World championship motorcycle racing takes another step back to the season returning at Misano. The next three days sees both MotoGP and WorldSBK teams testing at the Italian circuit, preparing for the resumption of hostilities at Jerez in July and August.
Present are the MotoGP teams of KTM and Aprilia, allowed extra testing due to their status as concessions teams. Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith are riding for Aprilia, the second test for the Italian factory. Espargaro was forced to miss the first test, unable to travel to Misano, and so waited for this test to get back on track, as he explained to Tammy Gorali in an interview a week ago. He joins Bradley Smith, promoted from test rider to permanent rider for 2020, to replace Andrea Iannone, still suspended after a positive doping test.
Both KTM teams are there, Brad Binder joining Pol Espargaro now that the South African has completed his two-week quarantine after returning to Europe, while the Tech3 duo of Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona will also be riding.
Without the benefit of concessions, and unlimited testing with contracted riders, Suzuki and Ducati are only allowed to send their test teams to Misano. Michele Pirro is riding for Ducati and Sylvain Guintoli testing for Suzuki at the Italian circuit, where two races are scheduled to be held on September 13th and 20th. Neither Yamaha nor Honda are present, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis recently telling Speedweek that there was little point testing if they didn't have anything significant to test.
The MotoGP teams are to be joined by a bevy of WorldSBK teams from Wednesday, with Kawasaki sending Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes to Misano, while a full cast of Ducatis will be there as well. Factory Aruba.it Ducati riders Scott Redding and Chaz Davies will be at the track, along with Leon Camier of Barni Ducati, Michael Ruben Rinaldi of Go Eleven, and Leandro Mercado of Motocorsa.
The test will conclude on Thursday. As it is a private test, no official timing will be released.
Below are press releases from the Kawasaki Racing Team and Go Eleven Ducati teams previewing the test:
KRT WorldSBK SQUAD READY FOR A HIGH TEMPO RESTART
After an enforced absence from track action the official Kawasaki Racing Team will get its intense schedule of tests and races underway this week with a two-day test session at the Misano circuit on the Adriatic coast of Italy, on Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th June.
After a strong start to the season for the pairing of five times WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea and proven race winner Alex Lowes, KRT has spent the Covid-19 lockdown working hard in the background while eagerly anticipating the chance to get back into direct action in their natural environment of race circuits. With their championship-winning Ninja ZX-10RR machines all prepared and ready to go again, that wait will soon be over.
This forthcoming test will be unlike any other due to the ongoing pandemic. All the team members have been tested and will be health tested and checked during the period of track testing. There will be no regular hospitality unit as such on-site at Misano, with the team getting meals supplied at the track by team staff. For the entire duration team staff will be practicing social distancing and putting in place numerous anti-viral protocols such as facemasks, frequent hand sanitation and adhering to demarked working zones.
Even the confirmed arrival of the team members into Italy just in time to prepare for the Misano test has been a challenge, right up to the last minute. This has been an evolving process considering that the fluid nature of lockdown restrictions are being eased in little-by-little by governments and national bodies, and the team itself features several nationalities in its largely Barcelona-based makeup.
Rea has even travelled to the Misano test in a small panel van he normally uses to transport his motocross bikes in, while Lowes travelled to Italy last Saturday, with his Moto2 racing brother Sam and their respective partners. They will stay in a house rather than a hotel close to the circuit itself for the duration of the test.
After two days at Misano the team will relocate back to Spain for another two day test at a circuit all new to WorldSBK racing – Montmelo – just a stone’s throw from the team’s headquarters in Granollers. With one full WorldSBK round already completed in Australia in early March (during which Lowes and Rea won a race apiece) the season restarts at four Iberian circuits – Jerez, Portimao, Aragon (twice) and then Montmelo - in what will be a busy period for all involved in the exciting 2020 WorldSBK championship fight. The season is set to restart for real at Jerez, with racedays scheduled for Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd August.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I am super-excited to get back on the bike - not just to ride again but to see all the team and simply enjoy the working together. I missed that during lockdown. I think this is probably the longest period I have been off the bike! Misano is a great track to get back into the swing of things at. I know our ZX-10RR very well and I know Misano well too. We will have four hot races at the beginning of the re-started season this summer, in Spain and Portugal, so it is perfect to come and test at Misano at this time, as the weather should be similar. The track itself at Misano has a bit of everything – fast corners, both fast and slow changes of direction, and some stop-and-go corners. Because of the lockdown and the quarantine restrictions in the UK I have driven here to Italy in my MX van. I am in here with my bikes, my training gear - pretty much my life is in a van at the minute! I am excited by the journey and getting to test again. It should be a great two days if we keep on working, because we were one of the strongest in Australia. It is really nice to go into this test on the back of securing my future with KRT beyond this season as well. The atmosphere should be pretty nice and we can focus on this year completely. It was great for the team to have been able to get us to this test despite the global situation and I am grateful to Dorna and the circuits for working out the new calendar for us. I cannot wait for the lights to go out on the grid at Jerez on the 1st of August. I will be ready.”
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I am really, really excited to get back on my bike! Obviously I am living my dream job so it has been frustrating not to be able to ride, so to get back out this week? I will be like a kid at Christmas the night before we test! I just want to get back out on my ZX-10RR now. In terms of work and what we are trying to achieve, I am looking forward to picking up where we left off with a good feeling on the bike. The number one target of this test is to get the feeling back with the bike and team, and also enjoy it! This is my first season on the ZX-10RR so is going to be nice to try the Kawasaki at another track with Marcel and the guys. Hopefully by the end of the tests we will be up to a good speed and working on that base setting that worked so well in the winter. I am happy if we get hot conditions at Misano because it will be important for me to work with the bike in that way. I am already out in Italy, getting some training in the sun and riding little bikes. It is red hot right now!”
Guim Roda (KRT Team Manager): “This test is our real starting point after the long Covid-19 delay. We have to restart again mainly to get into the rhythm with the riders. It is also especially important to understand the health and safety conditions we will find in the next rounds of the championship, and refine our working conditions. We will take all of this very this carefully to not spread the virus inside the paddock. We will need to work in a very calm way, trying to keep our distance and still make a good test. We will have antibody tests every time we meet together. All of this has led to extra jobs and extra difficulties to operate the team but all of it is necessary. We know our riders have been working a lot since Australia, although with some limits of course, so we need to know how they will be when they arrive at the tests. In general we need to organise everything particularly well and with a short calendar after the re-start we have a smaller margin for error. We want to keep winning to the end of the year. We are calm also that both riders are confirmed with KRT for next year now, so we are all fully focused on this championship season. We need to make an especially good job because Kawasaki and our sponsors, like Monster Energy, Motocard, Showa and Elf, understand the present difficulties and they have kept up their support in the project and in their own human inputs. A lot of success and coverage is needed right to the end of the year to repay all their support!”
TEAM GO ELEVEN IS BACK ON TRACK, AFTER THE SANITARY EMERGENCY!
The world motorcycling long period of pause has finally come to an end!
Team Go Eleven goes back on track, with the whole team participating in WorldSuperbike Championship, for the two-day test at Misano circuit. On June 23-24 Michael Rinaldi will ride the Go Eleven's V4-R, with which he's not riding from the Australian stage of Phillip-Island, four months ago. It will be an excellent test for all the technical staff, that has to come back to action and resume habits and feeling from the beginning of the season. The twenty-three years old rider from Santarcangelo di Romagna will take advantage of the kilometers at Misano circuit to get back to the feeling and the speed shown at Phillip Island; it will be fundamental to be ready and to be physically prepared to high temperatures, a constant that will be with us at the restart of the season. Team Go Eleven will experience these two days as a real racing weekend; fairings, box, clothing, truck and compulsory masks will be in official WorldSBK livery, with the aim of providing the maximum image and visibility possible to our partners!
The Misano tests were organized in view of the hottest summer ever: Dorna has issued a definitive calendar in recent days, which currently includes six stages: Jerez de la Frontera, Portimao, double appointment in Aragon, Barcelona and Magny-Cours with four more stages to be confirmed for the season finale! From August to September there will be five thrilling stages that will give life to the championship of the series derivatives. We still have to understand how we can access the stages, whether with the public and guests or without, but, for sure, there will be fun!
"I am very happy to ride again with my team after months and months of inactivity! Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to get back on the bike with the Ducati Test Team and this allowed me to get back a bit to the automatisms, but to return with your team is like starting from the beginning, because we are at home from Australia, held at the end of February. Our plan is very precise, we have some things to try and we will try to be prepared for the season; we will not go in search of performance, but we will have the aim to work for race pace. We have a lot of work to do, the temperatures will be high, but both the team and I need these tests to resume the automatisms we missed. We will see optimism and happiness, that's what we need after such a difficult time for everyone!"