The first WSBK test for the year 2023 took place in Jerez. Toprak Razgatlioglu set the best time, but rookie Dominique Aegerter also impressed with his performance. BMW and Honda were disappointing, while Kawasaki worked on improving efficiency. The 2023 Ducati was tested by world champion Alvaro Bautista, while rookie Danilo Petrucci rode the 2022 Ducati and worked on the base set-up.
Toprak Razgatlioglu snatches the best time
Toprak Razgatlioglu again set the fastest lap time on the second day of the WSBK test in Jerez. The Yamaha rider from Turkey lapped the Circuito de Jerez in 1:38.269 minutes, just missing the pole record from the 2019 season (Jonathan Rea, 1:38.247 minutes). On the first day of testing, Razgatlioglu had already led the standings and set a 1:38.597 lap, just ahead of world champion Alvaro Bautista (Ducati). However, the day didn’t quite go to plan for him. Razgatlioglu had an accident in the last corner, his R1 was scrap and Razgatlioglu had to be examined, but was able to continue the training. He completed a total of 61 laps. Andrea Locatelli focused mainly on evaluating development parts that were tested in wet weather in December. He improved significantly on the second day and finished the practice session in seventh place.
Toprak Razgatlioglu: „A very big crash this morning but I am very lucky, just a little pain in my left leg but now the feeling is coming better. We improved my R1, with good acceleration and good grip – I was trying today for 1’37 for the record, but I did not see! We used a Q tyre today and I see best lap, 1’38.2. In general, good testing for me – in Portimão we need to try some more set-up because we are happy but also we are not stopping. Just we try to keep making everything better – thanks to my team, every day they are working and now we start to see how the level of the bike is and I am very happy.”
Rookie Dominique Aegerter impresses
On Thursday, Yamaha rider Andrea Locatelli has improved significantly, but could not take second place among the Yamaha riders. Rookie Dominique Aegerter, who starts for the GRT Yamaha team, held his ground in front of the second factory Yamaha and fought his way into the top 6. He was already able to finish in the top 10 on Wednesday. The 2021 and 2022 Supersport World Champion could hardly have finished his first real test on a dry track better.
His GRT teammate Remy Gardner also made it into the top 10. The GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK duo Aegerter and Gardner had a real “marathon” on the track, a total of 382 laps in two days. Both riders started with the 2022-spec R1 WorldSBK, familiarizing themselves with the characteristics of the bike they are riding for the first time this season. Later on the first day they also tested development parts for 2023.
At the end of the two days, both riders were in the top ten, but are confident that they can still improve.
Dominique Aegerter – 1’39.193 – GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK: “I’m happy with the job done during the two days here in Jerez. Finally we could ride in the dry and at the end I was able to ride a little bit more comfortable. We tried a lot of things, including working on my riding style. The final position is good as the lap times, even though we know we still have margin to improve. Let’s move on to Portimao, where we will go more in depth with the testing and hopefully further improve.”
BMW and Honda disappointed
For the BMW team, the second day of testing was not a successful day. Loris Baz of Bonovo, the best BMW rider, ended up in 11th place and still had a large gap. The factory rider Scott Redding rode in 12th place and was even more than 1.4 seconds behind the leader. Michael van der Mark, third in the pack, was almost two seconds behind and finished 16th, just behind newcomer Garrett Gerloff of Bonovo-BMW. The BMW team still has some problems to solve before it can join the leading group.
The Honda riders did not have it easy on the second day of testing. Iker Lecuona finished ninth, but was almost a second behind. Xavi Vierge was also not convincing and ended up in 13th place, 1.591 seconds behind. Obviously, the Honda team still has to improve a few things in order to be at the front of the pack.
Kawasaki works to increase efficiency
Jonathan Rea, the record world champion, made significant gains on the second day of testing in Jerez. Even though he only completed 56 laps, he lost just under a tenth of a second to the best time. Alex Lowes, his Kawasaki teammate, also improved and took fifth place, just 0.906 seconds behind.
Kawasaki has worked hard over the winter to become more efficient and aims to achieve better results through new personnel and workflows. The gearbox on the ZX-10RR has been slightly modified and an idle lockout has been developed to make it even better.
For former world champion Tom Sykes it was a particularly difficult day. On the first day he fell back due to a technical problem, could not turn many laps on the second day and ultimately ended up in 17th position, 2.481 seconds behind.
Jonathan Rea: “It has been a productive couple of days. We didn’t do so many laps because of the cold track conditions in the morning, so we just started a little bit later. But the laps we did do were very productive. I really got on well with my new electronics guy, Sander. We also have Christophe arriving with a lot of experience. So the first day was more about understanding and communication, how they adapted the set-up to my requests and how I make my comments to them. It is only the first step but they had some really good ideas. We improved quite a lot in one area. From the chassis side, we had some items to test from Showa, things we had to reconfirm from last year. We were able to get our workload done. We also tried out some some development front tyre options from Pirelli. The track itself was in good shape on both days but it was a bit windy at the end of the final day. I am quite encouraged by this test but we still have a lot of work to do before Phillip Island.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “We had a good second day of testing here in Jerez. We have got some new parts on the bike and I did a longer race simulation that I was happy with. We were consistent, just missing a little bit of performance on fresh tyres – but I did not really go for a time attack and try to push hard. We did a lot of laps today and I felt good physically. We had more of our test items to try and improve again in Portimao next week. I focused on the harder tyres and did a long run on the hardest front and rear options, to try and take some grip away, because the track is so grippy in the winter. It felt quite good, so I am very optimistic for the next test.”
World champion Alvaro Bautista tests new 2023 Ducati
On the second day of testing, world champion Alvaro Bautista was one of the most active riders on track. He covered the most kilometers with 86 laps. He focused on working on the new 2023 Ducati Panigale, which differs in some areas from the 2022 version. The new bike doesn’t have more power, but the power delivery has been significantly improved. The engine takes to the throttle more smoothly, which should allow for better lap times.
Bautista’s teammate Michael Rinaldi finished the day in fourth place, just three tenths behind the world champion.
Rookie Danilo Petrucci tests 2022 Ducati and works on basic set-up
Rookie Danilo Petrucci of the Barni team has not yet had the opportunity to test the new bike and focused on the proven 2022 version. Thursday he finished eighth, just under a second behind Bautista.
The lap times from the Jerez test (Thursday):
- Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha) – 1:38.269 minutes (61 laps)
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.083 seconds (56)
- Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) +0.180 (86)
- Michael Rinaldi (Ducati) +0.377 (67)
- Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) +0.906 (79)
- Dominique Aegerter (GRT-Yamaha) +0.924 (71)
- Andrea Locatelli (Yamaha) +1.011 (69)
- Danilo Petrucci (Barni-Ducati) +1.042 (54)
- Iker Lecuona (Honda) +1.068 (68)
- Remy Gardner (GRT-Yamaha) +1,195 (76)
- Loris Baz (Bonovo-BMW) +1,248 (61)
- Scott Redding (BMW) +1,441 (71)
- Xavi Vierge (Honda) +1,591 (79)
- Philipp Öttl (GoEleven-Ducati) +1,754 (77)
- Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo-BMW) +1.832 (52)
- Michael van der Mark (BMW) +1.952 (77)
- Tom Sykes (Puccetti-Kawasaki) +2.481 (36)
- Lorenzo Baldassarri (GMT94-Yamaha) +2.706 (65)
- Oliver König (Orelac-Kawasaki) +3.326 (63)