definitely be the better and faster one.

This afternoon we worked on the set-up. We had two different strategies on two different bikes, so we could compare back to back with a lot of things. We tested a lot like that and in the end, with the race tyre in similar conditions as yesterday, I was one second a lap faster than in the race so I was quite happy at the end. I just wish I had that yesterday. It was definitely a positive day.”

Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):

“It was quite an interesting day because we had the chance ride the 17-inch tyres for the first time. Both riders felt positive about them. For sure there still is a lot of work to do to get the best from this tyre but the first impression was very positive. The first trial of the new tyre is done and now we have to keep concentrating on the current season and the next races. A tough challenge lies ahead of us and we want to keep the momentum and try to win more races. Also it was an important test for us because both riders had the opportunity to spend half of the day on the standard 16.5-inch tyre. We used those couple of hours to work settings that could be helpful for the next race in Brno.”


Team Suzuki Press Office - July 2.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki completed a successful day's work in the Official eni FIM Superbike World Championship Test at Motorland Aragon today and leaves the Spanish circuit in an upbeat mood following a positive performance by the whole team.

Leon Camier set the seventh quickest lap today with a time of 1'58.179, which was almost half-of-a-second quicker than his best time over the race weekend. He worked constructively all-day with his crew and made a number of changes to his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R during the course of his 49 laps around the 5,344m circuit. The main purpose of today's test was to try out the new 17-inch wheels and tyres that will be used in next year's World Superbike Championship. Camier tested the new combination in the morning session and was able to give good feedback as to how the machine performed. He changed back to the 16.5-inch set-up - which he is used to - in the afternoon, and was immediately able to push harder and then set his best time of the weekend.

John Hopkins made steps in the right direction during the test and recorded a best time of 1'59.512 from his 31 laps, almost three-tenths-of-a-second quicker than he has gone all weekend. He too tried the new-sized wheels and tyres, and although he found he had more grip he reported that he was losing some stability in the corners. Hopkins made many changes to his FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R and was able to give the team plenty of feedback and information in preparation for the forthcoming races.

Today's temperatures were slightly higher than yesterday, but the strong winds that hampered the riders in the races had subsided today and this certainly made conditions easier for all concerned. Pole setter from the weekend Tom Sykes, set today's fastest time.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki will now return to its headquarters in England and assess all the data from this weekend's races, and today's test, before it makes the trek across Europe for the next round of the Championship which is scheduled for Sunday July 22nd at Brno in the Czech Republic.

Leon Camier:

"We tried a lot of different things on my GSX-R today and collected a lot of data, which the team will analyse and work on before the next race. We changed a few settings and also tried some new firmware and it was definitely an improvement. This will give us some ideas to work on and I feel positive about the direction we're taking. I tried the new 17-inch wheels and tyres this morning and my initial feeling was that the bike felt less nimble. The grip was better, but that made the acceleration out of the turns a bit worse. But we didn't make any geometry changes, so it's likely that there's room for improvement. I was pushing quite hard in the afternoon session, when I was back on the 16.5-inch tyres, and went faster than yesterday - which is a good way to end a test."

John Hopkins:

"The test was productive and I am happy that I went a bit quicker than yesterday. The conditions were a bit better because the wind wasn't anywhere as strong, so we were able to go faster. I tried the 17-inch wheels and tyres in the afternoon and found that I had loads more grip, but my speed in the apex of the corners was scrubbing off. I also had quite a bit more chatter, but we were running standard geometry on our FIXI Crescent Suzuki, so for sure we'll make be able to make improvements."

Jack Valentine - Team Manager:

"I felt today's test was pretty productive and I am happy with how things went. We had a chance to test the new 17-inch wheels and tyres that we'll all be using next year and it was important to make a start with them and get as much data as possible. Both riders said that the tyres felt good and that there was plenty of rear grip, but that the GSX-Rs were a bit harder to turn - maybe because the new front and rears are about a kilogram heavier. I think that feeling can be dialled out once we start playing around with the geometry of the bike, but today we just ran standard set-ups. Leon and John both managed respectable lap times compared to the 16.5 tyres and were able to give a lot of info to the team. Leon tried some new electronics today and the results were very positive. I am happy that both FIXI Crescent Suzuki bikes ran perfectly today and now we're all looking forward to Brno."


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Pretty confident there will be positive trickle down and I can stop giggling at my Pirelli "Superbike" Pro because it ain't not SBK tyre at 17", lol.

Would it be a good idea if MotoGP also adopts a 17" tyre approach? Granted the GP tyres use a way stiffer carcass and had to deal with more load and stress, probably the development may not be as applicable because our motorcycles will never produce those legendary horsepower.

I suspect that part of the reason that Superbikes will not be allowed 16,5-inch and magnesium wheels anymore is to make sure they will be slower than MotoGP, so I guess no 17-inch wheels in MotoGP any time soon. That said, it seems for now that the Superbikes are not slowed down by the 17-ich size, at least not at Aragon.