Six-times World Champion Jonathan Rea took his new look Ninja ZX-10RR to the top of the timesheets after two days of testing alongside the vast majority of his 2021 peer group at the 2021 Catalunya WorldSBK test.
A new track section at Turn 10 was one of the smaller things to get used to.
Change is in the 2021 season’s DNA already, even with nearly two months to go until the eventual start of the real racing – we hope. But, even when using an SCX race tire to set his best lap reigning champion Rea was still the name on top at these tests.
His bike is called the same as the old one but it has many changes – internal winglets, a revvier engine and some other race-friendly tech detailing.
There were some changes for the official Aruba Racing Ducati team, a shiny new swingarm for 2020 rookie runner-up Scott Redding to try. He went second fastest overall, 0.179 seconds behind Rea’s best of test 1’40.264.
Third up was another top 2020 season rookie, America’s own Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha) riding a 2021 bike with a 2020 engine, for now. A podium rider at Catalunya last year, Gerloff was the top Yamaha rider of all at this test – and fast throughout.
Top rider on the very-eagerly anticipated new M1000RR BMW was neither of the factory riders but new entry this year, Jonas Folger (Bonovo Action Team BMW). A big push from him and he was up to fourth place, but he had already been in the top third of the 20-rider field more often than not, despite a big get-off.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi, now a factory Aruba.it Racing Ducati rider, was fifth fastest, just under half a second shy of Rea, with the first HRC rider home, Leon Haslam, overall sixth fastest in the combined times. He was second quickest on day one but tenth on day two, hence his overall top six. He and his team-mate Alvaro Bautista had much work to do on their extensively modded Fireblade package after a long winter in the HRC workshops. Bautista was eventually 16th on the combined times, suffering a little on track after a motocross training accident last week left him with a chest injury.
Consistently quick Tom Sykes was sixth on day two but seventh overall, on the official new M1000RR BMW.
Alex Lowes came to this test after a one-man Jerez outing on the heavily revised KRT Kawasaki after recovering from a recent shoulder injury, and still found it painful on day one. He improved on day two, thanks to some rest and a better bike set-up, to go seventh fastest – eighth overall – if almost a second from his team-mate Rea’s best time.
Runaway 2021 WorldSSP champion Andrea Locatelli was rewarded with a factory Yamaha WorldSBK ride this year and took the new-look R1 to ninth place in the times after two full days in Catalunya.
In a privateer but potent Team GoEleven Ducati berth this year, Chaz Davies scored himself tenth best time overall on the strikingly colored V4 Panigale.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) had to sit out most of day two in isolation after testing positive for Coronavirus, but he was still 11th fastest overall thanks to his day one time.
Gerloff’s 2021 team-mate Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha) tried a few new parts (like Gerloff and almost all the other Yamaha riders) as he brings another nationality and rookie status to the championship in 2021. He left Catalunya 12th.
Former WorldSSP runner Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati Racing Team) was 13th on his privateer bike, one place up on the hard working new entrant with a big MotoGP paddock history – Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Ducati).
With very little winter test time and several Yamaha factory seasons to wash away from his on-track muscle memory, Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad) was 15th fastest on day two in his first big ‘all-out’ WorldSBK test alongside his competitors. He was another high profile faller.
The new season starts as high summer approaches, between 21-23 May, at Motorland Aragon – a venue some are heading to for a test later this month.
2021 Catalunya WorldSBK Test Results
||M. Ruben Rinaldi
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