Jon Rea & Kawasaki Fastest at Brno–& Sykes Close Behind As WSBK Hits ‘The Friendly Locals’ Circuit


WSBK Press Office

After a winless round at Donington Park, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was back in full form on Friday as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship made its return to Automotodrom Brno, with Rea securing the best time in Free Practice 3 and the overall Friday sessions. Making his mark as the man to beat over the weekend, the reigning world champion finished ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who completed a Kawasaki lock out, with Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in third.

With the first free practice throwing out unusual results due to the damp track conditions, it was the FP2 times that set the bar for the WorldSBK riders in the final afternoon session. Running again on a dry track, only eight riders managed to improve their earlier times – one of those the championship leader – cutting 0.045 seconds off his best lap.

With Sykes running half a second off his previous best and Melandri – the last WorldSBK winner at Brno – not quite able to better his marks, it was Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) who ended the day in fourth overall. The Italian therefore makes it into the Superpole 2 once again, confirming that he is extracting more out of the Aprilia each passing round.

Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) managed to take the fifth best time of the day, with Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in sixth, over half a second behind Rea out in front. Donington double marvel Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) did improve his best lap time in FP3, rising up to seventh by the end of the day.

Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) created more headlines in the final session of the day – although perhaps not how he intended to. The Italian, who led the timesheets in FP1, was running seventh overall and second in the final session’s timesheets when an engine issue left him out of action and the track filled with smoke and oil, forcing a red flag with nine minutes to go. His final time of 2’00.191 was enough to keep him in eighth position, and his slot in tomorrow’s Superpole 2.

The final two riders to make it directly into the Superpole 2 tomorrow were Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) in ninth and Loris Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) just behind in tenth. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) couldn’t follow up his maiden WorldSBK podium with a good start at Brno, crashing early into FP3 and only recording the 18th best lap time.

An intriguing qualifying lies ahead! The WorldSBK Superpole 1 starts tomorrow from 10:30 local time (08:30 GMT), with lights out in Race 1 at 13:00 (11:00).

 

Ducati

Melandri 3rd and Davies 6th in Friday’s free-practice at Brno with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team

The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team resumed action today at Brno (Czech Republic) for Round 7 of the WorldSBK Championship, taking it to the track for three free-practice sessions. Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies, who tested at the circuit about a month ago, found wet conditions in the morning and then were able to focus on their dry setup in FP2 and FP3, closing in third and sixth position respectively, not far from the top both in terms of a single lap and overall pace.

Michael Ruben Rinaldi, on track with the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team, posted the 8th provisional time overall and first among “Independent” riders despite a technical issue that cut his work short towards the end of FP3. Both Melandri and Davies, as well as Rinaldi, gained direct access to Superpole 2.

The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team and the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team will return to the track Saturday, June 9th, at 08:45 local time (CET) for the fourth and final free-practice session before Superpole and Race 1, scheduled to start at 13:00.

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) – 1:59.795 (3rd)
“Today really demanded our utmost focus as track conditions changed quite a lot between the morning and the afternoon, and the grip was much lower than during the tests here. We had to study and utilize different setups, but fortunately we managed to do a solid job and the team found a good compromise to make me feel quite comfortable on the bike. We can be fairly optimistic for the race, regardless of weather conditions. Rea seems to have a small edge at the moment, but I’m really determined to close the gap.”

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 1:59.970 (6th)
“After a wet FP1, we started working on a ‘dry’ setup for FP2 and on our race pace. We got down to good lap times quite quickly, but then we sort of hit an obstacle, and on this track you can’t really force it, the lap time has to come to you. So, we immediately started analyzing our setup and what changes to make. I feel like we’re getting closer and closer to the mark. In terms of pace, we’re quite competitive, but so far we’ve been struggling to make a hot lap. We’re not actually that far away, we just need to make small improvements for tomorrow.”

Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team #21) – 2:00.191 (8th)
“All in all, it’s been a positive first day, because we’ve been competitive in all conditions. We still need to improve a bit, both in terms of a single lap and race pace, but we’re fairly optimistic despite the fact that track conditions during FP1 slowed down our program a bit. Tomorrow’s weather is still a question mark, so we need to be ready to adapt to all conditions and, most of all, avoid making mistakes.”

 

Honda

Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team rider Leon Camier got up to speed quickly on his Fireblade at the Automotodrom Brno today to finish P9 on combined times and secure his first Superpole 2 appearance since the Aragon round.

In what has become a regular occurence in this year’s championship, Friday practice was subjected to temperamental weather as Free Practice 1 was declared wet due to early morning rain, with the remaining two sessions taking place in dry conditions. The variable conditions hurt the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team more than most as they missed the Brno test earlier in the year, however the team and riders put in extra effort and to make up for lost time.

Despite the challenges and still feeling sore from his broken ribs, Camier showed competitive pace in the dry conditions and his personal best lap time of 2’00.227 set in Free Practice 2 ensured the #2 CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 will take part in tomorrow’s Superpole 2 session. Camier was among the top five riders in the first three sectors, with the final sector the focus for improvement tomorrow.

For Jake Gagne it was a more steady start to the race weekend, the American rider like his team mate set his best time in Free Practice 2 and although he pushed hard, was unable to find more pace in the final session of the day. Gagne finished P19 overall with a personal best lap time of 2’01.324 and will participate in Superpole 1 tomorrow with the aim of finishing in the top two to join his team mate in SP2.

The next session is Free Practice 4 tomorrow at 0845 local time (GMT +2) tomorrow with Race 1 scheduled to commence at 1300.

Leon Camier

I’m pretty happy with how today went, we weren’t here for the test which meant we had no base setting to start but we managed to catch up quickly. If we can get the feeling on the bike I need, I think we can be even more competitive. Looking at the sector times I’m in the top 5 in sectors one to three, it’s just the last sector we need to work on, so we’ll work on the bike’s setting and geometry and try and make a good step tomorrow. Physically, I’m still not 100% which is impacting my riding in some areas, but if we can improve my body and the bike for tomorrow we could get a good result.

Jake Gagne 45

Today was my first time at Brno in a few years and the first time on the Fireblade, it’s a fun and flowing track but we didn’t quite have the speed we wanted. I got to try the bike in the wet and dry today and we tried a few different settings on the bike but didn’t make that much progress. Mainly I think I need to work out how to ride the bike a bit better around this track, focus on getting drive out of some corners and join up the sectors better. Tonight we’ll check out some data, work out what I need to improve on and where we can improve the bike, then we’ll get out there and try again tomorrow.

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Yamaha

Strong Start for Pata Yamaha on Friday in Brno
Free practice

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team got off to a positive start on Friday at Round 7 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship in Brno despite a number of red flags and a wet FP1. Alex Lowes showed good pace throughout the day and ended up fifth on the combined timesheets after FP3 with a 1:59.917, 0.514s off the top. There was hardly anything to separate him from his teammate Michael van der Mark, who was just 0.061s further back in seventh after setting a 1:59.978 to finish Friday in seventh, with both riders securing their places automatically in Saturday’s SP2.

The forecast for the day was 28°C and thunderstorms at the Automotodrom Brno and heavy rain before FP1 saw the session declared wet before the circuit dried and the sun returned for the rest of the day with track temperatures rising to 40°C. WorldSBK returns to the Brno track for the first time since 2012 and to prepare, the Pata Yamaha team conducted a private two-day test at the circuit after Assen, although with the circuit conditions vastly different today, further adjustments were required to find the best performance for the R1’s.

In the tricky conditions of FP1, with a wet but drying track, Lowes got off to a solid start, ending the 40-minute session in eighth with a 2:11.054. The track was completely dry by the time FP2 came around and Lowes wasted no time in getting down to work with slick tyres to set a 1.59.7 – discounted due to touching the green run-off onto the finish straight – and then a 1:59.917 and move up to fourth overall. In FP3, the 27-year-old British rider worked hard on his race pace before a red flag towards the end of the session saw most riders fit fresh rubber to set a flying lap. Lowes maturely instead decided to focus on his feeling with used tyres in an effort to improve his performance towards the end of the race, showing excellent consistency although he did not improve his time. His best lap from FP2 was good enough to see him end the day in fifth overall and the 2013 British Superbike Champion heads into Saturday confident in his pace and knowing there is more to come.

Fresh from his historic double victory last time out at Donington, his teammate van der Mark eased himself into proceedings in FP1 with not much to be learnt in the mixed conditions – the 25-year-old Dutch rider ended the session in 16th with a 2:13.704. Conditions were almost perfect for FP2 and the 2014 WorldSSP Champion improved to a 2:00.243 to end the session in tenth, despite not having the best confidence in the front end of his Pata Yamaha R1. The team made some setup changes during FP3 that saw van der Mark’s feeling improve towards the end of the session, leaving it late to set a 1:59.978 to finish Friday in seventh on the combined timesheets, 0.575s off the top and securing his place alongside his teammate in Saturday’s SP2.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action on Saturday at 8:45 am local time (CEST) for Free Practice 4, with SP2 due to start at 10:30 am and the 18-lap Race 1 scheduled for 1:00 pm.
Alex Lowes – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team

“I felt pretty good today! We tried a lot of setting options on the bike, even if the sessions were quite interrupted by some red flags and a few small issues. We didn’t use new tyres in FP3, so I think we are in a stronger position than it looks on the timesheets, which is nice. I feel good on the bike, the R1 flows well around here – I really enjoy this track and I am looking forward to tomorrow!”

Michael van der Mark – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team

“FP1 was in mixed conditions, so it was good to go out but there was nothing we could really learn. I struggled with the feeling with the front end in FP2 and I did not have a lot of confidence. This carried into the start of FP3 but we made a big change to the bike and I finally got my confidence back with the front and when stopping the bike. I was happy with that and we now just need to focus on trying to find some more rear grip on corner entry and exit. I am happy to have made it into SP2 but feel we still have some work to do!”

Paul Denning – Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal

“It is great that WorldSBK is back in Brno, it’s a beautiful circuit and a very nice part of the world. Even on Friday, there have been some enthusiastic fans around so, hopefully, it is going to be an exciting return for WorldSBK to the circuit. Today was a little bit compromised by the weather and also the dry conditions were quite different to the recent test in terms of temperature and humidity, so it has been quite difficult to transfer the information we previously learnt. The top riders are all very close on rhythm but at this moment, Jonathan looks like he has something in his pocket compared to everyone else. The plan for tomorrow is to consolidate everything that has been learnt today, close the gap to him, and look forward to a big fight for the podium on Saturday afternoon!”

 

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