Several riders use break between Assen and Imola to improve setups and optimise performance
With two weeks still to go for Round Five of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, many teams have decided to use the time to their advantage with a two-day test at Brno, the same circuit that will host the seventh Round of the championship from June 08-10, in little over a month’s time.
After their one-two at Assen, both Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) were at Brno, building on the positive feedback the bike gave them in the Netherlands. Rea used the test to warm up to a track that hasn’t featured on the WorldSBK calendar since 2012. “The weather has been quite different on both days so it was good to understand how the bike behaves in both hot and cool conditions”, says Rea. “Without the pressure of the race weekend we were able to work calmly each day and explore some different setup and chassis balance ideas”.
Sykes, meanwhile, used the Czech circuit to try out setup options: “With it being a proper test we had some key things to try and never got down to the nitty-gritty of finding pure set-up for this racetrack. It was more about fine tuning the bike’s characteristics”.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team also tested their bikes extensively on the Czech track, with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) amd Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) running 171 and 175 laps, respectively, across both days. For van der Mark, who hasn’t raced at Brno in WorldSBK or WorldSSP, it was a positive test: “We had a chance to get used to the track and find a good base setup with my Yamaha R1, including the gearing for the bike, so I was quite happy with day one. Day two was a lot colder and it was good to get to test in those conditions as when the track was cooler we had a lot more grip”.
Lowes, after an unfortunate weekend, was looking to bounce back and solve the issues that hurt him at Assen, particularly his Yamaha’s grip: “The second day was really good, we made some steps with the bike, especially with the front forks. It gave me a lot more confidence when trail braking into a corner”.
For the Ducati riders, Brno was a chance to try some upgrades and find out why they struggled at Assen, compared to the previous three Rounds. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) found some progress throughout Wednesday and Thursday. “"It's been a steady test, we leave Brno with some room for improvement but, then again, racing is always a different game compared to testing”, he explains. “We worked hard for two days, gathering solid answers even though we still need to clear a few question marks. Now it's time to recharge ahead of Imola”.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has been haunted by stability issues since his double at Philip Island. Did his team find the key at Brno? “We took a decisive turn and the situation has improved significantly. We ran several back-to-back checks to better understand the nature of the problem, and I think we achieved our goal. Perhaps not 100 percent, but we took a big step forward”.
For junior rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team), this is his first stop at Brno: “In terms of performance, I've been quite close to the factory riders and we found a good base both in terms of pure speed and consistency. The track is fascinating and not too demanding physically. It's really fun to ride it with a Superbike”.
The riders now get some rest after two grueling rounds of racing, and will be recharged and ready to go at Imola in two weeks’ time. In the meantime, relive the Aragon and Assen races, and gear up for the Italian Round, thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.