These PR just in:
Day one of the WorldSBK Motocard Aragon Round has been completed by the blue-riband class, with Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) heading the field once more. Times soon improved at the start of the session and riders edged closer to the outright WorldSBK lap record at MotorLand Aragon. However, rain played a part towards the end of the session, meaning there were little improvements in the final two minutes.
Bautista soon got to work, improving his lap time in the early stages of the session but initially, unable to get under the 1’49.6 bracket. Whilst having his gap slashed in half, the home-hero was still comfortably clear at the top and pushing hard throughout the session to try and improve his time. Teammate Chaz Davies failed to improve on his time and finished in ninth position. The Welshman had a few on-track issues, so will hope that they are put to bed ahead of the races on Saturday and Sunday.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) continued his strong start to the Motocard Aragon Round, improving his time to be just over half-a-second from Alvaro Bautista’s lap time. Lowes hasn’t achieved back-to-back front row starts since the Losail International Circuit in 2017 and looks set to put the record straight. Teammate Michael van der Mark however seemed subdued and was outside of the top ten for some of the session. In the final eight minutes, the Dutchman went tenth but would finish 12th overall.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) continued his pursuit at the front of the field, with the reigning four-time world champion putting a good lap in towards the end of the session to cement third position and just 0.023 from Alex Lowes’ Yamaha. Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had a quiet session and remained towards the rear end of the top ten, placing seventh on combined times and improving his time at the end of the session.
It was an impressive FP2 for 2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), who put in a blistering lap time at the end of the session to go fourth overall. With two wins at Aragon, Sykes suffered a small crash at Turn 1, losing the front end of the S1000RR. His teammate, Markus Reiterberger, had a much better session than in the morning. The German placed in eighth overall, as the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team continue to improve their bike’s aerodynamics, as well as dominating the sector times in sector three.
Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) had his best session of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, improving to fifth overall. Top Independent rider, the Irishman has continued to build on the steps he and the team made in Thailand, making for a promising European stint of the season. Fellow Independent team rival, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was just a fraction off the 2013 runner-up’s pace in sixth position.
Italian rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) was impressive and broke into the top ten, whilst also placing top Italian, as Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) struggled in 11th position.
It was a disappointing day for the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team, who were 16th and 17th with Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari respectively.
Lowes Makes Strong Start to Aragon Weekend
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider, Alex Lowes, made a strong start to Round 3 of the FIM Superbike World Championship in Aragon today. The 28-year-old Briton, three times a podium finisher last time out in Thailand, was second fastest on the opening day in Spain, having posted a time of 1’50.126 in this afternoon’s second free practice session. Sandro Cortese ended the day sixth on the timesheet, with GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK teammate, Marco Melandri, five places further back in 11th. Michael van der Mark endured a difficult opening day in Aragon, finishing 12th on combined times after struggling to find a good feeling with his Yamaha YZF-R1.
Lowes was quick to make his mark as the first free practice session got underway in cool conditions this morning, with the Pata Yamaha rider quickly finding his rhythm around the fast and technical 5.077km Aragon circuit. A time of 1’50.819 saw Lowes finish the opening session in second position, but over a second behind the winner of the opening six races, Alvaro Bautista. Another significant step forward in this afternoon’s second and final free practice saw Lowes improve his lap time further, reducing the gap to Bautista to just half a second.
While Lowes enjoyed a strong opening day the same wasn’t true for his Pata Yamaha teammate, van der Mark. After a solid opening practice this morning, the 26-year-old Dutch rider went in slightly the wrong direction with set-up changes ahead of the second session, which he started late due to a technical issue. As a result, van der Mark was only able to make a small improvement to his lap time but he remains confident that a further step forward is possible tomorrow ahead of qualifying and the race.
Today may have been Cortese’s first aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 at Aragon, but the reigning Supersport World Champion was quick to adapt to the demands of racing a Superbike around the technical 5.077km track. Ninth in the opening free practice session this morning, Cortese improved his lap time by almost a second to end the day an impressive sixth on the timesheet.
Melandri endured a difficult opening day in Aragon, with the Italian struggling to find a good feeling with the bike in both practice sessions, despite working through a number of set-up options. The GRT Yamaha rider will sit down with his crew to go through the data tonight, as they work to find a solution to the issues ahead of tomorrow’s all important qualifying.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P2 – 1’50.126
“It was a good start to the weekend today. We stayed on the same tyres for this afternoon’s session and, while I couldn’t do a long run because I’m still struggling a little bit with my wrist and don’t want to work it too hard ahead of the race, my pace was quite strong and I felt good on the bike. It was certainly the best feeling I’ve had on this track, which is really positive, and now I’m looking forward to getting back to it tomorrow and trying to improve in a couple of areas.”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P12 – 1’51.103
“This morning wasn’t too bad; I felt quite good on the bike, the gap to Alex wasn’t so big and it was clear in which areas we needed to improve. This afternoon we had a small technical problem which meant I missed a few minutes at the start of the session, and after that I just struggled to feel comfortable on the bike. We reverted to a set-up closer to the one we ran this morning, which felt a little bit better and, together with a new set of tyres, allowed me to improve my lap time, but not as much as I expected. We have some work to do tonight, as I was struggling a bit mid-corner, but I’m confident we can find a solution ahead of qualifying.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P6 – 1’50.636
“A very positive opening. We worked hard between FP1 and FP2 because I struggled a lot initially this morning, but throughout the day we managed to improve a lot by making some big changes to the set-up of the bike. Of course, it was made more difficult by the fact that this my first time here on the Superbike and, while I know the racetrack, it’s different on the bigger bike. In FP2 the pace was there and now we need to see tomorrow how the race will go.”
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P11 – 1’51.053
“it’s been one of the most difficult days in the Yamaha R1 for me. I arrived with good expectations, as I have always had good results at this track, but today was very difficult. I was struggling to brake, to get the bike stopped, and getting the bike turned was also an issue, so it was not easy. We tried a lot of different things, but the result was the same. Tomorrow we will try to find a solution in the final free practice session by making some changes to the character of the bike, especially in the areas where, at the moment, I don’t feel very comfortable.”
Camier back on track in mixed conditions at Aragon; Kiyonari faces the Spanish track for the first time
On a day of rather cold temperatures and with very light rain falling at various points during the afternoon’s session, Leon Camier was back aboard his CBR1000RR after being declared fit to race by the Medical Centre yesterday afternoon.
Conditions were not ideal for team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari either, facing the technical Spanish track for the first time. The Japanese rider was unable to improve on his morning’s lap time.
The two riders hope for stable weather conditions tomorrow, so that they can improve on both their bike set-up and performance, which saw them round out day one in 16th and 17th place respectively.
Leon Camier 2
“Of course, I’m not fully fit yet. It will take some time to get back to normal, despite not having needed an operation. That said, we are not where we want to be with the bike’s set-up either. We made a change for the second session, but it didn’t take us in the right direction. The positive thing is that we understand where we need to go with the bike in order to be faster but at the same time it’s not so easy to achieve the right setting. It takes time. Hopefully we will be able to make some steps tomorrow if the weather stays fine”.
Ryuichi Kiyonari 23
“This morning I rode the Aragon track for the first time, and I must say I enjoyed it, even if it was a challenge at first. There are a lot of blind corners and to find the references and good lines took some time. I was feeling quite good towards the end of the session anyway. The afternoon session was disappointing as we were not able to make an improvement in terms of bike set-up. Weather conditions did not help of course but this was the same for everyone. Tomorrow we will start again with a positive mentality and do our best to improve”.
Round 3 of the Superbike World Championship begins well for Álvaro Bautista, who heads the timesheets with the Panigale V4 R of the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team. Some signs of progress for Chaz Davies, who finished the day ninth quickest
The third World Superbike round of the season began well for Álvaro Bautista, who immediately proved to be right on the pace in his home race with the Ducati Panigale V4 R. In today’s two free practice sessions, the 34-year-old Spanish rider was the only man to get under the 1’50 mark when he set a lap time of 1’49.692 in the morning FP1, and he then shaved off a few hundredths of a second in the afternoon run to finish the day on top with a time of 1’49.607.
Team-mate Chaz Davies started the day well with fourth-quickest time in the first free practice session in 1’50.920. For the afternoon, the Welsh rider made a few small modifications to the bike to try and further improve on his time, but his effort came to nothing in the last few minutes when the rain began to fall. Chaz ended the first day of practice in ninth place overall.
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #19) – 1st – 1’49.607
“The weekend here at Aragón has begun really well because I immediately found the right feeling with the bike, like in the first two rounds of the season. My confidence level with the Panigale V4 R continues to grow rapidly and here on my home circuit it all seems even easier. Today we did a good job but we have to keep one eye on the uncertain weather conditions for the weekend. I’ve never lapped with this bike in the wet and so in case of rain I will have to get used to the conditions very quickly. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’m very confident I can do a good qualifying run to start on the front row for race 1.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 9th – 1’50.920
“This morning’s session was quite decent, but then I had a frustrating second session in the afternoon. We played around with the bike a little but it felt like it changed quite a lot, and I got a bit more comfortable with it at the end of the second session then three-quarters of the way round my fast lap I hit a wall of rain so had to abort. I felt we made a bit of progress with some of the vibration issues we’ve been having but it changed the bike quite a bit so there are pros and cons. With a good run I think we shouldn’t be in too bad a shape with race pace so we’ll try again tomorrow.”