Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Aragon:
Rea leads the way in Spain
Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea set the fastest time in both today’s opening free practice sessions at Motorland Aragon in preparation for the two second-round World Superbike championship races at the Spanish circuit on Sunday.
The British rider fired his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP around the 5.344km Aragon circuit in a time of 1m58.180s in warm and sunny conditions this afternoon, two tenths ahead of compatriot and reigning World Superbike champion Tom Sykes. A third Brit, Chaz Davies, rounds out the provisional front row for Sunday's two 17-lap races.
Rea and his Pata Honda team-mate Leon Haslam have both made significant development strides in the long break since round one at Phillip Island in Australia, improving the CBR’s overall chassis and electronics package during two recent three-day tests in Spain.
Haslam was able to dramatically improve his lap time this afternoon after an unsatisfactory opening free practice session, ending the day in ninth place.
Jonathan Rea - P1, 1m58.180s
I’m quite satisfied with today - it’s been a really good start to the weekend for us. We’ve got quite a good base already, but I still need to work on optimising our engine braking quite a lot. The last time we were here it was quite good, but maybe a change in conditions has thrown some other issues into the mix. We can work a bit more on chassis settings tonight but, for day one, I’m quite happy with my out-and-out pace. With the change in raceday schedule, we need to do a long run tomorrow morning to work with a cooler race-one temperature in mind. We’ve got two rear options to check and see if our preferred tyre will work in cooler conditions around 10.30. So, after a longer run in the morning, I’ll get ready for Superpole.
Leon Haslam - P9, 1m59.103s
Most of this morning’s session was wasted as we tried to get the bike sorted with the fresh engine but the guys made some good changes between sessions. My first flying lap was about 1.3s faster than I went all morning so that was a good step. I felt pretty consistent on that tyre but went quicker on a new tyre at the end. I made a lot of mistakes on my lap and got held up in some traffic so Im reasonably happy with this afternoon’s performance. I feel the lap could’ve been a high to mid-58s without those issues. We’ve got a way to go yet, but Johnny [Rea] seems to be able to put the lap together so we know the bike can go well here. Tomorrow’s the last timed session for Superpole, so the priority is to get into the top ten, but we need to test in the cooler conditions for Sunday, too.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
It’s been a really good day for Jonathan, topping the sheets this morning and this afternoon. Everyone’s been working really hard through the winter and since Phillip Island, so this makes everyone feel good. Tomorrow we still need to make some more improvements and find a bit of race pace, but I think it’s looking OK at the moment. Leon struggled a lot this morning, which was disappointing after the recent positive tests, but we found a direction again this afternoon. He got held up on his best lap, but we ended the day in a positive mood.
THE APRILIA SUPERBIKE WEEKEND GETS OFF TO A FAVOURABLE START AT MOTORLAND DE ARAGON.
BOTH MARCO MELANDRI AND CURRENT RANKING LEADER SYLVAIN GUINTOLI FOCUSED ON RACE PACE, CONFIRMING THE PROGRESS DEMONSTRATED DURING THE RECENT TESTS AT JEREZ.
Alcaniz, 11 April 2014 – Never more than today should the standings at the end of Friday's free practice be read so carefully. At Motorland de Aragon, the scene of the second 2014 World Superbike round, Aprilia Racing Team chose to work on race pace with long runs of several laps to simulate how the RSV4 will react over the 17 laps on Sunday and to take the best possible advantage of the tyres over the long distance. In light of the strategy being employed the sixth best combined time for Marco Melandri and the seventh best for team mate Sylvain Guintoli gave the Italian garage confidence and seem to pave the way for a weekend as protagonists.
Although each took a different route both Marco and Sylvain tackled the second afternoon session continuing to work with used tyres and they confirmed their good feeling during the recent tests in Jerez, approving the developments that have been made on the RSV4 during that time.
However, optimism in no way diminishes Marco Melandri's goals, satisfied with his work today on the track but still convinced that a few more precious tenths can be shaved off. Especially on the fast lap, a situation that will become crucial in Superpole tomorrow where the starting order for the races Sunday will be decided.
Marco Melandri: “I'm pleased. This is definitely the best day of practice since I've been on the Aprilia RSV4. We chose not to use a new tyre this afternoon to see what the best option would be for the races. Both the electronics strategies and the bike setup have been improving constantly so all that's left now are those areas where we can still improve and we'll work on those today and tomorrow, but overall I am quite satisfied with today's results.”
Sylvain Guintoli, winner at Phillip Island in the first race of the season and provisional leader of the rider championship, is of the same opinion. The Frenchman also put in a long series of fast laps using the same tyre, looking for the “delicate” setting that will make the difference at the end of the race. For Sylvain the new solutions introduced at Jerez were also confirmed on the Aragon track, a track which has historically favoured the powerful V4 from Noale.
Sylvain Guintoli: “Two excellent sessions for us today. We were fast and consistent. The improvements we found at Jerez came out here at Aragon as well so that is quite comforting. We worked mainly on race length. We still have some more fine tuning to try tomorrow but the base setting that we reached today is definitely good. The RSV4 really works well here, I hit 327 kph and that is just more good news in view of the Sunday races.”
Pata Honda in Spanish Supersport mix
Michael van der Mark was third fastest after today’s two free practice sessions for Sunday’s two second round World Supersport championship races at Motorland Aragon in Spain.
The Dutch flyer is seeking his first points of the 2014 campaign after crashing out at the opening round in Australia and ended the day just two tenths of a second from Jules Cluzel’s provisional pole position time.
Van der Mark’s Pata Honda team-mate, Lorenzo Zanetti, also left Australia with a no-score after injuring his finger in a qualifying crash. However, the Italian rider was satisfied with fifth place today and expects more from tomorrow’s third free practice session ahead of qualifying in the afternoon.
Michael van der Mark - P3, 2m02.684s
I’m quite happy with the performance today, especially following the long break after Phillip Island. I had to get used to the bike again and we had some new stuff to try, which actually didn’t work out how we wanted. But at the end of the first day the second session went really well and I’m happy with today’s result. I think we can go much faster tomorrow.
Lorenzo Zanetti - P5, 2m03.160s
I’m happy to be back on the bike after a month and a half. I needed to check my condition as well and, although I have some pain, I can ride at a good level and stay in the top five. I’m not 100% but I want to fight for the podium here. I had a bit of traffic in the last two laps this afternoon, but I’m only half a second from the front. We are still working on the tyre and some have other things to improve so I’m happy with where we are today.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Michael had some engine braking problems this morning as a result of some new things we were trying. They didn’t work out very well so we went back to what we know this afternoon and this immediately gave him an improvement. He’s third and still has a bit of work to do on his last sector, so it’s looking good. Lorenzo is in good shape considering his injury. It hurts a little but it doesn’t seem to be a big factor. There are a few things on his bike that we need to work on but it’s been a pretty good day for the Supersport team.
Top five for Davies and Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) in first practice sessions at Aragon
Alcaniz (Spain), Friday 11 April 2014 – The Ducati Superbike Team kicked off the race weekend at Motorland Aragon with encouraging results. Riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano closed day one of timed practice in third and fifth position respectively.
In the first of the weekend’s three timed practice sessions, which took place late this morning in warm and sunny conditions (air temperature 21°C, track 28°C ), Davies was immediately at ease on the Spanish track, one of his preferred circuits. His fastest lap of the session – 1’59.135 – placed him sixth at the end of the 45-minute session. Giugliano made a series of fast laps but lost a few minutes towards the end of the session as his technicians worked to improve the feeling during braking. The Italian rider nevertheless closed in seventh position, with a best time of 1’59.290.
The Ducati Superbike men were soon back on track for the second timed session of the day. Together with their technicians, both Chaz and Davide used the session to make small changes to their bikes, thanks to which feeling improved, allowing the pair to lower their times set in the morning by approximately half a second. At the end of day one, Davies closed in overall third position, thanks to a fastest time of 1’58.575 and Giugliano fifth (1’58.717). The team has more work to do tomorrow, particularly regarding race pace, but today nevertheless came to a positive close.
Quotes after the day’s sessions:
Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 3rd (1’58.575)
“The lap times picked up a little this afternoon but we still need to improve the front of my bike as I would like to have more stability. Having said that, today wasn’t too bad. My position is good but it doesn’t quite feel like we’re there with the bike just yet. Anyway we have more time tomorrow so we’ll continue to work to try to improve things ahead of Sunday’s races.”
Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team #34) – 5th (1’58.717)
“Today wasn’t the easiest day, we had a few problems. We’re close to those ahead of us anyway, despite the problems we’ve had, and so this is a positive sign. We didn’t spend so much time on track, working more in the garage. This afternoon we improved a little but we still have a few things to solve tomorrow, especially in terms of stability during braking.”
Ernesto Marinelli (Ducati Superbike Project Director)
“We’ve had a positive day. We still have some things to resolve, particularly with regard to the level of stability in the final stage of braking, as both riders are talking about movement and not having enough constancy during braking. So we will concentrate on solving this aspect tomorrow in order to find the best possible solution.”
Big improvements for Laverty at end of day one at Aragon
Eugene Laverty concluded Friday’s practice sessions at the Spanish Motorland Aragon circuit in a positive mind-set after making headway on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R.
Laverty, initially struggling with set-up on-board the Yoshimura-powered machine, ended the day’s two-sessions stepping-up, in both time and position, to eighth with a lap of 1’58.971 after re-evaluating the Suzuki GSX-R1000’s electronics and chassis balance, and is confident with the bike’s potential for the weekend ahead.
Alex Lowes ended his first experience of the 5,078m Teruel track in 11th position, with a time of 2’00.309, despite having only ever completed 29 laps of the Spanish circuit. The British-rider finished the day frustrated, but determined to improve, and his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team is confident that his pace is strong given his limited track experience.
A warm and sunny Motorland Aragon played host to the opening European action of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship, with air temperatures reaching 25°C ahead of the afternoon practice session.
With a similar forecast set for tomorrow, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will use today’s data to evaluate the GSX-R’s performance ahead of the final timed-for-qualifying free practice session at 09:45hrs local time (08:45BST). The afternoon’s two all-important Superpole battles will commence at 15:00hrs local time (14:00BST).
“A difficult day, but we expected it to be tough here, and it’s good that we had two dry sessions testing the bike to allow us to improve. We made a good start this afternoon with the feeling on the front but we still need to improve the turn-in. Aragon has a long straight, and we are working hard to allow us to keep up with the Aprilias, but it’s going to be tough. We had a frustrating time at Jerez, with a number of issues that we are working through, but the lap times are good considering the problems we’re facing. It’s going to be a tough job to keep at the front, but we are confident we can progress as the weekend goes on.”
“My first day at the track and it’s been quite difficult, but I’m looking forward to sleeping on it tonight and making some improvements tomorrow. I’m learning the track quickly, so it’s just a case of getting back out on the Suzuki GSX-R in the morning, and continuing the progress we’ve been making so far.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“First day here at Aragon hasn’t gone absolutely to plan, but we were very pleased, particularly on Eugene’s side, to see some big improvements towards the end of the day. We now have a solid base to work on, to allow us to close the gap on the fastest riders before the races on Sunday. We are potentially lacking just a little bit of balance in the bike, the new swingarm has improved certain aspects of the handling, but we need to very carefully check whether it has caused any negatives elsewhere, and come out with the best package we possibly can for both riders in the morning. Alex is disappointed but he shouldn’t be! He has only spent two 45-minute sessions on his race bike around this track, compared to the guys who have done thousands, in races and tests. With a night’s sleep under his belt, and a careful look at what we can do to improve the bike, I’m sure he’ll make big steps forward tomorrow, and as a team we are looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
Superstock 600 - San Carlo Team Italia already a protagonist
Marco Faccani and Andrea Tucci in the top-5 at the end of the first day of free practice in Aragon
San Carlo Team Italia kicked off the European Stock 600 championship in the best possible way. With memories still alive of last year's success, the Italian federation riders immediately set themselves apart in the first two free practice sessions in Aragon.
The rookie Marco Faccani, the revelation in CIV Supersport in 2013, took its Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R to the top of the standings in the morning with a 2'06"641, which also grants him the third best time in the combined rankings, 0"182 behind leader Wayne Tessels (Suzuki).
CIV Superstock 600 champion Andrea Tucci also enjoyed a positive debut, taking almost half seconds off his personal best in between sessions and closing in fifth position overall, with a personal best of 2'07"07. With those premises, San Carlo Team Italia will face the qualifiers at 11:45 tomorrow before the race, scheduled also for Saturday at 17:50.
Marco Faccani (San Carlo Team Italia - Kawasaki ZX-6R #5) 3°, 2'06"641
"I liked the bike since the very first laps, and my morning time shows it. In the second session, we lapped with used tires, posting just about the same lap times. This is good, and leaves us hopeful for tomorrow".
Andrea Tucci (San Carlo Team Italia - Kawasaki ZX-6R #44) 5°, 2'07"076
"It's been undoubtedly a positive day. We worked well with the team, and focused on race distance in the afternoon, lapping with worn out tires. We gathered good lap times and sensations. I want to give my best tomorrow, the bike and the team are both competitive and I feel great".
Cristiano Migliorati (Sports Director - San Carlo Team Italia STK600)
"I'm very pleased by the performance of our riders. Marco and Andrea set the pace from the first session, showing a strong pace and taking top positions right away. In the afternoon, we decided to use the same tires as in the morning, to save extra 'ammos' for the qualifiers, specifically an extra rear for the last 30 minutes. I believe we can be in first row with both riders tomorrow".
VERY POSITIVE START FOR BIMOTA ALSTARE
Today saw Team Bimota Alstare taking to the racetrack for the first time in the World Superbike Championship. In almost ideal conditions, riders Ayrton Badovini and Christian Iddon took to the 5.344 kilometre Motorland Aragon racetrack aboard the stunning BB3 racebike and ended the day in very positive frame of mind.
Ayrton Badovini - 17th, 2:01.463 (5th EVO Class)
“Really I am happy today because we’ve had no major problems at all, and that is great considering that we’re working with a brand new bike. Of course there’s a lot of work to be done but, at the moment, all the problems are small ones and that makes us all feel very positive about the future. We’re only a second or so adrift of the best EVO lap time and that gap would’ve been less if Canepa hadn’t crashed at the end of the second session. I had to ease of the throttle because of the yellow flags, but that lap would’ve been quicker and therefore closer. The bike has potential and we’re all excited about the next couple of days and improving it a lot more.”
Christian Iddon - 21st, 2:02.709 (8th EVO Class)
“Generally, today was not too bad and probably the biggest problem was me! I haven’t really ridden a 1000cc bike for about four years and my first job is getting to know the bike and put in the laps before I can push hard. The bike has potential for sure and I’m really looking forward to working on improving it. It handles well and the chassis feels very stable in both fast and slow corners. As long as the weather stays OK, I’m sure we’ll keep going forward and get better and better each time out.”
Francis Batta (Team Manager)
“Today has been the first time that we’ve really been able to find out where we are. I’m happy because, despite the fact that everything is new, we’re improving all the time. If Canepa hadn’t crashed at the end of the second practice, I’m sure Ayrton would have been much closer to him in lap times. The bike’s base is good, the handling seems to be good and the power delivery is smooth. The potential is there and it is up to all of us to work hard and realise that potential. I feel positive about our prospects and am looking forward to this wonderful challenge.”
Jonathan Rea leads the way on Day 1
Alcaniz (Spain), Friday 11 April 2014 - Round 2 of the eni World Superbike Championship got underway in near perfect conditions at MotorLand Aragon with Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) having the honour of topping the first European day of the season.
Reigning World Champion Tom Sykes improved his morning session time, but the Kawasaki Racing Team rider was edged out by Rea, who ensured that his last lap of the day at the Spanish track would keep him at the top of the standings.
Sykes was therefore 2nd ahead of Aragon wizard Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team) who moved up to 3rd. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) and Aprilia’s Marco Melandri completed the top 6.
Championship leader Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) was 7th with winner of the first race of the year Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) improving in the last five minutes to elevate himself to 8th. His new teammate Alex Lowes continued to adapt to the Spanish track eventually finishing in 11th.
In the EVO category Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati) held on to tenth position despite a late crash. Local rider David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended the day as the 3rd placed EVO rider in 14th just behind the returning Leon Camier (BMW Motorrad Italia).
The other Spaniard in the field Toni Elias had a difficult day, the Red Devils Aprilia only managing 12th position.
Bimota on the other hand had an encouraging start to their return to superbike competition with Ayrton Badovini and Christian Iddon finishing in 17th and 21st.
There is one more free practice session tomorrow morning which gives the riders currently placed 21st and below the chance to make the grid deciding Tissot-Superpole.
Times: 1. Rea (Honda) 1'58.180 average 162.789 kph; 2. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'58.417; 3. Davies (Ducati) 1'58.575; 4. Baz (Kawasaki) 1'58.579; 5. Giugliano (Ducati) 1'58.717; 6. Melandri (Aprilia) 1'58.763; 7. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1'58.855; 8. Laverty (Suzuki) 1'58.971; 9. Haslam (Honda) 1'59.103; 10. Canepa (Ducati) 1'59.861; 11. Lowes (Suzuki) 2'00.309; 12. Elias (Aprilia) 2'00.480; 13. Corti (MV Agusta) 2'00.749; 14. Camier (BMW) 2'00.966; 15. Salom (Kawasaki) 2'01.032; 16. Guarnoni (Kawasaki) 2'01.076; 17. Badovini (Bimota) 2'01.463; 18. Foret (Kawasaki) 2'01.511; 19. Morais (Kawasaki) 2'01.801; 20. Toth (BMW) 2'02.672; 21. Iddon (Bimota) 2'02.709; 22. Fabrizio (Kawasaki) 2'02.716; 23. Scassa (Kawasaki) 2'03.138; 24. Andreozzi (Kawasaki) 2'03.217; 25. Yates (EBR) 2'04.075; 26. Sebestyen (BMW) 2'05.570; 27. May (EBR) 2'05.593.