Aragon WorldSBK test: Redding chases Rea on day one

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Reigning British Superbike Champion and WorldSBK rookie Scott Redding gave Jonathan Rea something to think about on the first day of winter testing at Aragon, finishing only four-tenths behind the five-time champion.

After the morning was written off by rain, Redding eventually set a best time of 1’510.868 compared to Rea’s 1’50.416 and only Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark was able to get under the 1’51s barrier.

While Redding’s early laps were tentative, the 26-year-old’s times dropped progressively throughout the day – even topping the leaderboards at one point – before settling on a 1’50.868 with 51 laps completed.

For his Welsh teammate Chaz Davies, this will be the first time he can face a full winter testing season with the V4R in proper conditions – he was still awaiting surgery on his right collarbone twelve months ago – which will be key to building a title challenge for 2020 after a fluctuating first year. Day One saw him work on new ideas concerning the chassis and electronics of his Ducati.

Completing the trio of Ducatis present in Aragon was Leon Camier on his BARNI Racing debut. The Englishman is focusing exclusively on getting to know the V4R, before diving deeper into the bike’s configuration.

After midday, the track began to slowly dry out with times finally dropping below the two-minute mark around 2pm, which prompted the first appearance of both Kawasaki Racing Team riders on the Spanish tarmac.

Having proven that the package is as good as it has ever been, Rea and Crew Chief Pere Riba’s focus in these early stages is on small details destined to make the bike turn a bit easier while not losing any stability.

While their work revolves around fine-tuning the package, for Alex Lowes these early laps are all about getting an understanding of the bike as a whole. The Englishman lands on a new machine and inside a new team, with new relationships inside Provec Racing just as important to develop as his feeling with the ZX-10RR.

On day one at Aragon, the final three hours of the day were enough to complete 37 laps, with a best time only a second behind his Championship-winning teammate.

The manufacturer with the strongest representation at MotorLand Aragon is Yamaha, who put out all four riders – two Pata Yamaha, two GRT Yamaha Junior Team – on the 2019 version of the YZF R1, with the new 2020 model ready to hit the tarmac in Jerez, in two weeks’ time.

Toprak Razgatlioglu was the second rider out on track in the morning and showed that he could be instantly competitive on his new bike, finishing the day only a fraction of a second from Yamaha team-mate van der Mark.

For the Dutchman the true test will come in that Jerez test at the end of November, when he meets the evolution of his previous race-winning machine; here, on Wednesday, a few extra components including a different throttle were tested, as van der Mark and new Crew Chief Andrew Pitt began working together for the first time.

Meanwhile, GRT Yamaha’s two representatives began to prove why the Italian team has put its trust in two rookies for 2020. Garrett Gerloff, not only racing on the WorldSBK YZF R1 for the first time but also on Pirelli tyres (and on European tarmac), was immediately competitive, coming within less than a second of van der Mark’s best time.

His Italian teammate Federico Caricasulo, on a Superbike for the first time after several years on Supersport machines, recorded more laps than anyone as he finds his feet in a new class.

Aragon WorldSBK test day one times

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’50.416 – 27 laps
Scott Redding ( Racing – Ducati) 1’50.868 – 51 laps
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’50.941 – 39 laps
Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati) 1’51.176 – 37 laps
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’51.313 – 47 laps
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’51.567 – 37 laps
Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) 1’51.867 – 52 laps
Leon Camier (BARNI Racing Team) 1’52.902 – 37 laps
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) 1’53.514 – 57 laps