2022 is off and running and Alex Lowes was the one who led the charge on day one in Spain
The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is getting nearer to lights out, as day one of the new year on track has been completed. Team HRC, Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK and others all hit the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto for the first of two days testing, which saw Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) on top ahead of rookie Spaniards Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) and teammate Iker Lecuona.
WorldSBK’s first day of 2022 is complete
Despite Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) deciding not to come out and play – he opted to sit-out day one and doesn’t know whether he’ll be riding a full day or a half day on day two – it was still a good day for Kawasaki. Alex Lowes was back on track and said that he feels much better, having had a couple of surgeries as well as working hard with the physios. He had things to try from Showa and also for the rear of the bike and the British rider ended day one as the fastest. Commenting on the new items, he said it’s “nothing massive but in our game, small changes can make a big difference.”
Honda continued to progress throughout the day as Xavi Vierge completed the day in second. The rookie Spaniard enjoyed the whole day inside the top two positions and was a regular fixture at the top for most of that. After a good first test for both he and fellow rookie teammate Iker Lecuona back in December, both were looking at more electronic and traction control settings, improving grip, turning and handling. Team manager Leon Camier commented that there’s a “few aspects to help optimise what we’ve got” so there’ll be plenty more to come on day two. Also spotted on day one was that Honda have changed to Nissin brakes and Showa suspension; they previously ran Brembo and Ohlins respectively. Kawasaki’s factory team also use Showa, whilst BMW are the only other factory team that use Nissin.
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was another rider who, having been injured at the end of 2021, was back on a motorcycle. Having had a broken wrist four months ago, and it has healed for only a month, he was on track to get some crucial lap time and to adapt to the electronics. Although he doesn’t have pain in his scaphoid, he has some pain with the ligament and the muscle and has lost some power. However, he did say it was getting better, but slowly. He was fourth at the end of the day.
The big news away from the on-track action was that Pirelli confirmed that a new tyre will be introduced for the 2022 season: the SCQ tyre will be used primarily for the Tissot Superpole Race, as the SCX – previously used with the 10-lap dash in mind – has been used more for the full races. For more information and quotes from Pirelli’s Motorsport Director about the new tyre, read the full story here!
WorldSSP: Öncü remains fastest ahead of new recruits
Finland’s Niki Tuuli headed out towards the end of the day, completing some laps to get dialled in and finished the day on top. On the MV Agusta, there was new engine, clutch, gearbox and electronics, so plenty of items to get through. Turkish star Can Öncü’s (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 2022 season preparation got off to a solid start as he finished second in the WorldSSP testing standings. His new teammate and 2021 WorldSSP one-event rider Yari Montella was next up, second in the class, whilst Kenan Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was third. Sofuoglu is deputising for his nephew, Bahattin, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday before the flight. Ben Currie (G.A.P Motozoo by Puccetti Racing) and teammate Jeffrey Buis adapted to life in WorldSSP, with less than a second separating the Australian and the Dutchman.
WorldSBK unofficial times after day one of testing:
1 Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’40.316
2. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) 1’40.342
3. Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) 1’40.496
4. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 1’40.921
Watch all of the drama of 2022 right from the start with the WorldSBK VideoPass!