Misano Private Test: Aleix Espargaro Fastest On Final Day, Redding Smashes WorldSBK Record

Testing has concluded at the Misano private test, with a few changes to the riders present on Thursday. KTM skipped the final day, while a group of WorldSSP riders entered the fray.

Aleix Espargaro was the fastest rider on the final day, getting to within a couple of hundredths of Miguel Oliveira's best time from the day before, demonstrating the potential of the 2020 Aprilia RS-GP. Espargaro was happy with both the speed and the pace of the bike, though the reliability of the bike remains a question mark, which will only be removed once the racing begins. The Aprilias were the lone MotoGP bikes on track on Thursday.

Bradley Smith closed the gap to the front by half a second, the Englishman preparing to take the place of Andrea Iannone for the first races of 2020, while the Italian is waiting for his appeal against a doping ban to be heard.

Among the more interesting items being tested by Ducati was the COVID-19 protocol to be used at the opening MotoGP round at Jerez. Ducati were also testing microphones and headsets for use in the pits, to prevent riders and engineers getting too close during debriefs. Aprilia have already been using this system, adopting it at the Valencia and Jerez tests in November 2019, with the aim of improving communication. But it also allows riders and mechanics to keep their distance while working together.

Teams and riders will only be allowed to use communications systems in the pits. Communication between the rider and the pits while the rider is on track is still explicitly banned in the rules.

Scott Redding finished as fastest of the WorldSBK riders, demolishing the pole record from 2018 set by Tom Sykes, then still riding the Kawasaki. The Aruba.it rider was impressive overall, given that he finished just fifteen hundredths slower than Oliveira's best time on the KTM MotoGP machine, and ahead of the best time set by Pol Espargaro on the KTM.

Jonathan Rea made a big step forward, finishing as second quickest WorldSBK rider, another fifteen hundredths of a second behind Redding, while Michael Ruben Rinaldi was third fastest of the WorldSBK riders, a quarter of a second behind Rea. Rea's Kawasaki teammate Alex Lowes was half a second behind Rea, and six tenths slower than Redding, while Chaz Davies was nearly a second slower than his Aruba.it teammate.

Times at the end of three days of testing:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Prev Day
1 Miguel Oliveira KTM RC16 1:32.913     Wednesday
2 Aleix Espargaró Aprilia RS-GP 1:32.932 0.019 0.019 Thursday
3 Michele Pirro Ducati GP20 1:33.038 0.125 0.106 Thursday
4 Scott Redding Ducati Panigale V4R 1:33.067 0.154 0.029 Thursday
5 Pol Espargaró KTM RC16 1:33.070 0.157 0.003 Tuesday
6 Jonathan Rea Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1:33.206 0.293 0.136 Thursday
7 Bradley Smith Aprilia RS-GP 1:33.536 0.623 0.330 Thursday
8 Michael Ruben Rinaldi Ducati Panigale V4R 1:33.560 0.647 0.024 Thursday
9 Brad Binder KTM RC16 1:33.588 0.675 0.028 Wednesday
10 Iker Lecuona KTM RC16 1:33.591 0.678 0.003 Wednesday
11 Alex Lowes Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1:33.694 0.781 0.103 Thursday
12 Chaz Davies Ducati Panigale V4R 1:34.053 1.140 0.359 Thursday
13 Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki GSX-RR 1:34.287 1.374 0.234 Wednesday
14 Leandro Mercado Ducati Panigale V4R 1:34.859 1.946 0.572 Thursday
15 Leon Camier Ducati Panigale V4R 1:35.773 2.860 0.914 Wednesday
16 Sylvain Barrier Ducati Panigale V4R 1:36.752 3.839 0.979 Thursday
WorldSSP times        
1 Andrea Locatelli Yamaha YZF-R6 1:37.664      
2 Raffaele De Rosa MV Agusta 675 F3 1:38.444 0.780 0.780 Thursday
3 Randy Krummenacher MV Agusta 675 F3 1:38.813 1.149 0.369 Thursday
4 Federico Fuligni MV Agusta 675 F3 1:39.325 1.661 0.512 Thursday
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... feels like the one to watch this year; just a gut feeling that he's going to become a WSBK superstar over the next few years. Certainly got buckets of talent and determination, and was always a bit too big for MotoGP.

I can't believe that the times albeit only testing are so close between the WSBK and the motogp  bikes.  I realise the Honda and Yamaha and Suzuki factories aren't here but for sheer competitiveness the Kawasaki and Panagali bikes are right up there, pity the wsbk paddock doesn't get the coverage it deserves, because the racing is usually very competitive.