Ray after first 2023 appearance: "Happy with day one… didn’t feel a million miles away"
The reigning British champion got his first taste of WorldSBK-spec machinery following his first test with the Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Test
The two-day test at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship field was a milestone for one rider as he made his first appearance of 2023 ahead of his maiden full-time campaign in the Championship. Bradley Ray, who will race for the Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team in the European rounds this season, got his first chance to test the WorldSBK-spec Yamaha YZF R1 machine in Portugal on the first day of the test.
Ray, who comes into this season as the reigning British Superbike champion, completed 41 laps on his first day of testing as he worked on the small details, such as foot pegs and handlebars, of his bike to get comfortable with his position. His best lap time was a 142.400s, 2.7s down on pacesetter Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) at the end of the day; with Rinaldi lapping close to the Tissot Superpole lap record at Portimao.
In terms of other Yamaha rookies, Ray was around three tenths down on two-time WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), who is in his third test for the team, while Aegerter’s teammate, Remy Gardner, was inside the top ten. Ray was ahead of fellow rookie Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94 Yamaha) as the Italian rider and GMT94 adjust to WorldSBK ahead of both their rookie campaigns in WorldSBK.
Reflecting on his first test day with the team, Ray said: “It’s the first time I’ve been on the WorldSBK-spec R1 so, this morning, we went through a lot of things. Setting the foot pegs up, the handlebars, brake positions, things like that; all the little things that you do at the start of a test. We got through all that, but it took a bit of time. Short runs today to get myself comfortable on the bike with my position and today was basically all about learning the electronics, learning the chassis, the bike and obviously working together with the team. Been a busy day. Not as many laps as I probably need at the minute but the laps, we did were very valuable. I think we’ve got a lot of work to do tonight. It’s my first time back on a bike since Brands Hatch last year so it was an eye-opener coming back here, on a different spec bike, to Portimao. Happy with day one, we’re not too far away but a lot to work on.”
While competing in his native UK, Ray won the title in 2022 using a Yamaha R1 machine but with slightly different specifications to the WorldSBK-spec machine. After the opening day of testing concluded, Ray briefly discussed the differences between the two specifications as he looks to adjust quickly to WorldSBK. Ray does have experience of the Championship, having taken part in a wildcard at Donington Park previously, but this will be his first full campaign.
Discussing the differences between the two specifications, Ray said: “Most of it is very similar. It’s mainly the electronics package, that’s very different to what we run in the UK and you can do a lot more with traction control, engine braking. It’s a lot to learn for me. It’s all about just finding my feet a bit, understanding what I can do and moving forward with that. Just going to be a busy couple of days getting up to speed and learning the process. I felt comfortable straight away today, didn’t feel a million miles away.”
Follow Ray’s progress throughout his maiden WorldSBK campaign using the WorldSBK VideoPass!