What to expect in the first pre-season test this week
Thoughts are now turning to 2018 in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and teams are heading to Circuito de Jerez this week for the first pre-season test. With the new regulations coming into place for next season, teams will be working hard to prepare for the changes. 2017 champions Kawasaki Racing Team, Aruba.it Racing – Ducati, Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team, MV Agusta Reparto Corse and Althea BMW Racing Team will all be testing over the week, working on their 2018 pace.
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing will not be present at the Circuto de Jerez test this week following the tragic loss of WorldSBK rider Toprak Razgatlioglu’s father last week. Initially intending on attending for the majority of the week, they have postponed the test to a later date.
Present around the 4.4km circuit from Monday to Friday, Kawasaki Racing Team are putting in a strong stint, with champion Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes on track from the 20th. Working on the new parts, their overall pace and how to modify their ZX-10RR with the new regulations, the Barcelona-based team will have a busy week. However with the sheer talent on top of the strong work ethic of Sykes and Rea, it won’t be a hard task to get 2018 underway on the right foot. Following a stunning season in 2017, the work never stops for Sykes and Rea and it will be interesting to follow their pace.
Making his debut with Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team, Leon Camier heads to Jerez for three days this week as he begins to understand the Fireblade CBR1000RR SP2. Making the switch from Italian manufacturer MV Agusta, Camier will be working hard on his initial feeling with the Fireblade as it’s in its second year of racing action. After the stunning performance we have seen from the British rider over the past season, there will no doubt be some early progress made with the Red Bull machine.
Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark will take on the YZF-R1’s around the Southern Spanish circuit this week, present on Thursday and Friday with the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. After a tough weekend in the Pirelli Spanish Round this season, the duo will be hoping to improve their pace around the circuit and build on the podium finishes they were able to secure this season. Only the third manufacturer to secure a podium in 2017, Yamaha are making some strong steps and with a two years under their belts since their return, they will be no doubt continue to improve and make some strong steps.
Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team-mates Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri will be another team to begin to modify their Paniagle R’s around the 2018 regulations, as only the second team to have won a race this season. Both riders were able to secure podium finishes around the Circuit in 2017, and with some big team changes in the place of Ernesto Marinelli leaving, there will be plenty to work on in the Ducati Corse garages this week.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse are another team to welcome their new rider this week, with Jordi Torres taking on the 1000 F4 despite sustaining an injury in Qatar. Not putting too much pressure on himself, the Spaniard is looking forward to meeting the team and beginning to understand the bike.
Loris Baz will make his much anticipated WorldSBK return this week with the Althea BMW Racing Team, present on both Monday and Tuesday. The Frenchman is keen to understand not only the potential of his new bike but also his pace compared to his rivals. Baz will be one to watch around the 4.4km circuit.
Hoping to make some welcomed updates to their Aprilia machines, Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori will be flying the flag for Milwaukee Aprilia around Jerez this week. The duo had a strong year but will be aiming to break into podium pace for 2018, and it will be interesting to see how the new regulations will alter the teams pace. Whilst Leandro Mercado will be trying out the Kawasaki ZX-10RR for the first time, as he will be present with new WorldSBK team Orelac Racing VerdNatura. Meanwhile, Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) returns on his Panigale to continue to build on the strong pace himself and his team had begun to build throughout 2017, and another team who could benefit from the new regulations, it will be interesting to watch them develop.
Follow all the Jerez testing action over the coming week on WorldSBK’s social media channels, WorldSBK.com and the all important WorldSBK VideoPass which will provide exclusive off-season footage.