The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has completed the opening day of WorldSBK action at the MotorLand Aragón circuit, with team standard bearers Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden eleventh and twelfth, respectively, in the combined times of the first two free practice sessions at the Spanish venue. Both riders will therefore be out on track for Superpole 1 tomorrow to battle for the two remaining slots for the second qualifying session.
The day started positively for Bradl, who was ninth at the end of the first free practice session, just ahead of his team mate and 0.6secs off the quickest time of the morning.
The afternoon’s track conditions proved to be less favourable for most riders, with some late drops of rain turning into a heavy shower by the end of the session. Despite being unable to improve his FP1 lap-time, Bradl was a mere 0.003secs from a top-10 finish, which would have guaranteed the German direct access to Superpole 2. Nicky Hayden kept working on the setup of his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machine but could finish no higher than twelfth.
The third-round Superpole 1 session will get underway tomorrow at 10:30 local time (GMT +2).
Stefan Bradl 6
11th / 1’51.177
We started off well this morning: we were closer to the front guys and I had a good feeling with the bike, which is the kind of progress I was expecting. Unfortunately, in the afternoon we were unable to improve further, which is obviously the disappointing side for today. The weather did not help, but also the choice of concentrating on the softer tyre option didn’t pay off. And then finishing 0.003secs away from the top-10 was frustrating as well! But it is what it is: we have an idea for direction for tomorrow, especially with the tyre choice, but overall I can say we’ve made a step forward. We’ll have to go through Superpole 1 and hopefully we’ll make it to the second session for the first time this year.
Nicky Hayden 69
12th / 1’51.507
It has not been an easy day for us. We came here with some ideas on how to improve and we actually have made a big step with engine braking, which is now much more consistent. I definitely felt more comfortable with that. We also tried to use last year’s gearing and electronics of the old bike we found in testing last November as a reference with our current machine, but they didn’t really work with this package and that kind of threw us off a bit. I’m not happy with my pace and the lack of improvement in the afternoon was a bummer, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow!
Stefan had a great last lap in FP1 this morning with the fresh SC1 tyre on and his 1min 51.1secs lap was competitive and a good base from which to improve further. Plus, he felt comfortable with the bike. In the afternoon we tried the SC0 but the feeling was not quite there: the cooler conditions and the wind didn’t help, but also when we decided to go back to the morning tyre choice it started raining. It is a bit of a shame, but we still have some things to try tomorrow morning before Superpole 1. Nicky had a more difficult time in finding the right feeling with the bike at this track and could not improve during FP2 either. We tried some radical changes to the setup, including shortening the wheelbase, but that didn’t really work. We will come up with a plan for tomorrow after looking through the data.