HOT HEADLINES FROM BARCELONA TEST: “Your teammate is always the first one you want to beat”

Testing is all done from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as the second round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship awaits. An action-packed test with stories up and down the pitlane made for very interesting reading. A new rivalry in prospect, new tech on show and test riders in abundance, all five manufacturers had multiple stories to tell.

Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati): “Alvaro’s a motivation… your teammate is always the first one you want to beat”

Under the lap record, Nicolo Bulega was on the pace once again in testing: “I tried for the 1’39 but in the afternoon, after lunch, the track condition was worse with more humidity; I think it was more difficult. I don’t feel pressure; it gives me a lot of motivation and makes me proud. It’s important to me because when you’re fast, you understand that we’re working in a good direction with my team. Alvaro here is very, very fast; last year, he was incredible! If I can try to stay in front of him, it can be an incredible result for me. Normally, when you have a strong teammate, it’s always good for the other one. It’s good to have Alvaro, he’s a motivation and your teammate is always the first one you want to beat for everybody. You have the same bike, team and for sure, if I can stay in front of him or him in front of me, it’s a good motivation.”

Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha): “Paul’s been amazing, an integral part… I feel like we can fight for a podium”

Talking about all things Yamaha, Jonathan Rea stated: “Since I’ve joined, Paul Denning’s been amazing. You think the issues and results we had at Phillip Island people would be a bit flat. It’s where I felt the strength in my previous team was, where you think the chips are down and people start looking at you to make the difference. This team’s amazing, it’s the same or better where people get behind you and Paul’s an integral part of bringing that atmosphere. He always gets involved, wants to know what’s going on, which is nice. It’s always nice to please the boss. You feel a bit like a dog: you always want to please your owner… that’s what it’s like as a motorbike rider, you always want to please your team manager and crew chief and make people happy. I feel like a dog, basically! I want to finish three races and score good, strong points. To race for the win here, we need some improvements. I feel like we can fight for a podium.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team): “I tried many new parts… finally, I feel very good with the grip. We’re ready to race!”

Making a decision about what swingarm he prefers, Toprak Razgatlioglu said: “For P1, I was very close but anyway, I’m very happy. Today, we focused on race pace and finally, I feel very good with the grip. I did a short, 11-lap race simulation with all the laps in the 1’41s. After, when I felt the bike was ready for the race, I put two Q tyres at the end of the day and the second one, I rode a little bit better. My last run was three laps and I did 1’40.1s, 1.40.4 and 1.40.8, which is good. In general, I’m happy and so is the team; we found some good grip and we’re ready to race. The last run was with the old swingarm but with a different shock, the new front forks, different linkage so I tried many parts. Old and new swingarms are close but I’m happier with the old one. It’s a small change, maybe psychological but I’m happy anyway. It’s my dream to win here because I’ve never won here, the tyre is so important. I’ll try to do my best!”

Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati): “The feeling with the bike wasn’t very good… this year is different”

A Turn 10 fall and losing the positive feeling of day one, Alvaro Bautista struggled: “We ended not how we expected to; since this morning, I felt it was more difficult than yesterday as there was less grip. I had this feeling all day and the feeling with the bike was not very good. Physically I am back, but yesterday I improved my feeling during the day, but today I started worse than yesterday and never got that feeling back. Especially on turning, with the gas, I struggled a lot and I had to use my strength. The rear grip was not too high either, I was spinning a lot. That was my main problem, the rear didn’t help me, so I struggled a lot. One thing is the test, and another is the race weekend. In last season’s test, I felt much better and the pace was much stronger. This year is different. Physically, I’m OK after my crash; Bulega’s time is not bad, he’s very strong in one lap”.

Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven): “It’s just the beginning… we have good potential”

‘The Maniac’ was on his fourth different track and once again, fast and inside the top four: “The goal is always similar, I’m a rookie here and it’s just the beginning. Everyday I learn something, tyres, setup, electronics… Every test and every day is much better for me, because I started very far. Everyone here have been riding non-stop for 20 years, I stopped four years, and it’s not easy to recover. But I’m happy. We have a good potential, but the race is always the race. Generally, in the test I struggle more than in the race, but we will see.”

Iker Lecuona (Team HRC): “I can say I prefer the old swingarm”

Going back to an older spec, underslung swingarm, Iker Lecuona – who still isn’t fully fit – spoke about his latest feeling with the Honda: “We tried the new items which are a question for us; I could take data for the team, which is positive. The second day felt more comfortable on the bike so it was less painful for the shoulder but in the end, the last run was more aggressive and braking for Turn 10, it was more painful and it felt like a big punch in the shoulder. I said ‘OK, let’s finish for today’; at the end, it wasn’t nice to not do many laps but now it’s time to recover and be ready for next week. I can say I prefer the old swingarm; we need to confirm that with the data because we need to change more items on the bike to use it, as it’s old but it has some positive points that right now, we need to talk to the team and the Japanese engineers, to see if we can use it or not and what we need to do to feel more comfortable.”

Michele Pirro (Ducati Superbike Test Team): “I tried different solutions for Alvaro’s weight, engine parts and bike balance… I hope to come to WorldSBK once or twice”

Part of the Ducati Superbike test team, Michele Pirro detailed what he tried and why we could see him again soon: “It’s after a long time that I come back to WorldSBK, in fact, five years! It was a good impression because I used the Panigale V4 R and Pirellis. I got data to try and help Alvaro and others but also to develop the bike for the future. The other manufacturers push very hard and the level is very high. I tried different solutions for the weight of Alvaro, engine parts and the balance of the bike. I wasn’t so far away from the fast riders, so I’m happy with the first test with a Superbike after a while. I hope I continue with Superbike, maybe another test, perhaps at Misano. Maybe I want to come back for some races but we’ll see! I enjoyed it and we’ll check with Ducati! I enjoyed it with the other riders too; maybe this year, it’s not possible for me to do a wildcard in MotoGP™ and I hope to come to WorldSBK once or twice. I see Nicolo very well; he’s riding well, a good guy and fast. It’s very impressive, also the other riders but Nicolo is a good talent and a very good rider.”

Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK): “If we start from row two or three, we can fight for a good position”

Axel Bassani completed two days of testing for Kawasaki, finishing 16th on combined times and struggled until the end, when he found form: “During the day, it was the same as day one; yesterday: we found something in the last three laps which is good because finally, we arrived with a race tyre to do a really good lap, better than with the SCQ. We need to start from here to understand things for the race weekend. It’s not easy but it’s part of the job; we are here, we need to test and we’re doing it. We found some confidence with the front but we have to work a lot on the rear with the turning on the bike. We’re losing a lot of time in the long corners. I’m looking to do a good Superpole because if you start in P15 or P16, then it’s impossible to fight with the top guys. If we start from row two or three, we can fight for a good position.”

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