World Superbike qualifying for race one this afternoon was contested by 21 riders around the longest track of the season. Again.
With a lead of more than three quarters of a second over Raffaele De Rosa, and over a second clear of everyone else, Andrea Locatelli once again makes it look easy. As the only rider in the top six able to improve his time from this morning, he is looking like a shoo-in for pole position tomorrow.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Jonathan Rea continued their fight over the top spot, with Rinaldi coming out on top, over a quarter of a second quicker than Rea. Chaz Davies, Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding were the only other riders within half a second of Rinaldi's best time. Times were slower than this morning's with the warmer conditions slowing riders down.
Andrea Locatelli ended the morning's session quickest, over four tenths of a second quicker than Raffaele De Rosa and Lucas Mahias.
With the tightest possible result at the top, Michael Ruben Rinaldi held off Jonathan Rea. Alex Lowes was half a second off the pace and while lap times were unsurprisingly quicker, top speeds were down on last weekend's first session.
In the middle of the first of two double headers for the WorldSBK series at the Motorland Aragon, Steve English and Gordon Ritchie sit down to talk about what a double header at the same track looks like. Steve and Gordo kick off with a few words on what to expect, and whether using the alternative layouts which Aragon has would have spiced things up a bit.
They cover a fair amount of ground in the podcast: they take a look at Ducati, and what Scott Redding's win in race 1 means for the championship, how the Ducati fares at the Aragon circuit, and whether anyone has an advantage at the track. They debate the signing of Tom Sykes to partner Michael van der Mark at BMW, and the knock-on effect that will have on the WorldSBK rider market. And there is a discussion of who gets to take the Honda WorldSBK ride, whether Leon Haslam stays or Cal Crutchlow will take the offer of a ride in WorldSBK if there is no room in MotoGP.
Don’t be fooled by the glitz and glamour, this is a vicious sport, but there is beauty in there too
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death,” said legendary Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly many years ago. “I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
The same goes for motorcycle racing, especially if you’ve made your way to its summit and you’re fighting for the MotoGP title. You may have noticed things getting a bit ugly in the last few races at Brno and Red Bull Ring, but believe me, bike racing has always been vicious.
The starting point of this game is the joy of riding a motorcycle just as fast as it’ll go, and maybe a little bit faster. But if you want to win you’re going to have to fight for it and the higher you climb the harder you will have to fight.
In racing no stone is left unturned. The bikes are tuned to perfection. Development takes place for months behind closed doors. Wind tunnels, fluid dynamic testing, analysis of data, and tyre modelling are all key components in getting the most out of the motorcycle. It’s a never-ending cycle of constant improvement with the goal of going ever faster.
The process of fine tuning the machine mechanically was always in stark contrast to that of the rider. For much of the sports history the partnership of man and machine has been talked about but while the bike is fine tuned the rider has largely been left to their own devices.
Training, nutrition, and mental preparation have been areas focused on by all teams for years but now they are starting to open their eyes to rider coaching. Over the last five years we have seen this area become increasingly important. When Valentino Rossi and Jonathan Rea both employ a coach it’s clear that even multiple World Champions can enjoy the benefits of another pair of eyes.