Nicky Hayden makes WorldSBK testing debut in Spain.
Thick fog combined with a cold morning discouraged numerous FIM Superbike World Championship riders from leaving the pit lane as a two-day private test kicked off on Monday morning. The venue was MotorLand Aragon in north-eastern Spain.
Until the sunshine finally broke through the cloud at around 4:30pm – only half an hour before the day of testing came to an end – ambient temperatures struggled to rise above seven degrees Celsius, making for a distinctly chilly working day.
Some were carrying on from where they left off at the Jerez test, but all of the attention was on Nicky Hayden. Following 13 seasons in MotoGP where he won the world title in 2006, the American returned to his roots on Monday; prior to his Grand Prix racing days he had clinched the AMA Superbike title in 2002.
After a photo shoot with new team-mate Michael van der Mark, Hayden tried out the Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR SP for size, continuing to look into seating and foot positioning following a visit to the Ten Kate team factory in The Netherlands earlier this month. Van der Mark ventured onto the track at 11:30am for just a single lap, in order to check components.
There was barely any action in the morning due to the low temperatures and lack of visibility. However, by 2pm, a previously wet surface was now dry which encouraged some riders to leave pit lane. At the Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team, Chaz Davies has a to-do list encompassing engine and chassis assessment with the Panigale R, but was left frustrated due to the poor conditions. The recovering Davide Giugliano remains out of action, but could be present for next week’s gathering at Jerez.
Yamaha Motor Europe intended to continue its 2016 pre-season programme with Alex Lowes and 2014 WorldSBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli, reporting no new parts on the YZR-R1 but simply a continuation of where it left off in Jerez.
Kawasaki Racing Team was not amongst several others who sampled the track at 2pm, although World Champion Jonathan Rea did ride when the sun began to shine in the final 30 minutes. The Northern Irishman intended to try a different seating position on the new Ninja ZX-10R, plus chassis and engine changes. He posted 14 laps, notably riding with Nissin brake calipers as opposed to his usual Brembo.
2013 World Champion Tom Sykes did not ride on Monday, remaining in the garage and hoping for better conditions on Tuesday.
Also in Aragon were representatives of the FIM Supersport World Championship. 2015 runner-up PJ Jacobsen was present with his CORE’’ Motorsport Thailand outfit while the DS Junior Team, owned by World Superbike rider David Salom, was in attendance with rider Ilya Mikhalchik who raced in the Superstock 600 class this year.
Testing will continue at MotorLand Aragon on Tuesday.