A few days after a couple of entertaining races at Assen, a part of the WorldSBK paddock was back in action, this time at a private two-day test at the Brno circuit, which is set to return to the World Superbike calendar after an absence of five years. The weather was not entirely cooperative - a warm Wednesday was followed by a much cooler and overcast Thursday - but the teams present all managed to get important work done.
At the test were the factory Aruba.it Ducati team, along with Barni Racing's Xavi Fores. The official Yamaha WorldSBK and WorldSSP teams were there, as was Randy Krummenacher on the Bardahl Even Bros Yamaha R6. The official KRT Kawasakis were also present, as was Triple M Racing's PJ Jacobsen on the Honda CBR1000RR. The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team were not in Brno, having already had two days of private testing in Assen before the Aragon round.
While finding the right setup for the upcoming race was important, there was real work to do on testing bike geometry and finding the right base setup. The biggest issue for the Aruba.it Ducati team was finding some stability in the bike, especially for Marco Melandri, whose Ducati Panigale has had a horrific case of the headshakes all season. In a press release after the test, Melandri pronounced himself very happy with the test, the Italian saying that they had taken big steps forward to eliminating the stability they had suffered. That had been helped in part by the use of a swingarm being raced in the BSB championship by Shane Byrne and by Michael Ruben Rinaldi at the Assen WorldSBK round, according to Greg Haines writing for MCN.
The Pata Yamaha riders worked on finding a base setup for the Yamaha R1, with Alex Lowes being especially happy with a new fork setting which helped him in trail braking. The KRT Kawasaki riders worked on geometry and bike balance, looking for a better base setting for the Kawasaki ZX-10R. No times were released, either officially or unofficially after the test.
The WorldSBK riders have now all headed home to prepare for the next round of the series at Imola in Italy in two weeks' time. They will return to Brno for the Czech round of WorldSBK on the weekend of the 10th June.
Below are the press releases from the WorldSBK teams after the test:
Strong Two-Day Test Wraps Up Busy Period for Pata Yamaha
Fresh from Round 4 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team completed a successful two-day private test at Brno ahead of the race weekend at the track in June. Both Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes were in action on Wednesday and Thursday, as they focused on finding a good setup with their Pata Yamaha R1s around the 5.403km Brno Circuit, completing 346 laps between them.
The Pata Yamaha team brought the weather with them from Assen, as the first day of the test was conducted in sunny and hot conditions. Day two saw much colder temperatures and some light rain at points but the cooler conditions led to an improvement in lap times around Brno as grip levels increased.
Van der Mark wowed the fans at his home round in Assen with a double podium, finishing second in Race 1 and then crossing the line third in Race 2. The 36 points he collected saw him jump up to fourth in the WorldSBK Championship standings with 103 points and the 25-year-old Dutch rider is keen to continue the form that has seen him on the podium three times at the last three rounds. With this in mind, he used the two-day private test to find a good base setup with his Pata Yamaha R1 and work on his feeling with the electronics around the Brno circuit, that will feature on the WorldSBK Calendar for the first time since 2012. Completing 95 laps on Wednesday the 2014 WorldSSP Champion managed to get through 80 on Thursday to make it a total of 175 laps over the two days, and he now heads to Imola full of confidence.
Lowes wanted to bounce back from a tough weekend in Assen and the Brno test gave him a chance to do just that. Determined to be back fighting for the podium in Imola, the 27-year-old British rider worked hard with his team over the two-days to find a good chassis setting with his Pata Yamaha R1 in an effort to improve his grip levels. He managed 88 laps on Wednesday and a further 83 on Thursday to get through a workload of 171 laps in total, as he, like his teammate, worked on his setup for the Brno race weekend and assessed some new suspension components. Lowes was happy with the work done and is now looking forward to putting it into practice at the next round in Imola.
After back-to-back races and this private test, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action at Round 5 of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship in Imola on the 11th-13th of May.
Michael van der Mark - Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
'It has been a really positive test! On the first day, the temperature was really high and so we gathered some really good data about the grip levels in those conditions. We also had a chance to get used to the track and find a good base setup with my Yamaha R1, including the gearing for the bike, so I was quite happy with day one. Day two was a lot colder and it was good to get to test in those conditions as when the track was cooler we had a lot more grip. Today we tested many things with the electronics and chassis and it all seemed to work, so I am happy with what we have done at this test. The team have been working really hard for the last three weeks, so they deserve some rest and we will be ready for Imola!"
Alex Lowes - Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
"It was a good test! The second day was really good, we made some steps with the bike, especially with the front forks. It gave me a lot more confidence when trail braking into a corner. The conditions were a bit colder, so the lap times were a bit better anyway, but we made quite a big chunk. We did another race simulation today and it felt good, so it is all positive. We still need to work a little bit on mid-corner feel and corner exit but overall, it was quite a good test. The weather was a bit hit and miss with the wind and rain but we still managed to get quite a bit done, so we are happy!"
Mid-Season Test Success For KRT
KRT’s WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes completed a two-day test at Brno in the Czech Republic, from 25th to 26th April, just a few days after each had earned a race win apiece at the fourth round of the championship in the Netherlands.
Both Ninja ZX-10RR riders and the entire official Kawasaki effort arrived in Brno in confident mood after their recent successes at Assen. Rea extended his championship lead last weekend and Sykes climbed up the championship table to fifth after eight individual points scoring races completed so far.
This Brno test, run alongside some of their main championship rivals, was important for several reasons, including the fact that Brno has not been used as an FIM Superbike World Championship venue since 2012. It was also the culmination of a busy period for KRT, with race meetings in Spain and the Netherlands on consecutive weekends, and now another full-on test at a returning WorldSBK venue.
Rea and his crew used their two days at Brno to match his optimum riding style even more closely to a machine that has already delivered three race wins to him in 2018.
Sykes, who won his first race of the year in the second race at Assen, tried some more fundamental set-up options than most and found another positive path to follow for the rest of the season.
The Brno WorldSBK weekend is expected to be held in even warmer conditions than this test enjoyed, as race days will take place on 9th and 10th of June.
After the completion of two days on track at Brno, Kawasaki’s official team will return to competitive action at Imola, in Italy, with racedays on 12th and 13th of May.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It’s been really positive to test in Brno especially because we haven’t raced here since 2012. It’s one of my favourite circuits so it was easy to keep my motivation high after these busy few weeks. The weather has been quite different on both days so it was good to understand how the bike behaves in both hot and cool conditions. Without the pressure of the race weekend we were able to work calmly each day and explore some different setup and chassis balance ideas. Each time we changed the bike we had some positive and some less positive feelings, so we will keep working on that side of things. I want to thank all the Kawasaki Racing staff and Hospitality crew who have been working full gas these past three weeks. Also a special shout out to my mechanics, because I kept them really busy making a lot of changes.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “Overall, a good test. Lots of laps and plenty of small tweaks to the bike, so we found out a lot of good information. I left with a good feeling overall with the feedback from the bike. With it being a proper test we had some key things to try and never got down to the nitty-gritty of finding pure set-up for this racetrack. It was more about fine tuning the bike’s characteristics. The last round at Assen was fantastic and I felt really comfortable, so hopefully we have found some things in small areas that can help me in each race from now on. We found a happy medium between two or three set-up changes, so these helped me in the area I needed improve and we did not lose too much in the areas where we were already good.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “We had warmer weather on day one as today the test conditions were cooler. This was useful for us, as it was important to see how the tyres and bike work in different conditions. We tried to work for the best set-up and preparation for the June race here in Brno, after many years not racing at this circuit and also improve the general feeling from the bike. Jonathan has requested a smooth-feeling bike, with no aggressive reactions, so we worked on parts that would affect the balance. It has been a positive test and we are still making steps forward. We left here with a starting point for the race at Brno and also trying to improve some of the weak points from the first three or four races. Jonathan was first and then second in Assen recently but we are always looking to improve the bike and the feeling of the rider with the bike.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Tom Sykes stated: “We had a nice test and after Assen I was very optimistic. Of course, we had found a good base setting already this season. We are very happy about the bike settings and our performance here. The target of this test was to familiarise ourselves with this track layout again, and to test some new items in the suspension set-up, which were very promising, and some other small items. We did not do so much work just for this track as our bike set-up works well at each track we have been to. So we worked in the areas we needed to make a general improvement in and Tom is happy.”
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team concludes a two-day private test at Brno
After two consecutive rounds with the WorldSBK Championship, at Aragon (Spain) and Assen (Netherlands) respectively, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team paid a visit to the Brno Circuit (Czech Republic) for a two-day private test. With some chassis and electronics upgrades, Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri took advantage of the time on track, interrupted by some rain showers, to prepare the June race on the Czech track (which returns to the WorldSBK calendar after a five-year absence) as well as the upcoming "home round" of Imola.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi also had a first chance to get acquainted with the Brno track on the Panigale R of the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team and the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team will resume action at Imola for the fifth round of the WorldSBK Championship, scheduled for May 11-13.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7)
"It's been a steady test. We leave Brno with some room for improvement but, then again, racing is always a different game compared to testing. It's always nice to ride there, even though it's been windy and with a lot of pollen in the air so the track wasn't in fantastic conditions. We worked hard for two days, gathering solid answers even though we still need to clear a few question marks. Now it's time to recharge ahead of Imola."
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33)
"It was a really important test. The goal, more even than to prepare the race here, was to improve stability on the straight. We took a decisive turn and the situation has improved significantly. We ran several back-to-back checks to better understand the nature of the problem, and I think we achieved our goal. Perhaps not 100 percent, but we took a big step forward. Now we head to Imola: I'm confident and sure I'll be able to fight, with even more determination."
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21)
"We're pretty satisfied in general with the outcome of this test. In terms of performance, I've been quite close to the factory riders and we found a good base both in terms of pure speed and consistency. The track is fascinating and not too demanding physically. It's really fun to ride it with a Superbike".