Paul Denning reacts to Yamaha’s strong opening day at MotorLand Aragon while Michael van der Mark explains his FP2 crash
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship burst back into action at MotorLand Aragon for the Pirelli Aragon Round as the 2021 season got underway after a long hiatus. It didn’t take long for some interesting stories to appear up and down the pitlane and our team were on hand to pick up some of the hot takes from Day 1 at Aragon.
Yamaha showed impressive pace in Free Practice 1 with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) topping the timesheets, a time good enough to be fastest for the entire day, and Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in third. While they did not set headline times in the second session, it was certainly a promising start at a circuit Yamaha have struggled at in recent seasons.
During Free Practice 2, Pata Yamaha’s Team Manager, Paul Denning, spoke to WorldSBK and explained how Yamaha have made a step forward at MotorLand Aragon. He said: “Especially at this track, because it’s never done Toprak’s any favours on any machine in the past. As Yamaha we’ve struggled a bit here so to show that potential, admittedly in the cooler conditions this morning, is still super positive. Toprak’s really developed a lot as a rider over the last year, training much harder, thinking more, he’s testing more seriously and that’s starting to show in the results we’re seeing. I don’t just mean the fact he had the fastest lap, but in testing results and the fact he’s willing to put the laps and work in.”
With Razgatlioglu topping the timesheets in Free Practice 1, Denning was full of praise for everyone involved with the development of the YZF R1 over the course of the winter. Denning added: “Honestly, it’s a dull answer, but a little bit everywhere. A little bit of engine performance, continued improvements to the chassis balance which aids engine performance a lot in terms of putting power to the ground, less wheelie and a little bit less spinning. In general, just it’s the same R1 but very, very careful work by Yamaha and everyone involved in the project over the winter has just made the bike that little bit better. If we are to compete the new Kawasaki, the Panigale etc. it’s going to have to be better and it looks like it is.”
Down the pitlane at BMW, it was a dramatic first day at the Aragon Round for Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) as he suffered a crash on his new M 1000 RR at Turn 8; van der Mark okay after the crash where his bike bounced onto the air fence and caused a Red Flag while the barrier was repaired.
Discussing the crash, van der Mark said during FP2: “The crash itself wasn’t that big, it’s just the bike ended up on top of the air fence. Temperatures went up and of course the bike’s moving around a bit more, but I don’t know exactly what happened. I lost the front going into Turn 8, which is a bit s*** to be honest. We needed this track time and planned to do long runs. Anyway, unfortunately for the boys a lot of work to do. Tomorrow, we have to improve the bike a bit better because, to be honest, this morning I felt good. I think my first timed lap wasn’t that bad for the conditions and the tyres I was on. Just a shame and I’m so sorry for the guys but tomorrow we have to try again.”
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