BMW and Ducati were the only manufacturers remaining Thursday at Jerez testing in Spain as the teams prep for the 26th edition of the World Superbike Championship, which gets underway Feb. 24 at Phillip Island, Australia.
Kawasaki and Aprilia did not participate Thursday, the teams finishing up their work Monday through Wednesday at Jerez.
Under cold conditions on the fourth day of testing, BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet’s Marco Melandri was the quickest rider, the Italian who finished third in the 2012 World SBK Championship posting a best lap of 1:40.816 on soft race Pirelli tires.
Making his debut with the new team run by the Italian BMW subsidiary, Melandri is testing various suspension components in order to improve front-end confidence, which was one of the main problems that emerged during the past season. New signing Chaz Davies continued his learning curve on his second run-out with the other S1000RR after his first outing had been conditioned by bad weather.
Over in the Ducati Alstare garage, development work continued on the new Ducati 1199 Panigale machine, and Carlos Checa managed to reduce the gap separating him from the top on day 1 yesterday. The former champion lapped in 1’41″840 while new signing Ayrton Badovini, still feeling his way in after a switch from the four-cylinder BMW to twin-cylinder power, ended up with a time of 1:44.529.
German Max Neukirchner, who will take part in next year’s championship with the same bike, is running with a Superstock 1000-spec machine but on slick tyres and his best time was 1:44.426. Other Ducati Superstock bikes in Spain were from the satellite Barni outfit for Niccolò Canepa (1:45.256) and 2012 runner-up Eddi La Marra (1:45.526).
Jerez testing concludes tomorrow Friday, the final day before the regulation six-week ban until mid-January, but heavy rain is expected.
World Superbike Jerez Test Times – Thursday: 1. Melandri (BMW) 1’40″816 (50 laps); 2. Checa (Ducati) 1’41″840 (58); 3. Davies (BMW) 1’42″716 (70); 4. Badovini (Ducati) 1’44″529 (64). STK: 1. Neukirchner (Ducati) 1’44″426 (56); 2. Canepa (Ducati) 1’45″256 (28); 3. La Marra (Ducati) 1’45″526 (57)