2016 Aragon World Superbike Race 1: A Lesson in Domination

Chaz Davies has put an end to Kawasaki's hegemony in the World Superbike class, winning the first race at Aragon in convincing style.

Starting from the second row and nearly getting pushed wide in the first corner left Davies with work to do, with polesitter Tom Sykes streaking out to a lead. Sykes' Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea struck early, moving up to third on the first lap, behind the Yamaha of Sylvain Guintoli. Guintoli and teammate Alex Lowes had impressed in Superpole, both Pata Yamahas starting from the front row, but while Guintoli got a great start, Lowes had a nightmare, dropping well down the field.

Sykes pushed hard in the early laps, Guintoli staying with him, pulling a gap from the battle for third. Rea led that group, ahead of Davide Giugliano, Chaz Davies, and the Hondas of Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden. On lap two, Davies started to make his move. He pushed past his teammate, then slid through beautifully on Rea at the entry to Turn 12. Now third, he put his head down and started chasing the leaders.

The extra horsepower Ducati had extracted from new parts, including a new exhaust for the Panigale 1199R, helped Davies work his magic, taking big chunks out of Sykes and Guintoli, and within two laps, he was past and gone. Once in the lead, there was nobody who could match his pace, and Davies went on to take an utterly dominant victory at Aragon.

The excitement in the race would come from the battle for second. Guintoli would not be part of that: after a strong start, the Frenchman started dropping like a stone as his tires dropped off. It was the two Kawasaki teammates contesting for second place, Sykes' lead over Rea slowly falling as the reigning champion reeled in the 2013 champ. Once Rea caught Sykes, he tried to push to drop the Yorkshireman, but Sykes stuck with him. He could keep Rea's wheel, but not mount an attack, and Rea went on to claim second, extending his championship lead over Sykes, who crossed the line in third.

The fight behind the podium saw plenty of ups and downs. Van der Mark had crashed out in the opening laps, leaving just Nicky Hayden as the only Honda to tackle Davide Giugliano. Sylvain Guintoli tried to stay with the second factory Ducati, but the real threat came from Xavi Fores. The Spaniard, who has spent his time racing in the German IDM championship, was utterly impressive at a track which he was familiar with, fighting his way forward to beat Giugliano to claim fourth, in a tense battle which saw the pair swap places several times. Nicky Hayden clung on to finish in sixth.

Davies' victory gives him a boost in the championship, closing the gap to Tom Sykes in second to just two points. But Rea's second place meant the reigning champion kept the damage to a minimum, still leading Sykes 115 points to 82. The added competitiveness of the Ducati promises to shake up the order, though, especially with Xavi Fores and Davide Giugliano making it three Ducatis in the top five.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Gap Best Lap Speed
1 7 C. DAVIES Ducati 1199 Panigale R   1'50.421 312,1
2 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10R 4.168 1'51.141 311,2
3 66 T. SYKES Kawasaki ZX-10R 4.948 1'51.361 303,4
4 12 X. FORÉS Ducati 1199 Panigale R 12.723 1'51.308 304,2
5 34 D. GIUGLIANO Ducati 1199 Panigale R 13.151 1'51.205 306,8
6 69 N. HAYDEN Honda CBR1000RR SP 21.117 1'51.453 313,0
7 81 J. TORRES BMW S1000 RR 22.112 1'51.748 313,0
8 22 A. LOWES Yamaha YZF R1 25.575 1'51.502 306,8
9 50 S. GUINTOLI Yamaha YZF R1 28.941 1'51.336 306,8
10 32 L. SAVADORI Aprilia RSV4 RF 34.956 1'52.871 308,6
11 15 A. DE ANGELIS Aprilia RSV4 RF 35.075 1'52.628 311,2
12 40 R. RAMOS Kawasaki ZX-10R 37.310 1'52.285 299,2
13 25 J. BROOKES BMW S1000 RR 37.442 1'53.031 303,4
14 21 M. REITERBERGER BMW S1000 RR 37.731 1'52.523 311,2
15 17 K. ABRAHAM BMW S1000 RR 52.270 1'53.179 305,9
16 20 S. BARRIER Kawasaki ZX-10R 56.295 1'53.804 302,5
17 94 M. LUSSIANA BMW S1000 RR 1'07.602 1'53.678 297,5
18 9 D. SCHMITTER Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'35.691 1'55.561 292,7
19 56 P. SEBESTYÉN Yamaha YZF R1 1'35.746 1'55.216 292,7
20 10 I. TÓTH Yamaha YZF R1 1 Lap 1'58.905 289,5
RET 11 S. AL SULAITI Kawasaki ZX-10R 2 Laps    
RET 151 M. BAIOCCO Ducati 1199 Panigale R 5 Laps    
RET 16 J. HOOK Kawasaki ZX-10R 5 Laps    
RET 2 L. CAMIER MV Agusta 1000 F4 9 Laps    
RET 60 M. VAN DER MARK Honda CBR1000RR SP 15 Laps    

 

Round Number: 
3
2016
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Comments

I feel gutted for Guintoli. He looked effortless keeping up with Sykes in the early stages of the race and then something went south on him. Tyres? Mechanical? He had to pull off on the cool-down lap, which seems more like a mechanical/electronic issue. At least the two-day racing format gives the team more time to chase it down and fix it.

I thought Davies would win but was surprised at the margin of victory. Perhaps Ducati really has found the horsepower they've been lacking? Looking forward to Sunday.

Remarkable that with 313,0 km/h Nicky Hayden on the elderly Honda has the highest top speed, together with Jordi Torres on the BMW. (That the BMW is fast in a straight line is not totally surprising, but still, it's not a factory bike - or is it?) Maybe it's because Hayden was following two or three other bikes most of the time, but most riders got a tow at some point in the race, I'd say.

That the Panigale of Davies is very close to having the highest top speed is also striking. Almost makes me wonder if the double-chimney exhaust lays a smoke screen for the big 116mm pistons. Or is the speed trap simply just a bit to close to the corner and is late braking a factor here? Or was that a one-off speed when slipstreaming one of the Kawasakis?

Despite the front group falling apart after those spectacular early stages, there still was some pretty good duelling going on during that race! Also nice to see the last-minute-entered Aprilia team of Savadori and De Angelis is getting better. I'm especially happy to see Alex De Angelis up to such speed after his horrific accident last year. I'd like to see him having some competitive races this year after years of battling on with third- (or fourth-)rate equipment. When all goes well, he may even get up to top-5, I'd say.

Looking forward to tomorrow's race!