After two weekends at a track that doesn't favour the Yamahas, Toprak Razgatlioglu headed a trio of blue bikes in the top three spots, joined by Michael van der Mark and independent rider Garrett Gerloff. Alvaro Bautista capitalised on his improved pace fourth fastest and Jonathan Rea held off Michael Ruben Rinaldi for fifth and sixth places.
It has been said before, and I will say it again, it is a welcome feat of logistics and determination that there is a 2020 WorldSBK season going on, and a near miracle that we media types are allowed in to cover it from inside. Thank you to all involved, without exception.
Given my shockingly bad air travel experiences at the first two ‘season comeback’ rounds in Jerez and Portimao, my media enterprises empire (a laptop and the soft machine that thumps its keyboard) quite literally set sail for the rest of the championship, by motorcycle. Which is fair enough, as I am covering a championship that is indeed based on production-derived motorcycles.
Somewhere between the Picos de Europa mountains of Asturias and the swimming pools of Calpe near Valencia - and exactly between the Teruel and Catalunya rounds in chronological terms - my mind was distracted from a heat-induced intermittent loss of friction between throttle grip and throttle barrel by thoughts of a much more extreme version of the real road bike scenario; WorldSBK racing.
Jonathan Rea leads Michael Ruben Rinaldi into Turn 1 at Aragon - Photo WorldSBK
Jonathan Rea just keeps ticking boxes in his title defence. Another weekend and another victory, but crucially also another three podium finishes. Consistency wins championships, and in the history of the Superbike World Championship he has no equal in this regard.
Motorland Aragon was a case in point. With back-to-back rounds at the Spanish circuit, this was a prime opportunity for his rivals to take points away from him. Instead Rea extended his title lead to 34 points by a mixture of risk-taking on track and conservative strategy in the garage.
Aragon is historically Ducati territory. The long straight clearly plays to the strength of the Panigale V4R, its horsepowers. When riding on board with Rea throughout the race weekend we could see where his bike excels: through Turn 10 on the edge of the tyre with the throttle pinned and the rear sliding but still able to find drive grip. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but giving up so much acceleration on the straights meant the Kawasaki rider had to push incredibly hard everywhere else.
All but two veteran riders chose the sprint race SCX tyre, with two weekends in a row showing riders that a long track with a long straight mens fewer laps to spend the sides of your tyres too much. The last of six races at Motorland Aragon, with seventy four race laps already completed, after eighteen laps, they get a weekend off in this compressed championship.
World Superbike standings after a thrilling second race at Aragon:
World Superbike standings after the sprint race at Aragon:
The sprint race, a vast improvement in entertainment over the reverse grid for mixing up the grid for race two, did not offer any surprises in tyre choice, with everyone wearing the softest front and the SCX rear. Ten long laps of Motorland Aragon with twelve points up for grabs for the the winner followed.
World Superbike standings after the first race at Aragon:
Eighteen laps of the longest track of the season for the third time this year in the first back to back race weekend at Motorland Aragon. After last weekend's races, a third of the grid followed Alvaro Bautista's podium choice from last Sunday of the sprint race SCX tyre.
World Superbike qualifying for race one this afternoon was contested by 21 riders around the longest track of the season. Again.