WorldSBK: Joining the dots at Aragon
Chaz Davies is the most successful rider at Motorland Aragon. The Welshman has dominated at the Spanish circuit in the past and claimed seven wins. He sat down to talk about the naunces of this 5.1 km circuit.
At one point the Kingdom of Aragon was one of the Europe’s most powerful. It was a central hub of the Mediterranean and one that controlled shipping in Spain, France and Italy. That power ebbed and flowed until eventually falling. It’s 400 years since a King ruled Aragon but in modern times it’s been Chaz Davies’ fiefdom.
“Honestly, it’s hard to put my finger why Aragon has been successful for me,” said the Ducati rider. “I love riding the circuit, which is always a good starting point, but I can’t put my finger on why it seems to suit me. I’ve always been able to find a good flow here and I rarely have to go searching for the lap time. This track seems to let me get into a groove and I can connect the dots of each corner quite quickly and from FP1 I’m usually quite fast.
“Enjoying the track definitely helps but there isn’t really any braking zone I can say ‘I’m picking up time there.’ At most circuits you can point to one or two places where you pick up time on other riders, but here it’s about getting into the flow. One corners leads into another and there are different cambers. A lot of elements that go into a good lap. I had my first podium here, my first double. It’s always been a good track for me.”
Davies’ 2011 win here in WorldSSP was the foundation of his title success. That victory gave him a title lead he never relinquished, and since then the Spanish track has been a happy hunting ground. The following year he took his first WorldSBK podium on the Aprilia, in 2013 he claimed the double and his seven Superbike wins at the track makes him the most successful rider in WorldSBK at Aragon.
When asked to pinpoint the foundation of a good lap Davies talked about being able to link Turn 1 to Turn 7 and avoiding pushing too hard. Being able to ride within yourself and ensure you hit one apex after the other is key.
“From the entry to Turn 1 until the exit of Turn 7 is all about avoiding a mistake. One corner leads into the next and you pay a heavy price for any mistake. You need to connect the dots for each corner; you can’t push too hard on the entry for one corner because that could mean you miss the right line for the next corner.
“If you’re too hot into Turn 1 it puts you on the wrong line for Turn 2, and that leads into Turn 3, which is straight into 4 and so on and so on. It all connects up and there’s no room for a mistake. There’s a lot of places where you pay the consequence of what happened earlier and even the small straight between Turns 1 and 2 is important. If you’re a little too tight, maybe even just one meter, it changes a lot for how you can exit turn two.
“Sometimes you need to keep the bike on the angle a little longer than you’d maybe expect to but it’s all about making sure you’re in the right place for the next corner. I learned a lot here in the first few years I came, and actually studying Broc Parkes made the biggest difference. He was really good in the opening section of the lap and I looked at what he did.”
From Turn 7 riders go over the crest of the hill towards The Corkscrew. It’s an important corner because you can force a move down the inside on the way into Turn 8 but for Davies the key to a fast time is to, once again, ride conservatively and this is a section where a lot of time can be lost but very little time can be gained.
“The Corkscrew is interesting because there’s so much time that can be lost there. If you push too hard on the first part you can pay the price on the exit and then the long Turn 10. It all connects and you really need to concentrate on being balanced around here. It’s not about riding the bike on the front or the rear here it’s about being balanced. Around here it’s about not forcing the bike to do anything.”
The second half of the lap sees riders able to open the taps and start to push a lot harder. It’s about being able to use the throttle and this features some sections where the riders can start to slide and use the power of the bike. The 968m back straight sees bikes power from Turn 14 in first gear all the way to sixth gear and 320km/h.
“I really love Turn 10 and Turn 16 because they’re awesome! They’re like riding flat track corners, it’s about not pushing too hard on the front in the mid-corner because it’s all about the rear. The final corner in particular is a lot of fun because it’s all about finding the right connection with the rear and spinning it up. That’s a lot of fun and when the tire starts to go off, particularly with the qualifying tire, it’s great! You can really light up the rear.”
Aragon is a circuit of contrasts for riders. The desire to hustle their bike needs to be tempered but that patience can certainly be rewarded.
This article was originally posted in 2018.