World Superbike testing continues, this time at the spectacular Portimao circuit in Portugal. With the Kawasakis absent, Chaz Davies topped the timesheets, heading up Eugene Laverty on the Milwaukee Aprilia and Davies' Ducati teammate Marco Melandri. Pata Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark set the second fastest time, but the Yamahas rode without a transponder, and their times were unofficially released by the teams to Speedweek.com.
The Honda riders struggled, both Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl struggling for grip. The Ten Kate squad have only had the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR for a few weeks, and still have a lot of work to do on the bike.
Quotes from the riders at the test, via our WorldSBK correspondent:
Ernesto Marinelli, Aruba.it Ducati team boss:
Both riders are working on everything but are checking different things for riding styles or whatever but both have spent time working on the chassis, the electronics, the engine and the full package. We only had half a day today but it's good to be here at Portimao because it's so different to Jerez with the bumps and the character of the circuit. There's no one area that we need to shoot at to improve because by mid 2016 we had found a good balance so now we're working on every aspect to improve them all by a little bit.
Chaz Davies, Aruba.it Ducati:
Even losing the morning we did over 60 laps and the lack of running this morning didn't really hurt us. Honestly, at this track it's always the same on the opening laps where you can't get a lot done. There's so many bumps that you nearly need a motocross bike and not a rigid Superbike at the start! Once you have about 20 laps under your belt though it comes to you and you get used to it. The bumps always get a little bit sharper every time you come back here and in a couple of places they've gotten a bit higher. They've laid some tarmac in some places, Turn 5, the entry to Turn 7, but that's not a good job. They've put the join of the new tarmac with the old right on the apex of the corner. It's bang smack on the apex and you can't help thinking 'could you not have extended that five metres around the corner?' It is what it is though and we'll need to speak about it. If a corner needs to be changed and relaid circuits cannot put it right on the apex for bikes. Really I think that the whole track needs to be relaid but that's obviously expensive to do. They've worked at Turn 13 and they've done a good job there.
The laptime this afternoon came quite easily to me and I think that there's potential to go quicker. We worked on some chassis and electronics stuff today and also the exhaust. We've got some other stuff to work on tomorrow and if it's dry it'll be a busy day for us. We've still got some major parts to tick off but today was quite interesting.
Nicky Hayden, Ten Kate Honda WorldSBK:
Today was not a good day. I really don't know how to sugar coat it any better. I'd love to tell you that we were taking it easy today but I can't. We lost a lot of time this morning, like everybody else, waiting for the track to dry. I went out to learn the track on those first laps because there is some tricky sections but we never made progress today. We're really struggling with edge grip and the bike pumping and not being stable on the exit of the corners. We never found a direction to go in and nothing really helped the problem today. Hopefully tomorrow we'll find some progress.
Some of the problems that we had in Jerez are here and maybe even more dramatic. It's clear that we're a long way off so we've got to stay focused and try and come up with a solution. The edge grip is more of a problem here because in Jerez you can ride it around it a bit and pick the bike up but here at Portimao so many corners link together. The bike starts sliding and steps out and you're off line for the next corner so the problem can keep exaggerating itself here.
In Jerez we were able too compare our data to last year but we didn't test here last year so we don't have any data to compare today with.
I hope that as we start introducing the new parts we'll see some progress because it's not ideal to have a hybrid bike out there that is half on thing and half another. It's difficult to make that work and we're obviously not super happy at the moment and we hope that some of the new parts will start to help us find a solution.
Stefan Bradl, Ten Kate Honda WorldSBK:
We have some problems with the electronics which is costing us a lot of grip. That was the same in Jerez and today gave us confirmation that something is wrong with the bike for this. We made a lot of changes today with the torque maps and the traction control and power deliveries but the system didn't follow those changes. It was a bit weird and we struggled with the grip because of that. We also struggled because the traction control doesn't work constantly or smoothly and that means that we abuse the tyres.
Leon Camier, MV Agusta WorldSBK:
I'm pretty happy but it's difficult for us all compared to Chaz, he seems to be at another level. We're not far off the others which is pretty good considering it's our first day back on the bike. It's difficult to say if we've made much progress yet but hopefully for Australia we'll have a new engine. At the minute we're still on last year's spec of engine but we've a different tank to try to make the weight lower while keeping the same balance. We'll try a different riding position too but electronics are the biggest thing that we'll work on because we're using the standard throttle bodies now and now the split. That's better today but it's still not great but there's a lot of things to come because we need more engine braking but that will be helped with the new exhaust that we're waiting for. I'm hoping that we'll have everything for Australia because it's something that I've been looking for for a long time. We've a new swingarm coming but I'm not sure how that will change things. The 2017 bike will be a little more refined all around.
We have to be realistic with our goals because the change from split throttle bodies has caused us some problems. I think that it will continue to cause us problems and even though we might be able to mask it with electronics it's not right with this bike. The rules are pretty fixed so there's only a few things we can do and we'll probably have to just focus on electronics to help us. We need to improve power delivery but also power. Last year despite the lack of power we had something that I could still ride well because I felt good on the bike but the change of the throttle bodies has meant that right now I can't feel that. It's definitely the area we need to work on most.
We have two new electronics guys in the team who replaced two that left at the end of last year.
We've got to be careful in Australia because it's very easy to get sucked into testing mode and not focus on the race. You've got to keep it simple down there because I've seen time and again that people aren't prepared for the race because they think that they're going well in practice or testing but are lost in the race. You've got to be quite clever once you get to Phillip Island with how you approach the weekend down there.
PJ Jacobsen, MV Agusta WSS:
Today was my first day on the bike this year, I did half a day on the MV last November in Jerez but it was half wet, half dry so today was good to get out there. It was fully dry so I learned a lot and I'm quite happy with it. The bike is totally different to what I've ridden in the past but the team works really well and they've impressed me. The MV reminds me of when I was riding a Superbike because you have to pick the bike up and it doesn't really like being on the side of the tyre. It's not bad though coming from the Honda to the MV but the bikes are very different. The MV is very solid and doesn't move around much whereas the Honda was always backing into corners. I think that my riding style has been dictated by the characteristics of the Honda because Kyle Smith has the same riding style as me on the bike but I've always thought that was how I had to ride the bike. Honestly, in this class, I think the best way to ride the bike is in a straight line and not sliding it everywhere.
The electronics seem pretty fixed and the team worked really hard on that side of things over the winter. I've not had any problems with it at all today. The guys are working hard to give me everything I need and I had no issues with the electronics or the gearbox. The 'box is different to the Honda but I like how it works.
Tati Mercado, IODA Aprilia WorldSBK:
I'm very happy to be back on a Superbike! The other riders were at Jerez so today I was making sure to be careful at the start of the day. I'm very happy though because my first feelings with the bike and the team are very good. We didn't make a lot of laps today, maybe 25, but it was important to ride today for me and the team. Everything is new for everybody so it was very important to ride today. I also needed to ride so that I would know how to ride the bike because it's very different to what I have been riding for the last three years. I need to adapt and learn many things but for the first day it was ok.
The four cylinder engine of the Aprilia is very different to the two cylinder of the Ducati. The character is different and you have more RPM at the top and there's a few things for me to learn about how ride the bike. I have to get used to the Aprilia and also find my riding position. Today I was adapting my riding position on every lap to try and find out where I should be and feel what I wanted. It's normal to take that time and try and improve step by step. It's important to be patient and make sure that you make steps forward instead of rushing. The team are very good and have a lot of experience and I think that I can learn a lot from them. It's a really nice group of people to work with.
|2||60||WSBK||Michael van der Mark||Yamaha||1:43.300||0.346||0.346|
|8||2||WSBK||Leon Camier||MV Agusta||1:44.067||1.113||0.147|
|10||35||WSBK||Raffaele De Rosa||BMW||1:44.342||1.388||0.251|
|1||12||STK||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||Ducati||1:45.957|