Barcelona WorldSBK test: Rea fastest as Razgatlioglu crashes

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Former WorldSBK king Jonathan Rea topped the timesheets as testing at Barcelona concluded early due to rain.

With grip remaining at a premium throughout the late morning and afternoon, the many of the fastest times came in the morning and it was once again Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who finished on top, the only rider in the 1’40 bracket with a 1’40.913. However, despite the sun in the afternoon, storm clouds gathered and the heavens open with just under half an hour remaining, meaning no late improvements came.

One of many riders looking to use the available grip, Rea got straight down to business on the second day with a 1’40.913 in the morning to put him as the first and only rider in that bracket.

Rea also tried the new front tyre brought by Pirelli, as well as a variety of setup refinements, with braking also being on his list of items to get through. Deciding to do a full day of testing and work on practice starts, Rea’s time remained unchallenged as afternoon temperatures increased despite cloud cover. Teammate Alex Lowes opted not to take part in the running, with remaining testing days on everyone’s minds, meaning Florian Marino was on track.

It was a bright day for Honda as Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) put his CBR1000RR-R SP into second place overall, improving his time considerably in the cooler morning session. Continuing to work with the new chassis bracing as well as trying the new finger rear-brake, Lecuona was in good form and will certainly be one to watch come the round in Barcelona.

Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) was also fighting hard and getting valuable laps under his belt, as he too continued development of the bike. With back-to-back tests being done on the newer swingarm (debuted at Misano) and the older spec one, Vierge was in seventh, although he was one rider who didn’t use the softest available tyre.

After trialling a swingarm evolution but “finding nothing” on day one – and in fact going a step backwards with it in the afternoon heat – Alvaro Bautista was back on the older-specification of the swingarm for day two. He found a new link to be a little bit better for tyre life on day one and spent day two working on setup for the round, although he just did half a day.

It was the same on the other side of the garage too, with 2021 Barcelona Race 2 winner Michael Ruben Rinaldi working for the race weekend in a month’s time, whilst also giving the newer swingarm a go in the afternoon. Come the end of the day, Bautista was back as top Ducati in third whilst Rinaldi was a solid fifth both going quicker than day one.

In a test spent getting up to speed, it was a day two to forget for Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK), who suffered a big highside on the exit of Turn 5 just half an hour before lunch, where he was due to finish anyway.

His bike took a big hit too, and after a medical check diagnosed a deep wound to his elbow, he was taken to hospital for it to be examined further, rounding out the test in sixth. He returned to the track and despite a bitter end to the two days, he was in good spirits. After finding a late breakthrough on Saturday evening in terms of a direction to follow for rear grip solutions, teammate Andrea Locatelli was in good form on Sunday, as he finished fourth and fastest Yamaha after a strange first day and only half of a second day.

For BMW, the work continued and like all teams, it was about working to find rear grip solutions in the low grip track conditions. On the agenda for Redding in the morning was reconfirming a rear shock that he tried on Saturday, whilst he also had different combinations to try with the regards to the rear of the motorcycle.

Working unexpectedly and intensely on electronics in the afternoon, Redding felt some steps forward had been made. For van der Mark, he confirmed that he was using the new swingarm but like Redding had confirmed on Saturday, it was difficult to deduce any valid readings with the track conditions as they were. Continuing to make gains with the electronics in general, Redding finished ninth, fractionally behind top BMW Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW), whilst van der Mark was 11th.

The Independents were hard at work as ever and it was Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) who led the way in eighth and as top BMW, working with new internal parts and a totally different geometry setup. Baz had also been adapting his riding style to suit the needs of the M1000RR.

This was more of a test for the round than general development for Baz, who was suffering with back pain on the first day. Behind him, teammate Eugene Laverty was tenth, ahead of Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) in 12th, who’s day was plagued by mechanical gremlins that kept him off track for the best part of four hours.

Oscar Gutierrez (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) was 14th and will be with the team for the next two rounds, whilst Oliver Konig (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was 15th. In WorldSSP, Lorenzo Baldassarri (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) was over half a second ahead of Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura WorldSSP).

Test times

1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’40.913
2. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) +0.194
3. Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.374s
4. Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.601s
5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.708s
6. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) +0.818s