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WORLD SUPERBIKES

Jonathan Rea opens 2018 on top at Jerez

Heading out on track at 12pm local time, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders began their 2018 season in style as they completed their first day of testing. Taking to the Circuito de Jerez once again 16 WorldSBK riders, five WorldSSP riders and three STK1000 riders put in six hours of on track activity to improve their feeling on their 2018 machines. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) ended the day on top, taking the lead in the early afternoon but faces some stiff competition. Working on the ZX-10RR with the new regulations for 2018, Kawasaki Racing Team have a solid testing structure in place which is clearly working well for reigning world champion Jonathan Rea, who set the fastest time of 1.39.862 putting him only 0.202 seconds ahead of his rivals. On the other side of the garage, Tom Sykes took a relaxed attitude to the opening day on track and wasn’t in a rush to pit out. However this didn’t hinder the Brit, as he finished in third, with a lap time of 1.40.178.

Aruba.it Racing – Ducati duo of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri have also been working to adapt their Panigale R’s to the updates to the rules this season. Adapting the electronics, chassis and engine to the regulations, Davies finished the day in the top five with a lap time of 1.40.704, whilst Melandri was fourth with a time of 1.40.238. Joining the team-mates was Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who is moving up into WorldSBK with the Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team, as they are set to take on all the European WorldSBK Rounds in 2018. The reigning STK1000 Champion is heading out on his second outing with the team, and is improving his pace with a best lap time of 1.41.202. Ducati are already preparing for 2019 as this is the second time they have brought out the new Panigale V4 to test, following the first one at Valencia last October. Lorenzo Zanetti has been the rider in charge of the testing the bike, with the goal of developing ready for the start of the 2019 season. Team manager Serafino Foti explained: “There is a lot of work to do but if by the middle of the season the bike is ready, then we can perhaps test with Chaz and Marco, although the goal is to have it ready by February 2019.”

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark came out fighting in Spain, as they were able to finish in the top six, putting up a strong fight throughout the day. Working on chassis parts and engine components on day one, it was important for the team to become re-established following the winter break. Lowes was able to put in a stunning opening day’s performance to finish in second position, 0.202 behind Rea.
Milwaukee Aprilia were present with both Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori, taking a top ten finish on Tuesday. Irish rider Laverty, who’s lap time of 1.40.775 put him in seventh has been working on engine braking and the swingarm positioning of his RSV4, which were problems he suffered with last season. Continuing to impress with his new team, Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) put in another strong day on the blue Fireblade, clocking over 50 laps and ending in the top eight, running at 1.40.888. It was a big day for Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), who participated in his first test with the Honda team despite competing with them for three rounds last season. Hoping to spend the day understanding the bike and testing it without feeling the pressure, Gagne finished with a lap time of 1.42.060 with a stunning number of laps - 83.

Loris Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) makes his return to the paddock this year, and has finished day one of the 2018 test in 11th, with a lap time of 1.41.129. Continuing to work on adapting to the bike and the team, he has mainly been focusing on the electronics with the German machine on day one.
Yonny Hernandez (Pedercini Racing) is undergoing his second test on board the Kawasaki ZX-10RR machine, and is continuing to work on his feeling with the Pirelli tyres as well as the new bike and team. Still riding the 2017 machine, he finished in the top 15, with a lap time of 1.42.035.

Another rider changing colours for 2018, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has spent the day using two bikes to check electronics on one, and new engine parts and longevity on the other. With over 60 laps logged, his time of 1.41.314, put him 1.4s behind the front man Rea. Alongside Torres, new WorldSSP riders Raffaele de Rosa and Ayrton Badovini have been testing around Circuito de Jerez, and the De Rosa finished in the top SSP position overall ahead of Kenan Sofuolgu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in second. Okubo, Badovini and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) ended in fourth.

Making the move over to Orelac Racing VerdNatura for 2018, Leandro Mercado spent the first day at Jerez working with different materials; his brakes, showa suspension, electronics and the revs according to the new rules. Working on his relationship with the team to ensure a strong relationship is built, the Argentinean rider finished day one with a lap time of 1.42.143. Guandalini Racing had a tough start to their 2018 season, and were unable to head out on track for day one of the test. Spending today building the Yamaha machine ready to take on the Jerez Circuit, they were able to take to the track in the final hour, working hard to make up for lost time.

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