If you're looking at the times from the Motorland Aragon circuit and wondering how come they're ten seconds slower than the MotoGP riders, it's because they're riding a different track layout. Where MotoGP runs a single long sweeper as the final corner, the World Superbike series races the configuration which includes the more finicky hairpin at the end of the back straight, which takes the riders back to the start and finish line. That short section adds 270 meters, but the hairpin is where they are losing all the time.
The conditions haven't helped either. While ambient temperatures are merely nicely warm (32°C) the track temperature is absolutely scorching, approaching 60°C under the burning Spanish sun, and with no shade around the circuit, there is little to cool the track.
Despite that, it was Marco Melandri's day. The Yamaha man benefited from having raced here last year with MotoGP, and also from a recent test at the track, but mainly, Melandri is just back in the groove again after Misano. For both sessions, the Italian was comfortably fastest and is looking like getting faster. Melandri is 23 points down on Max Biaggi in the championship, and looking like pushing the Alitalia Aprilia rider for 2nd place, especially with Biaggi struggling on the first day of practice in Aragon.
Biaggi's problem, he said, were the tires, the tires not working as well in the heat for the four-cylinders, he told GPOne.com. The implication being that the Pirellis favored the Ducati, though no doubt Carlos Checa would dispute that. The Spaniard was 2nd fastest in both sessions, but had the situation firmly under control, as he appears to have the championship. Checa continues to be consistent where others falter, and that consistency looks like scoring him the title this year.
Further back, Tom Sykes has been strong at Aragon, scoring two 5th spots behind an equally impressive Leon Camier. But most impressive of all has been the performance of Ayrton Badovini on the satellite BMW Italia machine, bagging 3rd spot in the first session of free practice, and finishing ahead of the factory bikes in both free practice and qualifying. Badovini has been boosted by a strong outing at Misano, and causing questions to be asked in the factory BMW garage.
In the World Supersport class, the Kawasakis have been ruling the roost at the Motorland circuit. Spaniard David Salom took top spot in the morning, while freshly annointed championship leader Broc Parkes took provisional pole in qualifying. The Yamahas of Chaz Davies and Luca Scassa follow the Kawasakis, with only the Parkalgar machine of Sam Lowes interjecting itself between them during qualifying. Now close to full fitness, Lowes will be a feature this weekend again. As will Luca Scassa; the Italian was forced to skip Misano after being caught out by the testing rules. Scassa ran a riding school at the Italian track before the race weekend, causing him to be disqualified from participating in last week's race. Scassa is now 3rd in the championship behind Parkes and Davies, and just as in World Superbikes, consistency is proving to be key. Parkes has won just 1 race to the 2 each that Davies and Scassa have, but scoring points in every round so far has been the key to his success. The champion is still very open, just 15 points between the front three.
The heat continues tomorrow, offering no respite for Superpole. But at least the track - which has received nothing but positive feedback from the riders - will continue to be fun to ride.