This just in from WSBK
The Japanese manufacturer was back in action and impressing, whilst red flags and rain played havoc on day one
The 2020 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship fires into action as the first of two testing days at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto get under way in the south of Spain, although in rain. With the highly anticipated all-new Honda in action in the public eye for the first time, there’s plenty to watch out for – even if temperatures were far from ideal. Two red flags interrupted running, although there plenty of action to also brighten up a damp day, with Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM) on top.
Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) was the first rider out to brave the treacherous conditions, with the Frenchman keen to dial in plenty of laps as he prepares for his return to the WorldSBK fraternity. He was swiftly joined by fellow Independent Ducati star Leandro Mercado (Motocorsa Racing), who returns to the Italian manufacturer after three seasons away. The biggest news was that at just after 12.00, the HRC Team of Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam made their first public appearance.
A day after unveiling their 2020 colour scheme, the PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM precariously taking to the circuit as the rain continued fall. Michael van der Mark spent plenty of time on the Jerez circuit and after a sequence of strong laps, fired in the top time just before 14:00, toppling fellow Yamaha rider Loris Baz. With a soaked circuit, Toprak Razgatlioglu needed more wet laps to fully understand how the bike feels but crashed at Turn 1, having only completed one lap. The positive for Razgatlioglu was that he got his first taste of the new engine and he returned to the track about 40 minutes after his accident. Razgatlioglu was seventh at lunch.
French star Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) picked up where he left off at the last Jerez test – when he was second – and briefly headed the field as the morning evolved. He was a firm fixture inside the top three and was top Yamaha for most of the morning and early afternoon, eventually finishing in second. It is a strong start to the 2020 season for Baz, as he seeks his first WorldSBK podium in six years. Other Independent riders inside the top ten include Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) in third – much to the surprise of many – and Leandro Mercado in sixth.
Over at the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati, there were plenty of new things to experiment out on track, as Scott Redding received new parts for the chassis and engine. The team set about doing “smart” work and stated that 50-60 quality laps were better than doing as many as possible. Redding finished the first half of the day in fourth, taking the fight to the Yamaha onslaught.
The HRC Team were having a positive first experience in the public eye, as Leon Haslam momentarily hit the top spot with the all-new WorldSBK weapon. Teammate Alvaro Bautista also went out and was inside the top five, before suffering a small crash at Turn 6 – rider OK and returning to the box not long after. There was a large crowd around the HRC Team box, with rival manufacturers keen to get their first look at the all-new Honda. Come the end of the first half of the day, Haslam was up fifth place, whilst last year’s WorldSBK runner-up was 19th and elected not to return to the track.
BMW took to the Circuit de Jerez – Angel Nieto track with Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty getting comfortable in the wet weather. The BMW S 1000 RR was one of the best machines in the wet weather last season, picking up its first pole position in the wet, as well as its first podium. Sykes completed five laps to finish eighth whilst new rider in the team Laverty did eight and was 14th, with little to read into in the early stages.
2019 World Supersport runner-up Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) was back in action, with a lot of work ahead of him. The main aim in the rain for the Italian was to learn how the electronics and tyres work. Unfortunately for ‘Carica’, he learnt the hard way and crashed at Turn 1. American teammate and fellow rookie Garrett Gerloff was purely looking forward to bagging more laps and trying to understand a good base setting.
The Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK didn’t field Jonathan Rea in the wet weather as he already knows the bike well enough, whilst Alex Lowes did take to the circuit in the afternoon and was ninth.
Randy Krummenacher was top in WorldSSP for the MV Agusta Reparto Corse squad, ahead of Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing), whilst Andrea Locatelli (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) didn’t head out.
1.) Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WORLDSBK OFFICIAL TEAM) 1.53.675
2.) Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.119
3.) Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) +0.191
4.) Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.532
5.) Leon Haslam (Team HRC) +1.128
6.) Leandro Mercado (Motocorsa Racing) +1.686