Times at 3:30pm:
Testing is underway at the final MotoGP test of 2018, bikes out on track at Jerez. Cold track temperatures kept the bikes in the garage for the first two hours, but the noise started at around 11:30, and the track has been busy since then.
Danilo Petrucci is currently fastest on the factory Ducati, ahead of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez is out on a bike in Repsol livery, a black test bike waiting in the pits. Marquez is currently third fastest, just ahead of Maverick Viñales. Jorge Lorenzo is tenth at the moment, but Honda have brought a modified tank with extra support, similar to the one used at Ducati.
Ten Kate Racing BV, the private limited company housing the Ten Kate Racing team's racing activities, has been declared bankrupt by a Dutch court. The Ten Kate team had been forced to file for bankruptcy after last-minute attempts to put together a WorldSBK effort for 2019 had failed.
Ten Kate placed the blame for the bankruptcy squarely on Honda. The Dutch racing team had started out competing on Honda Supersport bikes, a natural choice given the team was a spin off of Ronald and Gerrit ten Kate's Honda motorcycle dealership in Nieuwleusen, in the east of The Netherlands.
Despite racing in both the World Supersport and World Superbike championships, and winning titles in both classes, the team never received much backing from Honda, and none at all from HRC in Japan for most of their existence, support coming from Honda Europe, the European distributor. Ten Kate were never HRC's choice, and so when HRC decided to make a return to the championship, they were always going to want to make their own choice about which structure to use.
The fact that Ten Kate only found on 30th October that HRC had chosen Althea and Moriwaki to partner with for the 2019 season, and HRC would not be providing any support for the Dutch team next year, mean that it was impossible to find other alternatives at such short notice. Contacts with other manufacturers faltered, and they could not find the necessary budget to continue in their present condition.
And so the season ends for WorldSBK. The weather finally behaved at Jerez, and the four WorldSBK teams and three WorldSSP teams got a full day of testing in at Jerez. Or rather, nearly a full day of testing: the track opened at 10am, but the riders didn't go out for about 45 minutes, as cold track temperatures made it a perilous undertaking in those early minutes. But the sun soon did its work, heated the asphalt, and away they went.
Heating the asphalt meant there was grip, but the surface is still in a bad way in several corners. Turns 1, 2, 6, and 8 are the worst, according to the riders. One seasoned rider spotter pointed out just how gracefully Jonathan Rea was riding around the holes in the tarmac, and still producing a really fast time. But it hadn't been as easy as Rea made it look.
"It’s wearing ruts in the short corners where everyone is using the same line and putting the power down, or pushing the front in it," Rea said on Tuesday night. "It’s lifting the asphalt up. It’s treacherous if you run over that. That’s the common racing line for track day users or normal racers. If you’re on the limit or really sharp you can stay just inside that, like pretty much on the white line. But even that, you compromise your line, especially in corner one, two, six… So the track’s in really bad condition so they’re doing right to resurface it."
Smoother on top
Jonathan Rea has topped the timesheets at the two-day test at Jerez, the Kawasaki Racing Team rider nearly two thirds of a second faster than the rest of the field. Alex Lowes ended the day second on the Pata Yamaha, while Leon Haslam made a big step forward to set the third fastest time, a second behind his teammate.
A dry night meant the WorldSBK riders got underway much earlier on Tuesday, the riders taking to the track some time around 10:30am under sunny skies if chilly temperatures. The work from yesterday continues, the Yamahas, Ducatis, and Kawasakis circulating in preparation of the 2019 season.
Three factories and eight WorldSBK riders turned up at Jerez on Monday, Ducati bringing their brand new Panigale V4R, but at the end, Jonathan Rea was fastest. Plus ça change.
All eyes were on the Ducati garage, and Alvaro Bautista's first day on the Panigale V4R. "First day at school" was how the Spaniard characterized it, taking some time to adapt to the bike. It was quite a switch from the Desmosedici he had been riding in MotoGP, the bike having a lot less power. But the V4 engine still has plenty, rival teams complaining that the Ducati was 10km/h faster than the others at the Aragon test. Here, the difference was less, but the Panigale was still clearly quicker than the rivals.
The bike reminded him more of a 250, Bautista said, needing corner speed to get more out of it. Aruba.it Ducati teammate Chaz Davies joked that it might have reminded Bautista of his 250, but that bike was very different to the 250 Davies rode when he was in the class. But overall, Bautista's adaptation went well, the Spaniard trying two qualifying tires as it was the first time he had had a chance to ride qualifiers. He needed one set to figure out the potential of the tires, and a second set to attempt to set a time on the tires. His time was good enough for second place, three tenths behind Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki, and a couple of tenths ahead of his teammate Chaz Davies.
Jonathan Rea finished the first day of testing for the WorldSBK riders on top of the timesheets, the 2019 Kawasaki ZX-10R proving to be as fast as ever with the Northern Irishman aboard. Alvaro Bautista adapted to the Pirelli tires and WorldSBK Ducati Panigale V4 quickly setting the second fastest time three tenths behind Rea, and a quarter of a second ahead of his Aruba.it Ducati teammate Chaz Davies. Alex Lowes was the fastest Yamaha in fourth.