A surprise may well be in store this weekend, with all manufacturers inside the top ten, which is covered by less than a second…
A frantic first day of the 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season provided numerous stories and headlines with the much-anticipated start of the season not disappointing. On the combined times, it was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) who fended off a flying Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) and Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).
Toprak Razgatlioglu took top spot in the morning, with Yamaha finding good form in the morning session in the cooler conditions. The Turkish rider has historically struggled at Aragon, as have Yamaha, and in the higher afternoon temperatures, they did drop off once more. Razgatlioglu was fastest overall on the combined times but the Independents were in fine form on Friday too.
Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) finished second overall, also taking top Ducati honours. The Welshman was also on top form in the afternoon session and is the most consistent at all times of the day, a possible sign of what is to come throughout the rest of the weekend.
Joining him inside the top three was American Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team), with the Texan on fire in the morning but towards the bottom end of the top ten in the afternoon. Third overall, it’s a strong start for Gerloff.
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) led the charge of the Kawasakis, having led the morning session at points before eventually finish fourth, whilst he was sixth on the timesheets in the hotter afternoon outing. Reigning Champion teammate Jonathan Rea was only fifth after the opening session, but in contrast to Lowes, took charge of Kawasaki’s assault in the afternoon, by finishing second. Both Kawasaki riders trialled the SCX tyre in the afternoon, a major talking point throughout Friday. With Lowes and Rea fourth and fifth respectively, expect them to improve on Saturday.
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team had a fairly unassuming day of action at MotorLand Aragon. Michael Ruben Rinaldi was sixth overall on the timesheets and relied on his FP1 time from the morning, whilst Scott Redding was only 11th in the morning but shaved half-a-second off his time in the afternoon, placing him seventh at the close of the day. Plenty of work to do for the factory Ducati, but they were winners at Aragon in 2020, so they have the potential to bounce back to the front.
It was a mixed Friday back in action for Team HRC, with Alvaro Bautista fourth in FP2 but only eighth in the combined times, whilst Leon Haslam was one place behind him in FP2 in fifth, but tenth overall. Both Bautista and Haslam worked well throughout Friday and will be eager to showcase their strength at a circuit they achieved a podium at in 2020. Both riders tried using the SCX tyre throughout the afternoon, perhaps contemplating it as a possible race option for tomorrow, just as Bautista did last year.
Over at BMW, it was Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) who was flying the flag, but only from his FP1 time in the morning. He was ninth overall, although teammate Michael van der Mark had a torrid first day at the office at Aragon, as he crashed at Turn 8, bringing out the Red Flag. He was OK but missed the rest of the session, leaving him down in 11th overall and completing just 19 laps, the fewest of anyone throughout the day. The other BMWs were also struggling, with Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Racing) in 14th and Eugene Laverty (RC Squadra Corse) only 16th.
The rookies battle was also intense further down the order, with honours eventually going to Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) in 12th. He was just ahead of ex-MotoGP™ star Tito Rabat (Barni Racing Team) who completed his first day of action at a WorldSBK round in 13th, ahead of Jonas Folger and then Japanese sensation Kohta Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).
Christophe Ponsson (Alstare Yamaha) was 18th but suffered a Turn 5 crash in FP2 but finished ahead of the Kawasaki rookies of Isaac Viñales (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Leandro Mercado (MIE Racing Honda Team) took 21st ahead of Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) and his teammate Samuele Cavalieri.
#AragonWorldSBK at MotorLand Aragon – Friday
1. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) 1’49.952s
2. Chaz Davies (Team GoEleven) +0.308s
3. Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.490s
4. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.546s
5. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.738s
6. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) +0.789s