On day two of the SBK test at Jerez de la Frontera, yesterday's sessions having been hindered by rain, our reporter Mirko Colombi continues to send us interviews.
Pirelli SBK manager Giorgio Barbier speaks to Motosprint and considers both what is happening at the Andalusian track right now and the 2021 calendar in general.
Despite the first test day proving to be a flop for most riders, the SBK field hopes to take to the track today: “These tests are undoubtedly important - states Giorgio Barbier - because we finished a good test season in November and it’s essential to carry on again now and understand. There are new riders and many modifications have been made to bikes and these need to be tested. In addition, on our side, we’d like to restart with something after a 2020 that was a little short on development. We have material ready and we’d like to test it before March”.
These new products include a rain tyre: “Already last year we brought a new specification for use in the wet and that worked well at Magny Cours. We have another one ready, but for now this is not a priority for teams and they are not so interested. They have a lot to test on the bikes, then perhaps the slick tyres and, lastly, the rain tyres. Finding someone who’s happy to head out with a brand-new bike on a damp track is difficult right now”.
On the 2021 season
This year, and despite the fact the championship’s not started yet, it appears the level might be even higher: “There’s a clear upturn in competitiveness - explains Barbier – both in terms of the bikes and the individual teams, so we’ll see more bikes from the same manufacturer and more challenges for Jonathan Rea who’s going to have some good rivals or some good battles going on behind him if he’s able to break away early. This is a good sign”.
Adding to the on-track battles are the independent riders who also appear increasingly competitive: “Those who have a better chance of doing development will be up front, but the fact that the regulation allows for privateer bikes that are not so different to the factory machines means that a good rider and a good team can be well up on the grid. I’m sure we’ll see this again in 2021 and it’s very interesting. BMW is doubling its presence on the grid, while Ducati has decided to maintain a strong presence with riders like Chaz Davies on team Go Eleven. These are signs that the championship is active and alive”.
The new calendar: “The right decision”
Barbier also considers the 2021 calendar, and the rounds scheduled so far: “It’s a sensible move if we consider last year and understand that we were never going to be out of the pandemic early this year. With respect to Formula 1 and MotoGP that are already having to postpone races, SBK, with a start scheduled for late April, can afford to wait and see, and also allow its teams to test more in Europe until late March. Teams can prepare well for the Assen opener”.
Translated by Heather Watson