News 24 Jan 2018

Defending champion Rea fastest as WorldSBK testing resumes

Riders on track in Spain to commence final pre-season preparation.

Image: Supplied.

Testing for the 2018 Motul Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) commenced at Jerez, Spain, overnight as Kawasaki Racing Team’s reigning world champion Jonathan Rea picked up where he left off last season.

Working on the ZX-10RR with the new regulations for 2018, Kawasaki Racing Team have a solid testing structure in place which is clearly working well for triple title-winner Rea, who set a 1m39.862s, putting him only 0.202s ahead of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha).

On the other side of the Kawasaki garage, Tom Sykes took a relaxed attitude to the opening day on track and wasn’t in a rush to pit-out. However this didn’t hinder the former world champion as he finished in third, with a lap-time of 1m40.178s. Racing Ducati duo of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri have also been working to adapt their Panigale Rs to the updates to the rules this season. Adapting the electronics, chassis and engine to the regulations, Melandri was fourth with a time of 1m40.238s and Davies finished the day in the top five with a lap-time of 1m40.704s.

Joining the team-mates was Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who is moving up into WorldSBK with the Racing Junior Team as they are set to take on all the European WorldSBK rounds in 2018. The reigning Superstock 1000 champion is heading out on his second outing with the team and is improving his pace with a best lap time of 1m41.202s.

Ducati are already preparing for 2019 as this is the second time they have brought out the new Panigale V4 to test, following the first one at Valencia last October. Lorenzo Zanetti has been the rider in charge, with the goal of developing ready for the start of the 2019 season.

The Pata Yamaha team of Lowes and Michael van der Mark came out fighting in Spain, as they were able to finish in the top six, putting up a strong fight throughout the day. Working on chassis parts and engine components on day one, it was important for the team to become re-established following the winter break.

Milwaukee Aprilia were present with both Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori, taking a top 10 finish on Tuesday. Irish rider Laverty, whose lap time of 1m40.775s put him in seventh, has been working on engine braking and the swing-arm positioning of his RSV4, which were problems he suffered with last season.

Continuing to impress with his new team, Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda) put in another strong day on the blue Fireblade, clocking over 50 laps and ending in the top eight, running at 1m40.888s. It was a big day for teammate Jake Gagne, who participated in his first test with the Honda team despite competing with them for three rounds last season. Hoping to spend the day understanding the bike and testing it without feeling the pressure, Gagne finished with a time of 1m42.060s in 83 laps.

Althea BMW’s Loris Baz makes his return to the paddock this year and has finished day one of the 2018 test in 11th, with a lap-time of 1m41.129s. Continuing to work on adapting to the bike and the team, he has mainly been focusing on the electronics with the German machine on day one.

Yonny Hernandez (Pedercini Kawasaki) is undergoing his second test on board the ZX-10RR machine and is continuing to work on his feeling with the Pirelli tyres, as well as the new bike and team. Still riding the 2017 machine, he finished in the top 15 with a lap time of 1m42.035s.

Another rider changing colours for 2018, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has spent the day using two bikes to check electronics on one and new engine parts and longevity on the other. With over 60 laps logged, his time of 1m41.314s, put him 1.4s behind the front man Rea.