As the FIM Superbike World Championship returned to Europe, the big question was how the majority of the racers would respond by being back on home turf. For some, normal service resumed, but for others, Motorland Aragón in Spain was a catastrophe. Not a great weekend for many, the Downsides far outnumbered the Upsides at Aragón.
2015 Aragón World Superbike Commentary, Upside
Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10-R: Six races into the season, Rea has four wins and two seconds – an astounding record. Rae methodically picked off riders to win the first Aragón race, and then wisely settled for the runner-up spot when Chas Davies proved unbeatable later in the afternoon.
No one is within a race of Rea in the standings, and all but one rider trails by an entire weekend. There’s a long way to go, but this is looking like an amazing year for Rea…even he was amazed: “I did not expect to win here because Tom [Sykes] and Chaz [Davies] are really fast riders and this is their best circuit. So, to finish with a first and second is a bit surreal.”
Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: It has been a long drought for Ducati at the top of the podium, but Davies broke the negative spell with a runaway win in the second race. Davies looked good in Race 1, but didn’t quite have the right setup to catch Rea.
Still, Race 1 looked good after the disaster in the previous round at Thailand (11th and 15th). Between races, Davies nailed the setup and dominated Race 2, as the rest of the field could only watch from afar.
Davies was ecstatic, “We’ve come close before now but today we finally did it! This has been my only goal since coming to Ducati and I’m very pleased to have achieved this result here. It’s extremely important to me, to be able to repay Ducati, Aruba and all of the Ducatisti with the first win for the Panigale R. I know that everyone has been working tirelessly to obtain this result.”
This weekend in Assen we’ll find out if the Panigale R has arrived, or if it’s a false alarm. Davies is, understandably, trying to tamp down expectations: “My aim this weekend, and every weekend, is to be on the podium, and then we’ll try to pick up wins where we can.”
Xavi Forés – Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: Sure, we all miss Troy Bayliss, but Forés has to be the replacement rider Ducati was looking for to fill in for the injured Davide Giugliano. In his first round, Forés turned in impressive 5th and 6th place finishes, instantly putting him ahead of the likes of MV Agusta’s Leon Camier and Suzuki’s Randy De Puniet.
2015 Aragón World Superbike Commentary, Downside
Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10R: Sykes’ championship hopes are slipping away sooner than anyone had expected. Although he made the podium in Race 1, a nasty highside ended Race 2 early for the former WSBK Champion. “I scored a podium in Race 1 but in some ways at the moment we are having a bit of a bad run,” Sykes admits. “I cannot beat myself up about it. I am okay after the crash in Race 2; I just took a big hit on my left side. It was a strange crash, very late on the exit of the corner so it caught me unaware. Not sure if it was all rider error right now or what.”
We’re all glad to hear Sykes will be ready to ride at Assen. However, he trails his teammate Rea by a staggering 74 points after three rounds. Still, Sykes is optimistic: “We have a great circuit coming up next week at Assen and the plan is to make another step in a good direction.”
Sylvain Guintoli – PATA Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR SP: This is not the way to defend your #1 plate. After a lackluster 9th in Race 1, Guintoli lost the one thing he had left — consistency. He crashed out and scored no points for the first time in 43 races.
Guintoli admitted that he was a bit too aggressive in Race 2, which was disastrous: “I think in Race 2 I could have challenged for sixth position, but I got a little hungry and lost the front, which resulted in me crashing out unfortunately.” The WSBK #1 plate holder is 92 points behind Rea.
Alex Lowes – Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000: Lowes had a flash of brilliance in Thailand, hitting the podium in 3rd place in Race 2. However, Lowes scored a grand total of two points in two races at Aragón, finishing 43 seconds behind Davies in Race 2.
Lowes sits 106 points behind leader Rea with just six races completed in the series. Lowes summed it up graphically on Twitter: “Need to pull my finger out to keep up with bro”
Michael van der Mark – PATA Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR SP: The reigning World Supersport champ is doing anything but living up to his “Magical” nickname. He has only finished half his races (though the technical problem in Race 1 wasn’t his fault), and an 8th in Race 2 in Aragón is not impressive for the highly touted rookie. He’s 11th in the series standings.
Team Hero EBR: They’ve picked up a point or two here and there over the last season and in 2015 – including a 15th in Race 1 at Aragón for Niccolò Canepa – but the bankruptcy of Erik Buell Racing is likely to be the end of the line for American Larry Pegram and Italy’s Canepa on the American 1190RX superbike. With backing from India’s motorcycle manufacturing giant Hero, we were hoping for so much more.