Rea remains ahead as Aragon test concludes, Vierge close behind
With four riders covered by just 0.103s on the final day, Kawasaki and Honda were right together at the top
The MotorLand Aragon test is all done and dusted for some of the riders of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, with five on track across the course of the two days. In what was a warmer second morning but a cooler second afternoon, the times were fast once again as new items, strategies and settings were tried up and down pitlane.
REAmaining on top: Rea leads Lowes but still work to do
After topping day one, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) continued to work on front tyre feeling and after changes made on Wednesday led them to positivity, it was outside of the ballpark and the continued with their geometry direction in this line on day two. From trying older items with the new setup, such as rear shocks and a swingarm, Rea hit the top spot in the afternoon with a 1’49.482, the fastest lap of the test. Spending plenty of time on top, teammate Alex Lowes was the rider to beat in the first part of the day as he got down to business from the start. A first flying lap of a 1’49.8 saw him better it later on, with a 1’49.585s eventually placing him fourth, a thousandth from the top three. Working on geometry settings on the front of the bike, Lowes continued to trial new ideas and test the parameters of the bike, building his understanding but not able to get the expected results There are different ideas within the garage across both sides but with Kawasaki topping both days, it’s been a relatively strong start after a lull at the start of 2023.
If you blink, you’ll miss it #WorldSBK pic.twitter.com/n3o6osYZTm— WorldSBK (@WorldSBK) March 23, 2023
SMILES ALL ROUND: have Honda found another step?
At Honda, there was more reason to be happy as the manufacturer’s lap time improved on the first day straight away, courtesy of Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) in the morning session on day two. The Spaniard eventually went almost eighth tenths of a second quicker than his first day time and hailed the updated chassis bracing and new exhaust. He also did time attacks on the second afternoon, trying to improve on the weak area that has been one-lap pace. It was confirmed as a success, and the top Honda in the Championship was all smiles after day two. On the other side of the garage, Iker Lecuona was the first rider in the afternoon session to go into the 1’49s, with a 1’49.821. The Valencian was nearly three tenths quicker than his morning time, and also sub-1’50 for the first time during the test. Continuing to test the various upgrades, Lecuona finished in third, just over a tenth from Rea’s top time. Lecuona also focused a lot of the day with new electronics, resulting in him being “quite happy” with the overall two days.
RAY FINALLY ON TRACK: 43 laps in half a day
Elsewhere and after one and a half days out of action due to a mechanical problem, Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was finally out on circuit on the second afternoon. The 25-year-old British rookie was in the 1’54s after his first couple of runs, soon getting down to a 1’53. Missing one and a half days means Ray missed out on vital and much-needed track time, but the Barcelona test next week will be his next opportunity to get on track and against a full grid of riders.
There was more to keep an eye on in World Supersport, as Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo Racing by Puccetti) and teammate Luke Power were on track. Booth-Amos had the better day out of the two, improving his best time to a 1’55.869, whilst Power had problems with the new fly-by-wire. He improved his time though to a 1’57.050, cementing a second solid test with the team.
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’49.482
2. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) 1’49.565
3. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) 1’49.584s
4. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’49.585s
5. Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) 1’51.716s
REFERENCES: lap records and top speed at Aragon
WorldSBK outright Aragon lap record: 1’48.267 – Toprak Razgatlioglu, Yamaha, Superpole, 2022
WorldSBK fastest Aragon race lap: 1’49.375 – Toprak Razgatlioglu, Yamaha, Superpole Race, 2022
WorldSBK Aragon Top Speed record: 333.9km/h – Chaz Davies, Aprilia, 2012
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