February 21st, 2015
With no Evo class for 2015, an easily predicted division between Superpoles one and two isn't as clear-cut as it was last year. The weather was warm and clear and the track was hot, but red flags affected both sessions.
In the untimed session before Superpole, Michael van der Mark was quicker than Tom Sykes by a hundredth of a second. Leon Haslam was not far behind and Alex Lowes was within two tenths of van der Mark.
Jules Cluzel was one thousandth of a second slower than his best time from yesterday but was still quickest ahead of Kyle Smith who was unable to beat Kenan Sofuoglu's best Friday lap.
Gino Rea continues to perform well in his return to the series with the third fastest lap, quicker than Lorenzo Zanetti and Kenan Sofuoglu.
Leon Haslam was the quicker of the two Aprilias with Jordi Torres settling for second-best. Jonathan Rea was third quickest, but his time didn't yesterday's fastest from Alex Lowes.
Troy Bayliss continues to keep his promise of taking it easy in free practice with the sixteenth quickest time today, seventeenth overall, improving his time each session so far. Gábor Rizmayer did not take part in this session as yesterday's crash ruled him out for the weekend.
Press releases from some of the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
While overall times were not as quick as the morning's session, rookie Jordi Torres was quickest, with his Red Devils Aprilia teammate Leon Haslam under a quarter of a second behind him. The morning's quicker times still keep the top three qualifiers at Lowes, Torres and Sykes.
Troy Bayliss put in sixteen laps, but didn't improve his position by much.
Jules Cluzel ended the day quickest, ahead of Gino Rea, returning to World Supersport after a couple of years in Moto2. Kenan Sofuoglu managed the third quickest lap, although not as fast as his morning's time. Kyle Smith in fourth continues his excellent debut weekend.
Alex Lowes, strong throughout last week's testing at Philip Island on the Suzuki GSXR-1000, opened with an early fast time and stayed at the top of the sheets throughout the rest of the session. Jordi Torres, a class rookie on an Aprilia RSV4, was second-quickest, recording consistent fast laps throughout the opening session.
Kawasaki ZX-10R rider Tom Sykes, 2013 champion and last year's runner up, ended the session third quickest, fending off Leon Haslam on the Aprilia and his new Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea. Reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli, having switched to the Honda CBR1000RR with the number one plate, finished thirteenth, behind his teammate Michael van der Mark.
This weekend's special guest star, three-time World Superbike champion, British Superbike champion and MotoGP race winner, Troy Bayliss, managed only three laps, ending the session just over three seconds off Lowes's pace-setting lap. The Australian was sitting in on the Ducati Panigale for Davide Giugliano who was injured during testing.
Kenan Sofuoglu and Jules Cluzel open 2015 ahead of class rookie and former Superstock rider Kyle Smith.
Press release previews from the series organizers and from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams ahead of this weekend's season opener at Phillip Island:
Press releases after the three-day test at Jerez for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
Moto2 times from the last day of testing
Improving weather saw lap times drop at Jerez, allowing lap records to fall in both Moto2 and Moto3 classes. In Moto2, it was Sam Lowes setting the pace, the Speed Up rider knocking four tenths of a second off Mika Kallio's pole record. Lowes spent most of the day using the carbon fiber swing arm the team used last year, with the aluminum swing arm still to be tried. The aluminum item is believed to be the better of the two, offering more improvement to come when the team gets a chance to try it out.
Behind Lowes, several riders made some big steps forward. Luis Salom finally beat his rookie teammate, ending the day in 2nd just a tenth behind Lowes. Johann Zarco remains fast, ending up 3rd and ahead of reigning Moto2 champion Tito Rabat, while Axel Pons had a good day to end 5th. Three tenths separated the top five, offering prospects of a very competitve season in 2015. Revelation of yesterday Alex Rins had a steadier day today, dropping down the order to finish 9th, while Alex Marquez showed good improvement, jumping up to 12th place, a second off the pace of Lowes, and just behind Mika Kallio. The battle between the two Alexes promises to be just as good as it was in Moto3.
Almost without realizing it, we find ourselves in the midst of a glut of motorcycle racing action. For 11 days, bikes and teams are testing, racing, and being introduced to the public at large. On Monday and Tuesday, the World Superbike teams had their last test of the pre-season at Phillip Island. From Tuesday to Thursday, the Moto2 and Moto3 teams are testing at Jerez. On Friday, the 2015 World Superbike season gets underway Phillip Island, culminating in the races on Sunday, featuring shock substitute Troy Bayliss. Then, from Monday, MotoGP returns for three days of testing at Sepang, followed by an extra day with Michelin tires, with the factory riders at the helm.
In between, we have seen the launch of the Ducati Desmosedici GP15, the CWM LCR Honda team is set to be launched on Wednesday, and there is even a presentation here in Holland by Eurosport, in which they will reveal their plans for MotoGP coverage in The Netherlands for 2015. There is so much going on that there are barely enough hours in the day to actually write about it. Enjoy the cornucopia while you can.
Crash! Bang! Wallop!