SBK, Rea faster than Marquez's MotoGP in Barcelona, but is this real glory?

The world champion lapped this morning in 1m40.450s, 57 thousandths less than Marc Marquez’s best race lap in 2019


The morning of the second day of the Barcelona Superbike Test saw a drastic drop in the lap times compared to Day 1. The reasons for these excellent performances are to be found in the asphalt temperature, lower than on Tuesday, and in the use of qualifying tyres. The best of the morning, so far, was Jonathan Rea who was also the first to go under the 1m41s barrier stopping the clocks, at the time of writing this article, in 1m40.450s. Times are set to go down again both in Kawasaki and in one side of the Ducati garage with the Panigale V4R of the Aruba team which, led by Scott Redding, was 156 thousandths away from the world champion. The expectations of the teams are to lap in 1m40.1s, we will see later in the day if that will be possible.

On a track "in common" between MotoGP and SBK it is always interesting to compare the timing references between the two categories and analyse the various best laps. Johnny Rea's 1m40.450s is 57 thousandths faster than Marc Marquez's best time in the race in 2019 while a few tenths are still missing to get near to the various top-class records. The best overall lap on this circuit belongs to Jorge Lorenzo who in 2018 set pole position with Ducati in 1m38.680s and, in the same weekend, also set the best lap during the race in 1m40.021s.

What sort of glory is this? Can a production-based SBK, costing a few hundred thousand euros, truly rival one fast lap by a million-euro prototype bike? Over one lap for sure, but the credit for this must go more than anything else to Pirelli. Tyres can make a huge difference over one lap and SBK have qualifying tyres, which MotoGP bikes don't have.

Just yesterday, Alvaro Bautista said that the Honda SBK seemed to him to be "lazy" on the straight. Logically, the reference was to MotoGP, the last bike he had ridden in Barcelona. No one ever in their right mind can think that a prototype is slower than a production bike and certain data must be interpreted.

Remember when Michelin made its 'test' tyres available to riders last year? These are tyres that last a couple of laps (like those of qualifying in SBK) used to collect data and normally not available to them. With that rubber, the benchmarks came down by a second and more.

As for race pace, the Superbikes inevitably come out worse off and not because of the demerit of technicians or riders, but because it is a comparison that is simply impossible due to the investments.

The tyres might all be round and black, but they are not all the same…



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