2018 gets underway as times tumble below 1.40s
With the sun shining down on the Circuito de Jerez, teams began to prepare for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship this week and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) topped the first day. With all eyes on Jordi Torres’ first ride with MV Agusta and Loris Baz on the Althea BMW Racing Team, anticipation was in the air. Milwaukee Aprilia were the first team out on the track, it didn’t take long for Kawasaki Racing Team to set the pace. With four days left of testing action, it’ll be an interesting week.
2017 WorldSBK World Champion Rea had a sensational opening day around the Spanish circuit, as he was never challenged at the top of the timing screens on Monday. Heading out in the mid-morning, the Northern Irish rider continues with his smooth and natural riding style as his team work on the 2018 parts. Setting a time of 1.39.650, he was 0.355 ahead of the rest of the field, present from Wednesday onwards, the Champion will receive his MBE tomorrow back in England meaning he is to miss Tuesday on track. Whilst his team-mate Tom Sykes will be present for all five days and was able to put in an impressive day of lap times around the 4.4km circuit on Monday. Hoping to iron out some issues already encountered with the ZX-10RR, Sykes has been working relentlessly – putting in 67 laps - with his team to build on the pace and understand the limits of his Ninja.
First out on track in Southern Spain, Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) has been using the track time available to himself and his Aprilia team to the full potential, putting in 74 laps. Struggling around Jerez when the championship visited the track in October, the Irish rider has been able to achieve some strong times as he begins to understand the development needed for 2018. He was able to end the day with a lap time of 1.41.183, putting him 1.5s behind Rea. On the other side of the garage, Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) ended the day in the top five, 1.7s off the top of the timing screens.
Making his return to the WorldSBK paddock, Loris Baz’s (Althea BMW Racing Team) fastest time of a 1.41.352 put him in the top four on his first day with the BMW team. Making big improvements in the afternoon, Baz was able to put in a strong amount of laps – 75 - as he starts to understand his S1000RR with one more day out on track tomorrow.
Struggling with levels of fitness following an operation last week, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) had a measured introduction to the Italian machine but the Spaniard highlighted the importance of building a relationship with his team. However, with the fitness levels deteriorating Italian Alex de Angelis was able to head out on the 1000 F4 to secure some data for the team.
Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), who missed the final round of the season at Qatar, came out on the ZX-10RR in the afternoon to evaluate his first impressions with the Orelac Racing VerdNatura Team. Putting in a strong stint under the sunny skies, his lap times began to improve as the day drew to a close. Yonny Hernandez (Pedercini Racing) is only present for the opening day of testing with Pedercini Racing, as the team begin to evaluate their options for next season. The Columbian rider spent the day getting to grips with a WorldSBK machine, as it was his first time on the ZX-10RR beast. Using the day to the full advantage, he was able to get an impressive amount of laps in and a strong afternoon.
Full Day One Official Times:
1. Jonathan Rea Laps: 42 1:39.650
2. Tom Sykes Laps: 67 1:40.005 +0.355
3. Eugene Laverty Laps: 74 1:41.183 +1.533
4. Loris Baz Laps: 75 1:41.352 +1.702
6. Lorenzo Savadori Laps: 75 1:41.374 +1.724
7. Jordi Torres Laps: 90 1:41.628 +1.978
8. Leandro Mercado Laps: 47 1:42.041 +2.391
9. Yonny Hernandez Laps: 62 1:42.476 +2.826