Testing is underway again for 2016, with the Pata Yamaha and Aruba.it Ducati teams the first bikes to hit the track ahead of the new season. The two teams held a two-day private test at Portimao, to shake out the cobwebs and get ready for the season which is to come. The teams now move to Jerez, where they will be joined by more of the WSBK field for a test on 26th and 27th January.
The press releases issued by Yamaha and Ducati appear below:
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Concludes Successful Portimão Test
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team has concluded its first two-day test of 2016 successfully at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal with both Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli undertaking valuable work with their YZF-R1's.
Initially worried about the rehabilitation of his left shoulder, Lowes confidently set 116 laps over the past two days. While his normal aggressive style was restricted due to his less-than-perfect mobility, the track-time ensured he continued to progress with his new WorldSBK-spec Yamaha ahead of the championship's opening round next month.
Press releases from the MotoGP and World Superbike teams after the final day of testing at Jerez:
Press releases from the World Superbike teams after testing at Aragon:
Jonathan Rea leaves the Motorland Aragon circuit as the fastest man from the two-day World Superbike test at the circuit. Rea spent the day working on the engine management and electronics. The 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R has shown itself to be a powerful machine, but the acceleration is not as easy to manage as the 2015 bike. Rea's Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes also lapped Aragon on Tuesday, after choosing to sit out the first day of the two-day test due to the weather conditions.
Chaz Davies was reported as being second fastest, though no official timing was available. According to the German-language website Speedweek, the Aruba.it Ducati rider posted a lap of 1'51.0, 0.7 slower than the time set by Rea. Davies tested electronics strategies, as well suspension components, in search of more precise steering. Javi Fores took the second Ducati out, standing in for the still injured Davide Giugliano.
Alex Lowes was the faster of the two Pata Yamaha bikes, 1.4 seconds quicker than his new teammate Sylvain Guintoli. The Pata Yamaha pair are still working mainly on getting used to the YZF-R1, running a bike basically in BSB spec, development a priority for later.
Nicky Hayden turned his first official laps as a World Superbike rider on Monday, putting the Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR through its paces for the first time. The test did not get off to a particularly auspicious start, the day delayed by a wet track and thick fog, which took a long time to clear. Nevertheless, Hayden took his first laps shortly before one, to try to get a feel for the bike. The first exit was on wet tires, the track still damp, and there was no serious action on the circuit until late in the afternoon, when the sun finally broke through the clouds.
Though no times were released, German-language website Speedweek reports that Hayden's best lap was a 1'53.3, 1.8 seconds off the fastest time of reigning world champion Jonathan Rea, who set a 1'51.5. Hayden spent a lot of time working on his position on the bike and the position of footpegs and seat. He also spent a lot of time with the electronics, trying to set them up to get a better connection between throttle and engine. You can read more of his comments on the Bikesportnews website.
Press releases from the series organizers and teams after the final round of World Superbikes at Qatar:
Press release previews from the series organizer and teams ahead of the Jerez round of World Superbikes:
#JerezWorldSBK poised to crown a new Champion
Rea only needs a top 10 finish in Race 1 to clinch the title at the Pirelli Spanish Round.
Jonathan Rea is just six points away from the ultimate goal in WorldSBK: the eni FIM Superbike World Championship title of 2015.
Thanks to a truly dominant campaign on the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R, number 65 requires only a single top ten finish to cement the achievement in the opening World Superbike race of the Pirelli Spanish Round this weekend.
The list of superlatives describing Rea’s 2015 campaign is becoming exhausted. The facts speak for themselves: 20 races, 20 podium finishes and 12 race wins. He has already become the first rider in history to have clinched 20 top three finishes in as many races from the start of a season and, should the rostrum run continue, he will beat Colin Edwards’ record of consecutive podium finishes in the first Qatar race.
The Aruba.it Ducati World Superbike squad is to remain unchanged for the 2016 season. Today, Ducati announced that they will be retaining Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano as their riders for next year, making it three seasons in a row the Ducati line up has remained the same.
The announcement is no real surprise. Davies has excelled in 2015, chasing likely 2015 champion Jonathan Rea all year, and currently beating last year's champ Tom Sykes into third place. Teammate Giugliano has had a much tougher season, suffering a couple of huge crashes which have caused him to miss five of the ten rounds held so far. There was some doubt as to whether Giugliano could continue racing, after crashing and fracturing his vertebrae for the second time in a year. Giugliano is set to sit out the rest of 2015, but hopes to be fit again for 2016. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro will replace Giugliano at the upcoming Jerez round of WSBK.
Below is the press release announcing the re-signing of Davies and Giugliano.
Chaz Davies, Davide Giugliano and the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team together again in 2016
Arezzo/Borgo Panigale (Italy), Thursday 17 September 2015 - The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team confirms the agreement made with both of its current riders, Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano, for the 2016 season.
Press releases after the first day of practice at Sepang:
Previews of this weekend's upcoming World Superbike round at Sepang from the series organizers and the teams:
It is ironic that now we are getting into the meat of the motorcycle racing season, there should be so little news to speak of. But perhaps it is a matter of perspective: there is plenty of real news to be found in motorcycle racing, but it is to be found and read where you would expect to find it, in the middle of every race weekend. That is especially true now that MotoGP and World Superbikes have returned to a more fan-friendly schedule, the two world championships alternating weekends again, with BSB, the CEV and MotoAmerica filling in any gaps when they appear.
Then again, at this stage of the season, all of the focus is on the coming races, rather than next year. It is too early for silly season, especially as all the factory rides are locked up for 2016, and even Jorge Lorenzo's option to leave early removed. There are plenty of attractive seats to be filled for 2016: the contracts of both Monster Tech 3 Yamaha riders are up at the end of the year, Cal Crutchlow is on a one-year contract, Yonny Hernandez has a one-year deal at Pramac, and the seats at Forward and Aspar are all being filled by riders with one-year contracts. Speculation about those seats will only start in earnest around mid-season, once team managers have half a season's worth of results to start drawing conclusions, and see who might be available to make the move up from Moto2.
Four rounds into the World Superbike season and the contours of the 2015 championship are starting to become clear. Some of the things we expected to happen have unfolded much as predicted, but there have also been a fair few surprises. Time to take a quick look at the state of World Superbikes so far.
New technical regulations have been put in place aimed at reducing cost and leveling the playing field somewhat. Their effect so far? Despite the protestations of the Kawasaki and Aprilia riders, all of whom have been complaining of a loss of horsepower, neither top speed nor overall lap times appear to have been affected much. Taking Tom Sykes as perhaps the best example, as he was on the Kawasaki ZX-10R both this year and last, his lap times were half a second slower at Phillip Island, half a second quicker at Assen, the only two tracks at which it is possible to compare. Chaz Davies on the Ducati Panigale was a second quicker at Assen, and eight tenths quicker in race one at Phillip Island, but in race two lapped just as fast in 2015 as he did in 2014. Overall, the Phillip Island track was a little slower in 2015, while conditions at Assen were definitely improved this year over last. The jury is still out on the new rules, but there are definite rumblings audible from the jury room.
Perhaps the biggest effect of the new rules is on the expectations of riders. The Kawasaki is among the most affected of the WSBK bikes by the new rules, with claims that the ZX-10R has between ten and twenty fewer horses than it had in 2014. That has had a bigger impact on Tom Sykes than on his new teammate, Jonathan Rea, Sykes struggling while Rea has come in and cleaned up. Sykes finds himself with a bike that is down on power to what he is used to, a development which is not good for a positive mindset. Rea has come off a bike which he knew to be incapable of winning a championship, and hopped onto one which has been proven capable of doing just that. It's easy to go fast when what you have is better than what you had, and you see opportunity looming.