Aruba Ducati’s Scott Redding came good at the right time in wet and dry conditions to head both Phillip Island free practice on day one of the new season and his first in WorldSBK.
In the dry afternoon session he was over four-tenths up on next best rider Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha), although outside the top ten until he did so, posting a 1’30.436 which also four-tenths quicker than he was in testing.
“I was doing a long run to see and not really abusing the tyre in the beginning,” the 2019 BSB Champion told bikesportnews.com. “In the first exit when I went out it was just a bit of a shakedown really.
“A couple of guys were fast straight out of the box and I thought, ‘Man, calm down a bit’ but because they were in a group I think that helps a bit round here. I was just doing my thing, spinning laps just checking the tyres were working well.
We changed the bike since the tests and we improved that quite a lot, which I was really happy with, because I felt consistent and stable. Then we put a tyre in at the end and pushed and see if that setup works again. We improved the lap time even more from the test.”
After a string of 1’31s in his long run, Redding was not 100 per cent sure if that would be the top pace on Saturday in a 22-lap race one.
“It depends really. I stayed in 1’31 and I was probably pushing 70 per cent, not pushing everything, because I have to conserve a bit of energy as well. I was completely alone the whole time so I had no help in slipstreaming.
“I know in this circuit around the last corners and the first two or three corners can make a big help, like two-three tenths. So I know I have that in the pocket, so if I am behind someone it will be even easier for me again. I was quite comfortable doing that. I was not so concerned but interested to see what the front tyre was doing but actually it was beautiful. Kind of just how we wanted it.”
Now the Ducatisti are dreaming of a weekend like last year. Yes?
“It would be nice,” grinned Redding. “We are just doing it step at a time. I keep saying to people that I do not even know how this system here is working. Just be in the pit box when it says Superbike and go out and ride.
“That is all I do at the moment. But it would be nice to get on the podium or take some wins this weekend for sure. The only thing I can do is prepare myself and the bike as best I can. I do not have any experience, so until race one I do not know if what I am doing is the right thing or the wrong thing. We will see. So far it seems to be OK.”
Redding now feels confident in the rain but he wasn’t first time he tried them, late in 2019. “We did some laps in the rain, which is important for me to get the feeling,” said Scott. “At the end of last year and the beginning of this year I said I had no feeling in the rain but slowly, slowly I managed to get an even better feeling where I can relax riding in the rain now.”
Are you ready to race, or do you have to do some more things to test?
“The biggest thing we did was from the test until now - to confirm that it worked quite well,” said Redding. “I did a long run and I was quite happy with it. I do not want the guys to change too much.
“We are losing quite a little bit of time in the first sector, really, compared to the Yamahas, so I need to see if I can improve there a little bit but I think it is more just a characteristic of the bike. We may just have to bite the bullet on that one and make up for it in other areas. Or if you are behind in the race, see something and work with what you have got.”
Redding confirmed that he has not only tested the Pirelli qualifier before, but got the best out of it.
“I think I have had two or three in the tests. I feel good with the quail tyre,” he stated. “When it was new I said ‘Can I push, can I not push?’ and the guys said go slow and then give everything you have in the tank.
“It will be interesting here how the qualifier works and I think we only get one qualifier, so I will try not to fuck it up.
“What I have found with the qualifier is that it doesn’t feel fast. I feel slower and I don’t feel that there is half a second plus in the lap time and I am how did that happen… why did it? Why? It gives you 10 per cent grip everywhere which is helping you all the way around the lap, which gives you quite a bit of time difference.”