Are the tides turning? Rain couldn’t put out Jonathan Rea’s fire at Misano, whilst Alvaro Bautista suffered a heavy crash!
Approaching one of the most decisive stages of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, with four rounds inside six weeks, several teams have taken the opportunity to stretch their legs and scrape off some of the rust at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli this Wednesday and Thursday, with the Acerbis Spanish Round set for June 7th-9th. As gaps between teams decrease and with so many points on the table, this was an opportunity to make what could perhaps be that one vital step forwards.
Sadly, track action on Wednesday and Thursday was hampered by intermittent showers that left the tarmac too damp for much progress to be made, although conditions did improve in the later hours of both days, particularly on Thursday. However, there were plenty of headlining incidents throughout the two days, most notably with Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) crashing heavily at Turn 13. Whilst Bautista looked to get away unscathed, his Ducati Panigale V4 R did not. He will hope that this is not what will occur at Jerez.
The test was thus perhaps best served for the one team in need of a shakedown whatever the weather. Ten Kate Racing’s return was announced the week of the Aragon Round, but it was not until Wednesday at Misano that we finally got the opportunity to see Loris Baz in action on the YZF-R1. Rain has never been an issue for the Frenchman (quite the contrary: he took his first WorldSBK victory and best MotoGP™ results on a wet track), so he took the opportunity to try out his new machine with glee. Despite two falls, he looked to be on the pace and now has a good base setting to work from.
Speaking after his first day on track, Baz lamented the lack of on-track action but, overall, did not seem too displeased: “It was not too bad, starting with these conditions, because we have so many things to do on the bike: choosing the foot rest, the good fairing, all the small details. The team also had to learn the systems on the computer. I took it really easily at the beginning, just trying to find a good feeling with the bike”.
A couple more newcomers, old faces, and ‘non-regulars’ were also present at Misano, including Xavi Fores and Yuki Takahashi with Moriwaki Althea Honda Racing, Niccolo Canepà (the first rider out at Misano) testing alongside Pata Yamaha, and ex-STK1000 wildcard Samuele Cavalieri (MOTOCORSA Racing). Yuki Takahashi will also replace Leon Camier at Jerez, as the British rider continues to recover from his Imola crash.
Another rider to speak out after day one was Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who will be looking next week for a first visit to the podium since Phillip Island. Haslam crashed during day two but was unharmed. After day two, he stated: “We made a bit of a change just before the end today then went out and crashed straight away. At one point I did a 14-lap run but was still only 1-2 tenths of a second off compared to the on best laps.”
Even with the rain, most riders did get some track action across both days, with lap times on Wednesday estimated to be around three seconds slower than the average race pace. Exact timings were kept at each team’s discretion, no one ready to reveal any secrets to their rivals with just eight days to go for the Acerbis Spanish Round.
1.) Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’34.9
2.) Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’35.1
3.) Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’35.2
4.) Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) 1’35.5
5.) Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) 1’35.5
6.) Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) 1’35.5
7.) Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’35.7
8.) Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’35.9
9.) Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) 1’35.9
10.) Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing - Yamaha) 1’36.5
11.) Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’35.6