Michael Ruben Rinaldi was the fastest rider at Aragon as he pipped Xavi Vierge to top spot, but it was Adrian Huertas who stole the headlines on Tuesday…
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) concluded day one of the MotorLand Aragon test on top by just over two tenths ahead of Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) as the first day of action came to an end. A little over three tenths separated the top three on a closely-packed day but all eyes were on Adrian Huertas, riding with the Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK, as the WorldSBK debutant stunned the field in the afternoon to briefly appear in the top three.
ELECTRONIC TESTING AT DUCATI: working with new rev limits…
Ducati ended day one on top with Rinaldi securing first place as the #21 looked to work on the setup of the Panigale V4 R for the upcoming Aragon Round, while also testing some updates to the electronics. His best time was a 1’50.388s, set in the afternoon, while he also racked up 68 laps. Teammate Alvaro Bautista was seventh as he, like Rinaldi, focused on preparing for the round while testing some parts that could be used during the final four rounds of 2023. The reigning Champion set a best lap of 1’51.105s, improving his time slightly in the afternoon, as he completed 90 laps; the most of anyone.
Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) was the sole Independent Ducati rider out on track today, and he secured himself a top-three finish. Completing 51 laps and setting a best time of 1’50.619s, the #9 was one of only four riders to lap in the 1’50s bracket on day one. He had hoped to continue trying a new lower seat on his bike, while he had also been asked to try some new engine brake settings on Ducati’s electronics.
HONDA SHOW STRONG PACE: Lecuona, Vierge impress; Nagashima testing with the factory team
Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) was the lead Honda rider on the opening day of action as he took second in the combined classification. His best time was set in the afternoon and was a 1’50.619s while the #97 also completed 74 laps. He was two places and around three tenths faster than teammate Iker Lecuona, with the #7 fast throughout the day. Until the closing stages of the afternoon session, the Spaniard had been on top before being overhauled by Rinaldi, Vierge and Petrucci. Meanwhile, Team HRC also had Tetsuta Nagashima on track with the Japanese rider finishing 12th in the classification after setting a 1’51.988s. He did, however, complete 85 laps; the second-highest number.
A LONG LIST OF ITEMS FOR KAWASAKI: Huertas shows his potential at Aragon
Debutant Huertas shone under the Spanish sun on Tuesday as he secured fifth in the afternoon, and sixth overall. On lap 28 of 29 in the second session, the WorldSSP racer posted a 1’51.044s to go second before other riders overhauled him. It was a strong debut for the 2021 WorldSSP300 Champion as he recorded 79 laps and finished almost over half-a-second clear of development rider Florian Marino. Kawasaki opted to save race riders Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea’s final allocated day of testing until Wednesday, with KRT having a list of 20 items to test; some for 2023 and some for next year. KRT will evaluate with Marino which items are for the present and which are for the future.
GERLOFF ON TOP AT BMW: all four riders closely matched
German manufacturer BMW had four riders at Aragon with Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) the fastest, in fifth, despite it being his first time at the circuit on the M1000RR machine. The American completed 80 laps and set a best time of 1’51.031s. Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was the fastest factory BMW rider as he took eighth. He completed 58 laps, the fewest of all BMW riders, but was able to finish around a tenth clear of teammate Michael van der Mark in tenth place. Loris Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) was 11th overall with a 1’51.980s; the #76 completed 76 laps on day one.
BULEGA LEADS MACKENZIE: the #11 on top on day one
In WorldSSP, Championship leader Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) led the way ahead of Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team). Bulega completed 56 laps with a best time of 1’55.369s while the most recent race winner in the Championship was around two seconds slower. Mackenzie did 53 laps on his Honda machine.
The top six from day one at Aragon:
1. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’50.388s, 68 laps
2. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) 1’50.619s, 74 laps
3. Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) 1’50.700s, 51 laps
4. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) 1’50.950s, 48 laps
5. Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) 1’51.031s, 80 laps
6. Adrian Huertas (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’51.044s, 79 laps
Follow all the action from WorldSBK in 2023 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!
Photo credits: LZ Photos Media & HRC