Jonathan Rea has ended the Barcelona WorldSBK test at the top of the timesheets, after a battle of wills with Ducati's Scott Redding. The pair chased each other to impressive heights during the morning session, throwing new tires at fast times until Redding decided that focusing on used tires was a more productive use of his time than continuing to chase Rea's fast time. "It was fun, it was spicing up the day, but I said, OK, one of us is going to end up with a big crash, because we keep going faster and faster and faster!" Redding commented afterwards.
Testing is underway again for the WorldSBK series, with the main protagonists assembled at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, near Barcelona. Scott Redding ended the day as fastest, the Aruba.it Ducati rider getting up to speed quickly again, finishing nearly two tenths faster than reigning champion Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki.
Testing has concluded at the Misano private test, with a few changes to the riders present on Thursday. KTM skipped the final day, while a group of WorldSSP riders entered the fray.
Aleix Espargaro was the fastest rider on the final day, getting to within a couple of hundredths of Miguel Oliveira's best time from the day before, demonstrating the potential of the 2020 Aprilia RS-GP. Espargaro was happy with both the speed and the pace of the bike, though the reliability of the bike remains a question mark, which will only be removed once the racing begins. The Aprilias were the lone MotoGP bikes on track on Thursday.
Bradley Smith closed the gap to the front by half a second, the Englishman preparing to take the place of Andrea Iannone for the first races of 2020, while the Italian is waiting for his appeal against a doping ban to be heard.
I am not one who thrives on the negatives, or for whom the only good news story is a bad news story. I want every race to be a classic, every new rider a potential champion, every team a proven winner looking to expand. An impossible dream of course but it’s not naivety on my part - it's positivity. No business or sport was ever built, expanded or maintained without overarching optimism and sheer ambition at its core.
Whatever your particular field you have to aim for the moon to even have a hope of getting into the upper reaches of the earth’s atmosphere. WorldSBK was launched on ambition and optimism, survived on it for a long time, especially after some shaky early moments.
But sure enough, it was grown into the premier production-derived race series on planet earth; often by both those driving factors mentioned earlier – ambition and optimism. With MotoGP always the biggest class and firmly in existence long before WorldSBK came along, Superbike has nonetheless aimed above the GP glass ceiling just to get anywhere close to it. Or at least WorldSBK told itself to raise its own bar, and see how high it could jump.
After last week's MotoGP calendar, this week sees the release of another schedule. Today, the FIM published the provisional calendar for the WorldSBK series for the rest of this year, and also announced some big changes to the schedule of the weekend.
It is a very provisional calendar. Six rounds are confirmed - insofar as anything can be confirmed during the pandemic, as they are subject to cancellation or change should governments impose new restrictions - with four rounds in Spain, one in Portugal, and one in France. Two rounds are still subject to confirmation, at San Juan Villicum in Argentina, and at Misano in Italy.
After the announcement that MotoGP was canceling some events with a view to moving ahead on others, today, Dorna announced a plan for the next three races on the WorldSBK calendar. Racing will resume at Jerez on the weekend after MotoGP leaves, and will then move to Portimao and Aragon.
The schedule does mean rearranging the existing plans. The Donington Park round of WorldSBK, planned for the weekend of July 5th, and the already rescheduled Assen round of WorldSBK on the weekend of August 23rd, have been postponed again. No new date has been set for the races, but the announcement says they will be reviewed as the pandemic situation develops.
Below is the press release from Dorna announcing the plans:
UPDATE: 2020 WorldSBK season situation features positive prospects
Progress is being made in order to have the World Superbike Championship restart under safe conditions this season
Dorna issued the following press release, containing some of the many things riders, teams, sponsors, and partners in the WorldSBK paddock have done to help during the current COVID-19 pandemic:
Dorna today issued a press release containing an interview with CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, in which he explains the next steps on the way to starting racing again.
The German round of WorldSBK at Oschersleben has now officially been canceled. With Germany still imposing restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and large-scale events being banned in the country until August 31st, it was clear that the race would have to be postponed at the very least. When postponement proved not to be possible, cancellation was the only option which remained.
In its place, Dorna is planning to hold a round of WorldSBK in Jerez. Today, Dorna, the regional government of Andalusia, and the city council of Jerez submitted a proposal to the Spanish government to stage two MotoGP races and a round of WorldSBK at the Jerez circuit, to bring a return to world championship motorcycle racing. The MotoGP races would be held on the weekends of July 19th and 26th, while the WorldSBK round would take place on the weekend of August 2nd. All races would happen with a much-reduced paddock, and without fans present.
The return of World Championship racing took a big step towards reality on Thursday morning. At a teleconference, Dorna, the regional government of Andalusia, and the city council of Jerez agreed on conditions to hold two MotoGP races and a WorldSBK round at the Jerez circuit. The conditions would included a vastly reduced paddock, and holding the races behind closed doors, with no fans present. Those conditions have been turned into a proposal and submitted to the Spanish government for consideration.
If approved, the agreement would see MotoGP race at Jerez on consecutive weekends, on the 19th and 26th of July, and WorldSBK race in Jerez a week later, on the weekend of August 2nd. Those rounds would be added to the existing and revised provisional MotoGP and WorldSBK calendars, pending the approval of the FIM. The FIM is expected to nod through those changes.