World Superbike’s top men have given the new 17in wheel and tyre package which will become standard in the series next year the thumbs up with some setting quicker laptimes in yesterday’s Motorland Aragon test than in Sunday’s races.
Tom Sykes set the fastest time of the day with a 1’57.254 which was a second quicker than the time set by Marco Melandri in Sunday’s second race on comparable rubber.
Reigning champion Carlos Checa said: “I really liked the new tyre and I’d say it’s almost at the level of the 16.5. It is very stable, corners well and has almost all of the positive attributes of the 16.5in. In terms of performance it seems very good, also because we didn’t change the bike setting but it nevertheless performed well. We have seen a slight improvement with regard to the front, but probably this is a combination of the two, which together provide good balance.”
Melandri added: “It was interesting to ride the new 17in tyres. It was a completely different feeling from the usual Pirelli tyres we race now. The bike characteristics look more precise. For sure we still have a lot of work to do with the tyre but also with the bike to find a good set-up for this kind of tyre. I hope this is just the starting point and that I will be able to test the new solution before the end of the year just to understand which direction we need to take for next season."
Leon Haslam was positive about the new tyres, saying: "I am really positive about the new tyre. Everyone was a little unsure, it is more a step in the production type direction, but for me it was an improvement. We improved the lap time and the grip and the stability were better – front and rear.
"Also on braking it was more stable, another positive was the corner exit. We had some issues at the corner entry, I ran a bit wide with the 17in but that’s because we need a slightly different set-up for this tyre. For this test we kept everything the same, but I think once we can concentrate on setting the bike up for the 17in tyre for me it will definitely be the better and faster one."
Leon Camier, however, was not so sure: "I tried the new 17in wheels and tyres and my initial feeling was that the bike felt less nimble. The grip was better, but that made the acceleration out of the turns a bit worse. But we didn’t make any geometry changes, so it’s likely that there’s room for improvement."