"I was smiling all the way round!" – geometry change bring breakthrough for Ray

Friday, 24 March 2023 08:23 GMT

Despite a technical issue leaving Bradley Ray out of action for a day and a half, 43 laps in a final half a day gave him plenty of reason to be happy at the chequered flag of Aragon testing

Whilst the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is already two rounds in, Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) awaits his full-time debut, coming at Assen for round three, as he’ll compete in just the European part of the season. He was present at the Aragon test and although a costly problem left him out of action for the first day and a half, he still managed 43 laps in the final four hours as he got the bike to his liking and in the end, finished just over two seconds away from Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) top time.

Explaining the problem and the setbacks, Ray elaborated: “We had a bit of an issue on day one and had to make do with what we had to correct that for day two, and then at the start of day two, there was an electronics gremlin that halted me going out in the morning. However, despite the tough start, I’m feeling really happy after this afternoon’s session; it was nice to get out and after struggling a little bit at the start, we made a big step with the bike, a big change, and I felt a lot more comfortable straight away and I’m happy that we’re heading in that direction. It’d have been nice to get the two days to understand all the electronics like traction control, engine braking and anti-wheelie, I just need more time to understand how it all works and the fine things you can do with it. It’s mental compared to BSB! The chassis is getting there now so I think I can focus more on the electronics.

“The big change was just the actual geometry of the bike; I felt like I was missing something at the front. The way I ride and the way the Yamaha is, it wasn’t given me that feeling or feedback so we made a big change to know what direction to go. The change was the direction that I needed and I felt good straight away and was smiling all the way round after we made that change so I’m feeling positive. It’s a shame about the first day and a half but I can’t fault the team; they were working all night to get everything ready for today, so hopefully we’ll have some different things for the Barcelona test.”

Ray was the only Yamaha in attendance at MotorLand Aragon with the Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK outfit and the GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team back in action at the Barcelona test. With the limited track time, Ray was able to set a 1’51.716, just 2.304s away from Rea at the top and a 2.203s from Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in P4, all of which set over 100 laps throughout the course of the two days.

Continuing to explain the strategy in the afternoon, Ray said that it was about refining the setup to his liking rather than a long run with a bike that is yet to be absolutely his: “We were just doing small five or six lap runs really, coming in, making changes, going back out, understanding the change. For me at the moment, I don’t need to be doing long race runs because I haven’t got a bike that I’ve got the feedback from. I need to get the bike, the electronics and everything else in the window, so that when I feel comfortable, that’s when I can start working on longer runs. We’re just chipping away at the moment. The team is trying to understand me as a rider and what I need from the electronics and the bike, so it’s a lot to do in basically two days at Portimao and half a day at Aragon. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Speaking about the difference in electronics, the 25-year-old from Kent, England, said he needs to work on the confidence he can have in them and what exactly he can do with them: “From the electronics, I just need to a bit of confidence and understanding it. In BSB, you can change a few things regarding engine braking and throttle maps but you’ve got a couple of maps and that’s it. Here, it’s so much more advanced to what I’m used to and it’s about understanding that if I have a small problem, I can probably fix it with the engine braking. I’m looking forward to Barcelona now as that will be vital for me to get two days there and some good data. Then, we move from there to Assen.”

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