Honda has unveiled the first in a series of onboard laps of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar aboard the new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, with Leon Haslam giving the inside line on how to tackle this track, on board the all new Fireblade.
Filmed at the new bike’s European Press Launch the video explains how to build the perfect lap of the Qatar circuit.
Three-time world Endurance champion Freddy Foray was joined by Team HRC WorldSBK riders Leon Haslam, Álvaro Bautista and official HRC WorldSBK test rider and Honda Switzerland ambassador, Dominque Aegerter, alongside HRP Motorsports IDM rider Alessandro Polita.
First revealed at EICMA in November, the new 2020 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP has already made an impact in WorldSBK at the opening round in Australia. The most powerful mass-produced naturally-aspirated inline four cylinder motorcycle in the world, the new Fireblade produces 160 kW at 14,500rpm and features MotoGP-style aerodynamics and a cutting-edge electronics package including market-leading Öhlins semi-active electronic suspension.
After spending the day riding the Superbike contender around the Qatar circuit, the riders also took the time to give their opinions of the ‘Born to Race’ new Fireblade, which started to arrive at dealers across Europe from the start of March.
While the 5.821km Suzuka circuit itself was opened in the September of 1962, the Suzuka 8 Hour first came about in 1978.
It quickly became the most important race for production based bikes in the world.
American duo Wes Cooley and Mike Baldwin won that inaugural duel on July 30, 1978, on a Yoshimura backed GS1000 Suzuki.
Australia planted its flag at Suzuka in 1979 when a Team Honda Australia squad consisting of Tony Hatton and Mick Cole rode a CB900 to victory.
New Zealand took their first top step on the rostrum the following year when Kiwi Graeme Crosby partnered with American Wes Cooley to win the race on a Yoshimura GS1000 Suzuki.
While the race was a Japanese affair largely contested between Nippon manufacturers, it was not untiul 1982 that Japanese riders themselves tasted the champagne. That year the race was reduced to six hours due to an incoming typhoon and standing atop the podium were Shigeo Iijima and Shinji Hagiwara.
Wayne Gardner won the first of his quartet of Suzuka 8 Hour victories in 1985 while sharing the riding duties on the RVF750 Honda with Masaki Tokuno. Gardner went on to win again the next year, 1986, while partnered with Dominique Sarron.
1987 was the first time Yamaha took top honours and it came thanks to the talents of Kevin Magee, who became the fourth Australian to win a Suzuka 8 Hour. Magee won in partnership with German Martin Wimmer in 1987, the following year, 1988, the Horsham Hurricane’s victory was taken in conjunction with a then 28-year-old Wayne Rainey. The American also won his first 500cc GP race victory that year.
Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan won in 1991 on an RVF750 Honda.
Daryl Beattie then shared the victory podium with Gardner in 1992 on the Oki Honda Racing Team RVF750.
New Zealand’s Aaron Slight then won three on the trot with a different partner each time. The first victory in 1993 coming on a Kawasaki with Scott Russell, followed by two wins on the RC45, the first with Doug Polen and the second with Tadayuki Okada.
1993 also signalled the change from F1 or TT style motorcycles as the premier category at the Suzuka 8 Hour to ‘Superbikes’.
Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga put Yamaha back on top in 1996 before Honda then went on a ten-year winning streak that stretched all the way from 1997 through to 2006.
The first three of that decade long Honda winning streak were won on RC45s, the next four on VTR-SP twins, including Valentino Rossi’s 2001 victory with Colin Edwards on the Cabin Honda VTR-SP1, while the Fireblade took top honours in 2004/05/06.
Yukio Kagayama and Kousuke Akiyoshi broke Suzuki’s 24-year drought in 2007.
Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari put the Fireblade back on top in 2008.
2009 saw the introduction of three-rider teams and another all-Japanese victory for Yoshimura Suzuki.
2010 saw Honda’s Fireblade kicked off another winning streak that carried right through to 2014.
Winners for Honda in this period included Leon Haslam, Takumi Takahashi, Jonathan Rea, Takaaki Nakagami, Tadayuki Okada and Michael Van der Mark.
2015 marked a new era of domination by the Yamaha Factory Racing Team and the YZF-R1M.
Japanese hotshot Katsuyuki Nakasuga has been part of all those victories while Pol Espargaro (2015/16) helped him to two, as did Alex Lowes (2016/17), while Bradley Smith (2015) and Michael Van der Mark (2017) played their parts in Yamaha’s recent string of success also.
In 2018, Nakasuga again partnered with Alex Lowes and Michael Van der Mark and the trio went on to claim Yamaha’s fourth successive victory.
Suzuka 8 Hour Most Successful Riders
Only five riders have taken four victories at the prestigious race. Wayne Gardner (1985-1986-1991-1992), Ryuichi Kiyonari (2005-2008-2010-2011), Shinichi Itoh (1997-1998-2006-2011), Katsuyuki Nakasuga (2015-2016-2017-2018), Michael Van der Mark (2013-2014-2017-2018).
The most successful rider at the Suzuka 8 Hour is Tohru Ukawa. The Japanese rider has five victories to his name (1997-1998-2000-2004-2005). All five were won on Honda machinery, two on the RC45, one on the VTR1000 and two more on Fireblades.
Suzuka 8 Hour Most Successful Manufacturers
Honda are the leading manufacturer with 27 wins. Next best is Yamaha with eight victories while Suzuki have five wins.
Kawasaki has only ever won the prestigious event once and that was some 25 years ago when Aaron Slight and Scott Russell piloted a ZXR750R to victory.
Over the previous 5 years, ‘Kawasaki Team Green’ (managed by Kawasaki Motors Japan – KMJ), participated in the Suzuka 8 Hour and achieved a 2nd place podium in both 2016 and 2017, followed by a 3rd place podium in 2018.
This year Kawasaki will challenge to win the race with its factory team (‘Kawasaki Racing Team’ – KRT). The team riders will be Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam, and Toprak Razgatlioglu.
“I’m very excited to be returning to the Suzuka 8-Hour with Kawasaki. The race itself has a huge place in my heart. After last years’ experience, and being so competitive with Team Green, I am back for more. Last year we had some great speed but also made some mistakes. We will learn from those mistakes and be more prepared than ever. It’s one of the toughest, most exciting, races in the world. Racing in temperatures as hot as 36°C is a true test of man and machine. I love the challenge and can’t wait to spend time with all the Japanese fans.”
“The Suzuka 8-Hour is a fantastic event and this will be my fourth year now with Kawasaki. We have had some good races in the past, and a memorable one where I rode for five and a half hours out of the eight. Last year, with Jonathan, we were leading the race until we had a small problem. We have been on the podium every year and I feel that we have been making improvements with our package. Hopefully with some good testing under our belts we can make a strong challenge and finally get on that top step of the podium. It is good riding with Johnny as we have very similar set-up requests and we will have to see what the strategy is this year. I am really looking forward to it.”
“This is my dream team! I am ready, always, and we will see how it goes. I am a fan of the 8-Hour race but this will be my first time riding. I am so lucky to be in a team with Johnny and Leon; it feels incredible. I have ridden once before in the Japanese Superbike Championship, last year. The Japanese Kawasaki team told me that it was a similar bike to the 8-hour machine, and the main difference should be the endurance style fuel tank. The biggest difference from WorldSBK racing for me will be the Bridgestone tyres. It is like a dream to ride at Suzuka in the 8-Hour because it is an incredible track!”
Matches Neil Hodgson’s nine on a roll winning streak
Randy Krummenacher claims Supersport win – Gonzalez heads WSSP300
Tom Edwards 19th – Tom Bramich 24th in WSSP300
Alvaro has further cemented his place in the history books over the weekend, continuing his unbeaten run at Aragon with two more race wins and the Tissot Superpole Sprint victory for a clean sweep of the weekend.
This makes it nine wins in a row for the 34-year-old from Talavera de la Reina, matching the record of 2003 WorldSBK champion Neil Hodgson in opening race wins, as well as claiming Ducati’s 350th win in World Superbikes, while his eighth race win earlier in the day matched Troy Bayliss’s record for Ducati from 2006.
Álvaro Bautista – P1
“It has been an extraordinary weekend for me. Winning three races here in Spain in front of my family, my friends and the Spanish fans was really great. In all three, I was able to make my own strategy, that is get a fast start and maintain my own pace. For sure the conditions in the three races were different, especially today in the Superpole Race which took place in the morning when it was very cold. Luckily it got a bit warmer for Race 2, but you could really feel the wind. Despite this, I was able to stay focussed, understand the situation on the track and push hard all the way. In the end we have won nine races out of nine and I’m so happy about that. The team has done an incredible job, we are on the right path and I’d like to thank Aruba, all Ducati and my team because the congratulations should also go to them.”
Tissot Superpole Race
The Tissot Superpole Race for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship provided exciting action from lights-out to the chequered flag. Off the line Bautista was yet again the rider with the best start, leading into turn one. However, there was mayhem behind as Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Michael van der Mark collided and crashed, ending the Dutchman’s 22-race streak of point-scoring positions. He finished 15th in the end, whilst Rinaldi went to the medical centre.
Bautista soon streaked away, leaving the battle for second to rage on. Sandro Cortese was running second until Alex Lowes made his way ahead at turn 12. Chaz Davies tried a similar move a lap later at turn 16 but couldn’t make the apex, running wide and dropping down to fifth – allowing rival Jonathan Rea to make up a position.
Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty battled hard. Ahead of them, Sandro Cortese was starting to drop back as Lowes, Rea and Davies made their respective moves on the German Rookie.
With five laps to go, there was another retirement as Markus Reiterberger’s miserable weekend continued, this time with mechanical gremlins. His teammate Tom Sykes was enjoying a much better race, having dropped down to seventh after the opening lap, he was now fifth and pushing hard for a second consecutive top five of the year.
The battle for second was starting to take place though, as Lowes slipstreamed his way passed Rea down the back straight, achieving the move at turn 16 with just five laps left to go. Two laps later, Rea almost hit the rear end of the Yamaha-man at turn one, allowing Chaz Davies to now get in on the action.
A lap later, it was a shoot-out and Rea tried to get ahead of Lowes at turn one, but the Englishman fought back. At turn four, Rea finally fired his way through and despite Lowes looking to fight back, Rea held on. The final lap soon beckoned but no moves were made, despite Lowes’ best efforts.
However, it was the dominant Alvaro Bautista who took yet another win in his WorldSBK career, holding off Rea and Lowes. Chaz Davies was a solid fourth, whilst Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty completed the top six; the front two rows for the last race of the weekend.
Row three saw Leon Haslam in seventh, after a fairly quiet weekend which has seen him absent from the front. Joining him would be Jordi Torres and Sandro Cortese in eighth and ninth respectively.
World Superbike Tissot Superpole Race Top 10 – Aragon
A. BAUTISTA ESP
J. REA GBR +5.791
A. LOWES GBR +5.906
C. DAVIES GBR +6.052
T. SYKES GBR +9.217
E. LAVERTY IRL +9.921
L. HASLAM GBR +10.221
J. TORRES ESP +11.961
S. CORTESE GER +13.712
T. RAZGATLIOGLU TUR +14.218
Superbikes Race 2
Alvaro Bautista took his ninth consecutive race win in the final Aragon battle to equal 2003 WorldSBK champion Neil Hodgson in winning the opening nine races of the season, as well as giving Ducati their 350th WorldSBK win.
Bautista took the lead from pole position, seeing-off Jonathan Rea into turn one. For the first time this weekend, every rider made it through the opening corners without drama. Chaz Davies was an early improver and up to third place, while Alex Lowes was a strong fourth despite dropping back. Tom Sykes wasn’t the fastest starter and dropped back, allowing a rapid-starting Jordi Torres and Eugene Laverty to get in close proximity.
Davies made his move on lap two, to pass Rea and push the reigning four-time champion back into the jaws of the chasing pack. An action-packed second lap saw passes galore, with Tom Sykes making an error at turn 12 to allow Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres through – Torres now sixth from eighth on the grid, one of the strongest showings in WorldSBK by the Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki.
Alex Lowes was starting his comeback through the order, up to third position and ahead of Rea, who was starting to look vulnerable. Rea was now in fourth and his teammate, Leon Haslam and Eugene Laverty, were closing in.
On lap eight, Davies began to pull away and put some distance between himself and Lowes. Rea ran wide and took teammate Haslam with him; the Kawasaki riders were not looking like they were going to be able to mount a podium challenge. Lowes challenged Davies but was not able to make a pass. Further down the order, Toprak Razgatlioglu retired.
With Laverty dropping back from the battle for second and not able to initiate a challenge for the podium, Rea was starting his own resurgence, passing Lowes and pursuing Davies. Two laps later, and Haslam made his way past Lowes at turn one, pursuing his teammate and Davies in second.
Whilst Rea looked set for a guaranteed podium, teammate Haslam had other ideas and got ahead of the Ulsterman, taking over as the leader in the Kawasaki challenge. A lap later, and Rea repaid the compliment in identical fashion.
The penultimate lap beckoned, and it was Rea and Davies who renewed their rivalry. Rea put his trademark passing move on Davies at turn 4, slicing under the Welshman, only for the 2011 WorldSSP champion to fight back at turn 5. Leon Haslam, after initially being dropped by half-a-second, was now right back in the battle for the podium.
On the final lap, a mistake by Davies at turn one allowed Rea to come straight through and put in the lap of his life to put distance into Davies. Haslam wasn’t able to capitalise on the mistake by Davies and whilst Davies was coming back towards Rea into the final corner, there was nothing he could do to get ahead.
Bautista took the win, ahead of Rea by another huge margin; the ninth time that those two have finished in that order in 2019.
Davies completed the podium for the second time at the Aragon Round, whilst Haslam and Lowes completed the top five. Laverty took sixth, ahead of Jordi Torres, Michael van der Mark, Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Sandro Cortese.
Marco Melandri was a dejected 11th, with Sykes right behind, having faded mid-race. Leon Camier and teammate Kiyonari were 13th and 14th respectively, whilst Markus Reiterberger finally finished at MotorLand Aragon, with 15th.
Alvaro Bautista – P1
“It has been a very special weekend for me, winning the three races in front of my fans! I enjoyed a lot the weekend. It was special for me here in Spain. Now we go to Assen, a race track which is different from this and where the weather changes so fast. It will be also my first time with the new bike, but we go there very confident and I can’t wait to be on the bike again.”
Jonathan Rea – P2
“It was a tougher Sunday than I expected and the strategy was different. Especially in the sprint race, I lost a lot of rear traction at the end. We think it was a consequence of being so fast in the beginning. During the 18-lap race I decided to be calmer in the beginning but when Alex Lowes came through he had a good pace with Chaz Davies. I started to panic a little bit that maybe these guys had an extra gear. And then Leon came past, so I had to step up and really use the tyre that I was conserving. My body language was a lot different at the end of the race because I really put my head down and maximised where we were strong. It looks like our bike is really creating a lot of traction in the long corners, which is positive. Our corner entry is not so bad. It was nice to see Leon in the front as well because our data becomes more relevant to compare and we can try to move the bike set-up forward together.”
Chaz Davies – P3
“It was a strong weekend for me, but I’m a bit disappointed about losing second place in Race 2. At the start of the last lap, I went in deep at Turn 1 and left the door open for Johnny, after which there wasn’t much chance of getting it back. At any rate, I was happy to back up yesterday’s result with another third position. It wasn’t easy in the wind, but we worked well this weekend to make big progress and I hope to build on that next weekend at Assen.”
Stefano Cecconi – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team Principal
“It was another perfect weekend for Álvaro, which makes us really happy, but we are just as satisfied by the fact that Chaz got back on the podium and that he is getting more and more accustomed to the new Panigale V4 R. We hope that he will continue this string of positive results in the next few races.”
Leon Haslam – P4
“Starting from the fourth row was not ideal in the first two races so we used the sprint race to get back into it. The team has done mega-well from really struggling on Saturday morning to being able to battle for second place for Johnny. What a turnaround. I am really happy about what we have done here and I feel quite positive. In the sprint race I did not get the best of starts but it got me a better grid position for the final race. We made some steps in being able to pass people in the last race as well.”
Alex Lowes – P5
“After the podium in the sprint race this morning I was a little bit disappointed with fifth in Race 2, as I was expecting to be able to fight a little bit harder and longer with Jonathan and Chaz. It was nice to be battling with Leon again, after a couple of tough races for him, and we were nice and close a few times, especially into turn one! It was good fun, but I just didn’t have enough to stay in the battle until the end. The last two rounds have been strong ones for us and I’ve really enjoyed riding the R1, but now we just need to find small improvements so that we can fight it out over the last few laps of the race. Now I can’t wait to get to Assen, a track I and the Yamaha enjoy.”
Tom Sykes – P12
“Honestly, it has been a very positive weekend for the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. I feel that we have again made some steps forward. I am very impressed and also there have been a lot of people inside the racing paddock who have commented on the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR, so I think we are heading in the right direction and are definitely making good progress. Everything was good, we were top five in most of the sessions and with the exception of my mistake in Superpole almost could have had pole. In the final race we did not have the correct rear traction, which is a shame because the bike did not change and on the same tyre I was so fast during the race weekend, so with my honest opinion and with my experience I certainly feel we perhaps did not have a tyre that was to its full potential. It was a bit of a disappointment on a great weekend but this is part of racing. Sometimes these things happen and we will be making up for this moving forward.”
World Superbike Race 2 Top 10 – Aragon
A. BAUTISTA ESP
J. REA GBR +6.867
C. DAVIES GBR +7.127
L. HASLAM GBR +7.581
A. LOWES GBR +11.549
E. LAVERTY IRL +16.797
J. TORRES ESP +17.825
M. VAN DER MARK NED +18.788
M. RINALDI ITA +19.329
S. CORTESE GER +20.351
World Superbike standings following Aragon
Alvaro Bautista 186 points
Jonathan Rea 147
Alex Lowes 100
Michael Van Der Mark 79
Leon Haslam 74
Marco Melandri 63
Chaz Davies 56
Sandro Cortese 56
Tom Sykes 39
Jordi Torres 35
Michael Ruben Rinaldi 35
Toprak Razgatlioglu 32
Eugene Laverty 27
Leon Camier 17
Markus Reiterberger 15
Leandro Mercado 11
Ryuichi Kiyonari 9
Alessandro Delbianco 3
The FIM Supersport World Championship saw an intriguing race in the first part of the 16-lap encounter, before a traditional fairing-bashing battle took place in the final part of the race. Eventually, it was Randy Krummenacher who took the win to extend his championship lead at the top of the WorldSSP title race!
Starting well from pole position, 22-year-old Austrian Thomas Gradinger couldn’t fend off a courageous Federico Caricasulo into Turn 1, as the Italian took the lead. For Caricasulo’s teammate, Randy Krummenacher, it was another poor start, which saw Jules Cluzel take advantage. One rider who achieved a good start was Raffaele De Rosa, who, from sixth on the grid, was soon into fifth, ahead of Lucas Mahias and his Japanese teammate, Hikari Okubo.
Caricasulo and Gradinger pulled away, with a 1.7 second gap after just two laps of the MotorLand Aragon circuit. The battle for third saw Randy Krummenacher take advantage of Jules Cluzel at Turn 1 on lap three, and a lap later, it was De Rosa’s turn to pick off the fading Frenchman.
However, with the gaps forming, it was the riders in third and fourth who soon started lapping the faster times, and soon the 1.7s gap soon evaporated, with two back-to-back fastest laps coming from De Rosa on laps six and seven.
Despite Cluzel languishing in an isolated fifth position, the battle raged behind him, with Mahias, Okubo and Corentin Perolari and Europe Supersport Cup rider, Kyle Smith. Smith was able to get as high as sixth before dropping back, with Perolari coming through towards the end.
The battle at the front was now between four bikes and also, with a different race leader. Thomas Gradinger came through and passed Caricasulo at Turn 4, to become the first Austrian rider to lead a WorldSSP race. Austria’s dream of a WorldSSP race winner started to look like it was finally going to come to reality.
With four laps remaining, it was a wild WorldSSP race which saw Gradinger make a mistake at the final corner, dropping from first to fourth. Four riders abreast down the main straight, Caricasulo and De Rosa took over, whilst Krummenacher watched on holding his breath in third. The last lap was set to be a thriller, as De Rosa took the lead when Krummenacher made a mistake at Turn 12. Were we about to see the first non-Yamaha win for the first time in almost a year-and-a-half?
The last lap came around quickly and soon, the gloves were off! Krummenacher passed his teammate at Turn 1 and soon went in pursuit of race leader De Rosa. Gradinger was still in the battle in fourth, but unable to make any passes on the final lap, achieving his joint-best result.
Down the back straight and Krummenacher slipstreamed his way through, before slamming his Yamaha down the inside of De Rosa’s MV Agusta. Through the final corner and over the rise to the finish line, Krummenacher took a second win of the season, whilst De Rosa took his first podium of the year, with fellow countryman Federico Caricasulo in third. Gradinger was fourth.
Behind the leading quartet, Jules Cluzel’s damage limitation efforts saw him conclude in fifth position, with teammate Corentin Perolari, who took his best finish of the season. Lucas Mahias finally got the better of his teammate Hikari Okubo for seventh place, whilst Kyle Smith was top ESS rider in ninth. Completing the top ten was Isaac Viñales, who recovered to tenth after running wide in the early stages.
Completing the points was Peter Sebestyen, who was top Honda in the race after Hannes Soomer crashed on the final lap. Teammate Jules Danilo was just 0.116s behind him, whilst Federico Fuligni was a further 0.314s back. 14th and 15th went to Loris Cresson and Maria Herrera respectively.
Krummenacher gave Yamaha their 81st WorldSSP win, whilst giving Switzerland their first win on European soil, as well as achieving the nation’s 16th podium – putting them one behind the United States overall, 22 years after the first Swiss rider achieved a podium, with Yves Briguet at Monza, 1997.
“It was a really tough race. After the warm-up, I felt like I could have the chance to go away in the race, but the final laps were not that easy for me. When I finally got to the front, I tried hard to go away, but I made a little mistake and went wide. Fortunately, the final lap came out perfectly. I came out of the slipstream, brake a little bit later and I won! Thanks to my team and my family that always support me”.
World Supersport Race Results – Aragon
R. KRUMMENACHER SUI
R. DE ROSA ITA +0.094
F. CARICASULO ITA +0.158
T. GRADINGER AUT +0.732
J. CLUZEL FRA +3.312
C. PEROLARI FRA +12.626
L. MAHIAS FRA +12.890
H. OKUBO JPN +12.996
K. SMITH GBR +14.331
I. VINALES ESP +17.653
World Supersport Standings following Aragon
Randy Krummenacher 70 points
Jules Cluzel 56
Federico Caricasulo 48
Raffaele De Rosa 31
Hikari Okubo 28
Thomas Gradinger 24
Corentin Perolari 24
Hector Barbera 22
Lucas Mahias 21
Isaac Vinales 19
World Supersport 300
It was a crazy return to action for the WorldSSP300 championship at the Motocard Aragon Round in 2019, with a flurry of action from the start to the end, making for an incredibly exciting season in prospect. The winner of the first race of the season was 16-years-old Manuel Gonzalez, whilst defending champion Ana Carrasco crashed out at Turn 13, making her title defence even harder work for the remainder of the season.
From lights out, it was a great start from Indonesian rider, Galang Hendra Pratama took the lead and to the amazement, led the field safely through the opening corners, with no casualties in a packed grid. Gonzalez took the lead early on but there was no escaping, as he oscillated back-and-forth, as riders passed each other to try and establish a constant running order.
As the race went on, Victor Steeman, Hugo De Cancellis and Maximilian Kappler all battled it out, whilst Andy Verdoia and Jan-Ole Jahnig joined the leading group.
It was a disaster in the middle of the race for the reigning champion, Ana Carrasco, as she crashed out after tangling with Koen Meuffels, who in-turn was having a tricky race having won at the track last season. Other falls consisted of sole Turkish rider Bahattin Sofuoglu crashing at Turn 2, as well as Indonesian Hendra Pratama, who crashed after contact with Verdoia at Turn 10; the Marc Marquez corner.
As the race reached the closing stages, all kinds of different riders entered the battle, with Omar Bonoli, Scott Deroue and Nick Kalinin all got in on the action. All three of them had raced through the field from 14th, 15th and 16th, all looking to take the opening win of the season from the lowest grid positions in WorldSSP300 history (that record held by Manuel Bastianelli of Prodina IRCOS Kawasaki, from 13th on the grid at Misano in 2018.
Into the last lap and it looked like we would get a victory from 14th, as Omar Bonoli took over at the front; the 17-year-old looking like he had the pace, before De Cancellis came passed at Turn 7 and immediately looked to break away. However, a fantastic move at Turn 9 by Manuel Gonzalez soon saw a last lap battle.
Into the final corner and Gonzalez made a move to the lead and pushed De Cancellis wide, holding on to the lead to take his first ever win as the second-youngest rider in the class! Completing the podium was Scott Deroue, starting his championship challenge off in fine style.
Behind them, Jahnig, Verdoia and Steeman, whilst completing the top ten was Bonoli, Bruno Ieraci who in-turn had come from the back of the grid after a penalty, 2018 Aragon winner Koen Meuffels and Maximilian Kappler.
Outside of the top ten were Robert Schotman, Mateo Perdeneau, Filippo Rovelli, Nick Kalinin and 2018 runner-up, Mika Perez. 2017 champion, Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) could only manage 25th position on his return to the championship.
Manuel Gonzalez – P1
“I don’t have words to describe how happy I am. I really enjoyed riding today. The race was not easy, and especially the final lap was extremely difficult. There were many riders taking advantage of the slipstream on the straight, and it made it hard to keep the position. In the last corner, I was able to overtake De Cancellis and take victory. Thanks to my team for all the work they have done during this weekend”.
Scott Deroue – P3
“Yes it was incredible to come through for a podium. This weekend was quite hard and in qualifying I was not really good. I was not in the best place on the grid so I knew we had to something. I was just pushing, pushing – like unbelievably hard. I think this is one of my best races ever. I already won some races in this class but I think this race was the best ever.”
Ana Carrasco – DNF
“It is a pity to not score. We had some issues in the practice sessions and I started the race from the fourth row. In the race itself I felt myself to be very fast, and comfortable, so much so that we actually set a new lap record. Some bikes had better acceleration but in braking and top speed I was super strong. In the crash two guys in front of me touched and I had to close the throttle – then someone hit me from the back. It is a shame because I am sure I could have finished on top. I just want to say thanks to all people that came to see me here at Motorland, to my team and Kawasaki. I am on the bike again in only four days, at Assen – I can’t wait!”
Top performing Australian was Tom Edwards (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) in 19th, while Tom Bramich (Carl Cox-RT Motorsports by SKM-Kawasaki) claimed 24th. Jack Hyde didn’t make the cut into the main race, finishing ninth in the Last Chance Race.
2019 WorldSBK Round One – Phillip Island Sunday Superpole Sprint Race
Jonathan Rea got the holeshot ahead of Alex Lowes and Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam. Tom Sykes had started strongly in sixth but ran wide late on the opening lap and lost a number of positions.
Bautista made short work of Lowes and then immediately started to make parrys and thrusts at race leader Jonathan Rea. It took him another lap to make a move stick but once through he dropped the hammer.
This time around though Rea had the confidence to also bang his gavel and the pair started trading places at the front of the field.
Bautista and Rea swapped positions numerous times per lap as the race continued as Leon Haslam tried to close the gap and join the party up front.
Haslam though did not have the pace as the race wore on to stick with that leading duo.
Up front it was Bautista that had the pace, and enough pace to pull away from Rea over the final two laps and go on to make it two-from-two. Will he make it three-from-three in the next full distance 22-lap race later this afternoon…?
Only half-points are awarded for this new shorter middle race that has been added to all rounds of the Superbike World Championship for season 2019.
The refreshed KRT WorldSBK line-up of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will restart their 2019 campaigns with a two-day test at Jerez, on Wednesday the 23rd and Thursday the 24th of January.
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager
“This Jerez test is a warm-up session to start checking details of things we finished working on last year. The riders have been working hard this winter with their training programmes and now the idea is put it all together and see were we are. Another good point about this Jerez test is that many teams will be there, so everybody will be able to take notes and make final adjustments to be ready for the first race weekend in Australia.”
After a long winter break since the most recent test outing at the same Jerez venue last November, four-time WorldSBK champion Rea and current BSB champion Haslam are keen to begin the process of making their final preparations for the first round of the 2019 championship, to be held in mid-February in Australia.
“I am excited to see my team and all the guys. I had a training camp last week in Barcelona and I saw quite a few of them but this will be the first time we will get together as a group. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off at the last test. It has been a long, long winter but I arrive feeling refreshed and recharged after a lot of time at home. We expect some new material in preparation to build our base package at the start of the year. The tests at the end of last year were all about trying out different items and now we can put them all together and begin performance testing. I am excited because we were fast in Jerez in November, so I hope we can have some good weather this time.”
After two successful post-season tests at Motorland Aragon and Jerez last year, the entire KRT squad will now concentrate their efforts on making final choices of components and overall machine set-up. With Jerez also returning to the WorldSBK championship race calendar in 2019, the forthcoming track outing at the 4.423 km long circuit in Andalusia will be of great value in its own right.
As well as a new-look riding line-up the most recent Ninja ZX-10RR features a higher-revving stock engine than the 2018 version, achieved in part by the use of finger follower valve technology.
“It has been a short winter for me because I got some surgical screws taken out of my ankle. I have done a two-week training camp out in Barcelona, riding Supermoto, flat track and doing numerous other things. The weather has been kind to us. I just want to get back going again on track at Jerez. These tests will be important for me and the more laps the better. Getting used to the bike and how to use it in terms of riding style and electronics, is the key. But also we will get to explore a few more points on the bike, which we have not done at previous tests. The weather looks good for the days on track and all our opposition is going to be there, so it is a key point to see where we are and where we have to improve.”
After the Jerez tests are completed the KRT team and some of their rivals will swiftly relocate to the Portimao circuit on the Algarve, for two more days of testing on the 27th and the 28th of January.
While the Ducati 999 was not highly regarded in the marketplace (due entirely to its looks, not performance), that did not hinder the bike’s success as a race machine.
Introduced for the 2003 season it scored a debut 1-2 finish at Valencia with Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus.
The model then went on to win the Riders’ title for Hodgson (’03), James Toseland (’04) and Troy Bayliss (’06).
It also helped Ducati to win three Manufacturers’ titles, for the same years.
By its WSBK retirement at the end of the 2007, the 999 had won a total of 63 races at the hands of Bayliss (19), Hodgson (13), Laconi (10), Xaus (8), Haga (6), Toseland (4), Lanzi (2) and Garry McCoy (1).
This is the number 2 bike used by Leon Haslam during the 2006-07 British Superbike Championship. It recorded five first places, four seconds, and three thirds with Haslam finishing second in the 2006 title, and third the following year.
Power was 194 hp at 12,500 rpm, with a total weight of 162 kg. A top speed 312 km/h was recorded.
This Haslam bike was sold to an English collector before being then bought by its current owner (a Queenslander!) in 2010. Full technical information was included.
KRT and Yamaha sits out the rain after Rea set day one pace
The first 2019 pre-season test came to a wet end at Spain’s Aragon circut, as heavy rain in the morning meant only two out of six riders took to the track on Thursday. But it wasn’t a wasted day as the Ducati Panigale V4 R was able to take to the track for the first time under wet conditions.
Continuing to understand their new bike, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) took to the track for 22 laps, despite being careful to not cause more issues with his shoulder. Experiencing the all new V4 R in the rain for the first time, it was important to get as much track time under his belt as possible.
“Despite the forecast, yesterday I was hoping we might get lucky and have a dry track in the morning, but unfortunately it wasn’t the case. The day started and finished wet. We had to ride in the rain at some point anyway, so that’s what we did today and actually it went OK. I wasn’t looking for the limits of the bike in these conditions, keeping also an eye on my shoulder, but we still managed to tick off a few items on our list. We’ll start in Jerez from where we finished here. We have a good base to begin with and our ideas are quite clear, which is the most important thing at this stage.”
Serafino Foti, Team Manager
“Overall the test has been positive, even though unfortunately conditions weren’t ideal today. We still did a few laps in the wet to verify the behavior of the Panigale V4 R, collecting important information while at the same time avoiding unnecessary risks. We’ll head directly to Jerez from here to continue our development program, hopefully in more favorable weather. We want to make the most of the last testing days before the new year.”
For Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), he was keener to get out on track and try out the V4 R in the rain, and the track began to dry in the early afternoon. Following a sensational opening day with his new bike, he was just making the most of the time he has, as in 2019 the Italian will not only have a new bike to contend with but also new circuits. Rinaldi was able to put in 25 laps on Thursday.
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will resume action at Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), where Alvaro Bautista will make his debut alongside Davies, on November 26 and 27.
After topping the unofficial timing screens on the opening day around Aragon, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and his new team-mate Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) opted to sit out of Thursday’s on track action. Putting in 139 laps between them on the opening day, they will now shift their focus to the Jerez test in 10 days’ time.
Rea’s technical crew had used this test to make back-to-back comparisons between the 2018 and 2019 official WorldSBK machines, with Rea stating that he feels there is a lot of potential in the new bike already. Rea set his fastest lap times on the 2019 machine.
“Day two of our test was cut short by wet weather so we were not able to refine the base set-up of our new 2019 Ninja ZX-10RR – but first impressions were positive after back-to-back tests with the 2018 machine. It is clear that the potential of the 2019 bike is much higher. To achieve that potential we need to delve into more set-up changes and that will require more time. It needs a bit more of a base setting because the new engine character has more power and more potential, especially under acceleration and on the brakes. That requires a little bit of a different riding style, so I need to understand that together with all my crew, in the next weeks. It was a simple back-to-back test here but in Jerez we can start to test more items with the chassis, electronics and some engine components.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea
“Our test was good. With our new engine upgrade we have some new parts and it ‘talks’ differently to the rider. That needs time for us to understand how to give the best to Johnny, especially in terms of feeling. Apart from that, his lap times were really fast and we have already collected positive information. It is a shame that is was raining today and we decided not to test in the wet. All the items we needed to try need dry conditions, or else you cannot understand them properly.”
Leon Haslam set an impressive 1’51.479 lap on his first day back in the paddock he knows well from his earlier WorldSBK career. Rains arrived early today and continuing throughout, so the decision was made not to take to the track.
“The test was positive and I am getting to know all the guys in the team. We missed some track time on the opening day, but even then it could have not gone any better. We got quicker each time we went out and the pace was quite competitive, considering we were not looking for that. We were just evaluating and understanding things. We are taking it step-by-step and we have another two days at Jerez to test again before the winter break. So far, so good.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Leon Haslam
“I was very happy and confident from the very beginning of the tests. We have a BSB champion in our house with a lot of experience on different bikes, different championships and different tyres. Day one went very well. We had two different bike set-ups to put us in the correct direction for chassis development. He clearly chose one of them and with some minor changes towards the end of day one, Leon was in the ballpark with our closest competition, who had won several races in the past few years. So from this point of view I am very happy, but unfortunately day two was wet. After this single day on track and with the positive results, we are confident we will continue doing well in Jerez.”
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team duo of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark also decided to sit out of day two of the test.
Lowes was able to set the second fastest unofficial time of the test on Wednesday, and they were able to work through a lot of small updates to their YZF-R1 machines with chassis, suspension and electronics.