Press releases from the World Superbike teams who tested at Jerez:
If the first day of the combined WSBK test was hampered by a wet track at the start, on Wednesday, it was fog which delayed the action. The fog blanketed the track at 10am, when the track was due to open, but it lifted quickly in the warmth of the Andalusian sun. An extra ten minutes was tacked on to the end of the day, to compensate for the loss of the hour or so in the morning.
It may have been a different day, but the timesheets still had the same leader. Kawasaki's Tom Sykes continued to dominate the timesheets, becoming the first WSBK rider to lap the track in under 1'40, posting a lap of 1'39.924, three tenths under the pole record at the track. The two factory Aruba.it Ducatis were close behind, Davide Giuliano impressing with a 1'40.047, Chaz Davies finishing third six hundredths of a second slower than his teammate.
Nicky Hayden's adaptation to WSBK is progressing well, the American beating his Ten Kate Honda teammate by under a tenth of a second and finishing with the fourth fastest time. Michael van der Mark was fifth, ahead of Xavi Fores on the Barni Racing Ducati. Jonathan Rea was uncharacteristically slow, ending the day in seventh without ever chasing a really hot lap. The Kawasaki man ended just ahead of the Pata Yamaha of Sylvain Guintoli, Alex Lowes considerably slower, still struggling with a shoulder injury.
Tom Sykes was the fastest man after the first day of the group test for World Superbike series, lapping well under the race lap record set by teammate Jonathan Rea here last September. The Kawasaki riders showed that the ZX-10R is already an extremely competitive machine, needing only some minor fettling to get it ready for 2016.
Chaz Davies took second place, just over a tenth behind Rea, the Aruba.it Ducati man benefiting from a couple of days test at Portimao last week, and already up to speed. Davies ended over a tenth ahead of reigning world champion Jonathan Rea, the second Kawasaki man nearly a third of a second off the pace of his teammate. Nicky Hayden showed he is making the transition to the World Superbike series extremely well, not far off the pace of Rea and even heading the timesheets at one point. Hayden and Ten Kate Honda teammate Michael van der Mark put in a lot of laps on Tuesday, and were out early on when the track was still drying.
Alex Lowes was fifth fastest on the Yamaha YZF-R1, despite still lacking strength in his shoulder from a crash at the end of last year. The Pata Yamaha team still have plenty of work to do, but the pace of the new Yamaha is already promising. Teammate Sylvain Guintoli was not quite so fast, ending the day in 9th.
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.
A new year is upon us, and with it, a new season of motorcycle racing, full of hope, opportunity and optimism. What will 2016 hold for motorcycle racing fans? With testing still weeks away for World Superbikes, and a month away for MotoGP, it is far, far too early to be making any predictions. But why let common sense stand in the way? Here are some wildly inaccurate predictions for 2016.
1. Doubling down: Honda falls into the horsepower trap again
2015 was a tough year for Honda. Despite proclaiming at the end of 2014 that their goal for the coming year was to build a more user-friendly engine, HRC found it impossible to resist the siren call of more horsepower. They built an engine that was even more aggressive than their already-difficult 2014 machine, and all the Honda riders struggled. By the end of the season, they just about had the situation under control, but it was far from ideal.
Surely, after a season like 2015, Honda will have learned their lesson? Apparently not. The latest version of the engine Honda tested at both Valencia and Jerez was still way too aggressive, though the engine was now aggressive in a different way, with more power off the bottom.
Making things worse was Honda's inability to get to grips with the new unified software. HRC technicians were finding it hard to control the RC213V engine using the new software, or create a predictable and comprehensible throttle response. Given that neither Yamaha nor Ducati had suffered the same problems, the issue was not with the software, but the way it was being used.
The World Superbike championship is to undergo a radical shake up. Today, the Superbike Commission, WSBK's rule-making body, announced two major changes aimed at improving the health of the series.
The first change is the most noticeable. As predicted when the 2016 WSBK Calendar was published, World Superbike races are to be held on both Saturdays and Sundays, with Race 1 being held on Saturday, Race 2 on Sunday. This means that Superpole has now been moved to Saturday morning, rather than the afternoon.
The move, the Superbike Commission says, is to provide a fuller experience for fans at a WSBK weekend. The move has been made after consultation with the teams, TV broadcasters and with circuit owners, which produced positive feedback. How fans will react remains to be seen: the AMA ran races on Saturday and Sunday during the DMG era, which met with a mixed reception, but that era in the US was so tainted by the DMG it is hard to know whether the issue was with the format or much wider.
The World Superbike championship promises to bring new excitement for 2016. New bikes, and above all, new riders are adding an international flavor and much more interest to the series. WSBK had already gained a top-flight American rider, with Nicky Hayden joining the Ten Kate Honda team, but now they have a top Australian rider as well.
Today, the Milwaukee team run by Shaun Muir announced they will be making the switch from the BSB championship to World Superbikes, taking reigning BSB champion Josh Brookes along with them. Brookes had been angling for a ride in WSBK for a couple of seasons now, but with the Milwaukee team moving up, the choice was made very simple. Brookes was very impressive throughout his 2015 BSB campaign, lifting the title by a comfortable margin, despite the tortuous Showdown process used by BSB to settle the title.
Brookes will be joined by Karel Abraham, the Czech rider leaving the MotoGP paddock now that the AB Racing team have withdrawn from the premier class. Abraham is a Moto2 race winner, and spent the last five years riding a motley assembly of machinery in MotoGP.
Press releases from the MotoGP and World Superbike teams after the final day of testing at Jerez:
Testing has finished at last at Jerez, with the onset of the winter test ban for both MotoGP and World Superbike teams. The final day of testing for the World Superbike squads ended as it had been all week, with the Kawasaki pair on top of the timesheets, and both men breathtakingly fast once the teams broke out the qualifying tires. It was Tom Sykes who walked away as fastest, the Yorkshireman obliterating the official Superpole record by just shy of a whole second. Sykes' fast lap left Jonathan Rea in second, though he was also no slouch. Rea ended eight tenths faster than the Superpole record. There is a chance he could have gone faster, but a crash in the afternoon put an end to his day's testing.
Xavi Fores made an impressive debut as a full time WSBK rider, ending the test as third fastest on the Barni Ducati, eight tenths behind Sykes but still well under the existing Superpole record, as was Nicky Hayden. The Ten Kate Honda rider made a strong impression on his second test on the Honda CBR1000RR, adapting well to the Pirellis and riding a production bike again. Hayden ended well ahead of Chaz Davies, the first of the factory Aruba.it Ducati riders, while Davide Giugliano made good progress on his return from a long layoff from injury. Leon Camier was the last of the WSBK riders, working on major electronics updates for the MV Agusta F4.
Testing continued for the fourth day at Jerez, the track getting busier than ever as more and more riders joined the fray. Once again, only the World Superbike riders had transponders, the MotoGP teams electing to keep their times private.
The Kawasaki pairing of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea returned to action after a day off on Wednesday, and were once again the fastest of the WSBK riders. Sykes took top honors on Thursday, finishing just ahead of his teammate Rea, the difference just one hundredth of a second. Chaz Davies made a big step forward on the Aruba.it Ducati, improving his time by nearly three quarters of a second, and ending half a second off the pace of Sykes. Nicky Hayden was the sole Honda representative, teammate Michael van der Mark having gone home with problems in his arm, and Hayden too improved, half a second quicker than Wednesday and within seven tenths of Sykes' time. He finished ahead of the other two Ducatis of Xavi Fores and Davide Giugliano, as well as in front of the MV Agusta of Leon Camier.
There were a couple of crashes on Thursday as well, with Ducati test rider Michele Pirro falling heavily but walking away relatively unhurt. Less luck for Eugene Laverty, though, the Aspar Ducati rider crashing and fracturing his arm in the fall.
Testing concludes on Friday.
Times from Thursday at Jerez:
The final test of 2016 for the World Superbike class has already lost two of its participants. Both Ten Kate Honda's Michael van der Mark and Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes have been forced to withdraw from the test due to injury.
Lowes suffered a dislocated shoulder when he fell heavily at Turn 3 on Wednesday, crashing in the late afternoon. Though he walked away from that crash, and quickly had his dislocated shoulder put into place, a painful shoulder and restricted movement meant there was little sense in continuing. Lowes has returned to the UK for medical treatment, with the objective of being completely fit when testing resumes next year.
What happened to Michael van der Mark is a little more mysterious. The Honda Pro Racing organization posted a brief update on its Facebook page, adding little detail to Van der Mark's withdrawal. Van der Mark was suffering with pain in his right arm on Wednesday, which given his times on the day (Van der Mark was over a second slower than his new teammate Nicky Hayden) appear to have severely affected his speed. Van der Mark has now flown north seeking treatment, and will see a specialist in Antwerp, Belgium for further examinations.
The third day of the combined World Superbike and MotoGP test at Jerez saw a lot more action on track at the Spanish circuit, as some teams left and several more arrived to start testing. The BMW Althea and Kawasaki teams were the absentees, while the Ten Kate Honda teams, Barni Ducati and Aruba.it Ducati teams, Leon Camier at MV Agusta, and the Crescent Yamaha World squad all joined the World Superbike fray. The Repsol Honda and Gresini Aprilia teams were both out with their official MotoGP riders, while Michele Pirro was on testing duties for Ducati. The Aspar Ducati team were also circulating, with Eugene Laverty and Yonny Hernandez out working on the GP14.2.
Despite the (relatively) heavy traffic on track, the timing sheets remained relatively empty. Only the Ten Kate Hondas, the Ducati Panigales and Leon Camier's MV Agusta F4 were fitted with transponders relaying official timing back to the circuit systems. The Yamahas of Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli, as well as all of the MotoGP bikes, were out without any official timing, and so no lap times were reported.
The Althea BMW World Superbike team issued the following press release after their two-day test at Jerez:
The Althea BMW Team makes its track debut.
Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) 24 November 2015
The Althea BMW Team concludes two days of testing at the Spanish circuit of Jerez de la Frontera.
With cool temperatures but sunny conditions, the Team was able to work on different set-up solutions for the new BMW S1000 RR bikes. Riders Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger each used various configurations as they worked to find a level of performance that can serve as a base for the future development of the Bavarian company’s machines.
Both of the Althea BMW Team riders were able to achieve solid results and, though lap times were not crucial this week, both Torres and Reiterberger were nevertheless able to lap consistently fast, with times that were very close to both the track record and those set by their strongest rivals present on track. Final lap times – a 1'40.531 for Reiterberger and 1'41.002 for Torres – serve as an immediate injection of faith that will boost the whole Team, with all parties working closely together to find the right direction in which to continue. The Italian and German engineers were coordinated by new Technical Director Jan Witteveen with a very positive outcome.
Reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has once again topped the timesheets on the second day of the combined WSBK/World Supersport test at Jerez, the Kawasaki man putting in a scorching lap at the end of the day to assert his authority, demoting his teammate Tom Sykes into second spot, over a third of a second behind him. Sykes was hampered by a small crash in the Michelin corner, and was unable to improve his time at the end. German IDM Superbike champion Markus Reiterberger set a very impressive pace, ending his second day with the Althea BMW team just two hundredths of a second slower than the 2013 WSBK champ Sykes, and nearly half a second faster than his teammate Jordi Torres. Reiterberger still has a lot to learn in World Superbikes, the IDM technical rules a lot more restrictive than those in WSBK.
James Ellison improved his time from Monday by over half a second, the BSB rider joined by his GBMoto teammate Peter Hickman. Hickman's times were nowhere near that of Ellison's, but given that Hickman is fresh off the plane from Macau, where he won his first Macau GP, that is hardly surprising.
Monday saw the first day of a week of action for various classes at Jerez, with testing scheduled for the Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati World Superbike teams, as well as Ducati, Aprilia and Honda's MotoGP teams later in the week.
For the first day of action, the Kawasaki World Superbike and World Supersport teams were joined by the Althea BMW squad, MV Agusta's WSS effort, and James Ellison of the BSB GBMoto squad. Jonathan Rea ended the day as the fastest man, a little way off the Superpole time from the race in September, just beating out his teammate Tom Sykes at the end of the session. The two Kawasakis swapped fastest times at the end, Rea prevailing at the flag. Althea made their debut on BMW S1000RRs, German IDM champion Markus Reiterberger making an impressive test debut, finishing ahead of his new teammate Jordi Torres. BSB rider James Ellison was the slowest of the Kawasakis, his lower spec BSB ZX-10R 1.6 seconds off the pace of Rea's WSBK machine.
Kenan Sofuoglu was the fastest World Supersport rider, his countryman and Superstock 600 champion Toprak Razgatlioglu a second behind him. Razgatlioglu is making the switch to the Superstock 1000 class for 2016. Randy Krummenacher made his World Supersport debut at Jerez, ending the first day 1.6 seconds behind Sofuoglu.