Several WorldSBK big hitters took to the track for a two-day test at Misano between June 24-25, as they embarked on what could have been considered their first tentative steps toward getting the season restarted for real in late July.
The pace of some of the top riders was far from inhibited, even with several restrictions and unusual steps in place to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 inside the paddock.
Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing Ducati), a triple podium finisher in his three WorldSBK races so far, was fastest of all. His 1:33.067 was well under the track best, while Jonathan Rea (KRT) was claimed to be the fastest rider on race tires, before going second quickest overall on qualifiers with a 1:33.206.
Rea had survived a very fast fall at the Curvone (Turn 11) on day one, to finally get comfortable on day two and almost keep pace with the impressive and focused Redding.
For his own part, Redding had used a successful weight loss program in the lockdown to both give himself a point of positive focus and to make sure he arrived at this test in the best shape possible.
An all-new track surface around Misano, and consistently hot track conditions, often helped and occasionally hindered the riders’ chase for an absolute fastest lap.
Of much more value to all was that with the bulk of the proposed new season taking place across four circuits in Iberia during August and September, hot track temperatures are expected to become another kind of ‘new normal.’
The test also included several MotoGP machines. The bulk of the WorldSBK attendees were on official and privateer V4 R Panigale Ducatis. There were also some notable WorldSBK absences from the likes of Pata Yamaha, HRC Honda and BMW Motorrad.
Lap timing transponders were fitted although this was an unofficial test, which meant that the third place on the final day rankings for the GoEleven Ducati of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (due to his 1:33.560) was for real, and a confidence-inspiring boost for the small Italian team.
Alex Lowes, despite spending the bulk of his time working on learning another new circuit for him on his 2020 KRT Kawasaki, was fourth fastest, with a 1:33.694 best.
Chaz Davies, the other Aruba.it Racing Ducati official rider, was fifth quickest, setting a 1:33.854.
Leandro Mercado, the lone rider for the Motocorsa Ducati squad, was sixth, posting a 1:34.859. Brixx Racing Ducati runner Sylvain Barrier recorded a 1:36.752.
Still disturbed by a painful shoulder despite a long lay-off during the Covid-19 crisis shutdown, Leo Camier (Barni Racing Ducati) managed a 1:36.759 and is now taking more medical advice about his long-term injury.
Citing that he had really missed racing a lot more than he had initially imagined, the fastest man at Misano—and still reigning BSB Champion—Scott Redding said, “We have worked a lot especially with used tires and we have tried new solutions that have given positive feedback. I’ve been working out a lot these months with the goal of losing weight. In the end, I also managed to set a good chrono, but this is not important. It was great to get back to work with the guys and I can’t wait to get back on track.”
Rea was not comfortable with his bike feel on the super-grippy new track surface on day one at Misano. After some seemingly strange changes to his machine’s characteristics, he made real progress on Thursday, stating, “Yesterday everything felt quite alien to me, especially as the asphalt was new and the grip levels were high. I just had to adapt my riding style a little bit. Also, we changed the bike setup; actually to take a little bit of grip away. I was still not 100 percent confident but I felt better a lot better after the tire grip had dropped a bit. After six or seven laps, I felt more comfortable on the bike. In the end, with a race tire, I was still able to be very fast and I felt confident to push. I really feel like here, with the grip level being so high, we have been able to achieve a little bit more natural turning from the bike.”
Rinaldi was enthused by his pace, especially on race tires.
“At the end of the two days we found the best solution, and we also managed to be very fast,” said the former Superstock 1000 champion. “Considering that our time was scored with the race tire, while most of my opponents used the qualifying tire, I can be satisfied with the work done. In race configuration, we were even closer to Scott!”
In the WorldSSP class Phillip Island race winner Andrea Locatelli (Bardahl Evan Bros Yamaha) was fastest man, with a 1:37.664 lap, with three MV Agusta F3 riders—Raffaele De Rosa, 2019 champion Randy Krummenacher and Federico Fuligni—behind him.
For some there will be testing at the new WorldSBK venue of Montmelo in Catalunya, on July 8-9.
The 2020 season should get back into full race mode at Jerez, between July 31 and August 2.
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Misano WorldSBK Test Times Day Two (Unofficial)
||M R Rinaldi