“It’s only the first day of practice in the first round of a season that is going to be a very long one, but we are off on the right foot. I am very pleased with the bike and the two riders.”
The feeling of this Friday practice at Phillip Island is summed up in the words of Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager. This Sunday on the exciting Australian track the World SBK championship will kick off with Aprilia defending the double championship title (Rider and Manufacturer) won last season.
Spaniard Jordi Torres and English rider Leon Haslam, both in the first official year on the reigning world champion bikes, definitely got off on the right foot and rode their RSV4 RFs to the top part of the standings. Respectively second and fourth in the combined standings for today’s sessions, they were consistently among the front-runners, even finishing the second session this afternoon with Torres leading and Haslam second.
But it was not just a battle against the clock. In fact, the Aprilia Racing – Red Devils riders focused on fine tuning their bikes, completing all the scheduled tasks and even testing various setups and materials with a view to Saturday’s Superpole session and, above all, the races on Sunday.
It was an excellent début for Jordi Torres, who made no secret of his satisfaction: “Getting off to better start would be hard! Credit definitely goes to Aprilia, the bike that really works well here and the great feeling I have with the guys on the team. I find it easy to learn even though there are still a lot of things to improve. I also must say that this track suits my riding style well. You have to hold the line with the gas open, be fast in the turns and there are no violent braking sections. Maybe in more of a “stop-and-go” track things would be different. In any case I’m enjoying the moment, especially because we’ve been doing well on tyre wear as well. With the high temperatures this afternoon conserving the tyres is fundamental. Sliding around not only makes you lose time trying to hold the line in turns but also coming out of them and at high speeds. Tomorrow we’ll continue testing and I can’t wait to take on my first Superpole.”
Leon Haslam was also positive, working with the Sunday races in mind: “This first day was a good début for us. Today we tried a lot of different setups and were able to find some good solutions. In my last lap I crashed on turn 10 due to a small mistake. We also focused on the two rear tyre options available to us, on their performance with varying temperatures and wear during the race, and we are close to an optimum setup. Looking at the races on Sunday I think that the hotter tarmac will help my Aprilia. Its power output could make things easier for me. The secret to this track is trying everything and fine tuning the bike, so that’s what we’ll be concentrating on tomorrow.”
PHILLIP ISLAND – FRIDAY PRACTICE
1. Lowes (Suzuki) 1’30.855
2. Torres (Aprilia) 1’31.214
3. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’31.403
4. Haslam (Aprilia) 1’31.466
5. Rea (Kawasaki) 1’31.541
6. Terol (Ducati) 1’31.614
7. VD Mark (Honda) 1’31.693
8. Davies (Ducati) 1’31.748
9. Salom (Kawasaki) 1’31.855
10. De Puniet (Suzuki) 1’31.881