The first European round of the WorldSBK season always brings excitement.
With trucks and hospitality units back on site, the paddock starts to feel more familiar; and with the opening round of the Supersport 300 and STK1000 series, there’s certainly a lot more track action.
The action on track so far in 2018 has seen the series receive a much-needed shot in the arm, and the new regulations have certainly helped to produce more competitive racing.
Honda Makes a Change
The biggest story of recent weeks has been the will they or won’t they regarding Honda’s electronics for the remainder of the season.
The Fireblade has been rejuvenated over the winter, and Leon Camier has been able to fight in the leading group in both Australia and Thailand.
For Round 3, the Red Bull Honda team will make the switch from Cosworth to Magneti Marelli electronics, and it will be very interesting to see how their fortunes fare.
Triple M Racing, with PJ Jacobsen riding, has been using the Italian electronics throughout the winter and opening rounds, so there is a baseline for the Red Bull Honda team to use, but with rain forecast for Friday the team could be on the back foot this weekend.
Momentum Growing for Davies?
Aragon is Chaz Davies’ favorite track on the WorldSBK calendar, and the Welshman will be keen to add to his Race 2 success in Thailand.
Coming to Spain within touching distance of the world championship lead for the first time in years, a successful weekend could be the springboard to a title charge for the Ducati star.
In recent years, he has been playing catch-up to Jonathan Rea. Last year a Race 1 crash in Aragon all but ended his title chances, by falling 55 points adrift, but this year could be very different.
Independent Thought Alarm
The new regulations have certainly helped to close the field. With ten riders having led races and Xavi Fores sitting second in the championship, and the leading Ducati, it is clear that independent teams are suddenly on a much more even footing compared to recent year.
With Puccetti and Triple M Racing having had top ten finishes in Thailand as well, it is clear that the early indications are that midfield teams are more competitive than the past.
Aragon, and next weekend’s Dutch round at Assen, should give us a true indication of whether this is a trend for the season or an early year anomaly.
The smart money points to Barni Ducati being competitive throughout the season, and Kawasaki and Honda producing decent results from their independent squads.
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