Come to Spain they said, the weather will be great they said…There are typically only a handful of valuable winter testing venues. Jerez in the south of Spain is one of the most popular.
Usually the winter sun provides almost perfect conditions for World Superbike teams to undertake their off-season programs. The weather was not co-operating today, and there was limited mileage for all of the runners.
The test did however offer the first glimpses of the Milwaukee Aprilia. Their partnership has been one of the biggest off-season talking points, and while Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty were unable to complete a lot of miles, they were at least able to start their tenure with the team.
For Laverty it also marked a return to the WorldSBK paddock, after two years in MotoGP. As a result the team were keen to get out on track and a 11.20am Savadori ventured out.
It took Laverty a little longer to make his appearance, and afterwards both riders needed time to adjust the bike to their liking before completing some longer runs throughout the day. For Laverty, the start of the 2017 season cannot come soon enough, after two years spent scraping for points and top ten finishes.
“It’s good to be back on the Aprilia and today went well,” said Laverty. “My aim for this year is to be a world champion this time next year, and that’s why I came back to World Superbike. I had an option to stay in MotoGP, but it was on a bike that wouldn’t be able to compete for the top ten.”
“It was either that or come to World Superbike and fight for the title, and I know with SMR and Aprilia that we’ve got a chance to do that. I feel ready and it’s not as if I’m going to have to learn a new bike, and that’s definitely key for me.”
“To join a new project and a new bike would have been a very different challenge, and to win a title in my first year would be an ambitious aim, but I know this bike and I’ve won races on it before. I feel like I’m coming home.”
On the other side of the garage, Savadori enters his second season, and while he will continue riding the Aprilia, the team is now very different.
“It was important to get today’s test started and to learn about the team, and how to work with them,” said the Italian. “Last year I was working with an Italian team, but to work with a British team is really good for me because I have to improve my English and work with my engineers in another language.”
“I have not brought anyone from IODA, although some of the Aprilia engineers are the same. My crew chief is Ian Ward who has been with SMR. My mechanics and the team though is all new for me!”
While Laverty is making a return to the WorldSBK paddock Stefan Bradl is still making his tentative first steps in the paddock. The former Moto2 World Champion had his first taste of the Honda last week at Motorland Aragon, and came away impressed by the Ten Kate team.
The German is clearly looking forward to getting his hands on the definitive 2017 package during the January tests.
While lap times were not official, the Ten Kate squad commented that Bradl was able to set respectable times on his first day riding on the Pirelli tires in the wet.
Bradl was the lone Honda on track today, with Nicky Hayden forced to sit on the sidelines following a knee injury he sustained while flat track training in Barcelona during the weekend. The American has returned to the United States to undergo checks and determine the extent of his injury.
In World Supersport there was some interest in the factory MV squad with Alessandro Zaccone and Massimo Roccoli out on track.
Paddock rumor has it that the Italian squad are using this week as a shootout for their 2017 seat. American PJ Jacobsen is also in the frame and is in the paddock waiting for his chance on the bike.
Unofficial Lap Times from the World Superbike Test in Jerez, Monday:
|MV Agusta 675 F3
|MV Agusta 675 F3
Photo: © 2016 Steve English – All Rights Reserved