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2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview

Following Jonathan Rea’s domination so far in 2017 World Superbike, the 13-round SBK series heads to Motorland Aragon in Spain.

Rea, the two-time World SBK reigning Champion, was untouchable during preseason testing, and remained on top of the time sheets throughout the Australian round at Phillip Island, claiming Superpole and both races. He repeated this same performance at Chang International Circuit in Thailand.

Though the Kawasaki ZX-10RR pilot creates the loudest chatter in paddock, the man who finished second in both opening rounds—Chaz Davies—is the favorite heading into Aragon.

2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Kawasaki's Jonathan Rea
2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea
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The Aruba.it Racing Ducati Team Panigale R pilot has won three out of four races at Aragon in the past two seasons, only losing race 1 in 2015 to Rea. The Welshman Davies has also won at Aragon, which joined the WSBK calendar in 2011, on BMW S 1000 RR machinery back in 2013.

As he chases his first-ever SBK title, Aragon will provide the perfect venue to get a jump on the points race.

“I’m looking forward to get back to racing in Europe,” Davies says. “In a way, things kind of reset at this point and the season gets in full swing. The first two rounds are always a bit different. Aragon is a track I’ve always had good success at, for one reason or another, but of course we still want to improve and take the next steps forward.

“This round represents an important chance for us to establish our base for the rest of the season and sort of see where we’re really at. Anyway, we’re in a lot better position compared with last year in terms of points collected. It was disappointing to crash like that in Race 2 in Thailand; it’s strange how it unfolded but we also got lucky with the red flags. We’re second in the championship, but of course we want to finish in better positions.”

2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Ducati's Chaz Davies
2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Ducati’s Chaz Davies

Rea is optimistic about riding the all-new ZX-10RR at Aragon, considering the bike’s ability at a few different venues so far this season.

“After the two flyway rounds it was nice to get home and back into some domestic normality, especially with the kids,” Rea says. “I have enjoyed a few days out riding motocross too so I have been having a really nice time away from the racetrack. Not too long as we will be in Aragon soon. I have really enjoyed the Motorland track since its inception in 2011.”

“I have had one race win there but I have never been the strongest, so I am looking forward to taking the form we have had in the last two races with us into Motorland. Our first winter test was held there in November and we seemed to have a really good steer on things then. I enjoy riding the Ninja ZX-10RR and it seems like it has been in the ballpark at two quite different circuits this year. I am excited and intrigued to get underway at Motorland to see where we stack up.”

Rea’s other bigger threats in Aragon will be teammate and 2013 World SBK Champion Tom Sykes, who doubled there in 2014, and Davies’ teammate Marco Melandri, who has two wins and three podiums at Motorland Aragon. Both of these riders also split third-place finishes in Australia and Thailand.

2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Kawasaki's Tom Sykes
2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team’s Alex Lowes heads to Aragon looking for his first podium of the season. The Brit finished fourth in both Phillip Island races, and 6-4 in Thailand. He has struggled at Aragon in the past, claiming a best of eighth last season aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1. But he’s more comfortable on the R1 this season as he chases his first podium with Yamaha.

Lowes’ teammate, World Supersport Champion Michael van der Mark has finished second at Aragon in the Supersport class, but has only claimed two two-eight finishes so far in his WorldSBK career.

2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Ducati's Marco Melandri
2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Ducati’s Marco Melandri

As for the sole American in World Superbike, 2006 MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden and his teammate, the rookie SBK pilot Stefan Bradl, continue to struggle with the new Red Bull Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. They both broke into the top 10 in Thailand as they continue to develop the new CBR.  Last season, Hayden finished 6-23.

Milwaukee Aprilia teammates Lorenzo Savadori and Eugene Laverty had a tough opening to 2017 World Superbike due to crashes and mechanic issues, but both know Aragon well. Hopefully they can put the harsh start behind them, and get the Aprilia RSV4 running with the lead bikes.

Althea BMW Racing Team’s Jordi Torres  Markus Reiterberger have had a steady start to the season, but will be aiming to impress as the series heads into Europe. The same can be said for MV Agusta Reparto F4 pilot Leon Camier, who started the season with a 5-8 at Phillip Island. He finished eighth at the opening race in Thailand, but was forced to retire from race two with technical issues.

Heading into Aragon, Rea has a perfect 100 points, 30 ahead of Davies and 38 ahead of Sykes.

2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Yamaha's Alex Lowes
2017 Aragon World Superbike Preview: Yamaha’s Alex Lowes

Aragon World Superbike Record:

  • Best lap: Sykes (Kawasaki), 1:49.374 (167,107 km/h) – 2016
  • Circuit record: Davies (Ducati), 1:50.421 (164,581 km/h) – 2016
  • Superpole: Sykes (Kawasaki), 1:49.374 (167,107 km/h) – 2016

2016 Aragon World Superbike Results:

  • Race 1: Davies (Ducati), Rea (Kawasaki), Sykes (Kawasaki)
  • Race 2: Davies (Ducati), Sykes (Kawasaki), Rea (Kawasaki)

2017 Aragon World Superbike Schedule (local times):

Friday (3/31)

  • 09:45 – 10:45 SBK FP1
  • 14:30 – 15:30 SBK FP2

Saturday (4/1)

  • 08:45 – 09:10 SBK FP3
  • 10:30 – 10.45 SBK Superpole 1
  • 10:55 – 11:10 SBK Superpole 2
  • 13:00 SBK Race 1

Sunday (4/2)

  • 09:30 – 09:45 SBK Warm-up
  • 13:00 SBK Race 2