A new era dawned for Ducati at the Motorland Aragon circuit on Wednesday, as the Panigale V4R took to the track for the first time in the hands of the riders who will be racing it. Chaz Davies of the factory-backed Aruba.it Ducati team and Michael Ruben Rinaldi of Barni Racing put the first serious laps on the bike after Michele Pirro has brought it to this point during testing.
It was a cautious start for the Ducatis, Davies focusing on the basics you have to figure out with any new bike, such as ergonomics and basic setup. The Welshman put in 61 laps on race rubber getting the V4 R dialed in and to his tastes. He ended the day with a lap of 1'51.180, just a couple of hundredths behind Alex Lowes on the Pata Yamaha, a solid showing on the bike's first outing.
But both Lowes and Davies were a long way behind Kawasaki's Jonathan Rea. The reigning world champion took the latest iteration of the ZX-10RR out, putting in 72 laps and smashing the field, lapping nearly a second and a half quicker than the competition. Granted, the latest Kawasaki is only a minor upgrade from the 2018 bike, but Rea's pace from the off remains impressive.
Testing continues at Aragon on Thursday, before the teams pack up and head south to Jerez, for the next test in 10 days time.
|1||1||Jonathan Rea||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||1:49.668|
|2||22||Alex Lowes||Yamaha YZF-R1M||1:51.157||1.489||1.489|
|3||7||Chaz Davies||Ducati Panigale V4R||1:51.180||1.512||0.023|
|4||91||Leon Haslam||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||1:51.479||1.811||0.299|
|5||21||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||Ducati Panigale V4R||1:51.656||1.988||0.177|
|6||60||Michael van der Mark||Yamaha YZF-R1M||1:51.852||2.184||0.196|
Press releases from Kawasaki and Ducati appear below:
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team debuts on track with the Panigale V4 R at Aragon for a two-day test with Chaz Davies
Less than three weeks after drawing the curtains on the 2018 Championship, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team officially kicked off its 2019 campaign at Aragon (Spain) for a two-day private test with Chaz Davies. The test also has a historical meaning, as it marks the official debut of the WorldSBK-spec Panigale V4 R, the latest racing model by Ducati, recently unveiled during the Ducati World Première and presented to the general public at EICMA in Milan (Italy).
Davies focused his work on getting progressively more comfortable with the new bike, fine-tuning the ergonomics according to his needs and gathering plenty of useful data for the development process. The Welshman completed 61 laps in total, with a personal best of 1:51.180. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action tomorrow with Davies for another day of testing ahead of its first collective outing, with Alvaro Bautista alongside Davies, at Jerez (Spain) on November 26 and 27.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:51.180
"It was really exciting to take the Panigale V4 R out on track for the first time, it felt like Christmas, when you get a wonderful new toy to play with. Usually it takes me a bit of time to learn and understand a new bike, but honestly it felt the opposite today. I was really comfortable straight away, after the first out lap I felt like I wanted to push immediately, which is pretty cool. Overall, it was a really positive day, we've made a lot of steps forward and finished most of the work on the ergonomics. We have plenty of new things to evaluate and lots of data to process. The main goal today was to get progressively more comfortable with the bike and start tailoring it to our needs. Tomorrow, we'll keep the same approach, working on the basics and refining little things before we start to push harder and understand the full potential of the bike a little bit better."
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
"We're happy with the way the first day of testing went. We managed to complete our work program and clocked the first laps, gathering very positive feedback regarding the power delivery and range of use of the new engine. Now we'll keep moving forward with the development and work on the base setup, both here and in Jerez, where Alvaro Bautista will join Chaz in the garage."
Winter Testing Begins For KRT
New KRT riding line-up Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will start their preparations for the forthcoming 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship season with a two-day winter test at Motorland Aragon in Spain between the 14th and the 15th of November.
The headline news for this test, sharing joint-billing with the adoption of Kawasaki’s 2018 BSB champion Haslam alongside 2018 WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea, is the appearance of the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR on track in full WorldSBK trim.
The new Kawasaki contender will be fielded alongside some of its main 2019 rivals at Motorland and at subsequent tests, before the first round of the series in Australia on late February.
The latest 1000cc member of the Ninja family, launched as a road bike recently, features a higher-revving stock engine than the 2018 version plus the use of finger follower valve technology. The official Kawasaki WorldSBK team now embarks on its series of winter tests aiming to continue the incredible run of winning form that KRT have been able to demonstrate for several years at the very top level of production-derived racing.
With a new bike and a new riding pairing for the forthcoming season, KRT will not be short of work to do and tasks to complete both on and off track at Motorland.
The Aragon track sessions will be followed by another two day test in November of 2018, at Jerez de la Frontera, between the 26th and the 27th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Generally at this time of the year I have been really tired and looking forward to some weeks of rest, but even at this part of the season I have arrived with high energy. I feel excited to go testing again. We have got a new specification Ninja ZX-10RR to get our hands on and this will be a great shakedown test to understand the bike. Of course, with changes we need to understand how that affects not just the engine, but also the chassis, and work accordingly. The difficult part about this time of year is to try to get good consistent weather. We had a few days off after Qatar where I stayed and hung out with the team, enjoying our 2018 success together - but now it is about turning our attention to 2019. I am excited to get the guys back together and get stuck into our winter test mode. That is, trying to give a consistent effort throughout the tests, giving some good feedback to my mechanics, technicians and all the engineers in Japan; to just try to understand the bike and work from there.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “I am already in Motorland doing some Supermoto riding with all my new guys in the team. I cannot wait to get onto my Ninja ZX-10RR. I am like a kid in a sweet shop to get on the bike for the first time! The weather is looking changeable on the two days that we will test but it would be nice to have a two dry days of testing. We also have a test at Jerez at the end of the month as well. I want to approach things in a calm way but at the same time I am really excited just to get going.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “The main point in Motorland is to give a welcome to Leon Haslam. It will be the first time Leon has jumped on the bike and we will see his potential and start to work to adapt the bike in the best possible way to his needs. And it is for him to start to put himself in the mode of a KRT rider, to work hard and always to push the limits. Let’s see where we are in this starting point and see how much we can improve and develop toward the first race in Australia. With Johnny, we start a new season here. We cannot think about the success of 2018. For sure 2019 will be a complex year because year-by-year the pressure on him is more and more. Everybody expects him to continue winning on the same level he has been doing until now, and this is not easy. The others are pushing and pushing. Ducati will arrive with a new bike, BMW is arriving with a good bike too. Honda is trying to organise everything to be stronger, Yamaha for sure will be even more competitive. So we have to re-invent ourselves and to find a way for Johnny to improve his possibilities, which is not easy. So we have inside a lot of pressure to keep the same level and that is one of the main points to keep focused on. Of course we are going to work a lot to adapt to a new steps on the Ninja ZX-10RR model. We need to put that all in place in the winter time and find the best equilibrium to give the best tools to Johnny and Leon to be ready to fight in round one in Australia, with the other manufacturers and riders. So that is the target. Let’s see how it works.”