The British rider was back on track as he prepares for his first race of the season at the Dutch Round
The vast majority of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field headed to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last week for two crucial days of in-season testing ahead of the European rounds starting later this month. One of the riders on track was Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) as he prepares for his first WorldSBK campaign, where he will compete in the European round in 2023.
Ray’s testing programme got underway in January but he did not take to the track in Australia or Indonesia, with this Yamaha Motoxracing team competing in the European rounds in 2023 as they did in 2022. He completed a two-day test at MotorLand Aragon, where he had a technical issue which limited his running on Day 1, before completing lots of laps on Day 2. From there, he headed to Barcelona for two more days of testing.
In Barcelona, on the first day, Ray completed 69 laps and posted a best time of 1’43.006s, around 2.5s slower than pacesetter Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) with the reigning Champion lapping close to the all-time lap record. His day was disrupted on Day 2 after he had a crash on his second lap in the morning, but he was able to complete 30 laps when he returned to the track with a best time of 1’43.320s.
Reviewing his Barcelona test, Ray said: “It’s nice to get the two days testing done. Obviously, Aragon didn’t go to plan. It was very positive here. We had a full day on Day 1, I think we did 70 laps, so it was nice to finally find my feet and work in a direction we needed to. Unfortunately, I had a little bit of a crash on Day 2 in the morning on the second lap. I back shifted but the bike didn’t backshift when I needed it to and just ran into the gravel and crashed. I was back out in the afternoon and we were just working through what we needed to. It would’ve been nice to maybe improve on the lap time. I think a lot of the times were done in the morning and I saw a few people put Superpole laps in. I’m not stressed about the overall lap time, I’m confident with the actual race pace and the pace we’ve got on used tyres.”
Ray has raced in WorldSBK before when he made a one-off appearance in 2018 but 2023 will mark his first campaign in the Championship. He heads into it on the back of winning the British Superbike title in 2022 on the Yamaha YZF R1 machine, the same as he’ll use in WorldSBK, although there are different rulesets. After the WorldSBK test, Ray explained how he is adapting to WorldSBK machinery with these differences.
He said: “We’re slowly making progress now. It’s funny because they’re both R1s but this is completely different from what I had in BSB. On the electronics side, I can definitely do with more laps and to learn a lot more on that. The chassis is now starting to become more comfortable. It’s just going to take time. We’ve not had many days testing, the other teams have been testing and two rounds under their belt. I don’t think we’re far away and we’re working in the right direction and I’m looking forward to starting at Assen.”
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