Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden round out top-10 in opening race at Aragon
The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has contested the opening race of the weekend at the MotorLand Aragón circuit in north-eastern Spain, with Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden crossing the line in ninth and tenth positions, respectively, at the end of the 18-lap encounter.
The two Honda WorldSBK combatants got a good start from tenth and eleventh on the grid on board their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machines and gained one position each during the opening lap. Bradl spent most of the race ahead of his teammate as he swapped positions several times with Eugene Laverty. However, on the last lap, Hayden successfully overtook Bradl for ninth place, but the German retook the place before the chequered flag.
The starting grid for race two (13:00 GMT +2) will see Stefan Bradl lining up on row two in sixth slot, while Nicky Hayden will launch himself from twelfth place on the fourth row.
Stefan Bradl 6
It was not an easy Saturday for us. For the first time this year I found myself battling out on track and I did have some fun with Laverty, but I was suffering a bit on the back straight as we had to use an old engine after a problem in Superpole 2. The setup still needs to be improved and there were several minor issues rather than one big one, but we can still work on them ahead of race two. The key areas are rear grip but we also need to find some more stability at the front. Starting from sixth place will be interesting for me as it’ll be a little bit closer to the front, with an opportunity to learn some more from the guys ahead.
Nicky Hayden 69
We made a good change for Superpole 1 and I immediately felt much happier with the bike. A 50.9s lap-time with race tyres was definitely not bad but unfortunately I wasn’t able to lap much faster with the qualifier. I got a good start in the race but I found myself baulked entering turn one, so I lost some positions. The bike was working OK in some areas but I was struggling a little with turning. I caught up there with Eugene and Stefan and I thought I could have won that battle, so that I could start closer to the front tomorrow. I went back and forth with the Stefan on the last lap: I did get in front of him, then I thought I had a chance at Eugene but Stefan passed me again on the back straight. Obviously, we’re not too happy with tenth place but we’ll keep working and see what we can do tomorrow.
We couldn’t make the most of free practice 3 today as the temperatures were too low to do some important work needed. It did get warmer for Superpole 1 which helped the bike find its sweet spot and we set some competitive lap-times, especially with race tyres. In the race, Stefan struggled a bit more on the straight as he was using an old engine, while after a few laps Nicky was already experiencing some issues in getting the bike to turn the way he wanted. Both riders did a great job, though, and now we have some more time to have a look at the data for race 2.