One day after they raced for real at Motorland Aragon the top WorldSBK men and machines tested for real, with eight hours of available track time for the 19 riders who ventured out in bright sunshine and calm conditions. Most riders tested the new trache of Pirelli development tyres too.
Some struggling riders on Sunday made progress on Monday, but the same top three as usual – in the absence of usual WorldSBK alien Melandri down in 11th place – were Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). They were all inside the 1’49s, the only ones to get there.
Sykes was peaking, if still not anywhere near 100% fit, to have had such a positive test. He went back to his near future, as he explained. “I did not use a qualifying tyre today and that is what makes me happy. The standard race tyres performed incredibly and the bike was working nicely. I am still feeling a bit second hand, although I had a slight improvement today on my stomach problems. It is amazing how even with such a small improvement I feel night and day better, physically, on the bike today. I did not intend to do that many laps but I was enjoying myself and overall it was a nice test. We made so many small changes to the bike, working hard with Showa, and I am happy with the progress. We are always learning, always improving. Today the track was in great condition and the Ninja ZX-10RR was working really consistently. It puts a bit of a smile on the end of a difficult weekend.”
Davies, with lots to do and even a swingarm to check on his bike, punched 94 laps into his time card, in ideal testing conditions.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) did only three circuit-exits before falling, and 26 laps in all, finally losing the front and then hurting his neck muscles so badly he felt it affected the working of even the inside of his throat.
Checks and scans found nothing sinister so he was back at the track, if not riding again, in the afternoon.
He feels he should be fit for the races at Assen at the end of the month.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) was fourth quickest, and Sunday struggler Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) using his many potential chassis changes to great effect to go fifth.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) crashed late on but was still sixth.
Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) had his first real chassis tests of the year and found improvements in turning the bike to go seventh, albeit 1’317 seconds behind Sykes.
Eighth for Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) was helped by his best-of-test lap total of 103, while Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) matched his race number, with 69 laps put in, and was ninth fastest.
Despite his scorches and burns from his fiery experiences over race weekend Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Ducati) was tenth.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was 13th on his F4.
By Gordon Ritchie