Press releases from the WorldSBK and WorldSSP teams and organizers after qualifying and the first race from Imola:
WorldSBK standings after the first race at Imola:
World Supersport Superpole took place with rain threatening to make an appearance at some point.
World Superbike race one at Imola was 19 laps under good weather. Leon Camier was replaced for the race on the Red Bull Honda by Jason O'Halloran after Camier pulled out after two sessions on Friday, not having recovered enough from his crash at Aragon to compete. Extra front brake cooling was allowed for there first time and this safety measure will continue testing at Donington in a couple of weeks.
Superpole one at Imola was contested by twelve riders aiming for two spots with Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes the two favourites to qualify for advancement.
It looked like Jonathan Rea was going to get it all his own way, but towards the end of the session, Chaz Davies clinched the top spot. Rea was able to then match his rival's time, but he couldn't beat it. Marco Melandri was third quickest ahead of Lorenzo Savadori while Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes missed out on Superpole two and will head into the first Superpole sessions as favourites to advance. Leon Haslam was eighth-quickest on his return to World Superbikes.
Three Yamahas, Federico Caricasulo, Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel, topped this second session, with Kenan Sofuoglu fourth quickest on his Kawasaki, ensuring his qualification to Superpole two as he was fifth quickest of the day. Lucas Mahias was sixth quickest, unable to improve on his quickest time from the morning's session, but that time was enough to put him second-quickest overall.
Jonathan Rea was quickest in a session where he and Chaz Davies were unable to better their morning's times, ahead of an improving Marco Melandri. Lorenzo Savadori was third quickest this session on the Aprilia, fourth quickest overall, behind Davies. Eugene Laverty, having passed a medical evaluation after FP1, improved on his morning's result and was eighth quickest.
Lucas Mahias led by two tenths of a second, ahead of Federico Caricasulo and Jules Cluzel. Ayrton Badovini was fourth quickest on the MV Agusta. Kenan Sofuoglu opened his last weekend of racing fourteenth quickest.
Jonathan Rea is the only non-Ducati in the top four, ahead of Chaz Davies, Marco Melandri and Xavi Fores, while his Kawasaki teamate Tom Sykes was a second off the world champion's pace. Eugene Laverty, returning from injury, was ninth quickest, ahead of wildcarding five-time race winner Leon Haslam.
The Milwaukee Aprilia rider is back in action this weekend at Imola and he guides us around an action packed lap of the Italian venue
Imola is one of the most historic circuits in the world. Tamburello, Acque Minerali and Rivazza are corner names etched into the fiber of the sport, and with the circuit named after Enzo Ferrari's son, the emotion of Imola is always bubbling away just under the surface.
For a long time Eugene Laverty didn't feel at home at this twisting and technical circuit but over the last ten years he has been able to scratch at the surface and unlock the key to a fast time around this 4.936km circuit.
Press release previews from the teams and series organizer ahead of this week's round of WorldSBK at Imola:
Feel the passion of Imola as WorldSBK heads to Italy
Adoring Italian fans prepare to see if Davies can dominate once more
As the MotoGP field gets closer, the value of a good test rider goes up. The closer a rider can get to the limits of the bike, the more data they generate, and the more the factories learn. That means there is a premium now on genuinely fast riders, as the data gathered when a rider is within a few tenths of the MotoGP elite is exponentially more valuable than the data obtained by riders who are a second off the pace.
As a result, top racers who have missed the boat for one reason or another are in high demand among MotoGP's factories. In the second part of our series on the importance of test riders, we take a look at Suzuki. (You can read the first part, with KTM's Mike Leitner, here). I spoke to Suzuki Ecstar team boss Davide Brivio at the Jerez test last November, to ask about the importance of Sylvain Guintoli, the former MotoGP, WorldSBK, and BSB racer who Suzuki have been using to help push forward the development of the GSX-RR over the past year or so. With some success: so far, Suzuki have three podiums from four races, and are clearly competitive with Yamaha, Honda, and Ducati.
Given that a test rider needs to be able to clearly describe what they are feeling on the bike, as well as be fast enough to feel something useful, I started off asking Brivio what he more, a fast rider or an intelligent rider. "I would say it should be a good compromise, but probably an intelligent test rider is important as well. Let's say fast enough!" Brivio laughed. "It's always difficult to say whether a test rider can be 1 second slower or three seconds slower. But for me, we think it's very important that he understands whether something is better or not and he can describe properly why it's better or why it's worse. Then of course everything has to be confirmed by the factory riders. But it's very important that he's intelligent and also expert enough about what he is testing, he has enough experience with the electronics, with the tires, with the chassis."
Press releases from the teams after the Monday test at Jerez:
Zarco tops the testing time sheets in Jerez - Syahrin sits out
Just one day after his fantastic second place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, Johann Zarco was back on track today to go through some different settings aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. Following some intense working hours and 63 laps at the Jerez Circuit, the French star concluded the official test superbly in first position and was even 0.226 seconds faster than during Qualifying last Saturday.