PREVIEW: Can Ducati reign supreme once again in Jerez

by Robert Jones

Round six of the World Superbike championship heads to the Jerez circuit in Andalusia, where Ducati are still the most successful manufacturer with five wins.

Three of those wins have come in the form of Chaz Davies, who will hope to put himself in contention following his recent up turn in form. Meanwhile, his teammate and championship leader Alvaro Bautista will be looking to get back to winning ways after Imola, where he was beaten for the first time this season. 

The Italian round was somewhat of a unique weekend for Bautista, due to it being his first visit to the circuit. But the Aruba.it rider heads to more familiar ground this weekend, with it being his second home round of the year following Aragon

Last time out, our winner was defending champion Jonathan Rea, who took two wins from two, and will need to continue that momentum into the next few rounds which come in quick succession if he wants any chance of winning a fifth world championship on the bounce. 

Confidence can do wonders to a rider’s performance and Rea hopes his double win last time out can help going forward. He commented “I’m excited to go to Jerez and understand our potential there. After the race weekend in Imola and a positive test at Misano I feel ready for this next challenge. Jerez is a very nice circuit to ride, especially the fast flowing corners at the end of the lap.” 

Track conditions will be very different for the riders come this weekend’s races compared to when the riders tested in Jerez during the winter break, and Rea believes this could be key going into the weekend. 

“It will be important to make a lot of laps during practice to prepare for the races, as it’s the first time we have raced in Jerez during the summer. The temperatures will be much higher than we experienced during our winter tests. With this in mind, we will work hard and try to keep the momentum going.” 

It will also be an important weekend for Rea’s teammate Leon Haslam, who started the season with podium finishes in Phillip Island, but has seen his form and performances tail off. 

Jerez will also see the return of Frenchman, Loris Baz to the World Superbike championship, with Ten Kate Racing. The team will only be running one bike for the remainder of the championship.

Image Credit: WorldSBK.com

Baz has been speaking of his excitement ahead of the weekend following the Misano test.  “We managed to do a lot of work over the two days, it would’ve been good to have a third day with full dry weather, but after so long without riding a bike I needed time to find the pace. The team needed to learn all the systems with the bike too.”

“I improved on every run and had some nice pace, but I didn’t try and set a time with a fresh tyre because I was trying to learn how to ride the Yamaha. I’m looking forward to racing at Jerez. I’m excited that there are three races in WorldSBK now because Jerez will be a ‘test session’ for us, we’ll try and use the Friday to find a base setting and to help me find my pace.” 

Baz is a proven winner in World Superbike, and won’t be set on returning to the series just to make up the numbers. You can see Baz and all the riders in action starting Friday at 9:30am for FP1 live on Eurosport.

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