Ducati has been the bike to beat at Aragon since 2015. WorldSBK commentator Steve English looks at what their riders can expect.
Over the last five years, Motorland Aragon has firmly been Ducati territory and with a double bill upcoming at the Spanish circuit, there’s little reason to expect that to change. The Panigale V4 R has had a clear advantage at the 5km venue and they will expect to continue their run of form this year It’ll be impossible for Ducati to match last year’s dominant display but they’ll certainly expect to walk away with wins this weekend. Having seen Alvaro Bautista dominate the field at a rate of over one second per lap in 2019, the field will be closer but Ducati will stay ahead.
Scott Redding, currently second in the World Championship, knows Aragon like the back of his hand having had nine Grand Prix starts at the track. Redding will have some good memories from his Grand Prix career, having stood on the Moto2™ podium in 2012. A recent two day test will mean that he’s ready to hit the ground running this weekend. The focus of attention for Redding at the test was to find improvements in the braking zone, having recently felt that corner entry was a weakness for the Panigale V4 R. This was an issue last year for the bike but Bautista’s style could find a way to maximise his potential once he had a clear track in front of him. With a much more competitive field this year, we can expect a much more cut and thrust weekend at the sharp end.
Chaz Davies, Aragon’s most successful rider with seven wins, struggled to find the right feeling with the bike last year and while he has had some blots on his copy book this season, he’ll expect to be in with a shout this weekend. The Welshman, who has had only one podium this year, showed competitive pace in the scorching temperatures of Jerez. With similar weather forecast at Aragon, he’ll know finding a Superpole improvement will be crucial. With a season’s best effort of seventh it has left him facing an uphill task when the lights go out.Getting the most out of the qualifying tyre will be crucial for the Welshman so that he has a chance to be competitive in the races. WorldSBK has become much more competitive in recent years and giving your rivals an inch at the start means they can take a mile over the course of a full race distance.
For the World Championship leader, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), this weekend is of utmost importance. He’ll know that Aragon will be the toughest track visited on his title defence. The track is good for Kawasaki but far from one they’ll expect to be setting the pace. Rea expects to find a way to grind out results, as he has done in recent years, but with a slender four point lead over Scott Redding, it’s very difficult to forecast him leading the way when the paddock packs up in Spain. Rea’s record at Aragon is very consistent and finished on the podium since 2015, so will be confident of a good weekend and picking up the pieces if there’s any left for him.
Of course, you now have to factor Michael Ruben Rinaldi into the hordes of Ducati’s expected to be at the sharp end. The Italian, who was a constant rival of Toprak Razgatlioglu in the feeder classes, has shown a lot of improvement this year. Rinaldi finally has the confidence and machinery to be consistent in the Superbike class and with four top six finishes from the last two rounds, he’ll be confident that this weekend can see him stand proudly on the Superbike podium.
The Ducati, with the strongest engine on the grid, should be a weapon at Aragon this year like it was last. The gap to the rest of the field will be closer but when the cards were dealt heading to Spain, they have the strongest hands. Lets see what the weekend throws up.