Davies first in WorldSBK FP2 despite Red Flag, Razgatlioglu fastest overall
A surprise may well be in store this weekend, with all manufacturers inside the top ten, which is covered by less than a second…
A frantic first day of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season provided numerous stories and headlines with the much-anticipated start of the season not disappointing. On the combined times, it was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) who fended off a flying Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) and Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).
Toprak Razgatlioglu took top spot in the morning, with Yamaha finding good form in the morning session in the cooler conditions. The Turkish rider has historically struggled at Aragon, as have Yamaha, and in the higher afternoon temperatures, they did drop off once more. Razgatlioglu was fastest overall on the combined times but the Independents were in fine form on Friday too.
Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) finished second overall, also taking top Ducati honours. The Welshman was also on top form in the afternoon session and is the most consistent at all times of the day, a possible sign of what is to come throughout the rest of the weekend. Joining him inside the top three was American Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), with the Texan on fire in the morning but towards the bottom end of the top ten in the afternoon. Third overall, it’s a strong start for Gerloff.
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) led the charge of the Kawasakis, having led the morning session at points before eventually finish fourth, whilst he was sixth on the timesheets in the hotter afternoon outing. Reigning Champion teammate Jonathan Rea was only fifth after the opening session, but in contrast to Lowes, took charge of Kawasaki’s assault in the afternoon, by finishing second. Both Kawasaki riders trialled the SCX tyre in the afternoon, a major talking point throughout Friday. With Lowes and Rea fourth and fifth respectively, expect them to improve on Saturday.
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team had a fairly unassuming day of action at MotorLand Aragon. Michael Ruben Rinaldi was sixth overall on the timesheets and relied on his FP1 time from the morning, whilst Scott Redding was only 11th in the morning but shaved half-a-second off his time in the afternoon, placing him seventh at the close of the day. Plenty of work to do for the factory Ducati, but they were winners at Aragon in 2020, so they have the potential to bounce back to the front.
It was a mixed Friday back in action for Team HRC, with Alvaro Bautista fourth in FP2 but only eighth in the combined times, whilst Leon Haslam was one place behind him in FP2 in fifth, but tenth overall. Both Bautista and Haslam worked well throughout Friday and will be eager to showcase their strength at a circuit they achieved a podium at in 2020. Both riders tried using the SCX tyre throughout the afternoon, perhaps contemplating it as a possible race option for tomorrow, just as Bautista did last year.
Over at BMW, it was Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) who was flying the flag, but only from his FP1 time in the morning. He was ninth overall, although teammate Michael van der Mark had a torrid first day at the office at Aragon, as he crashed at Turn 8, bringing out the Red Flag. He was OK but missed the rest of the session, leaving him down in 11th overall and completing just 19 laps, the fewest of anyone throughout the day. The other BMWs were also struggling, with Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing) in 14th and Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) only 16th.
The rookies battle was also intense further down the order, with honours eventually going to Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in 12th. He was just ahead of ex-MotoGP™ star Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team) who completed his first day of action at a WorldSBK round in 13th, ahead of Jonas Folger and then Japanese sensation Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).
Christophe Ponsson (Alstare Yamaha) was 18th but suffered a Turn 5 crash in FP2 but finished ahead of the Kawasaki rookies of Isaac Viñales (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) took 21st ahead of Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) and his teammate Samuele Cavalieri.
Rinaldi and Redding ended in 6th and 7th position respectively after intense Friday free practices
The 2021 WorldSBK season officially kicked off with the first two free practice sessions at the Motorland circuit in Aragon (Spain).
Michael Rinaldi and Scott Redding closed respectively in 6th and 7th position at the end of a day in which the very high temperature did not make the Spanish circuit particularly performing.
Free Practice 1
Both Rinaldi and Redding worked on the set up of their Ducati Panigale V4 R. The Italian rider completed 15 laps finishing in 5th position with a time of 1’50.741, recorded in the last run with the new tire. Scott Redding worked throughout the session with the same rear tire completing 17 laps (11th position – 1’51.203).
Free Practice 2
Despite the higher temperature of the asphalt in the afternoon (48°, 17° more than in the morning session), Scott Redding was able to improve his best lap time by almost half a second, finishing in third place with a chrono of 1’50.780, 90 thousandths of a second behind Rea (Kawasaki).
Michael Rinaldi has worked throughout the session on the race pace completing a convincing race simulation of 19 laps and closing the session with a best time of 1’51.179.
T. Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) 1’49.952
C. Davies (Ducati) 1.50.260
G. Gerloff (Yamaha) 1’50.442
A. Lowes (Kawasaki) 1’50.498
J. Rea (Kawasaki) 1’50.690
M. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’50.741
S. Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’50.780
Michael Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #21)
“Today was a very special day. It was my debut with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team for an official session, that’s why I am very happy and full of pride. I have to admit that both FP1 and FP2 were a bit special. We had to face some inconveniences that we did not expect but despite everything, my race pace is not bad and this gives me great confidence ahead of tomorrow. I’m sure the team will work hard to put me in a position to be competitive”.
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #45)
“I think it was a difficult Friday for all the riders. With my team, we have worked a lot on the choice of tires without focusing on the fast lap time but trying to find a good pace with both solutions. The red flag has interrupted our work but I think we have found positive indications. It’s difficult to compare the feeling I had today with last year’s race, especially because the grip was really lower”.
WorldSBK 2021 Round 01
Team HRC begins its 2021 WorldSBK campaign at a sunny Aragón
The 2021 Superbike World Championship is finally underway at the Motorland Aragón facility in Spain. Team HRC and its factory riders Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam are highly motivated ahead of the weekend and have completed today’s opening free practice sessions with promising results.
The Superbikes took to the track for the first free practice of the 2021 season earlier this morning. Weather conditions were good, remaining warm and sunny throughout the day, which meant that Bautista, Haslam and their respective teams were able to make the most of the 45-minute session. Essentially starting from where they left off at the recent Aragón tests, Team HRC focused on set-up, working to adapt the CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE to the Spanish track. While Haslam was able to set a fastest time of 1’50.907, Bautista’s best reference was a 1’51.049, times that saw the riders place eighth and tenth respectively at the end of FP1.
Bautista was one of nine riders able to improve on their lap times during the afternoon’s hotter second practice. Setting a 1’50.814 in the early stages, the Spaniard finished fourth, followed by the Brit, fifth with a 1’51 flat. In the combined standings, Bautista rounded out day one in eighth place, with Haslam less than one tenth behind in tenth.
Tomorrow will see Team HRC return to the track for the third and final free practice, followed by the Superpole session and then the first of the weekend’s races, set to get underway at 2pm (CET).
Alvaro Bautista 19
FP1 P10 (1’51.049) – FP2 P4 (1’50.814) COMBINED P8
“We’ve finally started the season and I’m happy that I felt physically good today. In FP1, we tried the new Pirelli front tyre that I never had chance to test over the winter. It has a lot of positives, especially in terms of stability, I think. We also made some adjustments to the electronics to better suit the track conditions, a little cooler compared to when we tested here a couple of weeks ago, and the feeling with the bike was good. This afternoon the temperature was a lot higher, so it was harder to find the same feeling I had this morning. We tried to adapt the set-up to these conditions anyway, as the races will probably take place in similar temperatures. I say ‘probably’ because the forecast says it could be cooler again so it might be a bit hard to prepare, but it’s the same for everyone of course. I’m happy with our first day, and with my feeling with the bike. We are working hard and have more ideas for tomorrow, as we try to make another step and start the season with a good result.”
Leon Haslam 91
FP1 P8 (1’50.907) – FP2 P5 (1’51.000) COMBINED P10
“Today hasn’t gone too badly. The lap times seemed to come quite easily at first, although we lost a little time working with the tyres while other riders made a bit of a step up. But we’ve found better consistency, I think. The grip levels weren’t as good as they were during the recent tests, so we need to adapt to that situation, the same as everyone else of course, to try and find the right stability. But the lap times are not far off, and I think conditions tomorrow and Sunday might be cooler, which could help. We’ll see what tomorrow and Sunday bring and continue to work hard to be as prepared as possible for the first races of the season.”