WSBK – World Superbike: first tests 2014, first surprise! –

World Superbike: first tests 2014, first surprise !

WSBK - World Superbike: first tests 2014, first surprise! -

The first 2014 World Superbike tests took place on the circuits of Almeria (Spain) and Portimao (Portugal). Apart from Sylvain Guintoli, the main headliners were there … but the rookie Alex Lowes finally gave them the brakes !

The hatchet is once again unearthed in World Superbike! After a winter break of a month and a half, the pilots of the are back on their two-wheeled missiles, sharpened in January by their respective teams in the workshops – and factories for some…

Thursday morning in Almeria, the four members of the Kawasaki and Suzuki Voltcom teams opened hostilities. Unsurprisingly, the sign the best time of the two days of driving, completing the Spanish circuit in 1’34 all round on racing tires. And again, the English pilot was "dragging himself" a nasty cold…

Sykes made only 33 laps on the first day but 83 on the second. And despite his small form, the new "number one" of the discipline still managed to complete his test program and once again hold his rank (read).

"We evaluated everything and everything was positive", summed up" Major Tom "on Friday evening, convinced that he had made a – new! – step forward."We understand things a little better and are now looking forward to the next test in Jerez"February 5 and 6.

His teammate Loris Baz does not have to be ashamed of his performance on these "first" first tests of the year: the second Green Black Ninja (!) Has gained three seconds per lap compared to his lap times of one year ago. year: 1’34.5 on race tires and 1’34.0 with a qualifying tire (rear).

The "Lieutenant Bazooka" therefore hoists himself up to only half a second from his teammate. Admittedly, this represents a gap of about 10 seconds on the finish line at the end of the race, but it is a reminder of Tom "the world champion" Sykes !

The Ninjas are ahead in Almeria

In addition, our national Loris does not particularly appreciate the Andalusian circuit, too narrow for his taste. But the young driver – he will blow out his 21 candles on February 1 – must recognize that coming to train on this slow track was good…

"The good setup we found on our last test outing in Jerez also worked for us on this different styled Almeria track.", very professionally analyzes n ° 76 in the Kawasaki report.

The style is more unbridled on the official Loris Baz Facebook page: "very happy with this second day! "", posted the Savoyard Cheetah, barely getting off his motorcycle."Even better times and an excellent feeling! I didn’t think this first test would go so well! Can’t wait for the next test and especially the first race !"

Alongside the official ZX-10R rapids rolled the – usually slower – GSX-R1000 of the British team Suzuki Voltcom. Only time to be mentioned by Mister Denning himself: "a best time of 1’34.7 on hard tires, more than two seconds faster than at the start of 2013", calculates the team manager.

But this respectable time is the work of rookie Alex Lowes, and not of "reigning" vice-world champion Eugene Laverty! "Alex continues to impress on all levels", emphasized his boss on Friday:"constant speed, very few errors and clear technical feedback".

"He has the will to adapt and does not wait for the perfect bike", continues Paul Denning:"he goes fast whatever his mount"… and whatever the circuit, since n ° 22 will dominate all of his comrades a few days later in Portimao !

At the end of the two days spent in Almeria alongside the Kawasaki Racing Team, the Suzuki Voltcom team went to the far south of Portugal, to the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, where Aprilia, Honda and MV Agusta.

Lowes confirms and dominates in Portimao

There, the 2013 British Superbike champion – he is new to WSBK, but far from a beginner in SBK! – was further illustrated, his name appearing at the top of the timesheets – unofficial – Monday evening, last day of this first salute of 2014 tests.

"The test went really well, I’m still learning a lot about the bike"said Alex Lowes."It was good to have the opportunity to learn the track (new for Sam’s twin, Editor’s note) and still be fast !"

Perhaps not yet aware of his feat – best time – the new Suzuki rider was happy to have been able to do a long series of laps: "times were good, but the most important thing is that it gave me a lot of confidence".

A happy Laverty

Fastest man on Sunday – a good omen? -, Eugene Laverty follows his teammate to a small tenth (see the list of unofficial times below). In Almeria, "his pace was slightly slower than Alex’s, but it’s clear he’s working methodically to find the right feeling before looking for limits", warns Denning.

The all new electronic programming of the GSX-R powered by Yoshimura has visibly progressed by leaps and bounds during the tests: by the team manager’s own admission, "Youdjine" was "much happier"Friday than Thursday !

Monday evening in Portimao, Laverty declared: "I think the fact that Alex and I are there (at the head, Editor’s note) must have surprised a few people, but it is also good to reward the team as they have worked so hard the last two months, especially since Jerez". Fairplay, the Irishman !

"I feel good on the GSX-R", assures the former Aprilia rider, co-author (or almost, read) of the Portuguese Superpole last year,"and can’t wait to go to phillip island"… to aim for victory or a new cup ?

The harvest has already started for Eugene as his compatriots have just awarded him the "Joey Dunlop Trophy" for the best Irish motorcycle rider of the year (2013), ahead of the phenomenal Michael Dunlop, winner of the previous Tourist Trophy !

Credited with the third best time in Portimao, Jonathan Rea had a lot of fun … and angle, if we are to believe some pictures posted on Twitter! JR would also have "made a lot of progress"on his inseparable CBR1000RR.

"Now off to Jerez before it all really kicks off at Phillip Island", twittered the n ° 65 on Monday, four tenths faster than his teammate Leon Haslam … but no faster than Davide Giugliano on the sulphurous 1199 Panigale !

Also timed in 1’43.9 on the Portuguese route, the fiery Italian – pleonasm ?! – regretted the intervention of the red flags Monday at the end of the afternoon following the fall of Alex Lowes, fortunately without consequence for this last.

Ducati bites quadruple

"This prevented us from making a last outing on new tires, which would have allowed us to finish the test in an even more positive way and to better understand the potential of the bike.", regrets the rookie of the official Ducati team.

On a war footing from Friday and for four days, the Bologna team unfortunately had to "wipe" two and a half days of rain. "It was still useful to gain confidence in the wet on the handlebars of the 1199.", put n ° 34 in perspective.

On the other side of the box, the new n ° 7 (Davies and not more, and let us note on occasion that Laverty could also steal "his" n ° 50 in Guintoli!) Affirms that in "despite a difficult start, we were able to do a lot of work".

Like most of the field, Chaz and Davies took advantage of these first 2014 tests to discover and adjust the new Ohlins 2014 suspensions: "the RSP25 fork and the RSP40 shock absorber", specifies Ducati.

"It was important to test the different parts in development and understand how they worked, rather than trying to find an overall tuning and sign fast times.", insists Chaz Davies, a little less swift than his new partner.

Ranked between the two official Panigales, Marco Melandri achieves a relatively disappointing performance given his "international class" and his new steed: the RSV4, three times world champion in the discipline in the last four years. !

Melandri without Guintoli

"The first two days were a bit spoiled by the difficult weather conditions", regrets the famous n ° 33. The third and last day, however, would have allowed him to make a lot of progress on the electronics of his factory bike..

Rarely fully satisfied, "El Macio" complained Monday evening to have endured some problems at the level of its cycle part: "the condition of the track improved little by little and the settings struggled to keep up". Like Giugliano, Melandri would have liked to enjoy the track, which was closed the last half hour…

"At the end of the session, we started to find the direction to follow regarding my riding style.", indicated Marco. But the oil spilled by the GSX-R n ° 22 came to stop the progress of the Hedgehog of Ravenna, accompanied during these tests by Alex Hoffman..

The German test pilot replaced Sylvain Guintoli, 100% focused on the recovery of his operated shoulder on November 4. The day before the tests (Thursday for Aprilia), the Frenchie posted on Twitter: "given the weather forecast for Portimao, I regret even less not to go".

According to Aprilia officials, "the return of the French pilot, who is undergoing physiotherapy sessions, is scheduled for the first race at Phillip Island". So more than a month before Guinters fans find their darling !

The French clan was however well represented in Portimao: in addition to Loris Baz, Sylvain Barrier, Jeremy Guarnoni and Fabien Foret all rode their Superbike machines adapted to the new "Evo" regulations (to simplify: Superstock engine and Superbike cycle part ).

Timed in 1’44.0 on the handlebars of his BMW S1000RR, Sylvain Barrier climbed 1.5 seconds behind the leader. Our two-time Superstock 1000 champion is thus ahead of Claudio Corti and his official F1000RR by half a second: mamma mia !

Site readers – who, as everyone knows, are a little more fortunate than the others – can note on a corner of their touch pad that Syl’20 (or Sylv’1!) Will be wearing n ° 52 this season: the one of his mentor James Toseland, double world champion in the discipline, just that !

The little French of the Evo class

A little slower on his Kawasaki, Jeremy Guarnoni left satisfied with his tests, the first among the very big ones: "two days of testing completed, rather happy with the progress made especially on the chassis part", despite the "lack of laps due to bad weather and a technical problem".

But these complications did not dampen the enthusiasm of "Jey": "I had the chance today to ride on the wheel of a motorcycle racing legend, Marco Melandri. It was really a special feeling, I still remember watching him become 250cc world champion when I was just starting to compete !"

Finally, Jules Cluzel was also out in Portimao (best lap in 1’47.0) in order to continue the discovery of his new mount: the F3 officially entered by MV Agusta and the team – champion last year with Sam Lowes and Yamaha – !

Back in the Supersport category this year, the "Coq Supersportif" is counting on the beautiful Italian to win a title he had narrowly missed in, his first – and only to date – season in the World Supersport…

"I didn’t do a lot of laps and I couldn’t attack as hard as I would have liked because first of all we have to adjust a lot of the electronics parameters", declared the n ° 16 from Montluçon,"but I was able to realize again that the potential of the F3 is very high". All that remains is to exploit it !

Chronos of the WSBK tests in Almeria

  1. Tom Sykes – Kawasaki: 1’34.0

  2. Loris Baz – Kawasaki: 1’34.5

  3. Alex Lowes – Suzuki: 1’34.7

  4. Eugene Laverty – Suzuki: NC, but slower !

Chronos of the WSBK tests in Portimao

  1. Alex Lowes – Suzuki: 1’42.5

  2. Eugene Laverty – Suzuki: 1’42.6

  3. Jonathan Rea – Honda: 1’42.9

  4. Davide Giugliano – Ducati: 1’42.9

  5. Marco Melandri – Aprilia: 1’43.1

  6. Chaz Davies – Ducati: 1’43.2

  7. Leon Haslam – Honda: 1’43.3

  8. Sylvain Barrier -BMW Evo: 1’44.0

  9. Claudio Corti – MV Agusta: 1’44.5

  10. Alex Hofmann – Aprilia: 1’45.0

  11. Jeremy Guarnoni – Kawasaki Evo: 1’45.3

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