Reigning British Superbike Champion Scott Redding went head-to-head with reigning WorldSBK king Jonathan Rea for the first time today at the Aragon test and unsurprisingly came off second best - but only by half a second.
Redding has got a lot to get used to during this test not least of which is having full electronics again after a year in BSB with only the very basic of engine braking strategies and not much else.
“I’m quite happy, to be fair. First day on the race bike and again it feels bit different to the bike I race last year, positioning stuff, and they use different brake levers and things,” said Redding, speaking at the track.
“In terms of positioning stuff, so we just had to figure a few little things that will let me feel comfortable. We did some laps in the wet this morning just because I haven’t done wet track time, racing this year in BSB.
“It was wet a few times but usually in qualifying so you were not thinking about settings, just trying to push. I managed to get some laps in which was nice. It was quite slippery so I decided to take it easy but after lunch we were able to get some dry track time. It was convenient to test with the other guys.
We changed a bit more with the electronics today, mostly because of the track conditions – slippery, cold, wind - and the tyres drops from one run to a second run, so that is for me to understand a little bit more. Racing without the electronics has helped me as a rider because now I can understand the electronics more.
“I was in MotoGP for, I think five years, with electronics and then you go to something with zero electronics, even though I preferred riding without electronics, it was a bit of a shock to me.
“You can only learn by taking more risk and more chance to crash because you do not have electronics. When I come on a bike with the electronics I know I have a safety boundary. I know that if I have a spin I have 50 per cent more chance to save the crash than not.
“It is just believing in it. At the end of the day, all these guys are riding and all opening the throttle so it should work for me. I have the mentality, that if it works for Chaz it should work for me.
“Maybe the Kawasaki is different style but I did not notice a big difference. With the electronics you can push more without having to worry so much, whereas in BSB if you have to give more you know you have to be ready, because if it is going - it is gone. I just feel a bit more comfortable.”
The Gloucstershire rider is shaking off the effects of food poisoning so his performance today - 1’50.868 compared to Rea’s 1’50.416 - is even more impressive.
I’m not impressed because I’m not first! But I’m quite happy with this for a first day. I was very sick yesterday with food poisoning so I just felt a little bit away with it today.
“I didn’t feel really focused and not fully on the job. For this condition I was quite happy. The feeling with the bike wasn’t bad but it wasn’t perfect either.
“We didn’t have enough time to try some big things with the chassis, we played a little bit with the springs, but today was about building up, getting my feeling, really. For the electronics, when we rode Valencia it was no problem.
Redding has brought with him his crew chief from last year Giovanni Crupi, who is also a Ducati employee, so there is at least some continuity.
“Going into BSB and having to learn a lot of new tracks, new tyres and a new bike - in BSB the strongest point I had was the crew around me. Giovanni was very important in helping me. I am quite happy bringing him with me.
Even though he is an ex-MotoGP rider, Redding will be a rookie again next season like he was this but doesn’t think of himself as one.
“I don’t think of myself as a rookie. Riding today I wasn’t thinking about taking my time. I was thinking that I had to push, had to show what you can do and show that I’m strong, and what I need to do. I guess that is a strong point. The weird thing is seeing people like Chaz and Johnny in track. Today it was like now I competing against you.”