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 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.
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.
The FIM today announced a radical shake up of the World Supersport series. In an attempt to cut costs, the technical rules are to be changed to bring them in line with the rules used in most major national championships. Those rules are generally much closer to the existing Superstock regulations, though with a little more freedom to make modifications.
The goal of the change is twofold. Firstly, to cut the costs of being competitive. History has shown that this aim is always very hard to achieve, with teams finding a way to spend the money they get in sponsorship. The second aim is to make the championship broader, and attract more wildcards at local rounds. This is a much more reasonable goal, and the fact that wildcard riders will be able to enter on the bike they have spent all season racing on in their national championships should make it easier for them to get up to speed and challenge the established riders for podiums and wins.
With the Supersport rules being revised to bring the technical level of the bikes to a lower spec, the Superstock 600 class is to be scrapped. Instead, a separate category is to be created inside the World Supersport class, open only to riders racing in the European rounds.
The press release from the WSBK press office, containing further details, appears below:
Since Forward Racing boss Giovanni Cuzari was arrested on charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion earlier this year, the team's places in MotoGP have been in jeopardy. Yamaha immediately stopped its support for the team, meaning that Forward did not have bikes for the 2016 MotoGP season. After his release from arrest, and, according to his lawyer, the dropping of the charges of corruption, Cuzari was confident he would be allowed back on to the MotoGP grid, and was in talks with both Aprilia and Ducati for the supply of bikes. His fate, Cuzari told us at Misano, was in the hands of Carmelo Ezpeleta.
The head of Dorna appears to have decided that Forward Racing's future does not lie in the premier class, at least for the foreseeable future. Today, Forward Racing announced they will not be racing in MotoGP, but will be turning their focus towards the World Superbike championship. Forward will be working with MV Agusta to assist with their World Superbike and World Supersport efforts from 2016. Cuzari has been appointed Team Principal for the team, and given responsibility for MV Agusta's racing department.
Press releases from the series organizers and teams after the final round of World Superbikes at Qatar:
The last race of the season was fifteen floodlit laps.
After a red flag fron an early spill before anyone recorded a lap, the restarted 42 minute session would finally see Cal Crutchlow's 2009 lap record fall.
Nico Terol was quickest in the first session of the day, ahead of Kenan Sofuoglu, but it was not quicker than third-quickest Lucas Mahias's best time from yesterday.
Press releases from the WSBK teams and organizers in Qatar:
Lucas Mahias continues to fend off Kenan Sofuoglu, with the Hondas of Kyle Smith and PJ Jacobsen withon four tenths of a second.
Lucas Mahias opens the last weekend of the year by setting the fastest time of the session, under four hundredths of a second quicker than newly crowned champion. Kenan Sofuoglu.
Press release previes from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams: